uk vapers closed

UK Vapers Shuts its Virtual Doors

It appears that the Totally Wicked / UK Vapers battle has concluded. UK Vapers placed an announcement on its front page today informing visitors that the site is to be no more.  The lengthy piece explains the reasoning behind the closure, where the lion’s share of the blame goes not to TW, but to the forum owner’s (heartbreaking) personal issues.

uk vapers closedRegarding the letter I received yesterday via email from the solicitor of Totally Wicked (a copy of which I’ve published here), I do not find the requests it contains to be unreasonable. Indeed, should ukvapers.com have opened again, I would have met them without problem. It is only the added strains that I’m currently under that prevent me from re-opening, as I do not wish to be in the position of having the possibility of legal action being taken against me again (whether by Totally Wicked or any other company or person). Were I planning to open ukvapers.com again, I would address these points individually. However I hope that the permanent closure (which was solely my decision), also serves to fully address all complaints within the letter and that this brings to a close any dispute between myself and Totally Wicked.

I can certainly appreciate this incident being the straw that broke the camel’s back as opposed to the reason behind the closure.  In addition, I think that petty name calling should be moderated.  While the internet is full of personal attacks aimed and specific people, I find them reprehensible.

However, I firmly disagree that being critical, or even disparaging of a company or product does not fall under that umbrella.  I understand how a company owner can feel a personal connection to their products and company.  However, saying a product sucks, even without firsthand experience with the product is not a personal attack, it is an opinion. It might be an uninformed or callous opinion, but it is an opinion about an inanimate object, not a person.

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Finally, a word about CEOs behaving badly. This isn’t necessarily aimed at Totally Wicked. I’ve seen several business owners do things like this and I generally don’t mention it.  It happens.

It shouldn’t happen.

Maybe its a small business thing, I don’t know.  A lot of these companies were started by one person in their basement and within a few years are multi-million dollar interests.  The owners think they can be the same person they were before.  The truth is, they can’t be that same person.

Like it or not, the rules have changed.  You now speak for your entire company and every employee.  What you say online, even under a personal account is your company’s public appearance.  You no longer have an individual identity.

Sometimes that works and you get a sort of quirky and entertaining personality.  Other times, not so much.

I know it’s no fun to see your work dismissed with useful criticism like “fail” or “this sucks” but reacting in a negative way does not help.  It’s very possible that your customers or future customers may see only part of the conversation, or hear about it second-hand.

Next thing you know, all you have is a reputation for being a hot head, and your customers are questioning if they would like to do business with you.

It does not matter how right you were in the first place. And once you say something regrettable, you cannot take it back, the internet remembers.  Forever.

If you attempt to quash negative comments, you will only amplify them. It’s called the Streisand Effect.

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That is very damaging to a company’s reputation. And since you spent so much time building that in the first place, you know just how hard it is to get that back.

There are some great business articles out there on how to react to these sort of people.  Positive interaction will make you and your company look so much better.

It might even be a good idea to bring in a PR or social media specialist and let them do the talking so you can focus on running the business instead of slinging mud on the internet.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Steve K

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11 Comments

  • I, for one, will never buy anything from the vendor who threatened the lawsuit – not ever. It sounds like they have bullied an open discussion board that was operated at no profit for the sole benefit of the vaping community and put them offline by threatening legal action if anyone so much as mentioned anything about the litigious vendor's products or services, good or bad. It was like a child having a temper tantrum and I will not buy from that vendor ever now. How arrogant and rude can one company be – and to boot, not even recognize they are behaving that way, blind to their own arrogance. No. I will not buy from them. Not now, not ever.

  • FYI, UKVapers.org is now online, and it looks like they're already getting back into the swing of things.

  • I think it is a little unfair to blame the company for the actions of an individual – there is one person whose actions have been petty (at best). I'm sure the companies 70+ employees will all have their own opinion on what has happened.

    Also there is more to the story than a few negative comments, in fact the owner of TW may well have had a valid point regarding the moderation issues but he chose to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

    I won't be buying anything from them, but not because I 'hate TW', rather I disagree with the behaviour of one of their employees.

    • The only problem is the one individual employee happens to be the founder and CEO of the company. At that level, that pretty much IS the company's voice. In this case, I think that voice did a great disservice to those other 70+ employees of the company.

  • Yeah I agree with you there, I just think it's a shame that 70 odd people are probably now wondering if they are going to have a job in 6 months time.

    • He was not an 'employee' he was the head honcho… the fact remains he totally lost it when someone dared criticise one of his products.. (and lets face it it was defective on launch – they sent covering letters trying to appease customers) Just checkout Dave Kitsons review on vtapertrails tv.. Personal insults where traded and bully boy cropper got his 'military' big brother in to defend him… it was all so tragic…

  • Steve, you are so bang on the money here. Perhaps, TW and a few other vendors should heed your words. TW will suffer due to this, it was handled poorly, and a little positive PR would have gone a long way to solve this issue.
    Unfortunately, companies no longer consider PR, it seems to be superseded with Customer Service – however poor. TW could just as easily have quoted the all infuriating quip from big business, "we thank you for you opinion/ business, we understand you have a choice" clearly this sort of response perhaps with a 2 day discount on said product or even a giveaway would have cut the legs off the debate, argument over!
    Bully boy scare tactics often do not sit right with anyone.

  • +1 on recommending a PR or social media specialist to act on behalf of a company in situations like these. You hit it right on the head by saying that the owners/employees are emotionally tied to their products. Spokespeople outside the company will be able to stay leveled headed and know how to put their client in the best light because they are trained on communicating with the public/customers.

  • I'm glad my rant wasn't too off base. This was just supposed to be a regular news item, but I couldn't stop typing :)

  • Last I heard TW employees where emptying ashtrays at the Moat House in Tamworth…. anonymously of course..

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