Open Letter to Netfleet

An open letter to Jonathan Gleeson – General Manager, Netfleet

Jonathan,

I write this in total despair – and with the knowledge of the potential consequences.

Last week, after my podcast interview with you, there were a number of issues raised by your customers. Your answer on Thursday was this:

“Again to reiterate my conversation with Ned, new leadership, new life, new direction Netfleet wants to create positive customer experiences and leave the past in the past”.

Many of us were heartened by this (particularly me) – and prepared to give you a go.

But then came Friday

An alleged incident occurred which highlighted every suspicion that some of your long standing customers have held.

I believe there is effectively insider trading going on at Netfleet. I can’t describe what happened in any other way. Certain people have access to private bids on your platform, and are using this information to try and elicit higher bids from others. In my opinion, this is causing (and has caused) financial loss / loss of opportunity to your existing client base.

I am not suggesting or implying that you were aware of; or complicit in this – but I urge you to investigate this allegation – and if you find it to be a valid complaint, take action to stamp it out immediately.

To Summarise What Happened On Friday

Someone working for Netfleet contacted an enduser over a particular domain. This enduser is a businessman, and had never dealt with Netfleet. The Netfleet rep allegedly said “that they had a bid from a big domain investor at $720 (and named the person); and assured him that if he was to bid $750, he would get the domain”.

This businessman thought he was being scammed, because he had already been approached about the domain by someone else. Unbeknown to Netfleet, another regular bidder on the drops had contacted this person first, and offered to try and acquire the domain for them at a lower price (that’s their legitimate business model).

So the businessman rang the number back of the Netfleet rep and he reluctantly confirmed the offer (his reluctance was due to him not being sure if everything was above board). He did not have an account with Netfleet – nor did he sign up for one. He received an emailed invoice for the domain at about 2.10pm. However, they charged him a buyer’s premium and GST on top, so the $750 actually became $874.95. This really annoyed him because he was not told about the additional charges.

And because of that, that’s how I became aware of the story.  When Netfleet contacted the businessman, he obviously reported back to the person who had approached him first. Given that the domaining community is fairly small, and a lot of us talk to each other, this person felt obliged to tell the “big domain investor who had bid $720”.

They then told me – and I contacted “the businessman” to hear it “from the horse’s mouth”. He confirmed all of the above in writing.

Gobsmacked Is The Only Way To Describe This.

Your platform is supposed to be a “Fixed Blind Bid” system where your customers can bid in total confidence in the knowledge that no other bidder will know what they have bid.

This from your webpage:

Netfleet Bids and Offers page - as at 26 September 2015

This from your marketing emails with one hour to go:

 

Netfleet email - 23 September 2015Let’s Bullet Point The Issues At Stake

Given this incident, and that it probably isn’t an isolated example, let’s look at some of the issues potentially in play:

  • Insider trading
  • Misleading and deceptive conduct
  • Breach of your customers privacy in relation to bids that they have made
  • Potential and quantifiable loss to your regular domain bidders
  • Continuing lack of transparency in the bidding process will leave lingering doubt
  • Integrity of the .au space has possibly been brought into question (just ask the businessman above!)

These Are Some Questions For You

Regardless of ASIC records, in my opinion effective control of Netfleet’s operations (NetAlliance Pty Ltd) has always been directed by David Lye – and put into practise by his brother Mark. I believe this situation continued even after Melbourne IT Group (a publicly listed company) has taken a 50% stake in the business.

  • How many telemarketers do you employ?
  • Who trained them – and continues to train them?
  • What information do they have access to?
  • You say that Publishing Australia (P.A) has no access to the “back end” or other data – yet are you aware that Mark Lye (as a Director of NetAlliance) holds a 1/3 share in P.A?
  • Given all this, do you now see how a “fair minded person” could easily maintain that there is a conflict of interest between the Lye Brothers / Publishing Australia and the clients of Netfleet?
  • Does Melbourne IT (as a publicly listed company on the ASX) condone this incident?
  • Will they / you put in place some corporate governance to stop this happening again?

Jonathan, I have put myself in the firing line here on behalf of many of your customers.

Please do a “Volkswagen” and acknowledge responsibility for what has transpired – and promise to fix the problems. Get back to a transparent bidding system.

I know that some peoples natural inclination will be to be to try and “spin their way out of this”. Like throwing the telemarketer “under the bus” for a start. And by probably trying to attack and discredit me (playing the man rather than the ball).

Over to you Jonathan.

Yours sincerely,

Ned

79 thoughts on “Open Letter to Netfleet

  • September 28, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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    That is very unsettling. Total breach of customer trust.

    I know you well enough to know that you would not have posted this unless you had “dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s”, so I have no doubt that you have obtained credible information.

    Holy sh*t.

  • September 28, 2015 at 12:40 pm
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    I can verify the content of Ned’s article

    I was the bidder named and my bid was disclosed to a 3rd party

    I also received communications eminating from that 3rd party confirming the facts as outlined by Ned

    Suprisingly, I also received a call from a representative of NetFleet who had access to the bidding history (which is astounding in is own right given the aUDA requirements) confirming the bids placed on the domain name in question

    My immediate reaction on Friday, when this was disclosed to me, was that this behaviour is horsesh#t and needed to be exposed in the public arena

    In my opinion, the NetFleet platform has been exposed as

    a) lacking in integrity;
    b) being operated contrary to its own privacy policies; and
    c) misrepresenting its manner of operation

    I do not believe this matter can be swept aside as a staffing error, because as we all know staff have to be trained

    I even suspect that an employee would in fact have to be instructed to act in this manner; given that 99.9999 per cent of the population would know it was unconscionable conduct

    How long has this sh#t been going on? What are the losses that have been sustained by myself and other regular bidders on this platform as a result of this type of behaviour?

