Stay Out Of Our Comments, PR Douchebags

Regarding this morning’s “Bank Of America Wins, Buys Chicago’s LaSalle Bank,” commenter “Stankwell,” whose first and only comment went up today, wrote:

LaSalle customers should be happy. Among other things, they’re gaining access to world-class online banking and a coast-to-coast branch and ATM network.

As to charitable giving: BofA is a monster — the good kind! Evidence shows that local donations go up considerably under the new regime. Ask any informed person in Boston or San Francisco.

Talking points much? Nice try. Seriously. You almost sound like a human. But no. BANNED.

Comments

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  1. demonradio says:

    Haha. FAIL.

  2. Thrust says:

    Weeeee. Corporate Asspionage. I don’t think Bank of America gets the reason we hate it so much. Scammy bullshit and lies are not traits we find appealing in banks. (Also, as a Canadian, the word America is also not high on our bank pref’s…)

  3. enm4r says:

    Let’s take a look at the points presented:

    That’s ridiculous, BoA does have a ridiculous history of charitable giving. To say otherwise is simply ignoring the facts.

    As far as the ATM thing goes, how is that not true? Everyone complains about ATM fees here, and now they have one of the largest ATM footprints in the US to draw upon, instead of the limited LaSalle footprint.

    Bank of America’s online banking is constantly ranked at or near the top as far as ease and capabilities.


    So basically you banned someone for having a first post that was contrary to your (often) extreme/hastily formed opinions. This is ridiculous, especially for someone who lobbied to be in the google news feed.

    Quality–

  4. visualbowler says:

    that was wicked funny, made my day

  5. drkkgt says:

    @ENM4R
    let’s see
    Yes BofA does have a lot of ATMs and they are happy to fee the f#ck out of you for the convience. They also have a habit of not telling you about fees or making it a hassle when you need to talk to someone and get a straight answer, oh yeah, and they will charge you a fee.
    Sure they have a great online system unless you need to transfer some money (fee) or don’t keep a balance (fee although they sometimes will allow you to open the account without the fee but later put it back) and might even answer the message center (didn’t get charged for that one.)

  6. Falconfire says:

    @enm4r: your right on point one, but point two overlooks the simple fact that ATM fees SHOULD NOT EXISTS AT ALL END OF STORY ZIP IT.

    We are paying paper fees for electronic to electronic transfers that not one human ever see’s and whose cost far and away outweighs the cost of upkeep.

    Not to mention the sheer tone of the post screams PR bot. No one talks like that, Im sorry.

    Your a complete idiot to not think corporate PR bots roam amok on this site. Consumerist has way too high of a profile to not attract paid bloggers and PR weasels, especially since they let every fucknugget in the world post here, unlike the old days when you had to have a legit in-line to a company, or be a blogger with their own site to get a invite.

  7. appleface says:

    @enm4r: I tend to agree that the banned post smacks of PR BS. Compare if you will the grammar and sentence structure with, oh I don’t know your post, and the after it, and this one, and those that came before. Do you see the difference. (yes I intentionally left out the question mark…)

  8. appleface says:

    Ben,

    I think you should substitute fucknugget every now and again for douchebag. I laughed so hard when I read that… thank you FALCONFIRE!

  9. “BofA is a monster — the good kind!”

    Hahahah, no one in real life uses two dashes… and no one uses ! unless they’re swearing up a storm and talking about BoA like they truly feel.

    This is not a bot. :)

  10. justarep says:

    For the sake of heaping abuse on PR drones, it’s obvious that this genius of a cumstain spends all his (or her?) time on a corporate firewall for web browsing, because nobody on the real Internet talks like that, unless you’re restricted to only the squeaky-clean PVC tubes approved by someone 16 levels up the bureaucracy than you.

    World-class? Evidence shows… without giving any evidence? Umm…yeah.

    I’ll give credit that the word “regime” is probably a good choice for this situation, as in “a dictatorial regime” (from the first definition on dictionary.com), although it’s normally reserved for government rule, not corpora…wait. Yes, regime’s the right word.

  11. btw, fucknugget is definitely entering my daily vocabulary… thanks falconfire.

  12. Chicago7 says:

    LaSalle Bank had an ad on the Chicago CBS (WBBM780) radio this morning about how they had ATMs on every corner! I heard it right after I read the posts on the other thread.

    Does BoA have the history of giving or is it the founding Italian family (I forget the name – the guy basically built BoA by lending small amounts of money to Italians and other immigrants when nobody else would lend to them, IIRC)

  13. justarep says:

    @pfblueprint: I use double dashes, but I’m fancy like that…but not usually in a short comment on a blog…there’s really not that much need for grammatical structure. lol ellipsis abuse

  14. Amerigo_Vespucci says:

    Well, it’s certainly a bellwether event. Says a lot about The Consumerist and blogs in general that BoA would bother to create an account to post — if it’s not just an unaffiliated employee or other apologist.

  15. banned says:

    Bullshit! He can’t have an opinion all of a sudden!? He was completely on topic and if you don’t like it, then go FU$K yourselves!!! Even if it is a troll, its an opinion, nothing else! This is why I HATE America (to all those who question me!!) I’m no longer very keen on this site either. WTG assholes!

  16. katewrath says:

    Amen, Consumerist!

    Now if we could scrape the flacks off the Citysearch restaurant boards (“I don’t know why everyone complains about the food! I had the breem medallions — a specialty of the chef and they melted in my mouth”) and off the NYT website (i.e., the flack who commented on Paul Krugman’s last column that Americans “use too much healthcare.”)

    The latter comment is #1 on the industry list of Reasons Why We Are Not the Bad Guys Because We Let Kids Die of Cancer to Save Money. Also, it’s the kind of thing you’d never actually hear a living human being say about himself.

