Popular Swarovski Design House Announces Plan to Reorganize after Internet Assault
(PRWEB) May 28, 2004
Americana Couture, the celebrity favored design house, featuring Swarovski crystal studded t-shirts and apparel has just announced plans for restructuring following a highly volatile and public internet assault on the company owners, managers and domain.
“Internet based businesses are exceptionally vulnerable, there are threats you would never face in traditional retail business.” stated Mark Chisholm, Director of Public Relations.
The company was targeted by a disgruntled competitor; according to police reports filed in Pima County, Arizona. Americana Couture received thousands of fabricated negative public communications, through Usenet and Google, including defamatory posts, threats, and notices of “forged posts” linked to a computer savvy competitor in Baltimore County, Maryland.
Many public notices listed as demands for refunds or complaints were attributed to “disgruntled customers” whose names did not exist, or were not listed as customers according to records obtained from Americana Couture.
Representatives from Americana Couture filed police reports, and received verification that the individual that was linked to the harassment was a repeat offender previously arrested 9 times from the State of Maryland, for charges including counterfeiting, theft and harassment.
“Usenet, and Google can act as a weapon as much as they are valued as a resource” stated Chisholm. “We had several thousand pages including a 3 year history documenting successful business. Many press releases and customer testimonials vanished over the span of a week, and were replaced with negative and damaging posts from this individual under the guise of many different e-mail addresses and names. This would be the equivalent of an arsonist burning down your storefront, and attempting to continue normal operations from the rubble”
On May 12th all links to http://www.americanacouture.com, and thousands of pages from the site itself, were manually removed from the Google index. Police reports state the competitor allegedly took advantage of a bug in the Google system, which permitted unauthorized users to sign on as the site webmaster, and delete websites without the knowledge or permission of the host. Google released a public statement acknowledging the bug, and addressing it’s efforts to fix and resolve any other businesses or sites effected. The statement claimed less than 10 sites were effected, (Including Microsoft and Adobe) However, http://www.webmasterworld.com has numerous threads on this topic claiming to have identified as many as hundreds of thousands of effected pages. Google is the largest search engine site in the world, many businesses are dependant upon it’s search results for retail sales.
This was not the isolated incident, in April a letter circulated to over 1 million recipients claiming a free t-shirt was being offered by the company, and promoting a code that had been distributed without the company’s permission. “The original code was a charity code, for a private event. We had over 55,000 visitors in one day alone, and thousands of order attempts that shut down e-mail and phone lines for close to ten days” Chisholm stated. “We manually had to work through each and every order to locate our customers, and identify and separate the fraudulent orders” Prior internet related instances dated back to the holidays which effected production, and ship scheduled.
“It has been extremely frustrating.” Chisholm stated. “We are proud of our product, and have a deep respect for our clients. This experience has been difficult to overcome, and we have shared tremendous frustration with our clients over the delays and obstacles this harassment has caused all of us.”
It is this type of vulnerability that has prompted Americana Couture to take swift action, by finishing all retail orders and restructuring for a wholesale only market.
“I believe that internet retail is dangerous in today’s market – the more successful you become, the more you may well be marked as a target. The problem with internet sales primarily is, it is an anonymous market. Ripe for identity theft, you have no control over who you sell to. Wholesale will permit us to continue our relationship on a one on one basis, dealing with each customer in person, on the phone, and through showrooms across the country.”
Despite the obstacles, the company is diligently working its way through the thousands of communications to locate all remaining retail orders, and secure it’s wholesale market. Americana Couture maintains a database of close to 12,000 active customers, with over 3 millions unique visitors to the site. Their products have been featured in InStyle Magazine, Us Weekly, Entertainment Tonight, the Oscars, the Grammy’s, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and many other events.
When asked how the future looked in the different direction of marketing and in light of the recent internet abuse, Chisholm commented “We are determined to move through this, and look forward to bringing to top quality product to the public through our wholesale distributors. We are grateful for the support, and assistance we have received through this unique, and difficult time.”
Americana Couture will announce it’s wholesale collection on July 1st, 2004. For more information contact Americana Couture at http://www.americanacouture.com
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