    I encourage everyone who is active on the NetFleet platform to

    a) applaud Ned for having the balls to expose this matter;
    b) take action in order to prevent future breaches of our privacy and to cease this type of deceptive business conduct; and
    c) get some recompense for the losses we have sustained

    • Luke Summers
      September 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm
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      Greg, good on you for sticking your hand up to verify this and provide further details.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 28, 2015 at 12:59 pm
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      @Greg – not sure exactly what you mean by this?:

      Suprisingly, I also received a call from a representative of NetFleet who had access to the bidding history (which is astounding in is own right given the aUDA requirements) confirming the bids placed on the domain name in question

      Who called you? And when? I just want to make sure that the story is complete.

  • September 28, 2015 at 1:06 pm
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    I can not believe this, although a small part of me has suspected this has been the case all along.

    As Ned has now brought this to light, I am deeply concerned and will be thinking about my options.

    I have spent well over $10000 in the past 12 months with Netfleet. I would have to add it up, could be closer to $20000, but I know it must be 5 figures…

    I now wonder how much of this money has been “gauged”? And rigged to make me spend more.

    I now wonder how I lost so many valuable domain names in the drop to Netfleet by $20 and how many times it happened? How much money has this cost me and the clients who have trusted me to secure domain names for them?

    I NO LONGER TRUST THE NETFLEET PLATFORM and I too call for an immediate investigation into this allegation.

    I believe auDA, MelbourneIT, ausregistry and ASIC need to be informed of this type of behaviour by Netfleet against their own customers, behind their backs, and I want to know what these companies are going to do about this.

    I feel, the AUSTRALIAN DOMAIN NAME SPACE is now officially in DISREPUTE! NETFLEET win over 80% of the drops every day and now NETFLEET CAN NO LONGER BE TRUSTED to provide this domain name dropping service in its current state.

    As a Domainer and Domain Broker and customer of Netfleet, I request Netfleet to shut down operations while they perform an internal investigation. Netfleet should let DROP.com.au and DomainShield ONLY perform the drops every day from this day forward until this is sorted out. This would be the decent thing to do.

    I personally will not be using NETFLEET while this investigation is underway and I would hope no other professional Domainer does either during this time.

    As for BLIND BIDDING…

    This now PROVES that BLIND BIDDING is a scam and a greedy way for dropping platforms to secure the names either for themselves, or for their own interests – because everyone is LEFT IN THE DARK as to what really happened with the domain names, and for how much they sold for. This is probably why they do not run their dropping systems like this in the American .com space!

    In short, there must be an investigation into Netfleet and Blind-Bidding needs to be taken off the table in future for all platforms, full stop. Blind-bidding can no longer be trusted, as is being proven right here.

    This is ridiculous and disheartening and I’m sure every single customer of Netfleet will be watching this blog post and the Netfleet site over the next few hours for a response.

    The next response from Netfleet is obviously very important to the future of Australian domain name drop-platform services. Let’s hope they do the honest and right thing before a group of us have to band together to take this to another level.

  • September 28, 2015 at 1:06 pm
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    @Ned

    It was David Lye (hence the use of the term “suprisingly”)

    I opened a support ticket on Friday with the intent of questioning the integrity of the bid platform with either Mark & David (who I understand to be the senior management team – I have never been contacted by or spoken to Jonathan Gleeson)

    I received a call in response to that ticket from David at about 12:30 today

    I do not typically disclose the content of private conversations; however I can say that his initial reaction was that my questions were misguided

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 28, 2015 at 1:18 pm
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      @ Greg

      It was David Lye (hence the use of the term “suprisingly”)

      This just further emphasises the point of my article. WTF is David Lye doing phoning you on behalf of Netfleet?

      He is Publishing Australia – and according to Jonathan Gleeson on Thursday (in his comments):

      Let me assure you no one from PA has any more visibility or access to NF then our regular customers do.

      I’m hoping we can let this one go as it seams to me as a result of a past problem and a control that was put in place to ensure the problem could not arise. Marks involvement with NF is now simply that of governance from the board and as indicated in the interview David has no input at all (he is a founder of the company so he does want it to succeed and continues to post passionately in support of NF, and the board has asked for his input on strategic decisions, but that’s it).

    • September 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm
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      Greg,

      David called you as you specifically requested that he and mark do so.

      I called them both and passed on the message.

      – Jonathan

  • September 28, 2015 at 1:27 pm
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    I have just personally clicked on the CONTACT link at Netfleet.com.au and written to them, as a customer, stating:

    “I’m sure some of your customers are aware – but I too would like to request you do not perform any future dropping services until you have investigated and publicly addressed the following allegation – http://www.domainer.com.au/open-letter-to-netfleet

    I do not trust their platform anymore and if anyone else feels like emailing them to let them know this, I think it would be a good thing. At least they can’t say they didn’t know about it.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm
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      @ Robert

      At least they can’t say they didn’t know about it.

      They know about the article. Out of courtesy, I tried to phone Jonathan Gleeson before publishing the article, but I only got his voicemail. I left a message for him to this effect.

      I also emailed one of the two Melbourne IT Directors of NetAlliance Pty Ltd (Netfleet). He is in the USA at the moment, but he acknowledged my email, and said he would investigate on his return next Wednesday.

      • September 28, 2015 at 3:21 pm
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        Thanks for the courtesy call Ned apologies I missed it.

  • September 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm
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    This is such an incredible revelation that I am currently struggling to make sense of it all.

    As a rule I try to avoid getting involved in online debate about drop catchers because it tends to bring discord and argument into an industry which already has enough perception problems from outside of the industry like the whole “cybersquatter” versus “domainer” debate. This is however an exceptional example of Greg specifically (and others including Ned I suspect) having a provable loss.

    Disclosure: I currently own a registrar which has been Beta Testing a drop catching service. I used to work for Netfleet as a General Manager. I also used to work for Drop.com.au and before that Domain Watch. All my observations below are from after 27 November 2013 when I left Netfleet or before joining Netfleet.