    When civilization ends, it will just be the cockroachs and the flacks.

  17. rekoil says:

    You know, it would have been far better to simply let the rest of the community flame him to smithereens instead of banning him. Know Your Enemy.

  18. banned says:

    Also, if this was his only post, I don’t think banning will matter. How hard is it to get a new name!?, takes what, 30 seconds!?

  19. appleface says:

    @rekoil: Sometimes it is best to send a message. For example, when I was young punching a school bully in the face could get them to leave you alone. Message sent, message received.

  20. Major-General says:

    Ahh, BoA atm fees. I actually closed my account over issues with a fee at an atm with a BoA phone number, a BoA interface, statement that customers were not charged fees, and receipt printed on BoA paper. Their response was that they still didn’t own the machine.

    Right, and the guy above can explain why I their buying yet another bank is a good thing.

  21. asherchang says:

    I wonder if they’re going to make a statement in response to this post.

  22. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Hahaha – OWN3D!

  23. enm4r says:

    @Falconfire: your right on point one, but point two overlooks the simple fact that ATM fees SHOULD NOT EXISTS AT ALL END OF STORY ZIP IT.

    You won’t get me to disagree with that, the fees are ridiculous. That’s why I bank with a credit union that actually reimburses me. I refuse to do business with these big banks.

    My point was that despite his town, he didn’t say anything completely over the top or any blatant lies. If the guys a PR bum, he’ll 1) make a new name, or he would have posted again under the same and shown his true colors. Banning the guy over his tone is, as far as I’m concerned, out of line.

    That said, he was likely a PR bot, but the point was the the preemptive strike wasn’t necessary, IMO. BUT DON’T BAN ME FOR DISAGREEING!!!!

    :/

  24. @asherchang:
    They probably already have or will shortly, in the comments, pretending to be a real commentator.

  25. humphrmi says:

    Yeah! Way to go, Ben!

  26. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @pfblueprint: I use two dashes all the time — but I’m weird.

    @rocnrule: If we cause you so much pain, why won’t you go away? Should we be trying harder?

  27. chrisgoh says:

    I could see banning if you knew for sure (ie an IP address) that the person was from BOA, otherwise, just banning because you think that they are a PR bot doesn’t really seem fair. But hey, it is your site, you can do whatever you want.

  28. Secularsage says:

    Wow, I WORK in marketing/PR and I’m disgusted.

    Oh, and I use double dashes and exclamation points all the time — and I’m no PR douchebag!

  29. swalve says:

    Who cares if he is a PR drone?

  30. Secularsage says:

    @rocnrule:

    What a well-constructed argument. You, sir, are clearly an authority on the matter, and I will be sure to heed your words in the future.

    I mean, hating all Americans because a website banned a corporate shill… you’ve blown my mind, sir!

  31. Trae says:

    That was so incredibly PRish I can’t believe anyone would think it was a legitimate comment. I mean, it’s right off a brochure!

    “BofA is a monster — the good kind!” I mean… c’mon! Who friggin’ talks like that?

  32. Jhonka says:

    I used to work in PR. These guys/gals that don’t understand the Internet think they’ll just post some damage control statements in blog commentary. Or even worse, spend 2 weeks trying to start their own blog for a company, then only update it 3 times a month… then bill the client for an assgrab of money.

  33. banned says:

    @Secularsage:
    I’m no authority, but its called censorship and happens far too often. Freedom of speech — It’s just like insurance; You can have it, you just can’t use it or else!
    I don’t hate americans so my apologies but this actually angers me. I hate america like america hates france. Its an ideology, not a personal thing. Just like you wouldn’t dislike somebody from France specifically. Also, I don’t care if you read my comments.
    You can’t read comments as if they are expert testimony so if 1 troll leaves only 1 post, is it so wrong!? I mean, is this supposed to mean the bank of america president is not allowed here, as a consumer, because he may have unpopular views!? Somebody somewhere actually believes in those comments.

  34. superbmtsub says:

    ANOTHER TROLL BITES THE DUST!

    I like how it was his first and last comment.

  35. Smashville says:

    @rocnrule: Freedom of speech and censorship, my ass…Consumerist is
    the press. They are protected by the First Amendment. By definition, it
    is impossible for the Consumerist to impose upon anyone’s free speech.

    Unless Consumerist recently became the 51st state, in which case, we’ll get Columbo right on it.

  36. Marce says:

    @enm4r: I would say they banned him because he a) didn’t back up his points (where is there a link to this evidence?) and b) it sounds like a bot or a marketing director.

  37. nequam says:

    @Smashville: Thank god for comment! The overuse of “freedom of speech” as a buzzword to justify bonehead statements is vomit-inducing.

    If the Consumerist were to become th 51st state, at least they’d have some kickass consumer protection laws.

  38. JNighthawk says:

    Boo! His post was on topic and if he lied, call him on it. Don’t ban someone just because you think they’re from PR and don’t ban someone because you disagree with what they say, geez.

    Even if he was doing PR spin, what difference does it make? Argue the points, not the man. It’s as if he was debating a topic, you couldn’t make a logical response, so you just insulted him. As soon as that happens, he wins the argument.

    I’m really disgusted by this, especially with the whole “Look what I caught out huntin’, pa!” aspect of it.

  39. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @Chicago7:
    LaSalle doesn’t have an ATM on every corner.
    They did stick them in all the CVS stores around Chicago, but LaSalle’s branches aren’t everywhere. There are huge areas without any & then there’s East Lakeview which has two of them just three blocks apart.

    And the Italian guy was A.P. Gianini. After the 1906 earthquake he had a shack there right away so his customers could keep their businesses going.
    A true visionary whose bank is now run by cheesy, conniving, mental midgets!

    @enm4r:
    I wish somebody could explain to me why ATM fees are higher than first class postage!

