NetWinner Updates: No $ to Ecount, Major Privacy Violation, Referral Policy Change

April 27, 2008

Click here for the latest update (4/29).
I know all of NetWinner’s members would like some sort of update but there isn’t much to tell and what I do have isn’t good.
First of all, yesterday a NetWinner member named Sue called the number on her Ecount card to find out the status of her payment and was told by Jessica, an Ecount manager, that NetWinner had not sent them any funds since March 13.
Second, on Friday two NW forum posters reported receiving emails from NetWinner requesting copies of their IDs by fax in order to process their raffle prize. This isn’t all that unusual and has been done occasionally in the past. HOWEVER, the company committed a huge privacy violation by sending out the email by publicly addressing (versus BCC’ing) the message to what was described as around fifty member email addresses.
Third, members need to be aware that the site’s Terms of Service have been changed in regards to referral earnings. Formerly, members would receive 100 points for referring a friend, then another 400 after the friend completed 100 game plays. Now, that has been changed to be after their friend wins 100 contest entries. You do still get 10% of your friends’ winnings, but if you didn’t notice, now that the 10-point prize has been removed, you don’t get anything if your friend gets the most likely win, a raffle entry.
What can players, some waiting nearly six months for their payments, do about the situation? Here are some suggestions, proposed by fellow players, an attorney friend of mine, and yours truly:
1. File a complaint with the Attorney General for the state of North Carolina. The instructions on how to do this are here. If you have a printer, you can print the complaint form here. It includes their mailing address and a toll-free number, 1-877-566-7226. I’m not sure if they accept complaints by phone; I confirmed that they definitely don’t accept them online, so mail may be your only method.
2. File a complaint with the BBB for Charlotte, NC. Start your complaint process here and it will redirect you to the Charlotte BBB. Note that the BBB “does not act as a collection agency.” They do, however, “work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies,” should they determine that fraud is involved.
3. File a complaint with the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Division of Marketing Practices. Their website is here, and you can file a complaint here. I think this would need to be complaints along the lines of, they advertised one thing and that’s not how it worked.
4. Contact the local (Charlotte, NC) media. Wikipedia says that TV station WBTV “is the largest television news department between Washington and Atlanta,” so they may be the best ones to approach. Information on how to contact them (including their assurance of confidentiality) is here, or go straight to the story tip submission form here.
5. Contact Ecount. Last year, members of the Freeride rewards program waiting for Ecount GCs called Ecount directly, and they were able to tell the members whether the delay was due to the rewards program not paying Ecount, versus some other reason like the program sending Ecount an old email address for the member, or the member’s ISP blocking Ecount’s email. You can contact Ecount at 1-800-522-7458.
To read other members’ experiences with NetWinner, including the latest payment (or non-payment) reports, you can visit their forum at
Lastly, as an aside, do you remember the video about the NetWinner Fairy? Take note of the costume and the background (red walls, white paneling). I found these other videos interesting: “Netwinner Dog LOL,” “This is how we stamp our mail! LOL,” “bright eyes crazy dancing,” “eyes,” and Dogs!!! sooooo cute!!!.” I think these show behind the scenes at NetWinner far better than the “Spin Report” PR video released a few days ago.

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