[Update: BoomerTowne Down!] Despite an Unsatisfactory BBB Rating, BoomerTowne Brags of Success, Plans for the Future

September 18, 2008 · 19 comments

Update, 9/21: BoomerTowne’s founder confirms that the site is dead, a victim of cheaters, the economy, and his failing health. Read his email here.
Update, 9/20: The BoomerTowne.com website is now down. The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions shows Concierge Web LLC is still a valid corporation, so they haven’t filed for bankruptcy (or if they have, WI hasn’t updated their records to reflect it). The timing of this, just two days after their PR firm disavowed any knowledge of the company’s owner’s whereabouts, certainly sounds final. Feel free to submit your claims to the Better Business Bureau here – Concierge Web LLC is incorporated in Wisconsin but is listed with the BBB as www.Boomertowne.com, with this address: 100 North Corporate Dr Suite 170, Brookfield, WI 53045
Like many of you, I’ve been waiting patiently on gift cards redeemed from BoomerTowne.com from as far back as May 9th, gift cards that were promised in 6 to 8 weeks. Last month, I predicted that the end of BoomerTowne points was near, as the site’s weekly newsletter had neglected to mention points at all. I haven’t received any newsletters from the site in a while now. The silence is deafening.
What I’m hearing around the ‘net is that some of the vocal complainers are having their accounts deleted. I’m owed $750 in outstanding gift cards from BoomerTowne and I realize I run the risk of losing it by posting further about BT, but since many of those points were earned on the backs of my referrals, who also are not getting paid, it was ill-earned gains anyway, and this is the least I can do on their behalf. So here goes:
I was really surprised when I stumbled across a September 5th article by a senior VP of BoomerTowne.com’s PR firm, Laughlin Constable, on eMarketer.com. In “Social Networking for Baby Boomers,” Paul Brienza discussed BoomerTowne and how it has succeeded in generating rich user content, as well as how health-care related advertising has “done very well.” He also hints at upcoming changes in how the site will generate income (a switch from CPM, which is basically a flat fee they earn based on the number of page views, to specific advertiser-sponsored pages).
Of course, I was incredulous that BoomerTowne’s PR firm was taking the time to discuss the site’s success and its plans for the future at the same time that no one seems to be able to get a response from the company on when, if ever, members can expect their gift cards — their rewards for generating that “rich content” of which Brienza bragged. In fact, BoomerTowne.com has an Unsatisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau probably for that very reason. So, on Monday I sent Mr. Brienza an email and told him that I would be posting about this on Wednesday, and I asked for a response for the record. He didn’t reply. I even held off until today to make this post, but I still (as of this writing) have not received a response.
Below is the text of the email I sent Mr. Brienza, whose full title is Senior VP of Interactive Marketing for Laughlin Constable. If anyone at Laughlin Constable reads this and would like the opportunity to respond, you can do so in a comment or feel free to email me.
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Dear Mr. Brienza,
I run a website (CompareRewards.com) that provides news and reviews of
rewards programs including one of your clients, BoomerTowne. No doubt
you’re aware of the problems plaguing this website, in my opinion the
greatest of which is a complete lack of communication between site
administration and members, many of whom have been waiting for months for
their redeemed gift cards.
I read with great interest your September 5th interview with
eMarketer.com. There were several quotes in particular that I found
interesting and that I intend to post about on my website:
“We built an informational site, and found that people didn’t necessarily
want to come back frequently to the site. They’d use it, learn
information from it and then move on. So we developed BoomerTowne to be
more of a social networking site that’s rich in content.”
Mr. Brienza, wasn’t it the points system that motivated members to provide
the “rich content” you refer to here? The members are not being paid for
the content they contributed in good faith with the understanding that
they would be compensated for it. Isn’t this a serious breach of ethics
at the very least, or perhaps even outright illegal?
Also, regarding CPMs, “We’ve done very well with the healthcare-supported
side…it works well when you have a drug company that can go to the
health section and put ads in context…” My question, as you can
imagine, is, if BoomerTowne has done so well with any aspect of its
monetization strategy, what is the reason, then, that no points
redemptions have been honored since May 8th? Were you overstating the
website’s success to impress the eMarketer reading audience, or has the
website actually been far more of a disappointment, plagued by fraudulent
duplicate accounts, robotic clicks, and submission of inane content simply
to receive points?
And lastly, “[Advertisers will] be able to target these people, and maybe
not so much in the CPM or traditional banner standpoint, but more on a
sponsorship standpoint, where they sponsor various sections of a site, and
not just hit them with a 300 by 250.” Can I take away from this statement
that BoomerTowne is retooling its advertiser strategy with the intent to
stay in business despite its debt to members? If that is the case, can
you give BoomerTowne members some insight into what they can expect in
terms of wait time for gift card fulfillment, changes to the points
system, and any future incentives planned for contributing the rich
content you intend to monetize?
Mr. Brienza, in case you haven’t visited BoomerTowne’s message board or
Googled your client’s website name recently, you need to understand that
you have a full-blown PR nightmare on your hands. The sooner these issues
are addressed, the better your client’s chances of salvaging at least a
shred of respect and good will from the population it intends to serve.
I will be posting my comments about your interview and the situation at
BoomerTowne on Wednesday. If you have any response for the record about
my concerns or if there is any other information you’d like disseminated
to BoomerTowne’s membership, I would be glad to include that in my post.
Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Becky Ford
CompareRewards.com
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Update: Minutes after posting this, I received the following email from Paul Brienza:
Becky:
Thank you for your e-mail.
While Laughlin/Constable was hired by the owner to develop and maintain certain aspects of the site, Laughlin/Constable does not own the site; was never responsible for any aspect of the points program; and no longer is working with the owner or manager of the site.
The owner has not returned our calls and has not left us with forwarding information.
Regards,
Paul