  40. KernelG says:

    @Rocnrule
    “I’m no authority, but its called censorship and happens far too often. Freedom of speech — It’s just like insurance; You can have it, you just can’t use it or else!”

    Sorry, wrong. First, this is a privately owned site and they can do what they like. It is not the government. Second, the first amendment states that the government shall make no law restricting speech, not that dummies can say whatever they please when/wherever they want to. If you are going to “hate America” you might want to learn about it first.

    If anything, the BofA stooge has learned a lesson in a higher level of marketing today. Slogans and marketing-speak glow like ugly neon because they are phony. This is an anti-phony web site for consumers. It wasn’t so much what was said, but how it was said.

    Also, there’s nothing keeping him/her from trying again. So really, so what?

  41. XianZhuXuande says:

    @pfblueprint: I use two dashes — constantly. I use them because the em dash doesn’t render properly on many online sites. You’ll find many writers who do.

    That said, yes, this fellow sounded like a PR machine.

  42. JPropaganda says:

    I think we’re all missing the most important part: Ben has brought to Consumerist the style and flair from its Gawker Brother Gizmodo: Executions all around!!

  43. loueloui says:

    Yes! Ban that idiot. PR scum who post on blogs to troll legitimate users should be banned.

    This is almost as bad as the idiots at Sony who hired actors to secretly ‘demo’ products to unsuspecting people on the street or that fake-ass Walmart blog. There’s a reason these people don’t want you to know their real intentions. And no I don’t think it’s because they want to be an anonymous benefactor like Great Expectations.

    I don’t know how the hell ‘Marketing’ ever got to be a legitimate profession. It’s like if you took one part con artist, and one part thief and put them together with one part liar.

  44. gtr225 says:

    Hey I kinda agree with the whole not censoring argument but I just checked some random reviews on the citysearch website (to see what the other commenter was talkin about) and found tons of monster reviews — the bad kind! Check out this example of a pr bot describing a deli in the bronx:
    Who wouldn’t make an effort to bring home a still warm, oozing with milk, delicious mozzerella? That’s what you’ll find every time at “Casa Della Mozzerella Deli”. You’ll also find the freshest cold cuts and salume, wonderful products from Italy and a fabulous cheese assortment. The staff is friendly and helpful and I have never been dissatisfied in my weekly pilgramages to this first rate deli. After your first bite, you’ll never eat a mozzerrella anywhere else this side of the Atlantic Ocean!

    Pros: This is the real deal for mozzarella!

    Cons: Perfection personified!

    I think the reason Consumerist banned that user is not just because he was pro BoA or sounded too PRish. But because Consumerist is trying to maintain their reputation as a consumer advocate site that backs up there statements with facts. If they don’t take a stand now and ban pr bots, consumerist will be another citysearch and no one will come here for honest advice anymore.

  45. Thrust says:

    @pfblueprint: re: F*cknugget… Other handy words, usually fun around the office.

    F*cktard, eTard, iTard, DellTard, Crotchmaggot, Assgoblin, Assgremlin, Asshat, Assburgers, Arschgeiger *, Bananenbieger *, Dunkelbumser *, Kisama **, Kuso baka yarou **, Puto ***, Veeblyadok ****, Petookh opooscheny ****

    Don’t say these around
    * – Germans
    ** – Japanese
    *** – Mexicans, Californians
    **** – Russians, Ukranians, or anyone who may be former КГБ (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti)

    (Arschgeiger is one of the many fun arsch-words… There’s also ficker, gesicht, kriecher, loch… People generally get a sense of what you called them, but can’t ever quite figure out all of it.)

  46. cindel says:

    Da Da Da Da Da
    Da Da Da Da Da
    Da Da Da Da Da
    Da Da Da

    Go BOA!

  47. The random beheading of commentators has become a spectator sport on many a gawker blog. It’s part of the participation game.

    Longtime fans might remember a commentator by the name of miss_smartypants… *tunes the guitar*

    ♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪
    ♪ The Ballad of Miss Smartypants ♪
    ♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪

    A long, long time ago
    So long ago I can’t remember when.
    The comment forums were the place to be
    Moderated by some dude named Ben

    Then along came this special girl
    At least thats what we presumed her to be
    She would spew her opinions without remorse
    Presuming that this place was freeeeee.

    Thank God, miss smartypants has moved on
    Maybe moderator some day later
    but for now she’s long gone
    She told Ben that the Nazi shirts weren’t so bad
    And then The Consumerist told her bye
    Then the consumerist said bye bye.

    And who could forget that time
    She argued that breastfeeding on planes
    Wasn’t worth her dime
    Those mommies should get right up and march
    To the bathroooooom!

    Then she defended that Verizon shill
    Saying 0.15, 0.015, what’s the deal?
    The Consumerist must be getting it wrong
    Ain’t it simple math?

    Thank God, Miss smartypants has moved on
    Maybe moderator some day later
    but for now she’s long gone
    She told Ben that he was an asshole
    And that was the last we ever saw
    That was the last that we saw…

    The banhammer comes out like a flash
    That we scarcely had a time to dash
    When the dust had cleared we looked around
    And miss_smartypants was nowhere
    to be found.

    She was singing…
    My my, this here Ben Popken guy
    He’s the moderator but I hate him
    Because of his Wal-Mart fascination; I just wish he would die
    But now that I’m gone I really think I was wrong
    Now where will I go when I troll?
    Now that the bell has been tolled…

    ♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪

    Never Forget, 11/30/2006! *holds hat to chest*

  48. Amy Alkon says:

    There’s a vast difference between freedom of speech and freedom of commercial speech. The first is constitutionally protected, and the other, when done clandestinely on a blog, is a form of theft — stealing advertising space.

