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For me the red flag is them willing to send this letter to Chase, via snail mail at no charge to you. Nobody gives something for nothing. So I thought, why would they do this? after reading through the form, at the bottom, it looks like one of the companies, who sponsors this site, "Radvocate" seems like they are in the "class action" lawsuit business. https://myradvocate.com/

This site is about having enough potential clients are able to sue Chase at some point in the future, whenever a class action lawsuit comes up - and heck, they even will have a customer list and a relationship with you from sending this "free" letter for you in the past.

Usually in those kinds of cases, the end recipient gets very little - perhaps some subscription to a ID protection service or a few bucks but the firm who runs the class action makes a lot.

On the one hand, maybe it helps keep them honest (they cite Wells Fargo) so its good to be able to. But clearly there is some vested interest here on the part of Radvocate.

Radvocate here: We do have a vested interest. Over time, we want to be the place you come when you have a dispute against a big company because we'll fight hard for you.

We're excited to partner on this project partly because it is very "on brand" for us from that perspective — we can help people, get our name out there, and shine light on an issue that matters to us. We're a business, but we're also all in this business (instead of some other business) because we want to make the system fairer for consumers.

ETA: Also, to correct one misapprehension: we are not in the class action business. We actually help consumers pursue individual arbitrations. We think more people should know that even if their contract doesn't let them sue, they actually do have a way to assert their power through arbitration. If anything, we'll have more customers for our current business if no one opts out of their Chase clause.

Bravo. In my view, this connection and upside was made appropriately-clear in the "Who are you and why did you build this?" section, and the context from the logo attached to the site.

Very clever marketing, good on you for managing this, and I hope you see a great return for your efforts.

Thanks – I'm glad you have a long-standing comment history so this doesn't look like I made you up ;-)

From one media manipulator to another: when you pay the premium price for a long-standing hacker news account, it's usually more convincing to let people find the comment history for themselves.

Looks suspicious enough anyway if users check their history, considering that user posted for the first time in a year just to make that comment.

True. But they've never posted very frequently. So maybe this is just an important issue for them.

Also, are baseless allegations OK here?

This. I just don't post here frequently or check HN. Rest assured I am a real person.

I have mentioned my Twitter in previous comments (https://twitter.com/peterkimfrank) and you'll see my submission history maps pretty well to my role at my company (https://dev.to/peter).

This was a weird comment thread to wake up to...

Well, personally my guess is that it's actually a legitimate user since the username is based on their real name, and they've linked to their Twitter account in the past. It'd be pretty silly to sell an account so closely linked to your identity. Unless it was hacked and sold without the user's knowledge I guess.

Plus it'd be really stupid for the buyer to mention it. How about stopping this thread derailment?

Is it really that much of a premium price? I’ve found a few HN accounts with downvote privileges for sale for reasonable prices compared to what people usually spend on marketing.

Touché. If I need Hacker News "influencer" services going forward, I will turn to you.

Wait, just how what are points worth in an account resale? It can't possibly be worth it for first world adults to sell.

This sort of activity and behavior is common on sites like reddit. It's used by media companies and brands, especially as the reach is much bigger than HN comments.

Astroturfing is big business and can be very profitable. An account itself isn't worth much, it's the overall execution that matters.

I'd love to see HN or Reddit or someone work with the feds on how to investigate and prosecute astroturfing/sockpuppets/shilling, perhaps as unauthorized computer access and/or fraud.

Except it's not really unauthorized access if the owner of the account allows you to publish in his/her name, is it?

I suspect lawyers could figure out the ToS so that it is.

That wouldn’t be “criminal” — a TOS violation isn’t “prosecuted” as its civil. And, the aggrieved party would have to prove actual damages.

Unauthorized access in connection with fraud, for example. I'll let the lawyers figure it out, and I hope they do.

Astroturfing and shilling isn’t illegal. Unless an account was hacked, no crime has been committed. Even lying generally isn’t a crime. In terms of fraud, there has to be a determination of unlawful gain or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Astroturfing isn’t fraud, nor is shilling.

Which is why I said they'd have to work with the feds on how.

Lol. That was good reframing. The first comment had me leaning in the direction of not siding with Radvocate.

Good points and I appreciate what you write here.

And an interesting business concept - to help consumers pursue individual arbitrations. That could be really cool especially against large corporations when they are abusive. What do you charge as people go through their individual arbitration process/ how does the profit model work?

I really have mixed feelings about the legal system - on

Also, Radvocate, wondering if you can address the PII concerns other's have raised, as that is a very big deal.

Hi, thanks for the response.

On the business model – we charge a commission currently set at 15% of whatever compensation you recover. Hopefully that's from a negotiated settlement with the company before a full arbitration process is necessary. (More details at bottom). We currently process against 20+ cable / ISP / wireless companies.

