NF BannerA reader has just pointed out that Netfleet has posted a response to the allegations recently raised by Domainer.com.au. (Thank you Nathan!)

They posted a link to their blog article on their Facebook page last night. They didn’t chose to respond here, so I have posted a copy of it below.

I think that the statement has many positive attributes about it, and certainly they are on the right track. They’ve “sort of” adopted the “Volkswagen” approach we recommended!

What do you think?

P.S. Sincere thanks to Greg and Jonathan for doing the right thing and exposing this situation. You did many of your fellow domain investors a great service.

Netfleet Blog article

40 thoughts on “Netfleet Responds

  • October 2, 2015 at 2:10 pm
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    I am taking bids on whether the responses will be moderated

    Sorry guys, poor odds on the affirmative!

     

  • Ned O'Meara
    October 2, 2015 at 2:31 pm
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    @ Greg

    I am taking bids on whether the responses will be moderated

    Not on our platform they won’t be! 😉

     

  • October 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm
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    Obvious some arse kicking was done yesterday. That presser has got MelbIT all over it.

  • October 2, 2015 at 6:25 pm
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    I think they put their heads together and came up with the second best option.

    It seems that almost everyone who was upset by this simply wanted blind bidding to go away.   It must be a really important to them to keep it around.

     

    • October 2, 2015 at 6:49 pm
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      Blind bidding is fair enough, just like a tender really.

      • Ned O'Meara
        October 2, 2015 at 7:17 pm
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        @ Luke – Blind bidding is fair enough, just like a tender really.

        Except if someone with inside knowledge has told someone what they need to pay if they want to win the domain.

        That’s the whole point.

        • October 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm
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          Of course @ Ned, all bets are off when there is corruption or perceived corruption, I was simply stating that where a platform has integrity I see nothing wrong with blind bidding.

    • October 3, 2015 at 7:08 am
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      At a guess I would say that they want to keep blind bidding around because it makes them considerably more money than the old open proxy bids system…

  • October 2, 2015 at 7:16 pm
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    Blind bidding, tenders etc are fine

    But what happens when the bids are opened before the closing time and then disclosed to associated businesses or other prospective bidders

    This is not soccer & these practices brings the whole industry into disrepute!

  • October 2, 2015 at 8:02 pm
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    isolated incident? pigs arse.

    • October 2, 2015 at 8:06 pm
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      Yes, they have a long way to go while they still try to push that message

       

      • October 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm
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        I don’t believe it either. I’d like to see every domain sale above $1,000 since blind bidding began examined.

  • Luke Summers
    October 2, 2015 at 11:18 pm
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    There are certainly some encouraging points in their response, but as they say “the proof is in the pudding” – so I’ll wait and see.

    My hope is that we’ll see a new approach going forward. I think transparency and communication will be the key. Jonathan has shown that he’s prepared to engage with customers, which I think is a good sign. Transparency will also be critical though, because many quite rightly feel that there has been a breach of trust. For a blind bidding system to work effectively, the customers have to trust the platform.

  • October 3, 2015 at 5:57 am
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    As someone who has publicly criticized several domain market places, I’ve seen all sorts of responses – from the companies, from their sponsored bloggers (some of whom retaliate while others with the same sponsor foster open discussion), and from the domainer community.

    I get it.  This incident represents a serious breach of trust.  That’s a given.  Like everybody who else who sticks his neck out placing “sealed” bids, I want my bids to be well and truly sealed.

    That said, NetFleet’s response is commendable compared to what I’ve witnessed from other companies.  Yes, the behavior was inexcusable. Yes, I’m cynical enough to wonder how isolated the incident really was.  But when a scandal breaks and we demand a response, we have to pause to consider what we’d ideally want that response to say.

    Here are a few good points:

    (1) No answer from NetFleet could undo the problem that occurred. But they might have denied the allegations or procrastinated pending an “internal investigation”.  They didn’t.  Good.

    (2) Admitting wrongdoing often goes no further than saying, “mistakes were made”.  Instead, NetFleet offered an explanation of how the incident took place.  Rather than being vague, they were specific.  Good.

    (3) NetFleet might have blamed the telemarketer.  Instead, they admitted that access to bidding records was a system-wide issue.  It was their own fault.  Good.