    Got an IP address for the person, Ben? I’d love to have it and search them out. (I once did that to a guy who signed me up for a bunch of list-serves…took me 20 minutes to not only figure out who he was, but get his cell phone number and call him to tell him he owed me $50 — which I persuaded to pay him — for theft of my time [I had to get off all the listserves and track his scummy ass down.])

  49. hoo_foot says:

    It’s quite sad that BoA felt threatened enough to force some poorn intern to write cheesy comments on a blog.

    On the otherhand, I’m happy that BoA feels threatened. Maybe it will one day motivate them to fix their shitty customer service.

  50. endless says:

    “BofA is a monster — the good kind!”


    saying stupid things like that should be a bannable offence, PRbot or not.

  51. Uh… it doesn’t really seem like much of a banning. Remember this? “Audition to become a commenter. To become a registered commenter on this site, you first need to be approved by our team. We’re looking for comments that are interesting, substantial or highly amusing.” So apparently the comment was interesting, substantial or amusing. No? Hrm. You’re right. Seems like any computer user gets approved to post comments. It would have been neater to have posted their comment and said – “look – we checked this jerk’s IP address to an ad agency working for BofA and made sure to keep them out of our playground”. But the one comment they leave is terms for banning? This doesn’t seem like an audition to me.

  52. krunk4ever says:

    I also disagree with the ban. His comments may be biased and may be even a troll or drone sent by BofA, but his statements weren’t lies nor deceiving. Banning someone because their opinions don’t agree with yours is despicably low, even for Consumerist.

    I mean, if he was causing a ruckus or spamming or outright lying (which I’ve seen Consumerist do many times already), I think that may be grounds for the ban, but all he did was post a comment like everyone else.

  53. TechnoDestructo says:

    I agree with this ban. If the guy had come here as a human being, stating his connection to Bank of America and speaking in his own words, he should have been welcomed. Even if he were still an irrational apologist, he’d still be a geniune one. But as long as he comes off sounding like a bot, he should be treated like one. *PLONK*

  54. shoegazer says:

    To all of you waving the free speech flag – f*ck you. If you really knew what free speech is about then you’d know paid PR shills are the enemy of unhindered expression just as much as any Washington lobbyist or tinpot dictator. It’s the intrusion of the paid into the public arena. Read some Naomi Klein or Joel Bakan, for christ’s sakes.

    Whether or not the commenter was a PR man is up for debate, but as others pointed out the style, tone and message was highly suspect and full of press release-ese. If he wasn’t a shill then by all means let him re-register and try for a more realistic (as in, real-world) writing style.

    If he was a shill, as others pointed out, saying so will in fact give his words more weight. (“I work for BOA, and I believe…”) The banning was for trying to sucker an audience who won’t be suckered.

  55. grouse says:

    After Bank of America lets us post our comments in their official newsletter, then their shill puff pieces can go on this blog. Until then, I support this banning.

  56. TechnoDestructo says:

    @shoegazer:

    Agreed. By polluting a forum with noise, you render it unusable for its intended purposes. Look at the overwhelming majority of Usenet, or Yahoo Chat. Look at search results populated with link farms. This is no different. One or two of these douchebags may be a curiosity, but enough of them can drown out actual discussion.

  57. Jesse in Japan says:

    @krunk4ever: The Consumerist’s Commentator system is not a venue for advertisers. This Stankwell guy was obviously presenting a commercial message and not his own opinion. Seriously, “As to charitable giving: BofA is a monster — the good kind!” is not the kind of sentence that I can imagine any sane person ever using in any situation. It is the kind of meaningless nonsense that only a corporate marketing drone could come up with.

  58. formergr says:

    @something_amazing: Ah, memories! I’m getting a little teary eyed with this reminiscing…

  59. 7livesleft says:

    Freedom of speech doesn’t apply to a forum, unless it’s sanctioned by the government. This is a private forum, and the owners/moderators can ban anyone they want at any time. Would you let someone cuss you out over the telephone? Or would you let someone come into your house and tell you all the things you are screwed up over? No, you’d stop them…what about free speech?

  60. Black Bellamy says:

    Free Speech sounds like a fucking Commie plot to me. Oh yeah, give everyone Free Speech! From each according to their abilities, right? Goddamn traitors, the whole lot!

    This is America. Home of Monetized Speech. Don’t you Commie bastards forget it!

  61. Xkeeper says:

    @krunk4ever:

    Just a note, but I’ve had serious doubts that the Consumerist still runs that invite-only (er… evaluation? dammit.) system.

    An experiment for another day, I guess.

    (And for the record, I use two dashes and exclamation points… and quite often — really!)

  62. obbie says:

    ive been getting the feeling that there have been some posts by corporate PR spinsters as of late on this site. its too bad, they could have just avoided the situation that got them on the consumerist in the first place… thats a novel idea.

  63. balthisar says:

    @pfblueprint: I use two dashes — it’s called an em-dash, and is appropriate for uses like this. An en-dash is only appropriate for use in hyphenated-words. I don’t have any opinions on BOA, though.

  64. RandomHookup says:

    I can live with a little flackage every now and then, as long as the spinmeister adds the appropriate disclosure.

  65. LTS! says:

    The requirements for a comment on Consumerist must be like the speed limit signs posted along the sides of roads. Yea.. they are there, but only enforced when they feel like it.

    You banned him? Seriously? He may have never posted another item and the comment would have gone by the wayside, buried in a heap of rebuttal by the visitors to your site.

    Instead, you did what we’ve blasted other entities for on this site. You brought the issue to light with some self-serving “I am god” attitude. All you did was create a discussion on whether you were right or wrong to have done so in the first place. It may be good for site hits, but in some people’s eyes it really lessens the “purpose” of this blog.