    Ned, I am surprised about Mark Lye being a shareholder in Publishing Australia. I have never bothered to do an ASIC check and I always operated under the assumption that Mark was not involved in Publishing Australia. I have now done the check (including historical) and it does appear that he is a 1/3 share holder in PA but is not currently a director. I do not really understand the finer points about Directors versus Share holders in this debate so it is probably best to let auDA advise if there is any conflict.

    Robert, I for one would not call for a close down of Netfleet (even though they are a competitor of mine and it would be great to have some free business). It looks to me like the problems of the past and this current “icing on the cake” slap in the face to Greg seems to stem from one side of the business. Surely it would be most helpful to the industry if we could get comment from the other half of the business (currently MelbourneIT) because it goes to reason that if 99.999% of us consider this behaviour unacceptable then it goes to reason that the board of a publicly listed company would also consider it unacceptable?

    Greg, I’ve been trying to figure out why Netfleet would try to telemarket a domain to an end user for only $30 more. There must be more to this story than just trying to make a quick $30? Do you think their desired effect of outbidding you by $30 is to increase your bid by $30 on all your other bids so the overall effect is more than just $30?

    Ned, I don’t mean to hijack your thread but I have a few questions for Jonathan too if you don’t mind.

    Jonathan,
    1) How do you feel about the Netregistry group selling backorders on domains for $10 per year and then giving a majority of their connections to Netfleet to then catch that domain. Does the MelbourneIT group have any visibility about the number of Netregistry backorders they have collected money for that Netfleet have then caught and effectively sold again?
    2) Do you realise that the email address a@a.co belongs to Amazon Inc and is not a valid email address for a registrant contact?
    3) Are you aware that Netfleet had a private bid data leak via an old RSS feed which allowed some parties to see blind bids others had placed for the better part of a year. After fixing this leak Netfleet never made the affect parties who lost domains aware of the leak.
    4) Are you aware that Netfleet has a history of threatening clients with bans if they disclose or report on security issues and privacy breaches which is why Ned makes the comments about putting himself in the firing line.

    To MelbourneIT management, Netfleet is an important asset to the Australian Aftermarket and a crucial place to buy and sell .au domain names. Unfortunately it is also terribly easy to mismanage this small asset by assuming the finer details of its operations can be ignored. I implore you to put measures in place to ensure that the business is run in a fair handed manner.

    • September 28, 2015 at 2:24 pm
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      I really like your post Anthony and I’m also really enjoying your drop catching service.

      I think it’s admirable that you don’t call for a close down of Netfleet – but the fact remains that if they don’t close down this afternoon, this means they are moving forward as “business as usual” which, I’m sure, Netfleet customers won’t stand for from this point, once the facts become known to everyone.

      If they literally ignore this allegation and perform their usual sneaky tricks tomorrow, I’m sure certain people will be left with no choice as to how they react to this situation.

      At this point, I personally am waiting for their statement. In the meantime, as they prepare their statement, with this sort of allegation – they should at least CLOSE DOWN their questionable drop service and place some sort of notice on their website. It’s the right thing to do.

      Here is an example…

      Tomorrow, if I want to buy a few domain names, I simple CAN’T do that with the Netfleet service anymore as it currently stands. So I will be trying to secure them from drop.com.au and domainshield.com.au(.) If someone wins a domain name over at Netfleet, after all that has been exposed, this will be entirely unfair and unjust and Netfleet must know this.

      Netfleet need to shut down for now. If anyone loses a name to them tomorrow, I’m sure they won’t be happy, as Netfleet have been informed of the allegations.

      In fact, anyone who loses a domain at Netfleet tomorrow, should be able to appeal to ausregistry and auDA about wrongfully losing a name to an alleged cheating platform, when they were already made aware of the allegations.

    • September 28, 2015 at 3:26 pm
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      Anthony,

      Its been a long time mate, I hope things are well.

      Point 1, is a question for Netregistry not me.

      I’m not sure what point 2 refers to ?

      I was not aware of points 3 and 4 but as I keep saying I will not allow the past to darken the future of Netfleet. Changes are happening.

      • September 28, 2015 at 7:18 pm
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        I am keeping busy, thanks for asking

        1) Okay I’ll take it up with them.

        2) Last time I looked a@a.co is the email address attached to the default registrant id your software uses to catch domain names. I assumed you would know this. Also the Registrant name needs to be a either a Person’s name or Position within the company. The email address needs to be valid as the registrant email address can be used to get the EPP code which in theory could be sent to Amazon Inc which is a minor security breach. Technically if you have any bounce back emails after being unable to deliver to a@a.co these would be examples of that and should probably be discussed with auDA.

        3) and 4) If ISS taught me anything it is that you need to know what your private data is, where it is stored, who has access too it and how do you report breaches of it. I am concerned that Netfleet has not historically considered live bidding data before the close of the blind auction to be private data. What is your position moving forward on if this data should be considered private and should be subject to ISS?

  • September 28, 2015 at 1:57 pm
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    It is interesting that Publishing Australia actively bid on the NetFleet platform again today

    The names they registered received at least one bid on another platform

    Therefore another platform would have been registered these names if NetFleet had not beat them at the drop

    Therefore the NetFleet drop system and registrar service is being used by a company, with at least one director who has today been actively engaged in the operations of NetFleet

    Where is the accountability? Why are the regulations being applied?

  • September 28, 2015 at 2:26 pm
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    It is now clear that NETFLEET KNOW about this allegation and they simply DON’T CARE – because I have just received their, “Hey everybody, here are the names dropping tomorrow” email.