    (4) Companies often refrain from admitting culpability by saying “some customers feel this was wrong”, but Netfleet effectively stated point-blank: “This IS wrong”. Explicitly: “removing all access to the auction database … should always have been the case”. They screwed up and say so.  Good.

    (5) Lawyers will often pressure execs to avoid implying damage to customers, since such statements can later be used in lawsuits against them. Yet NetFleet has done the honorable thing by conceding that “this disadvantaged the existing high bidder”.  Period.  Not “arguably might have” – but DID.  Ignoring your lawyers’ warnings takes guts. Good.

    (6) Companies might say sorry.  They might promise never to misbehave again.  But they seldom make clear-cut statements of fact about past behavior.  Why be answerable for past misconduct?  Why make specific claims when they put the company at risk of being refuted?  But NetFleet has taken that risk by stating very precisely and emphatically: “An existing bid has never been used to influence a new bid from a prospective buyer before or since”.  If that’s false, then their feet will be held to the fire.  Still, we do want very specific claims that we can investigate rather than vague mumbling.  NetFleet didn’t sidestep the issue of past conduct.  Good.

    (7) Companies don’t always explain how they will fix the problem or fix it right away.  Frequently, they’ll “look into” solutions.  But NetFleet says they have plugged the leak.  Good.

    (8) Companies will often downplay the problem.  They’ll implement 1 small change and wipe their hands of it.  Having now barred database access to its telemarketers, NetFleet might pretend that’s sufficient.  But they do not.  Beyond that measure, NetFleet discusses engaging an independent auditor to police their auctions using random sampling. What?  Voluntarily submitting their claims to scientific scrutiny?  Not  usual.  Good.

    (9) Inviting public comment and suggestions?  Lip service perhaps; but if comments are censored there, then that will be reported here.  Certainly, we’d want an invitation to speak our minds rather than stonewalling.  Good.

    As I see it, NetFleet’s response was commendable in a great many ways.  Am I suspicious about the past?  Who wouldn’t be?  But NetFleet has now said many of the right things.

    Be grateful for small favors. The domain industry remains largely unregulated.  Compare NetFleet’s response to Flippa’s after I wrote about shill bidding.  Would Flippa ever voluntarily allow an independent auditor to review bidding records at random from their past auctions?  When hell freezes over!  Flippa has made some good changes; I don’t want to downplay that.  But they’re still hemming and hawing about implementing transparent bidder IDs rather than making that quick fix or saying simply that they don’t want to and won’t.   In comparison, NetFleet’s response is far more salutary.

    • October 3, 2015 at 7:04 am
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      All very valid points – and an indication of a culture change at Netfleet.

       

    • October 3, 2015 at 7:06 am
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      A great comment. Netfleet’s response has been good. Domainers should bear in mind that one alternative to Netfleet dominating the drops could be auDA controlling the drops, which could mean heftier prices, more stringent policy enforcement and a situation where the administrator of the .au space has more timely and accurate information about portfolio movements. Every dog has its fleas.

    • Ned O'Meara
      October 3, 2015 at 7:32 am
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      @ Joseph – what an excellent, detailed response. Thank you.

      Like you, I am still “cynical enough to wonder how isolated the incident really was”. And imo there is going to have to be some “hurt money” paid to people like Greg to show that they are genuinely remorseful and willing to be accountable. Greg lost what was potentially a $5k to $10k domain because of these actions. I know of many others including myself who feel that they may have been similarly gazumped in the past.

      But hey, this response is straight out of the new paradigm “Corporate Responsibility 101” – and for that we are to be grateful.

      I genuinely wish Jonathan Gleeson the very best for the future ahead. He has a big task ahead of him – but it looks like he is definitely on the right track given their response.

  • October 3, 2015 at 1:15 pm
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    A telemarketer in his first week? Who employed him? Who gave him sales training and a list of who to call and what to say? Is he still employed?

    • October 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm
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      It’d be strange if they weren’t on a bonus for sales remuneration too. The fact that they had access to the live bidding system is incredibly stupid for a clean and above board system. If this “new guy” could access it who is to say it hasn’t been all along?

  • October 3, 2015 at 2:31 pm
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    how secure is a system that allows a guy with all of 7 days tenure to hack into it

    not comforting at all

    • October 4, 2015 at 12:36 am
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      “a telemarketer in his first week with net fleet inadvertently”

      lolololo

       

      an inadvertant hack

  • October 4, 2015 at 5:59 am
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    “Single incident that has never before occurred”. Have a look at patterns of bidding. One buyer stands out recently – Cobra Car Alarms. They got fleet.com.au. Did Cobra get inside info? Or was it legit?