    In many stories you wish you could get a comment from the company in question, now, a comment is posted by someone you assume (and you can’t say is because you don’t have anymore evidence that they are a corporate asshat than they have evidence on why BoA is so great) is working for BoA. You ban them.

    Everyone is right. This is their site and they can do what they want. Unfortunately it’s still censorship. They have made a decision to disallow the content of a post because of an assumption. Certainly a better choice of action would have been to let the responses of others undercut the message.

    The other amusing thing about this comment thread is the number of “Yes men” that are on here. For a site that makes a living on questioning the actions of others I find it amazing that so many people simply go along for the ride with everything that’s posted on here. I mean, one might begin to think they are Consumerist shills and their comments should be banned.

  66. zibby says:

    Yeesh. At least the Apple guys sound (ok, write)like real people.

  67. VA_White says:

    Ben and Meghann can do what they want. Save the propaganda for your senator, Stankwell.

    And does anyone remember back to when ATM machines first started getting popular with banks? Back then banks were touting them as money-savers because then they could hire fewer tellers. It was going to make banking cheaper for the consumer in the form of lower fees and higher returns because the bank could operate more efficiently.

    Now banks talk about how expensive it is to maintain all those ATMs so the fees are necessary. They aren’t more expensive then Tad the Teller and it doesn’t cost me $3.00 to get money from Tad at his cute little window.

  68. He was completely on topic and if you don’t like it, then go FU$K yourselves!!!

    @rocnrule: Umm, no Ben banned him. No further action necessary!
    If anything there needs to be more executions. There are a few people who do nothing except act like trolls.

  69. Raze50 says:

    I just want to know how he knew it was someone from BOA PR. I’m sure it is easy as hell to find out who we all are from the Gawker side, but I think they can update this without putting anyone’s identity in jeopardy.

    Also, free speech is constitutionally protected, but is it if you’re using a screen name and an avatar?

  70. Jesse in Japan says:

    @LTS!: You make a very good argument, but I think you are a bit mistaken about the purpose(s) of The Consumerist. One of the site’s primary purposes is to expose the dirty, underhanded methods that major corporations engage in to misinform or outright con their customers. I believe that hiring shills to post pro-company messages (without any kind of transparency or disclosure) in online discussion boards is a perfect example of just that kind of activity.

    You say, “In many stories you wish you could get a comment from the company in question,” but I think it’s quite obvious that “comment from the company” implies that the company will identify itself as such, rather than have some random person pretend that the company line is her or her actual opinion.

    We could argue for quite some time about whether or not Stankwell really was a shill for BoA, but I find it very suspicious that this person would chime in for his first-ever message in such a flamboyant manner. I don’t think you can even really call what Stankwell said “a comment.” It was merely an advertisement.

    I find your accusation of censorship a little odd as well, since The Consumerist has reprinted, in full, what Stankwell said, giving the statement its own post. They could have very easily deleted the comment and quietly banned Stankwell, and nobody would ever have known that such a person posted such a comment.

    I also have to raise issue with your use of the term “yes men” as the commentators here have, for the most part, contributed a lot more intelligent thought to this discussion than Stankwell ever contributed to the original post.

  71. The Walking Eye says:

    @Xkeeper: The commenting privileges are awarded by any Gawker site for all Gawker sites, so you don’t need to be approved by Ben to comment here.

  72. shoegazer says:

    @LTS!:

    …you did what we’ve blasted other entities for on this site. You brought the issue to light with some self-serving “I am god” attitude. All you did was create a discussion on whether you were right or wrong to have done so in the first place. It may be good for site hits, but in some people’s eyes it really lessens the “purpose” of this blog.

    To me it strengthens the purpose of this blog. It serves notice to companies who employ people to poison the public discourse that their kind are not welcome.

    In many stories you wish you could get a comment from the company in question, now, a comment is posted by someone you assume (and you can’t say is because you don’t have anymore evidence that they are a corporate asshat than they have evidence on why BoA is so great) is working for BoA. You ban them.

    Granted an assumption was made. (I personally think Ben was dead on target.) A company misrepresenting a paid opinion as a private one is far more execrable than a blog who bans users at whim. I remember Joel Johnson’s tenure at the Giz and believe me when I say people have been getting off lightly here.

    Again if “Stankwell” had posted owning up to his BoA links, even indirectly, then his post would have had merit.

    The other amusing thing about this comment thread is the number of “Yes men” that are on here. For a site that makes a living on questioning the actions of others I find it amazing that so many people simply go along for the ride with everything that’s posted on here. I mean, one might begin to think they are Consumerist shills and their comments should be banned.

    If you check the comments on many, many issues (such as the porn honeypot debacle) you’ll see lots of criticism aimed at Ben and Meghann for many shortcomings. Don’t think everyone here is burying their nose in the Consumerist’s ass.

  73. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    Anti-ban, pro freedom of speech

    just like Stern says “If you don’t like it, turn the dial”.

    Either ignore the comment, or just tool on the guy for using the “BoA is a monster–the good kind!”

  74. The Walking Eye says:

    @LTS!: They aren’t disallowing the content of a post, they are preventing this particular commenter from leaving future comments. They haven’t deleted the comment from the original thread.

    There are rules for commenting here, one of which is that if you’re a PR flak you must identify yourself as such.

  75. Wormfather says:

    Nice work guys. We’ve known for a while that PR people and Execs read the site…and after the whole Rhoadeb (whatever the name was of the Whole Foods CEO) it’s not a streatch to belive they’re commenting.

    Three Cheers.

  76. lihtox says:

    BofA is a monster — the good kind!” sounds like something from the Simpsons. “Welcome to your worst nightmare…of savings!”

    It might be interesting to keep PR-flak comments, but either put a big flag next to them that says “Flak?”, or keep a “Hall of Shame” list of such comments, so that they can be appropriately mocked. Sure, it’s a judgement call, but it’s a private website so judgement calls are OK.