  • tim
    September 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm
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    this calls into question every bid i have ever done, when did it start? we’ll never find out !

    i agree with anthony we shouldn’t shut down netfleet but the governing body needs to show action on this, and if they don’t then they are just a toothless tiger.

    this is a “head high tackle” so i believe there needs to be a FINE $$$$$ , and a suspension, you are only go to fix it by showing you will not put up with this contact.

    throwing the telemarketer under the bus is pointless, everything comes from the top IMO

    this is a “bronwyn bishop” moment, ……… what else is happening?

    this comes at a bad time with the names policy survey, now that we can’t trust NF can we trust auda? there is just not enough transparency in my view.

    tim

  • September 28, 2015 at 3:18 pm
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    Ned,

    Firstly thank you for bringing another issue to my attention. As I continue to iterate I’m on a mission to improve NF.

    There is no insider trading. To my mind that means an internal or related entity using internal confidential information to their own gain. This hasn’t happened.

    As for the misleading or deceptive conduct, Our customer communication is very clear and accurate, However I would as always welcome feedback?

    The Point you raise regarding a “Breach of your customers privacy in relation to bids that they have made” concerns me and I have spent the morning looking into it, Not one on my staff has indicated they have ever disclosed information relating to customer details or bid information. In the particular case you are highlighting our sales staff do not have access to bid information however having spoken to the sales person who dealt with this case, a member of the team who has been with us for less then a week, he showed me a legacy way to access the bid information in our system that he found, he was not shown this function nor instructed to use information from it. I have now removed this ability and can guarantee you that the only people that could possibly see the bids are myself and my lead developer and only upon querying the database directly for this information.

    I will be spending time with the sales staff to go over their processes and ensure there is nothing else odd or out of place in their day to day activities. The sales person strongly asserts that he did not mention Greg and that he never mentioned any figures relating to Greg’s bid.

    Once again the PA debate, Mark is no longer involved in the day to day of Netfleet the only Netfleet access he maintains is an email account. PA have no access to Netfleets’s systems. Mark does get board reporting material but I doubt he could use profit and loss reports to gleam inside knowledge of the auctions. (Greg, I asked both Mark and David to call you as the vague message in our support system I believed it was in relation to this, given your past history and the request for them both by name I simply passed on the message that you where looking for them).

    I have told Ned in our few conversations and I believe I mentioned in the pod cast I have made a significant investment in a new technology stack and have a large back log of development to improve the system at the same time we are looking at security and legacy systems and removing them as we go.

    Guys change takes time, you have to be patient I have been saying it since day one Netfleet is engaged and all staff are motivated to improve its customer experience. I can only thank you Ned for bringing things like this to my attention.

    I assure you this is a single incident and will not be repeated again in the future.

    – Jonathan

    • September 28, 2015 at 3:41 pm
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      “The sales person strongly asserts that he did not mention Greg and that he never mentioned any figures relating to Greg’s bid.”

      Is there any proof for this?

      Guys change takes time, you have to be patient I have been saying it since day one Netfleet is engaged and all staff are motivated to improve its customer experience.

      It’s unfortunate Jonathan that you’re copping the brunt of this, as the new guy, but there’s no way any of us are going to be able to let this slide. It is plain to see this is not just a “one-off”. I personally am not happy with how the Netfleet system has been operating for the past year I have been using it.

      The BLIND BIDDING SYSTEM DOES NOT WORK and WILL NEVER BE TRUSTED AGAIN.

      This is not about a “change” for Netfleet. This is about Netfleet being caught red-handed cheating the drop platform. A drop-platform that they DOMINATE. A drop-platform that can no longer be trusted.

      It is also disturbing to hear you defending the sales staff for his/her action. If any normal company heard this kind of thing was happening, and they were vehemently against it, they would instantly sack the sales staff. But this sort of thing doesn’t seem to matter much at Netfleet?

      I personally am not satisfied with this official response from Netfleet.

      If Netfleet won’t close down as they take this investigation seriously, a self-imposed domainer ban should be put into effect. What do you think guys?

      I am transferring all my domains away from Netfleet, today.

      If this is the sort of answer Netfleet are going to offer up, I think we need to take things a lot further.

      • September 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm
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        Robert,

        I could ask a similar question regarding proof, I only have what my staff have told me and what I have heard from Greg and Ned, I didn’t challenge either of them I simply presented it from the information I have gathered from my staff.

        I did not attempt to defend or support the action of this sales person simply stated the facts as I have them. I’m not about to start sacking my staff for a mistake in the first week of employment. But I have made it very clear internally that this sort of action will not be tolerated in the future.

        If your not happy with the system personally Robert, I would suggest your proposed action is in your best interest.

        Netfleet will not be closing down over a single incident, that has been investigate internally and resolved. Netfleet will however continue its current mission of improving the after market platform it provides to ensure a brilliant customer experience with a focus on snapping domains for our clients.

        • September 28, 2015 at 4:21 pm
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          If your not happy with the system personally Robert, I would suggest your proposed action is in your best interest.

          So you are saying you are happy that I am no longer going to be using Netfleet?

          Netfleet will not be closing down over a single incident, that has been investigate internally and resolved.

          Wow, I was hoping for more from the new guy who was supposed to take Netfleet to the next level. You have shot this event down, with, as you say – NO PROOF – just what your staff told you – and now it is RESOLVED.

          It is NOT resolved.

          And if you think it’s fine to just snub me off and wish me luck using other platforms because you think Netfleet is so powerful, you can think again.

          Netfleet may have been the most powerful drop-catching service up until this day, but if you think I, and other domainers can just be brushed aside, when we catch some red-handed cheating, you can think again.

          This will not go away this easily.

          We demand answers!

          • September 28, 2015 at 4:33 pm
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            “So you are saying you are happy that I am no longer going to be using Netfleet?”

            No Im not happy at all I would rather you stay, but I dont think I can do anything that will regain your confidence, at this time.

            • September 28, 2015 at 4:42 pm
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              I think that’s a copout, Jonathan.

              I’m a level-headed, passionate domainer – of course there are things you can do. But will you do them?

