Bangari vs. Local Storm Media, Inc.: PayPal Dispute

Here is what I what want to share with PayPal regarding this dispute:

I shared this as a Google Doc because I want to try to resolve this mess, and get everyone back to work. We could all use this project, even though it only pays about $5.00 per hour up-front, as most of us don’t have much else to survive on. “Up-front” is the keyword there. There must be additional benefits to follow from this work. I would be a hypocrite if I preached the “Freelancers Union” and then subjected myself and others, no matter how poor we may be, to slave wages for skilled labor.

Petal Mashraki:

I told Kevin that the project was off as the client [Michael Ber of Local Storm Media, Inc.] was no longer in a hurry for the work so I will take it on by myself. It had never been a long term commitment on the part of the client as he was paying us every $100 and not committing to a larger amount. Since I told Kevin this he has published most of the articles on Bangari which makes them useless to the client anyway as he was paying for unpublished original articles.

Kevin Leland:

Petal pleaded with me to hire more writers, after we received our first payment, because the client [Michael Ber of Local Storm Media] liked the content we were delivering, but wanted it faster. Time was of the essence. We had a deadline, she said, and we might loose the opportunity to complete all the work in this client’s budget, if we couldn’t deliver it fast enough. I took time to recruit writers, promised them the agreed amount, and got them working (some are still on he job, because I will see my commitments to them through) After Petal took her cut from the money we were paid by Michael, and to avoid PayPal fees, she had Mike send the $134 balance to me, and I would pay it to the writers who did the work Petal ordered from us on Michael’s behalf. I didn’t take my pay for what I wrote. As it stands now, I owe, and have paid out more money than I’ve taken in on this project, and have been covering the amount with my own money, which I have pitifully little of.

We were told, and had a list of at least 44 articles to do at about 2000 words each. It would be paid for and delivered $100 at a time, but it was agreed that Bangari would complete this “phase” of 44 articles -which comprised about 25% of the client’s entire budget…I helped Petal set it up, even though she fought me tooth and nail about how to set it up -which pisses me off, because I didn’t take any cut for helping, except 5% for Bangari, I had experience that she didn’t, and I gave her the entire 20% management and sales fee. I wanted to teach her how to do the business end of content production, because since it’s inception, I’ve always wanted Bangari to be a true co-op, where we all can have a turn to wear the project and sales management hat, and get a chance to earn an upfront commission like the $500 Sally got for the excellent job she did managing the Increase Visibility project we completed in October. I never spoke to Petal’s client, Michael Ber of Local Storm Media, Inc., until after Petal fired us, and took the job for herself, and Michael stopped the payment ($134) for the last batch of work, and put it in dispute with PayPal. I’ve tried to work this out on a private site, and even called Michael and left a message –He won’t respond except through the ‘dispute board’ at PayPal. Petal is also ignoring my invitation to cooperate and come to a resolution.

Petal broke her promise to the Bangari team. She thinks she did nothing wrong. She is not a bad person, she is just very hard-headed and admittedly inexperienced in freelancing, self employment, and contracting. I tried to explain that an agreement works both ways. “Performance” has to happen on both ends of the deal. You have to deliver what you agreed to sell, and you have to accept and pay for what you agreed to buy. She is blind to the fact that she screwed me and the team over by offering to have us do 44 articles, and then changing her mind, and canceling the order, so she could just do them herself. She even told me that she “has NO contract” –She doesn’t understand that a contract, an agreement, a promise, one’s “word”, and an offer with acceptance of the offer, are all one and the same, whether it’s verbal, in email or typed on paper in front of witnesses and signed in blood.