    • Ned O'Meara
      October 4, 2015 at 8:29 am
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      @Sammie – interesting you should mention them. They have beaten me on some nice domains this year (and normally I’m a high bidder).

      But if Netfleet say that they have checked all other bids out, then I guess they must be fine. Well here’s hoping anyway. 🙂

      • October 4, 2015 at 8:38 am
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        Ned

        The patterns of bidding, the contradictions in the public records and the way the domain names this company has acquired through the auctions are held all deserve a thorough review by those responsible for corporate governance at NetFleet & even aUDA

        • Ned O'Meara
          October 4, 2015 at 9:17 am
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          @Greg – agree with you on bidding pattern. After the last “incident”, the fact is a lot of us are still very suspicious. But maybe we are just jumping at shadows.

          Not sure what you mean by public records though?

  • October 4, 2015 at 9:59 am
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    WhoIs on fleet.com.au shows registrant as cobra car ALARMS (VIC) PTY LTD. Google “Cobra Car Alarms Vic” and you get this True Local listing: http://www.truelocal.com.au/business/cobra-car-alarms/melbourne .  Click on “Visit Website” and you get to a parking page cobracaralarms.com.au. Do a WhoIs on this and you’ll see why i ask the question if bid on fleet.com.au was legit. It might be, but I wonder.

    • Ned O'Meara
      October 4, 2015 at 10:13 am
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      OMG Sammie!

      However, it could just be a coincidence. I will ask Jonathan Gleeson to check it out tomorrow.

  • October 4, 2015 at 10:40 am
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    I thought related entities couldn’t buy domains via in house drop catching services?

     

    Might be time for some corporate governance? Hello MelbourneIT.

     

  • Ned O'Meara
    October 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm
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    Guys, I’ve had a number of comments made regarding Sammie’s post which I’ve decided not to publish at this stage (as they may potentially be defamatory).

    The similarity of names could just be purely coincidental, so let’s just wait for a proper investigation. I’ve also been given other information which I shall pass on to Jonathan Gleeson and Melbourne IT.

    If there is something to it, I shall do a brand new post and you can comment then.

  • Ned O'Meara
    October 5, 2015 at 11:06 am
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    Re Sammie’s post. As I said previously, “the similarity of names could just be purely coincidental, so let’s just wait for a proper investigation”.

    I’ve done some homework myself, and am satisfied that it is a coincidence. Two separate entities. I guess it is fair to say though (given recent events) that it is an unfortunate coincidence having a company name and a domain name the same. Particulary where one of the entities has or had an “ownership” connection with Netfleet.

    Given recent revelations about telemarketing activities, I’m still worried about bidding patterns though – but once again, that could just be jumping at shadows.

    I guess one way to fix customer confidence is to return to a transparent bidding platform. Solves a lot of issues imho.

     

  • Ned O'Meara
    October 7, 2015 at 5:22 am
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    Re comments on posts – if you choose to make a post with a non-resolving email address, then it won’t be published.

    Happy for you to be anonymous if you choose to be (choice of username), but your email address needs to be valid. This is visible only to us as publishers, and will never be disclosed to anyone (unless required by law).

  • October 7, 2015 at 9:40 am
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    The response from NetFleet is weak at best.

     

    There should be an investigation either by ACCC or AUDA or both that includes:

     

    1. Any and all communications via email and sms from NetFleet to clients since inception of blind auction.

    2. Full disclosure of ALL companies that have directors and/or employees that have had ANY ACCESS to the platform.

    3. Full disclosure of ALL companies that have or have had directors and/or employees and/or family members that have partcipated on the NetFleet platform and standard listing portal and sales or acquisitions of those parties.

     

    I would be surprised if a class action lawsuit does not come about with all of this information.  It saddens me to read these posts about this apparent lack of integrity and I applaud Ned for bringing it to the forefront of the domain community.

     

    Keep It Simple Stupid

     

    • Ned O'Meara
      October 12, 2015 at 7:10 am
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      Optimistic post KISS. 🙂

      I think there is more chance of Collingwood winning the Grand Final next year.