        • September 28, 2015 at 4:23 pm
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          “If your not happy with the system personally Robert, I would suggest your proposed action is in your best interest”

          It is amazing that a company can display such arrogance by effectively telling clients to “take a walk” simply because they are being brought to account and asked to become accountable

          This is hardly the response anyone would expect from of a company that is planning positive changes

          • Ned O'Meara
            September 29, 2015 at 7:19 am
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            My thoughts exactly Greg. To use my favourite word of the month, I was “gobsmacked” by this response.

            Robert is the new breed of domainer coming through. He’s entrepreneurial by nature; and judging from the “drop records”, prepared to spend a decent amount when chasing a particular domain or domains.

            He also has the ability to influence many other people along the way.

            Netfleet should make every effort to keep his business imho. And that probably means introducing some real transparency into their platform.

      • September 28, 2015 at 4:01 pm
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        Jonathan

        With respect, I asked for David and Mark as I have never spoken to you and saw no reason to hold you accountable for a response

        I further confirm that my “handle – acheeva” and my bid were disclosed to a 3rd party

        This fact has been confirmed on more than one occasion! (the guy had not heard of NetFleet, let alone acheeva, prior to the sales call)

        Finally, as at noon today, David had access to the bid history

        However the damage is done, our suspicions are confirmed and there will be nothing gained from debating facts

        It is the response that will define NetFleet moving forward

        – Greg

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm
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      @ Jonathan

      Not one on my staff has indicated they have ever disclosed information relating to customer details or bid information. In the particular case you are highlighting our sales staff do not have access to bid information however having spoken to the sales person who dealt with this case, a member of the team who has been with us for less then a week, he showed me a legacy way to access the bid information in our system that he found, he was not shown this function nor instructed to use information from it.

      There are two sentences in there that contradict each other – using the ” what would a fair minded person think” rationale.

      “He didn’t disclose information; but he had found a legacy way to access it”. 🙁 Why even mention that then?

      “The sales person strongly asserts that he did not mention Greg and that he never mentioned any figures relating to Greg’s bid”.

      The enduser businessman is not a domainer – and he has a stellar reputation in the corporate world.
      He confirmed to me in writing that the name “Acheeva” and the figure $720 was mentioned. I would be very careful in implying that he is not telling the truth.

      You are treading on a very slippery slope there Jonathan.

      If it were me, I’d do a “Volkswagen” – fess up and promise to fix.

      • September 28, 2015 at 4:20 pm
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        Ned,

        I didn’t imply anything in my post. As I mentioned in my last post to Robert all the information I have is what I have been told and I’m not about to get into he said this she said that arguments.

        Clearly the domaining community have a bad taste in their collective mouths when it comes to Netfleet, I can feel that everyday trust me. I cant change the past but I will change the future, I highly doubt we will be having these sort of conversations a year from now. I hope its nothing but praise for Netfleet.

  • September 28, 2015 at 3:24 pm
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    It’d be nice if MelbourneIT applied a bit of corporate governance to this issue.

    I’m pretty sure a self imposed ban by domainers would put NF in the red.

    That and transferring domains away.

    • September 28, 2015 at 3:46 pm
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      Agree with the self-imposed ban and transferring domains.

      Until this allegation and investigation is taken seriously, hands-up those of us who will boycott Netfleet?

      My hand is up.

      So far that’s David and I.

      Who else has their hand up?

      • September 29, 2015 at 4:37 pm
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        That’s never going to happen while NF are so successful in catching domains.

        We can all say “We wont use NF”.

        But others will be lined up to use their services to grab each and every domain listed that holds any value.

        By not using NF you are only going to be doing your own business no good no matter how much a “Boycott” is in order.

  • September 28, 2015 at 6:26 pm
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    @Jonathan, in my humble opinion you’ve issued a statement that is weak and inconsiderate to many who are long term supporters of Netfleet. The response also shows your colours that you are not really interested in doing anything different. Netfleet has been and will continue to be a god unto themselves and will do whatever they want – regardless what people think – and this is unlikely to ever change.

    I have not been given any confidence that you are taking this seriously at all – nor that you have addressed it adequately.

    Given the stonewalling we just received (case closed, resolved, go away) – I would tend to agree that Netfleet is not considering any further internal investigations nor has any interest in taking any kind of responsibility.

    As such this definitely needs to be investigated by third parties such as AuDA and ACCC. It’s unethical, deceptive and an absolute breach of trust. Especially more of interest is that Netfleet is owned by a public company (MelbourneIT) who has much higher and tighter legal loopholes to jump through to stay squeaky clean. This activity (and subsequent response) has thrown MelbourneIT into disrepute.

    @Jonathan I feel a little sorry for you getting caught up in this in your first weeks but unfortunately the headaches and the ability to deal with and resolve these types of issues comes with the paygrade.

    You have clearly distanced yourself from this by saying you are new and as far as you are concerned the problem has been dealt with and resolved. No it hasn’t.

    The blind bidding system is and has been fraught with holes and privacy and trust issues. Aside from that it’s quite frankly just a really annoying and painful system that I’ve resisted using for almost 2 years now (you’ve lost at least $100,000 in sales in the last 2 years just from me alone).

    One way you could show your willingness to resolve this is to immediately remove the blind bidding system and go back to the traditional auction system (you may actually make more money too!)

    But I agree with everyone above, I don’t believe Netfleet Or MelbourneIT will take this seriously until they start to feel some financial pain as a result (or get investigated and spend the next 2 years in paper trail red tape with the government)

    @anthony if you can give me a good domain renewal deal I’ll happily consider moving my domains (which is a sizeable number) out of Netfleet and over to you to aid in making that point. I’m happy for Ned to give you my details if you want to chat.

    In the meantime I would like to know what AuDA is going to do about Netfleets registration status – has this deceptive conduct breached Netfleets duties as a domain reseller?

    What will the ACCC do about this? This is corrupt business behaviour that needs to be investigated.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 28, 2015 at 7:26 pm
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      Rudy, thank you for making the time to make such an eloquent comment.

