Vitaly Borker, Thuggish Russia-Born Brooklynite, Stars in Sunday's New York Times
This weekend's best story comes courtesy of the New York Times, whose Sunday business section features the jaw-dropping story of Vitaly Borker, a resident of Sheepshead Bay, and his online eyeglass store DecorMyEyes. What makes Borker special is his blatant disregard for both the law and his customers. Every time someone is unhappy with their order, Borker threatens the customer and refuses to refund their money without a protracted battle. As a result, Borker's business does better. Wait, what? As usual, Google is to blame.
Michael Falco for The New York Times
Borker is a total scam artist who takes online orders for designer eyewear then buys the product from eBay and has it shipped to his customer. Sometimes the order is wrong, often it is counterfeit. But Borker has realized that the more people complain about him on blogs or consumer advocacy websites, the higher his website appears in Google searches for specific brand names.
When he started to realize that any press is good press when it comes to online business, he amped up the bad guy routine. "Listen, bitch," he told one nagging, unhappy customer. "I know your address. I'm one bridge over," he went on. "Then, she said, he threatened to find her and commit an act of sexual violence too graphic to describe in a newspaper."
Later, he sent the woman a photo of her apartment building using Google Earth. "Do the right thing and everyone goes away. I AM WATCHING YOU!"
He even brags online about his master plan:
"Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com," the post began. "I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement."
"I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven."
Google, predictably, wants to stay as far from this story as possible, refusing to give any concrete answers when it comes to whether the site can differentiate between negative attention online and positive attention when it comes to ranking search results.
MasterCard, eBay and Citigroup, meanwhile, were all strong-armed by reporters and angry customers into taking action against Borker.
Still, he's relentless. He even agreed to be interviewed for the article, making for stellar scenes that sound like something out of a Sacha Baron Cohen skit. At his home in Brooklyn, Borker walks the Times reporter through his game:
"Look," he says, grabbing an iPad off a small table. He types "Christian Audigier," the name of a French designer, and "glasses" into Google. DecorMyEyes pops up high on the first page.
"Why am I there?" he asks, sounding both peeved and amazed. "I don't belong there. I actually outrank the designer's own Web site."
And on top of it all, he's a ham, constantly dreaming up new ways to get bad press:
When online fury about DecorMyEyes drops off, he dreams up new ways to stoke it. He briefly considered fabricating a story that Tony Russo had committed a murder -- where he would have posted this story he doesn't say -- which he then planned to link anonymously to Get Satisfaction.
Online we call this guy a troll. In a newspaper, we call this story a gem. Read the whole thing here.