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Ginger September 18, 2008 at 10:04 am

Ahhhhhh, shades of Netwinner. So let me see if I can “see the light”….
Their BBB rating is in the dumper.
Their PR firm has JUST dumped them.
BoomerTowne dumped on us.
My vote is we dump them.
No more site visits.
No more clicking around.
I’m pulling my link.
I feel awful, awful, awful that I bothered to advertise them and get a bunch of referrals for them. I feel horrible that I even suggested anyone try them.
Thanks for rattling Paul’s cage and getting this response. It is certainly a window into where BoomerTowne is going….in the dumper.
Ginger

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shellkate September 18, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Guess we got screwed again looks like another netwinner (netloser) to me….

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Heather September 19, 2008 at 9:10 am

I told people right off the bat that contacting the company that designed the site (for pay) for BT wasn’t going to get them anywhere.
People need to keep in mind that Laughlin/Constable only has BT as a client- or had, according to some posts. They don’t run the actual business, they just kept the site running for the business while the business was their client.
It isn’t up to them to pony up the money owed to people, nor is it their PR nightmare, but that of BT.
As an aside, here’s info to contact (mail or phone) the actual person who runs the BT business.
http://screencast.com/t/ilyiCZaX

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windyO September 19, 2008 at 11:22 am

1st, i would like to thank you much, for all your help and support … 2ndly, i would like to know if ‘use of the BT-citizens ID’s, email and accounts’ by BTmngt (?BThelp) is not somehow (perhaps) grounds/constitutes fraud ? Unfortunately evidence of this on my profile has been LONG deleted, but one member posted on my msg-board that she had rcv’d her gc (from May8th) (about one week after petsounds posted rcv’g one from may8th also); this info was emphatically denied by the member later on in ‘BT-chat’ … i have had (back in June/early July) several private-msgs (also in BTchat) by another member (supposedly one of good-standing who also publishes on the site). Recently this member claims to have sent me several emails requesting i NOT email them and my continued emails constitute ‘harrassment’; it was the 1st notice i had from ‘the member’ to this effect ??? (ie. emails being blocked/intercepted ???) There are various other posts (mostly on chat), one claiming i had made a ‘negative remark’ about BT (therefore grounds for being banned from chat and my ‘moderators’ status removed LOL) … AND an ‘open’ brag about “having many ID’s” … For some reason, i just feel a members ID, log-on and password (if anything) should be protected from abuse by ‘mngt’, any knowledge of this ?
TYVM again, ‘windyO’

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Heather September 20, 2008 at 10:31 am

Boomertowne is now offline. We should all file class action suits against them.