  77. clarient says:

    What a tool.

    Guess what, Bank of America – I hope one of your hired internet goons is reading this whole posting and noting just how much people hate you. I dropped my BoA account and switched to Frost because you suck, your customer service sucks, your policies suck, and pretty much everything associated with you sucks.

    I wouldn’t think of it so much as LaSalle bankers have gained “access to world-class online banking and a coast-to-coast branch and ATM network”, but rather have been assimilated into the monster of a bloated corporate bank where they will never experience satisfactory customer service again.

  78. banned says:

    @Smashville:
    @KernelG:
    I’m not saying its a legal “Freedom of Speech” issue, but where I come from, its assumed. It could be an issue of censorship however, which is different. I have no document guaranteeing my freedom of speech, but I still have it. On the other hand, you can’t tell me that say, a teenager could say, on a public sidewalk, carry a sign saying “Bong Hits for Jesus”, or start wearing a shirt saying “I love the 9/11 hijackers” and we’ll test those freedoms. I don’t argue they don’t have the right to ban, they sure do, but it seems weak in this case. Who knows, you could be next.
    If I don’t like america, why would I take time to get to know it better!? BTW, I lived in Texas for a long time so I know alot more than you’d think. I’m sure americans know tons about the french too!

  79. ancientsociety says:

    So, this guy posted ONE comment you didn’t like (or felt suspicious of) and you unilaterally banned him!? WTF!?

    Did you check the IP?
    Did you contact BoA?
    Did you contact the poster?

    As LTS has pointed out, if this is the direction the Consumerist is heading in (bans meted out based on suspicion and disagreement w/o proof), then you’re becoming just as bad as the “evil” corporate PR you’re “fighting” against…

  80. SigSauer says:

    This banning confuses me greatly. Is Consumerist here to just slam brands and create a community of like-minded users? How does this polarity help any consumer? Isn’t part of the point of having comments on a post to create a discussion that hopefully might actually involve the brand owners? I’ve interviewed Ben about this very issue and recommended that brand owners use sites, Consumerist specifically, to engage in a discussion, however deep, with their potential clients and critics.
    [brandchannel.com]
    This banning, while maybe good feeling in the little-guy-gets-a-punch-in-for-once way, is ultimately making the lack of communication worse. What this commenter did wrong was to not identify him/herself as a brand rep. and that’s it. It’s obvious nobody here was going to believe this flacking anyway so why not a post inviting PR people to comment but asking that they, for their own good, identify themselves as such? This seems like a much better and ultimately effective approach.

  81. Shutterman says:

    Me, I just stay away from anything with the word “Bank” in it in general. Even if a Credit Union is essentially the same thing, I feel less ill when I go there.

  82. Xenuite says:

    Jihad on the backers of big business!
    Wait… isn’t this group about discussion?
    I’m confused.

  83. larry_y says:

    BofA isn’t BofA anymore. It’s really Nationsbank in sheep’s clothing.

    Oh, and I’m really glad there’s a strong hand dealing with Astroturf, especially from sock puppets.

  84. timmus says:

    It would be interesting to find that BoA’s intent is not to post PR, but to stir the hornet’s nest on Consumerist and undermine it somehow. I can’t help wondering about that long shot that BOA really knows what it’s doing.

  85. larry_y says:

    Remember, this is Ben’s playground. You hope your moderators have a thick skin, but know how do deal with nonsense.

    Anyway, people actually think Astroturf from sock puppets add to the conversation? And since when did PR releases, talking points and Astroturf count as “discussion”?

    And for the record: I am current BofA customer, and mainly satisfied with their online banking and ATMs. The fee structure has not driven me off, yet. I also have mixed feelings, but mostly positive, about banking consolidation.

  86. @pfblueprint: Hey, I use two dashes when I’m writing — not always, but sometimes. ;)

  87. @larry_y: That implies that the old BofA was a sheep. I’m not so sure that’s true.

  88. Chaosium says:

    @enm4r: Either this is another puppet account, or you’ve never encountered a pr flack in your life.

    Any way you look at it, you’re delusional.

  89. Xenuite says:

    @larry_y: Hell, at the very least the “astroturf” gives a different opinion then the normal group who bash the ever-living hell out of anything smelling of certain corporations.

  90. evil_doer420 says:

    BofA must be doing something right in order to get 10% of the countries deposits. I know most people give horror stories, yet people still bank there. Are people really that stupid to give their money to the big evil bank!? I don’t think that is it. Therefore, I think a banning is a bit harsh. A stern warning may have been better.

  91. appleface says:

    @rocnrule: Freedom of Speech is great, it seems though that a lot of people say “hey I can say whatever I feel like sans consequence”; that simply is not the case.

    The Constitution guarantees a right to freely express ones opinion in an open and free manner; it does not guarantee that there won’t be consequences as a result.

  92. parecon says:

    as a first time poster i feel compelled to disagree with the censorship and voice my disappointment. i’ve always enjoyed this site because it allow’ED’ readers access to, what seemed, the entire picture and form opinions and judgements.

    while i respect that they have done this openly and transparently, this site has lost credibility in my books.

  93. banned says:

    @appleface:
    You’re absolutely right. My arguement is that the punishment does not fit the crime. I’m not the only one here who thinks this is wrong. Like the Consumerist overexaggerates the punishment, I chose to embelish my points, because as a media outlet, they don’t like words and sayings like censorship and freedom of speech when used against them.

  94. enm4r says:

    @Chaosium: @enm4r: Either this is another puppet account, or you’ve never encountered a pr flack in your life.

    Any way you look at it, you’re delusional.