Re: PII, first I want to make clear that I can't speak with legal standing about the terms & conditions as written. That said, if someone checks the (optional) box giving us permission to do so, all we plan to store is an e-mail address (plus an anonymized token?). We at Radvocate don't have current plans to use that e-mail address, but it is true that it likely would be most useful for the purpose of putting together a future class action against Chase. We'd only partner on that with firms we trust and who will make respectful use of the information.

We think this could be of interest and beneficial to someone opting out of arbitration. To repeat a point on this thread, it's another way to take action against Chase. Additionally, while we all have experience with a class action of being mailed a gift card three years later, if someone does make direct contact with a lawyer on the lawsuit, that may put them in a different position (though I'm not a lawyer).

More on our process: The way arbitration works is you usually have to send the company a notice letter (which we automate) 30-60 days before filing. When you do that a lot of companies suddenly want to negotiate, instead of ignoring your dispute, and we provide data and process guidance to help you negotiate most effectively. If negotiation fails then we automate escalating your claim to arbitration by filing with the American Arbitration Association, and we continue to provide guidance as the case moves through their system, including preparation for the hearing (which will typically happen by phone).

I don't think you've come close to adequately addressing the PII issue here. The information you're collecting, if it ends up in the wrong hands, could lead to some nightmarish identity theft.

Surely you're aware of massive and prevalent data breaches[1]. You're collecting sensitive information to help people, but not providing any convincing bonafides on information security, let alone an actual plan for how sensitive information goes in your web form, then (many technical/logistical steps later) ends up in Chase's P.O. box, without leaking out to some unintended party. I don't think anyone should feel comfortable with "all we plan to store is an e-mail address"

1 - https://haveibeenpwned.com/

How would you do any of this without collecting that data? They're lawyers, how else would you deal in a client's name in the legal system?

That seems awesome that you're going after big cable/ISP/wireless companies. Do you think consumers that are harmed by Comcast/Xfinity's abusive practices of bundling and zero-rating their own video services, but charging you for data overages if you use Netflix or other 3rd party video services have a strong position?

Would you help us go after them? I'd sign up in a heartbeat for that. When I moved from Connecticut where we have a relatively benign ISP (Cablevision) who doesn't have data caps, to California where we only have Comcast/Xfinity, my monthly price for Internet doubled and I have less than half the bandwidth available to me.

I am not sure why I want to sue Chase. I bank with them and they have provided the agreed services. What exactly has Chase done to harm someone like me? If I don’t like something they do, I simply bank elsewhere.

Good point, a bank will never, ever screw you over.

oh wait


> Also, Radvocate, wondering if you can address the PII concerns other's have raised, as that is a very big deal.

For credit cards at least, you aren't giving any more information to them than you would any random website where you make a purchase.

Less, even, as there's no expiration date or CVV.

Hope your site is secure. And I don't mean TLS. Collecting that data paints a giant bullseye on it for hackers.

Good transparency here, an appreciated and professional online reaction to criticism.

I hold PoA for my father- what's the best way, using this form, to say they're his accounts, but I'm the one filing the letter on his behalf?

Great Comment.

From a "consumer who wouldn't individually sue chase" perspective I see nothing wrong here.

I know many here consider this to be ideological heresy but it's possible to have a transaction where both parties come out ahead and this seems like one of those win-wins to me. They do a little work for you in exchange for putting your name on a list of people they can use in a class action, you might even get $5 or something out of it if they win.

Putting your PII into a random website should be what raises red flags here. I hope they're not storing the account numbers, or at least not storing them with the associated personal details.

It's a standard HN (and wider society) complaint that makes very little sense: the best case for corporate behavior is having incentives that are aligned with the consumer or whatever your definition of societal good is.


> Usually in those kinds of cases, the end recipient gets very little - perhaps some subscription to a ID protection service or a few bucks but the firm who runs the class action makes a lot.

This suggests to me you feel that class action judgments do not adequately compensate claimants. This shouldn't dissuade us from fighting back against businesses who treat their customers unfairly.

The problem isn't the class action lawsuit or Radvocate. It goes much deeper. It's goes to the core of businesses (e.g, banks) who provide critical access to the financial system forcing you, the consumer, to resolve disputes through their shadow justice system in which they pay the arbiters, which have a history of siding more frequently with the corporation.

So the "downside" is that they might ask for your help causing more problems for Chase in the future? I didn't click the link but now I'm going to go sign up!

An additional point on the logistics:

I don't have direct access to the fulfillment of this particular initiative, but in general we can take advantage of the efficiency of sending multiple legal notices in the same packet. So the cost per individual letter can be much less than one would assume.

> This site is about having enough potential clients are able to sue Chase at some point in the future

...that sounds good to me! I certainly don't have the resources to take Chase to court myself, and who knows, maybe the existence of this class-action-in-waiting will keep Chase from being as shady.

If they're going to sue Chase someday, more power to them.

That seems like a fair trade off.

Nonsense, their FAQ says:

"We’re a group of like-minded companies who like building things that help people. "

They're just doing this out of the goodness of their hearts!!!

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