  • September 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm
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    Guys,

    It bothers me that you feel this matter has not been taken seriously.

    Action has been taken to prevent this occurring again, to my knowledge it has never happened before.

    I keep telling everyone that changes are happening, changes which I personally hope will improve Netfleet amazingly. I’m talking big changes but you all rush to claim nothing has changed and things will still remain the way they have been, many of the changes being implemented are from suggestions that the domaining community have made. I iterate again that these changes will take time.

    I did not intend for my post to seem arrogant or to look as if it was brushing away the problem (both I have been accused of in the above comments) but to simple inform everyone that the issue was looked at.

    Greg I am sorry this has affected you and hope in the future I can restore your confidence in Netfleet, as I do for everyone.

    As always I invite feedback on Netfleet

    • September 28, 2015 at 7:42 pm
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      “It bothers me that you feel this matter has not been taken seriously”

      Jonathan. You effectively told a good client in @Robert to take a hike!

  • September 28, 2015 at 7:28 pm
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    Nice expose Ned. Many of us for years had private ideas about what goes on at Netfleet. The solution was always, and still is, not entering bids on Netfleet until the final minute or two. Again, I think it’s worth pointing out that *nothing drops anymore* so who cares? Seriously, if you want to invest in domain names the drops are a terrible place to start -they’re littered with rubbish most days. Anything worth having is already taken. Newbie investors are better off acquiring half a dozen quality names in the $2-5k range then blowing $20-30k on scraps that don’t even make it above $500 a pop on the drops.

  • September 28, 2015 at 7:29 pm
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    Jonathan,

    You inherited a running company turning over more than a million dollars per annum, you cannot possibly hope to control the future unless you understand and acknowledge the past.

    The directors chose the direction for your company and you are there to manage a change of direction or the fallout of not changing direction.

    Can I suggest you take some time to actually look into these issues properly rather than just report/repeat what you are being told. Your clients are unhappy because these incidents occur with frustrating regularity and domainers have to go to great lengths to collect proof about what occurred.

    It is my belief that you personally cannot affect change unless the underlying directorship of the business changes first. Changing telemarketers and or general managers which also occurs with frustrating regularity does not address the underlying issue.

    You are not the first General Manager to ask these guys for a period of grace in which you will make your clients love Netfleet again (I did it myself on dntrade a few years ago) and you will not be the last General Manager to deliver your resignation letter to the same guys (I did it myself on dntrade a few years ago).

    You are also not going to be the first General Manager to realise that you cannot absolutely guarantee private data is not being accessed via legacy links because that is an unknown unknown. Mark himself as General Manager had to deal with an RSS data feed leaking private bid data just last year.

    Greg has supported Netfleet to the tune of a few million dollars so I suggest you do the following:

    What is known is that a telemarketer gave out the name “Acheeva” and the exact dollar figure of his bid to a 3rd party which resulted in Greg losing a domain. What makes this extra painful is that Greg, Ned and others have lost multiple domains by a margin of $10 – $30 in the past few months.

    You could do them the courtesy of figuring out which domain sold on Friday for exactly $750 then phone the buyer and ask him what your own telemarketer said.

    After the buyer confirms the leak (which he will) you should take a look at your web server log files for all IP addresses accessing the leaky legacy link. Once you have the list geocheck the IPs. Look for one coming from Chatswood. Then look at all the other links that IP address has been looking at to get an idea of how much data you have leaked and more importantly for how long.

    After you have established the extent of your leak. Look at the clients affected and look at changes in their behaviour after the leak began. Look for evidence of late bidding towards the end of the auction, or even more telling small increases of $10 – $30 in the last minutes to counteract the effect.

    This will the measurable effect this leak has had on their behaviour. They will have had to increase their bids across the board by $20 to $40 dollars each which will add up to hundreds of dollars per day and thousands of dollars per month. This will be your evidence of gain caused by the use of this data. You will hear lots of internal spin about how this is actually fair gain and normal business but if you actually removed yourself from this and looked at it from a long term clients point of view you would see how 99.999% of reasonable people would end up with a bitter taste in their mouth.

    Once you have established for yourself what really happened you will probably want to apologise for what happened, look to reimburse the clients, at least for their direct provable losses and make a recommendation to the board about the short term affect of competing with your own clients.

    You will probably also begin to wonder if you want to buy into the spin and spend the next two years of your life fighting against the same people who are buying 70% of your stock.
    While you are pondering this you might like to open a browser and go to google.com.au. Type “netfleet “ and see what the most popular search terms are. Number 2 on mine is “netfleet contact number” so that may be a good place to start hearing what people think.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 29, 2015 at 7:35 am
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      Anthony, thanks also to you for such a well constructed post. Some excellent points you raise.

      I’m hoping that Jonathan will be the guy to stand up to the Lye Brothers and say “we obviously have a problem; you knew that when you appointed me -now allow me to fix the situation”.

      From my discussions with him, I think he has the willingness to do this. Time will tell.

  • September 28, 2015 at 7:34 pm
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    I too can confirm the details of this post as it was our client involved. I can assure you of Greg’s surprise when I called him to ask “Did you just have a $720 bid on xxxx? – I know this because a client of ours has just been told by NF”

    This has been something I have suspected for a long time, and I am sure it has been going on for a LONG time.

    I do feel it is unfortunate you are caught up in legacy issues Jonathan, however you clearly posted on this site last week you were taking control, and things were different. This incident occurred after that post, under your full control, and given the staff member was new, likely under your training / process?

    @Jonathan – Not one on my staff has indicated they have ever disclosed information relating to customer details or bid information


    So you have just proved commercial dishonesty in your organisation. As there would be no possible way for me to know Greg (Acheeva as your employee described him) placed a $720 bid.

    @Jonathan – a member of the team who has been with us for less then a week, he showed me a legacy way to access the bid information in our system that he found


    ?? A member of your team, who has been with you for a number of days!! has discovered a legacy way of accessing commercially sensitive information that has significant financial impact of your clients and breaches your terms??