    You’re right, I’m delusional because I ignored the guys tone, saw he made statements that are generally correct, and then thought that banning him after one post, due in large part because of his position, not simply tone, was excessive. If Ben had some confirmed @bankofamerica.com or IP address, that’d be different.

    I’m pretty sure a look at my past would show I’m nothing if not a cynical consumer, but hey, I’ve been planning this all along to support another puppet account! That is the only reasonable explanation for someone not absolutely despising BoA!!!

    Right.

  95. Trai_Dep says:

    Ironically, BofA got its initial growth spurt, and its (for that time) claim to fame as a customer-focused bank by its decision to lend to working class immigrants laid bare by the San Francisco earthquake. The owner loaned to an unserved segment in a respectful fashion, and became a financial powerhouse because of it.

    > Doing well by doing good. <

    Now of course, Luke was strangled by Darth in his sleep, and the Emperor runs the shop.

    My favorite abysmal BofA rip-off for this year:

    BofA acquires MBNA, the credit card leviathan. BofA decides that selfish cardholders that pay off their balance are “stealing” from BofA since they don’t pay interest fees. BofA institutes a “minimum fee” fee that cardholders must pay if they don’t owe any money that month. But only if cardholders don’t send a letter (mailed in a notice easy to mistake for junk mail) telling BofA that they don’t want to pay their “minimum fee” fee within a month of getting the stealth letter.

    Disgusting slimeballs. I’m sure their founder is spinning in his grave at what his bank has become.

    On the bright side, I’m sure these idiots will lose hundreds of billions of dollars over making STOOPID high-risk morrtgages that any reasonable chimp realized was asnine. Not that their executives won’t get record bonuses this year…

  96. LTS! says:

    Granted.. I believe that PR shills should identify themselves. In fact, I would much prefer a company to respond in line as it shows they are at least looking.

    Now, the problem I have is that how do you KNOW that someone is a shill? We are all assuming. A lot of people assumed others were Communists during Mr. McCarthy’s era.. how’d that work out?

    I understand that it seems very much like the person was a BoA shill, but leave their account open and see if they post more. Ask the user to contact you and clarify. Just don’t outright ban them.

    There’s no requirement for due process, but what would it have hurt? Rather than having people arguing over the merits of the action, it would have been simple to say, we asked Stankwell to contact us to clarify his position. You could even make a blog entry (lord knows sometimes the entries are weak enough) and state, “I believe Stankwell is a BoA shill. Here’s why..” get comments and see if he responds. If you get no response.. well then drop him, without fanfare.

    When you perform actions like banning the guy on an assumption, and then calling such fanfare to it I have to question the motive behind the action. Is this some kind power play to placate an ego? Rather than seek comment, just ban. Rather than address the consumer, just ignore them.

    Fantastic.

  97. adrock75 says:

    I wonder if his wife’s name is Llewknats.

    To everyone saying that he may be a PR hack but you can’t ban him because of his opinions – they’re not HIS opinions, they’re BoA’s opionions and you should nip that shit in the bud.

  98. FrenchBenj says:

    PR people are so retarded. Who the hell would say “world-class” in a normal post??

  99. The Walking Eye says:

    @LTS!: McCarthyism? Seriously? This is a blog, people!

  100. Cowboys_fan says:

    Are people really this irate on both sides of the issue, or are all you guys just hungry for a snack??

  101. WhatsMyNameAgain says:

    Aw… They only wanted to set the record straight!

  102. elf6c says:

    1. There is another user in this thread who sorely could use banning as well.

    2. BoA = Satan’s Bank.

    3. Banning + mocking post to main page = Flawless Victory!

  103. incndnz says:

    While I agree with you that PR hacks/douchebags/fucknuggets leaving comments could be somewhat misleading on this blog, don’t you think it is a tiny, tiny bit your fault? Don’t you have some sort of gawker-facist commentor approval process? Isn’t this incidnet exactly the reason that I have not been “invited” to comment on this blog? I am a regular reader and while my comments have never been anything earth-shattering, they certainly are up to par with most of the comments most of the time. Part of being a good company/provider of services is taking responsibility for your own mistakes, and owning up to it when your process doesn’t work. And I am sure this post will never, ever, ever see the light of day. Sorry – but it’s true! I still like you!

  104. rodeobob says:

    To address some of the underlying points in the debate:

    #1: This is Ben’s blog. Anyone who wants to whine about “freedom of speech” is welcome to start their own blog. That’s how free you are. Commenting on somone else’s blog is done at their discretion, with their permission.

    #2: Censorship is not a dirty word. It refers to excising unwanted content. Who gets to decide what is ‘unwanted’? The moderator of the forum. (Ben)

    #3: What made this post “unwanted”? The poster made claims that are unverifiable (what constitutes ‘world-class banking’?) and when verification was possible (“evidence shows…”) fails to provide either a source, a link, or any other researchable support, instead relying on an unverifiable appeal to anecdoate (‘ask any informed person in Boston or San Fransisco’)

    #4: PR flacks aren’t inherently bad people, and they’re welcome here, as long as they’re willing to be honest! Lots of people have posted with the disclaimer of “I work for X” or “I used to work for X and really liked them”. It’s the claim of being a disinterested 3rd party that’s the problem.

    #5: PR flacks, like other commenters, are welcome to join in the debate. Personally, I’d love to see a BofA representative show up (as themselves) and discuss their community relations programs and corporate citizenship initiatives. I think there are a lot of good questions waiting to be asked about the impact of bank consolidation and the consequent decrease in market competetiveness and diversity. But PR flacks usually don’t debate; they spew talking points, don’t respond to follow-up questions, and aren’t interested in providing information, just in shaping opinion through rhetoric.

    Seriously: any BofA person is more than welcome to join in the discussion, as long as they
    a.) identify their biases and affiliations upfront
    and
    b.) actually engage in discussion, rather than rhetoric or “drive-by” commenting.