Analogy: Petal orders pizza for her guests. Bangari Pizza runs her credit card through, and we start making the pizza’s. The guests change their minds, and decide they don’t need to eat right away, and it would be better and cheaper if they just prepared dinner themselves, even if it will take longer. Petal then cancels the order, while the pizzas are in the oven, and disputes/freezes the credit card payment. Then, to take that wrongness a step further, she “cries foul” when the people who prepared her order, that she unjustly canceled, put it in a warmer to keep it for a while — in case she comes to her senses and decides to honor her word, pay and accept delivery after all –or if she doesn’t, they can eat it themselves, or sell it by the slice so it isn’t a total loss. (That’s what I’ll end up having to do with the content if Petal and Michael do not accept delivery)

She is accusing me of ripping off her and her client by posting the work we did on Bangari… It was the other way around. She broke her contract with us first. I immediately posted the content, to assure that it wouldn’t be posted by the client who ordered it, accepted it, but didn’t pay for it. Once they posted it with their name on it, we were all screwed!  I protected the intellectual property of Bangari’s writers (including Petal) Petal may have had an agreement with Michael Ber of Local Storm Media. Inc. for $5,000 worth of ghost written content at .013 per word…But we (the writers) were never willing to turn over our hard work under those terms.

Anything under .04 per word for ghost-written, original content is exploitation! 

Petal knows this, because she worked on the last project, where we were paid .04 per word…for ghost written, spin formatted stuff, after a huge battle with the client, that she congratulated me for winning on behalf of her and the rest of the team…I promised more to come on the back-end with all of this content, and I keep my promises.

The only resolution I can offer or accept:

It is not true that the content has been spoiled since I posted it on Bangari. This misconception also shows both Petal’s and Michael Ber’s inexperience and ignorance of SEO and the Web content production business. If either of them wanted to honor the agreement they made with Bangari, it isn’t too late. We would simply peel the content they ordered off Bangari, putting shorter, spun versions of it, with “teasers” and “read more…links” in place of the original posts. These links would go from Bangari to the original (and removed and re-posted) content, to MBs site, giving him not only original, quality, on-page content, but also unique “off page” contextual content linked to it, giving his new site precious back-links along with excellent source content, that from what I understood, was meant to inspire user-generated content. A win-win all around.MB would have PLR (Private Label Rights) for this content. That means he can do whatever he wants with it, with certain restrictions. The only restriction I would impose, is that he gives us credit for writing it, which does nothing to negatively affect the traffic the content will draw. It only helps him gain a reputation as an online businessman that doesn’t exploit Web content producers by putting them to work then refusing to pay them, or as a scammer who signs his own name to another writer’s intellectual property, without permission.

My goal is to settle this, forgive any “stepping on toes” and make the team, including this client (who seems to have more money than experience) better and more informed, so we can all enjoy success from cooperation instead of failure due to conflict.

Natasha Polak:

I was extremely confused by the sudden turn of events. It is good that we want our bylines on everything that gets “sold” or is written for a client; having been part of projects in the past where I was ghost writing for pennies on the dollar, it was so frustrating to see my work with the creator’s byline (or not have one at all!). So I thank you for putting a halt to that happening. BUT do we know for sure that that is what MB was doing/going to do? That’s where I was a little mixed up with what was going on. I mean, taking on the project, we knew that we wouldn’t be getting paid much per article. And why were there paypal fees involved? That was sketchy too – unless he did not have a paypal account. If that is the case, how was he wanting to send payments? Would there not have been a fee for checks? Should we be accepting check payments?

Kevin Leland:

I know for sure that was his intention, but even if it wasn’t, I took the right steps to protect our work. Letting ourselves be exploited is as bad as exploiting others. PayPal takes fees. They were amounting to over 10% -Can you say ‘world tax?’ -That’s what it’s coming to. What’s sketchy is, for the fee we pay, PayPal operates a robot-kangaroo-court, and they are going to decide if we deserve the money we earned, or if the customer gets to keep it. We’ll see how it goes. These fees are only a major problem when the price for the work is so low, and the mark up so little. I don’t mind small upfront pay, but there must be hope for passive revenue, and at least exposure on the back end. Do you see where the contract was broken? That is the real problem.

I saw it all coming as soon as I visited the Local Storm Media, Inc. Website. It isn’t even set up! I thought Michael Ber was a sock, but I found him online. He has been operating Local Storm Media since 2007, and he still hasn’t set up his site? What a hack!


One response to “Bangari vs. Local Storm Media, Inc.: PayPal Dispute

  1. Pingback: Bangari: The New Deal for Web Content Producers | Bangari Content Gallery

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