    And you expect us to believe that staff / directors who have been there for longer didn’t know about such “legacy way”?

    Jonathan: you mentioned there is a “bad taste in their collective mouths” regarding NF. There is good reason for this. We conduct significant financial business on your platform and trust you are acting in a legal ad ethical way.

    There has been many issues raised above, and your answers do not cut it. It is the typical NF response and I ask you to look into this with the respect it deserves.

    1) Take responsibility for what has happened
    2) Be honest with the extent and background of the “legacy way” – Who could have had access, do you have log files showing access and when, how long has it been accessible?
    3) What will be done about the culture of dishonesty that has been shown by staff?
    4) How is the auction going to function in the future to ensure their is transparency
    5) How do you report on such breaches internally? And in light of your auDA accreditation and soon to be ISS compliance?

    • Luke Summers
      September 28, 2015 at 7:44 pm
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      Jonathan.H, thanks for adding your confirmation of the details in the article, much appreciated

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 28, 2015 at 8:01 pm
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      @ Jono Horne – thanks for confirming your side of the story. It is gratifying.

      I can just imagine David and Mark trying (today) to convince Jonathan that this will “blow over”. Stick to the story line of “the past is the past – the future will be different”.

      Alas for them, there is a lot more potentially to come out. Another article coming soon.

  • September 28, 2015 at 9:00 pm
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    Who built (or authorised) these RSS feeds and what was the original purpose of them?

    • September 28, 2015 at 9:43 pm
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      The RSS feed I spoke about in my earlier comments relates to an old feed which used to give current bid data in the days when Netfleet had public auctions. After Netfleet started blind auctions the old feed was still available to clients who had been using it from years before. When news of this feed broke last year it was reported to Mark Lye directly who promptly shut it down but sadly they never informed nor compensated any clients who where negatively affected by the leak.

      There is a very real concern that Netfleet will again not admit to a data breach/confidentiality leak/privacy concerns. Then advise clients that is has been fixed, threaten active clients who complain with a ban from their systems and or tell smaller clients to go elsewhere if they do not like it.

      The first few steps of the typical Netfleet response are already evident in this thread. All that is missing is a report about them banning either Ned, Greg or Jono Horne. Then some very angry responses from David or Mark Lye and then a complete ban from talking on forums for a year.

      A non-typical response would be for us to hear from the MelbourneIT half of the board that they have looked into the current issue (and legacy issues) and they too have a bad taste in their mouths now and are planning a change of directors or at least direction.

      • Ned O'Meara
        September 29, 2015 at 7:42 am
        Permalink

        @ Anthony

        This bit of your post particularly caught my eye:

        “The first few steps of the typical Netfleet response are already evident in this thread. All that is missing is a report about them banning either Ned, Greg or Jono Horne. Then some very angry responses from David or Mark Lye and then a complete ban from talking on forums for a year.”

        As I said before, I’m hoping Jonathan will “resist” – and be his own man. He has to for the sake of Netfleet’s future. Imho.

    • September 28, 2015 at 10:18 pm
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      This just gets deeper.

      In any other industry the actions this company has taken and is currently taking, would be all over the news.

      Where is someone we can talk to from MelbourneIT about this?

      • Ned O'Meara
        September 29, 2015 at 3:39 pm
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        I have emailed Bruce Tonkin – he is a Director of both Melbourne IT and NetAlliance Pty Ltd.

        He has said he will investigate on his return from USA next week.

  • September 29, 2015 at 12:35 am
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    Anyone wanting to take the next step could consider any of these options as a starting point. There are many options, but these should get the ball rolling.

    The Australian http://www.theaustralian.com.au/help/contactus
    ABC http://www.abc.net.au/news/contact/
    The Project http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/your-say

    ASIC complains http://asic.gov.au/about-asic/contact-us/how-to-complain/

    ACCC consumer complaints https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/complaints-problems/make-a-consumer-complaint

    AuDa registrar complaints form http://www.auda.org.au/pdf/auda-complaints-form.pdf

  • September 29, 2015 at 7:19 am
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    To other readers: If you have been contacted by Netfleet and had a similar experience, please tell us about it by commenting on this thread or alternately by contacting Ned privately. Any instance where you were told the name or identity of the high bidder and/or the amount of the current high bid received on a domain name listed on the drops must be reported.

    Disclosure of the name “Acheeva” in this instance was a breach of the Privacy Act by Netfleet if Netfleet’s staff were involved.

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 29, 2015 at 7:54 am
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      @ Simon – as you can imagine, I am a “lightning rod” for those that have been disaffected.

      I have had many reports of suspicious transactions on the NF platform – unfortunately many of them don’t reach the required level of proof to publish. A couple of them do however.

      To be fair to Jonathan though, these all happened prior to him taking the GM position.

      There is a bigger issue at stake though – and I intend doing a new article about this today.

  • September 29, 2015 at 8:29 am
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    I remember appliances.com.au was sold on netfleet for 5k (it was buy now price) , and they couldn’t catch the domain, and caught by drop,,,

    I think Netfleet got paid NOT to catch the domain…… because netfleet is trying to earn money thats it they want – right or wrong – who cares right,, Its netfleet….

    • September 29, 2015 at 9:12 am
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      I disagree @ Gavin, but I’ve taken out about half a dozen back-orders with Netfleet over the years and not one of them has succeeded. $1200+ down the flusher. Once they have their money, what incentive do they have to catch the name when it drops? What safeguards are in place to make sure that Netfleet personnel and associated persons do not use their knowledge that a name is back-ordered to secure that name on Drop.com.au or Domain Shield?