  • Ned O'Meara
    October 10, 2015 at 9:50 am
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    I have published the post that I pulled down on the 29th September – complete with cached image of “spiked” iTWire story.

    Given that Netfleet acknowledged formally that there was an issue, I’m surprised that iTWire didn’t run with their story.

  • October 10, 2015 at 5:44 pm
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    Thanks Greg and Jonathon for exposing this and Ned for reporting so well on it.

    I have been in hospital with my wife having our second child, so I missed out commenting about this very important subject in the Australian domain name industry. Thankfully, I have a few moments now to have my say on this huge event, now that Netfleet have admitted their wrongdoing. That’s a good first step, but is it enough?

    Netfleet said:

    “A telemarketer in his first week with Netfleet inadvertently accessed limited data on existing bids in our daily expired domain auction. It appears that he used that information as a benchmark to influence a bid from a third party on a single domain.”

    Apparently, this new telemarketer still has his job though, right? Did this telemarketer perform this dodgy action on his own or not? If he did, why does he still have a job? If he didn’t, who told him this was okay to do? It’s called INSIDER TRADING. Does anyone have this telemarketer’s name and email address? Perhaps he would like to tell his side of the story?

    In terms of admitting they cheated, be it a rogue telemarketer, of from the company itself, Netfleet *has* cheated us, and although they say they haven’t done it in the past, how do we know? And although they say they won’t do it again, how do we know?

    Weeks later, after being caught red-handed, it is pleasing to see they have admitted guilt. That’s admirable, although I don’t think they had much choice. The main problem now is, they are saying *Hey, never mind, trust us, we won’t do it again* but there is no way we can ever know they won’t do it again, as long as they continue to force us to use their magical BLIND bidding platform.

    Netfleet say that they will fix this issue by: <from now on we have> “put in place a simple measure to prevent this from ever happening again, by removing all access to the database, as should have always been the case”.

    Well, that’s a great start. But…

    They have removed all access to the database to telemarketers, but what about from people higher up in the chain that can still use the information for their own insider advantage?

    They also say: “customers have raised concerns of the integrity of the platform and have taken the following immediate actions”

    “Publishing Australia has now been suspended from bidding on our auction platform”

    What I want to know is, are any of the directors or people involved in Publishing Australia or Netfleet going to just keep buying domain names under “other business names” and have they done so in the past, with intent to develop them for themselves or to sell them to new customers again using telemarketers? Who knows?

    “Netfleet telesales in their current form will cease and be refocussed”

    This is very vague. We have no idea what they are going to do. Are Netfleet asking us to *trust* them again?

    To make it simple to see how shady this BLIND bidding platform is, let me give you an example.

    Let’s take *me* for example.

    Netfleet see Robert from Domain Broker Australia is bidding $101 for insidertrading.com.au(.) They have a customer who they know would love this name, or they want it for themselves.

    Let’s say I lose the name by $10 – and the winner wins the name for $111.

    I HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING if they sold me out in the last 3 minutes or not, other than “trusting” their word, which has been shown a few times to be untrustworthy.

    I HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING if they are punishing me for speaking out about their platform, and simply let the names I bid on DROP <LOST> so that I can’t win any names on their platform. I have been told by them recently <basically> that if I don’t like their system, I can take a walk.

    The Drop.com.au and DomainShield bidding platforms are much fairer platforms, where you can see in real time when someone is bidding and how much they are bidding. If you lose the bid in the last few seconds, you can see and understand why you lost the bid. You can WHOIS who won the name, you can look them up, and even talk to them – congratulate them, and KNOW that you haven’t been shafted.

    With Netfleet, we are just told to “trust” they won’t shaft us.

    But they have been caught red-handed cheating us. They have NOW ADMITTED TO DOING IT, but just continue to go about business as usual, taking as much money as they can with their 80% drop-catching success rate using their BLIND bidding system, which leaves everyone in the dark.

    Days and weeks are now ticking by. There was a call-to-arms a few weeks back for domainers to stop using their BLIND platform, but it was easy to see that everyone was too scared to put their hands up and say, enough is enough.

    I don’t blame you though, you can’t let these fantastic domain names go, because you will lose a lot of business, and you know Netfleet catch most of the names.