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hippigypsy September 20, 2008 at 2:13 pm

I got in through the chat link. http://chat.boomertowne.com/chat/
It’s not all the way gone.

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tlnblue September 20, 2008 at 4:01 pm

This latest development follows on the heels of some investigating I did last night. In an attempt to dig up an accurate address and telephone number for Mr. Peddicord, as well as to determine the status of his well-being, I was put in touch with a Brookfield, WI. police officer. I explained that I was a volunteer consumer advocate working on behalf of the many Boomertowne members who were left in the dark approximately four months ago concerning payments owed. He informed me that Mr. Peddicord had moved out of state. He was able to make contact with a family member, who I was told, would contact me within the next few days. This morning I saw that the web-site had been taken off-line. At this time I do not have any other information. My advice echoes that of Miss Becky’s regarding filing complaints with the appropriate authorities.

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tlnblue September 20, 2008 at 5:55 pm

My research also indicates that according to ICANN, when a domain registrant fails to comply with requirements regarding current and accurate contact information, the domain can be pulled. Material breaches can be considered a basis for cancellation of the Registered Name registration.
See: http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/advisory-10may02.htm
One more thing, if you suspect a site may have been or is being used to violate tax laws, you can report them to the IRS for further investigation.
See: http://www.avivadirectory.com/domain-law

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Kycha September 20, 2008 at 7:31 pm

I was able to to get online through hippigypsy’s link. It looks like the discussion boards and the bt dating are the only things that are offline.

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Ginger September 21, 2008 at 1:38 am

I logged in using the above link. I went to my profile and deleted my phone number, my web site and my photos. I then went to my referrals list and copied it to a document file. Next I proceeded to also copy the amount of earnings in my points that I had redeemed and saved that to a document.
I also copied the privacy statement, faq, how to earn points and several other sections. I currently have 24 pages of documentation.
I am attempting to log into mail and delete anything there. I have nothing to hide but I also don’t want MY info out there floating around without my knowledge. Finally I am in the mailbox. It is super slow. Be patient if you log in.
Protect yourselves and clean out your info. If they’ll steal from us, what else will they do?
Ginger

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woodsdweller September 21, 2008 at 7:46 am

good advice, Ginger. be careful, though… when you delete your personal information from profile, you have to UNCHECK the box at the bottom for bt points. the way it is set up as long as you are getting points you can’t remove your address… it just reappears later.
it also won’t allow you take your zip out so i just replaced the last 3 digits with zeros.
regards, everyone

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Cher September 21, 2008 at 10:19 am

An email was posted in the chat last night and one of my good friends emailed him. This was what he said to her. So there we have it folks.. Bt is dead and gone.
Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2008 10:01 AM
Subject: RE:
Due to my illness and the economy, Boomertowne has failed.

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windyO September 21, 2008 at 8:40 pm

Could just be a server down … why would we still be able to get on-line ??? has anyone considered the fact that IF they are ‘using’ member ID’s AND/OR email that perhaps ‘Buzz’ still is clueless ??? ‘they’ DO have control !!! perhaps we have a case of ‘identity theft’ (in more than one scenario), should BTvoice be sickly, i as well as others are VERY saddened by that, but perhaps could alot of this have been caused by ‘the others’ … don’t forget, Cher’s the one that ‘stirred the pot’ and ‘whined’ and dined and and banned most of the decent folk in the chat rooms ROFL

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missfritz September 21, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Hi folks…Well I am now a two time loser..750.00 on Netwinner and 500.00 on Boomertowne. I can’t believe it..I was waiting until tomorrow (monday)to cash out. I couldn’t even get into the chat room..There were 19 people in there but I wasn’t able to sign in to enter..I couldn’t remove any pics. or personal info. I’m so disgusted I could scream. They didn’t even have the decency to post a letter for the members…Just pull the plug. What class.

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Linda V September 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm

I lost $800.00 and filed with the BBB.
(lindavip user name on boomertowne)

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Yeah Right October 21, 2008 at 9:41 am

First of all Mr. Brienza was only the tech support for the site not the CEO or anyone important.

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