  • September 29, 2015 at 9:51 am
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    The disappointing thing with this whole saga and the NetFleet experience is the fact that they seem spend so much money on marketing to new customers (see related blogs, social media, Adsense etc) but then treat customers that come on-board with such disregard

    It is nearly impossible to get a timely response to a service ticket, there is no support line and the “take-a-walk” mentality cited in this thread are clear examples of a contempt for existing customers

    It is not as though they do not understand customer service or the value of an existing customer, as particularly during Anthony’s reign, they have demonstrated that they are prepared to listen

    The problem is that this focus occurs with monotonous irregularity and then only when relations are at a tipping point

    If the effort taken by NetFleet to snag an extra $30 for a domain name was spent trying to find ways to improve their customer experience then we could be talking about that

    • September 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm
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      Agreed.

      Now Netfleet needs to admit certain practices they have been doing wrong, then rework their staff and platform from the ground up, most notably – getting rid of the people there that are holding Netfleet back and taking Netfleet in the wrong direction, and losing the Blind Bidding component of their platform.

  • September 29, 2015 at 10:01 am
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    I don’t buy many domains these days , but must admit I think Netfleet have an uphill battle on this issue, unless they look more into the previous logs and bids. No one is going to believe them.
    I was one of the one’s compensated by Pool many years ago when it was discovered an employee was bidding on their platform.
    Pool did the right thing and cleaned up their act, I think Netfleet need to do the same.

    • September 29, 2015 at 10:18 am
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      If Jonathan is sincere about regaining trust, then I also believe this is the only way.

      Investing in a new tech stack and putting in competent customer service reps is a step in the right direction, but unless the corrupt individuals behind these shady business practices are exposed then we will never truly be able to have confidence in their system.

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 29, 2015 at 5:12 pm
    Permalink

    Update

    An article was published by iTWire earlier today, but it was pulled down for some reason. Thanks to a loyal reader I have a copy, however given Luke’s comments below, we have decided not to reprint it in the interim.

    • Luke Summers
      September 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm
      Permalink

      A contact at iTWire has indicated that the Editor has taken down the article until NetFleet and auDA have responded. This comment was also made “The article is off-line but not forgotten” – so we can expect to see the article back online at some point; probably with a response from Netfleet (which I think is fair enough).

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 30, 2015 at 6:43 am
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    Just going through my email, and a wonderful quote of Zig Ziglar’s came through from Success.com

    I believe (and hope) that Jonathan will deliver. I know he wants to.

    Here are three tips on how best to handle a mistake:

    1. See the mistake as a step on the road to a solution.

    Don’t let mistakes depress or discourage you. We must realize that depression and discouragement are negatives that limit the future.

    2. Admit the mistake.

    I’ll admit that takes courage, but recognition of errors is a sign of maturity. Not to recognize them is to deny them. The reality is that “denial” is more than just a river in Egypt—it’s something that will limit your future.

    3. Know that it’s only when you ignore the mistake that it is negative.

    When we confront mistakes, we are taking full advantage of it as the “positive” they are.

    1. See the mistake as a step on the road to a solution.

    Don’t let mistakes depress or discourage you. We must realize that depression and discouragement are negatives that limit the future.

    2. Admit the mistake.

    I’ll admit that takes courage, but recognition of errors is a sign of maturity. Not to recognize them is to deny them. The reality is that “denial” is more than just a river in Egypt—it’s something that will limit your future.

    3. Know that it’s only when you ignore the mistake that it is negative.

    – See more at: http://www.success.com/article/ziglar-3-things-to-do-when-you-make-a-mistake?utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=http%3a%2f%2fwww.success.com%2farticle%2fziglar-3-things-to-do-when-you-make-a-mistake&utm_campaign=3+Things+to+Do+When+You+Make+a+Mistake#sthash.DK6x68kl.dpuf

    1. See the mistake as a step on the road to a solution.

    Don’t let mistakes depress or discourage you. We must realize that depression and discouragement are negatives that limit the future.

    2. Admit the mistake.

    I’ll admit that takes courage, but recognition of errors is a sign of maturity. Not to recognize them is to deny them. The reality is that “denial” is more than just a river in Egypt—it’s something that will limit your future.

    3. Know that it’s only when you ignore the mistake that it is negative.

    – See more at: http://www.success.com/article/ziglar-3-things-to-do-when-you-make-a-mistake?utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=http%3a%2f%2fwww.success.com%2farticle%2fziglar-3-things-to-do-when-you-make-a-mistake&utm_campaign=3+Things+to+Do+When+You+Make+a+Mistake#sthash.DK6x68kl.dpuf

  • September 30, 2015 at 2:32 pm
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    This sort of thing does not surprise me at all; we have all thought it has been going on now Ned has put the truth out there. He may get a Walkley award.
     
    Great work
     

    • Ned O'Meara
      September 30, 2015 at 9:31 pm
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      Thanks Alan. 🙂

      I don’t want a Walkley – I just want West Coast Eagles to win this weekend!

  • Ned O'Meara
    October 1, 2015 at 11:38 am
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    Forgot to mention, but I got interviewed by a freelance journalist for the ABC yesterday. Not sure if anything will come of of it though.

  • October 2, 2015 at 10:34 am
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    Still waiting for a response to:

    2) Be honest with the extent and background of the “legacy way” – Who could have had access, do you have log files showing access and when, how long has it been accessible?

    3) What will be done about the culture of dishonesty that has been shown by staff?4) How is the auction going to function in the future to ensure their is transparency5) How do you report on such breaches internally? And in light of your auDA accreditation and soon to be ISS compliance?

    • October 3, 2015 at 6:16 am
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      @Nathan,

      Be glad that you’ve stumbled across such a scandal while you’re still new to the industry!  Don’t let it deter you from participating in the domain market, though.  Just keep your wits about you!

      Turn over any rock in the domain industry, and there’s squirming corruption.  Even so, domains are a fascinating topic; legitimate opportunities exist all over the place; and you’ll meet domainers here and there who value integrity – like the author of this blog who blew the whistle.

  • Ned O'Meara
    October 10, 2015 at 9:55 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.

Comments are closed.