    So, unfortunately, after 5 or 6 weeks of boycotting their shady blind bidding platform, I too can no longer stay away from Netfleet. If I am going to be able to promise my customers that I can secure domain names for them from the drops, I have to put on the Darth Vader mask [when all I really want to do is be a Jedi]. Lucky for me, there haven’t been any premium names my customers have needed on the drops over the last five weeks.

    I am forced, against my will, to now go back to using Netfleet’s dark and BLIND bidding platform, because they catch 80% of the drops.

    I thank Netfleet for admitting guilt. Now I ask them to change their Blind bidding platform to something the domainer and Australian business communities can trust.

    I DO NOT TRUST Netfleet’s current blind bidding platform and I never will again. I am forced to use it. I can only hope Domain Shield or Drop get most of my names for me, as I don’t like seeing Netfleet get any of my money at the moment. I can also only hope that Netfleet don’t see my name and maliciously sabotage my attempts to win names from them. Don’t worry though, I will be watching Netfleet with Eagle Eyes, I’m sure, like the rest of us.

    There is nothing stopping Netfleet from seeing my name *Robert* come up on their system, and making sure I don’t win. NOTHING to stop them. How could I possible know? And how are they allowed to get away with continuing this form of one-sided monopoly power and blind bidding platform when they have had so many complaints about it?

    If I have the winning bid on their platform, they can simply choose not to “chase” the drop and let is go. I will never know.

    If I don’t have the winning bid, they could be tipping someone off to bid higher. They say they won’t do it, but I will never know.

    THE ONLY WAY WE CAN TRUST THEM IN THE FUTURE is for Netfleet to CHANGE their BLIND BIDDING PLATFORM to something that is fair.

    At this point I can only hope MelbourneIT, a very reputable company, step in and take control of Netfleet and turn things around.

    Two days ago, Netfleet posted a blog on their website. It is entitled “Netfleet’s Idea’s Forum”.

    Not a single person has commented there, and that was 2 days ago.

    There is a link to a forum where they are hoping people will post ideas that Netfleet should take on board. That forum has been live for 3 days now, it seems.

    Not a single person has posted there.

    This says a lot.

    As you can see from the countless blog posts on this website, as well as the other Australian Domain Name Forum sites we  visit, there is A LOT of interest in Australian Domain Names and the drop platform process 
 BY DOMAINERS!

    Netfleet don’t see us domainers as worth much, but to me, this proves we are THEIR MAIN TARGET AUDIENCE and CASH FLOW and they are treating us with a lot of disrespect.

    WE, the Australian Domainers, are the front-line credibility-builders of Australian Domain Names. Whether anyone likes it or not, WE are creating the Australian Domain Name Market and having a HUGE say in Australian Domain Name PRICES, right now and into the future.

    It’s time Netfleet realised we won’t take their unfair drip-feeding of domain name dropping rules and policies just because they say so.

    Netfleet
 Not good enough!

    Change your BLIND bidding platform.

    Transparency is the only way forward and your only chance of regaining trust.

    • Ned O'Meara
      October 12, 2015 at 7:07 am
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      Firstly, congratulations on the new baby Robert! 🙂  Wonderful news.

      As for your post, you make some excellent points. However I fear that Jonathan Gleeson has “gone to ground”, and is hoping that this will all blow over.

      I’m sure he’s going to try and change the culture, but what I and many others are concerned about is accountability for the past.

      I am never ever going to believe that what happened was a single incident. It defies all the laws of probability.

  • October 20, 2015 at 7:20 am
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    Thanks Luke.  Yeh I just read the post by Joseph and it’s an interesting issue.  I placed a comment there on DNW.

    Thanks Ned for speaking on this very important issue.  I hope there is some clarification very soon and a resolution can be reached by NetFleet and their customer base.

    I wonder if there is a way to discover if this is truly an isolated incident?  From reading the comments here, I feel that it is not and I also wonder if Melbourne IT push their hand and restructure the directors and roles within the organisation?

     

    JW

    • Luke Summers
      October 20, 2015 at 8:19 am
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      James, you’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head with your point about clarification. Lots of people, me included want some answers.

      Your question as to whether this is an isolated incident is one that many are asking. A number of people believe this is not a ‘one-off case’ and there are many red flags around previous occasions.

      Hopefully we’ll hear more from Jonathan Gleeson soon: http://www.domainer.com.au/questions-for-netfleet/

      Thanks for commenting.

      Luke

Comments are closed.