  105. MarkMadsen'sDanceInstructor says:

    Yeah, I agree with RodeoBob. However, I think we should require not only PR flacks, but also employees of the company, other individuals with a personal interest in the company to ID themselves up front. If not, you risk getting banned. Then if you want to provide stupid one-sided talking points, we at least can be on notice as to your biases.

    The problem here is that the commenter made no mention of his connections to BoA before posting. Oh and the fact it added nothing to the debate didn’t help either.

    People are also making freedom of speech noises, but I disagree that freedom of speech entails that Ben allow people to hijack his blog.

  106. banned says:

    @stankwell001:
    I am quite interested in your side, unlike the consumerist. Great journalism guys. Just goes to show how much better this site is over mainstream media, or not! Careful though, you are still promoting BofA so you might get banned again.

  107. Thrust says:

    @Cowboys_fan: Is this a Snickers commercial?

  108. LTS! says:

    Before you can require anything you have to be able to prove it. Otherwise you might as well call someone a witch and burn them at the stake.

    And yes.. I said McCarthy. Close your mouth. If a blog wants to be taken seriously, it should act serious. If you want to act like the 5th grader from down the block, rock on.

    Ben is free to do what he wants, unless of course people stop logging in to read the Consumerist and its ad revenue drops, etc. Gawker media might not like being associated with something like that, or they might like it… but to say Ben is the end all be all of Consumerist a tad misleading.

    If he was do you think he’d have to do the cross promotion of the other Gawker blogs?

    For the final time too, can anyone prove Stankwell worked or was related to BoA in any way? I’ve yet to see the proof. Think carefully and don’t respond with.. people don’t write that way, it was his first post, he completely commended BoA, etc. People do write that way, obviously, he did. It was his first post, everyone made a first post, perhaps he is a happy customer, they are bound to exist, if everyone hated them as much as the people on here then they would most likely not exist.

  109. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @rocnrule:

    Someone needs to go take a remedial civics class.

    Unless the Consumerist is suddenly a branch of the government they can’t “censor” anything. This is their webpage & their bandwidth & if they don’t want you to post something, guess what? You’re not posting it. It’s “private” property, get over it or go elsewhere.

  110. sirdonic says:

    How odd…this site seems to love having corporate insiders available for inside info, and yet here you’ve chased a suspected one off for simply posting one side of an issue. What exactly is the harm in getting that view, whether it’s from a PR flacky or not? It’s like you don’t trust the other 100+ comments to provide a counterbalance.

    Besides, who knows, a year from now that (alleged) company rep could move on to another job and had they had a positive experience here, they could have posted juicy info we won’t get now.

    Instead of banning suspected corporate insiders, follow the old adage–Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer!

  111. nucleotide says:

    Ben, instead of deleting shill comments why not instead highlight them as such. Maybe a lovely background of assorted summer’s eve boxes. How about replacing their icon with a douche bag. It would be way more entertaining that way.

  112. nucleotide says:

    It might also be interesting to check posters ip addresses against a database of know corporate address blocks. If the poster’s ip address matches the corporation discussed or a lobbying firm the the user then gets the douche bag icon. Of course this would be easy to circumvent if the user has half a brain, so it should work well.

  113. Xenuite says:

    Mmmmm… cookies.

  114. chatterboxwriting says:

    @balthisar: I think your comment made me love you a little (I’m a proofreader).

  115. Upsilon says:

    “Lasalle bankers should be super most happy for the financial rapage has gone up! If not why, then how shall they not rejoice?”

    That would have been much more funny. Heh heh.
    Don’t worry, consumerist… Bots plague all of us who run sites with users posting…
    It’s actually quite amazing that the bot posting here had relatively good grammar.

    A lot of the ones I get are
    Topic: “Hi how are you, I’m fine thanks.”
    Post: “I’m glad to be here at your forums. Please, may we all have good time.”

    It’s like a polite retard translating from another language…

  116. Upsilon says:

    Sorry for double posting, but what does “world class” even mean?
    It sounds like a series of classes I would generally fail >.>

  117. banned says:

    @Jaysyn:
    I need a civics lesson!? Censorship can be practiced by the media also.
    [en.wikipedia.org]

  118. Jesse in Japan says:

    Jesus Christ, people. Stankwell was merely banned from posting comments on Gawker-owned sites. Unless he has become so despondent over this as to commit suicide, I would wager that he is still very much alive and well. He was not executed. He was not sent to a forced-labor camp. He was not crucified. He was not arrested or fined or forced to endure any kind of cruel or unusual punishment. I am getting really tired of people talking about this as thought he was the victim of some kind of witch hunt. Seriously, what is with all these people talking about the punishment not fitting the crime or about how harsh all this was.

    In any case, it was the first comment he ever made, so I doubt he really cares all that much. And if he really wants to, he can easily get another commentator account under a different name and with a different e-mail address.

  119. gawkimo says:

    Other incredibly selfless acts by Bank of America:

    Bank of America donates to Meals on Wheels, and on Saturday volunteers to make the deliveries.

    Bank of America drives a Prius.

    Bank of America adopts orphaned kittens and ethnic-themed babies from the Third World.

    During the holidays, Bank of American is driven around in a limo passing out $10 bills to homeless people.

    Bank of America once climbed into an electrical power station to rescue a wounded pigeon. A pigeon!

    While vacationing in Mexico, Bank of America bought some Chiclets from a street kid even though Bank of America hasn’t chewed gum in years.

  120. swalve says:

    Looking at the left column, it seems this isn’t just a “blog”- it’s a blog-like branch of a media organization called Gawker Media. You know, classy like Wonkette and Fleshbot.

  121. Michael says:

    I’m only glad you don’t ban people who insult/criticize your blog, or I’d’ve been gone long ago…