Andrea Whittemore wanted me to clarify that I don’t speak for the Whittemore Peterson Institute in this matter. So: I don’t speak for the WPI in this matter. I am just a lone crank with both a severely overdeveloped sense of justice and the inability to sit up for more than a few minutes.
I wrote this post because I believe that people – especially a group of people who have worked as hard as we all have recently, mortgaging our scant energy to get this done – deserve to know the truth about what they’re working toward. It turned out (at least to date) that we were working honestly to win a contest that could be won dishonestly.
The evidence continues to pour in, even though the contest is over. Yesterday, WPI said on facebook that there was supposed to be an announcement forthcoming about Chase’s investigation in the matter. As of now, there hasn’t been an announcement as far as I know, and WPI finished the contest in 12th place, after being as high as 6th. So while we’re waiting…
After my first post yesterday, people started finding all sorts of things.
First, Jane commented and pointed us toward this camcorder giveaway for the Hillel Academy in Milwaukee. Here’s a screenshot:
(The rest of the page is behind this cut.) So this camcorder offer is part of how a group that has 247 likers on facebook can net 11,285 votes. (WPI, which, you will remember, I am not speaking for, has 4084 likers today and got 9019 votes.)
Jane also turned up a contest for students at Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy to win Apple prizes for soliciting votes. I think this is less problematic. Motivating teenagers to do something like this is no mean feat.
Then, this morning, someone on the WPI page (if it was you, please comment; I can’t seem to find the thread now) pointed out this sweepstakes offer on the 1saleaday facebook app which went to woobox, but unfortunately, once I got there, the link no longer worked.
But back to yesterday. Jean Maskuli did the real heavy lifting of the day yesterday. First, she found that the Sonia & Max Silverstein Academy was offering entries in a contest for iPad2s in exchange for votes. (To find this (at least until it disappears), type Silverstein Hebrew Academy iPad2 into the facebook search box and press the magnifying glass. Then, in the left column, click “Posts by Everyone.”)
Note that Dovid Ezagui is the director of Silverstein Hebrew Academy (here’s their contact page, and here’s a screenshot of that page). The fact that Chumy and Dovid share the email address mentioned in the top post (ChumyandDovid@aol.com) makes me think that they are possibly married.
But the big news last night was that Jean Maskuli turned up an offer on the facebook app EasyCash! that offered actual money in return for votes, as I mentioned in my previous post. We knew there had to be something like this somewhere, because of all the people I noted in my first post, who posted on the charities’ pages asking where their WeeMee gold points, SwagBucks, and facebook credits were. Here’s the offer Jean found, which goes to VoteforGood.info (the redemption site) and then takes you to the Silverstein Hebrew Academy’s Chase Community Giving page:
Then Jenime found a different set of EasyCash! offers.
Here are the pages that Jenime found EasyCash! links that go to. These are the five schools you saw on VoteFive.com.
Then Jenime shared with me that she tried out one of the EasyCash! offers to be sure that it actually worked, and that it credited her with $0.21 for her vote. The Silverstein Hebrew Academy offer Jean found was for $0.28 per vote, which would mean that if SHA had paid the maximum for every single one of its 20,421 votes (which I’m sure it didn’t), it would only have paid $5717.88 in vote fees. That’s a pretty good investment to win $325,000.
Then the app prompted Jenime to write on her wall, so she did.
(Jennifer/Jenime is donating the $1.21 she made (and more) to the Whittemore Peterson Institute.)
Even before I saw the first EasyCash! offer, I knew there had to be a site out there somewhere handling the redemption. One of my favorite projects I worked on at the California Tree Fruit Agreement was a promotion called Tasty Tunes, in which consumers got free iTunes credits for buying both CA stone fruit and bagged salad. It was the first time anybody’d ever attempted such a project in the produce business, and solving the redemption problem was the promotion’s biggest issue. So I knew there had to be something pretty sophisticated out there – something far more sophisticated than a school could manage on its own. And once Jean and Jenime found these offers, we had our answer: VoteforGood.info.
And guess what? It’s no longer there. Neither is VoteFive.com. That was quick.
So is this cheating? It seems “unsportsmanlike” to me, but Chase has said nothing about the final rankings changing.
Yesterday, WPI (for which I do not speak) said that Chase was going to make an announcement “today or tomorrow” about some of this. But as I said above, no announcement has been forthcoming as yet.
This is a major black eye to Chase Community Giving, in my mind. I’m not going to be able to get anywhere near the support if WPI ever enters this contest again. And I, personally, will not want to go to the effort, unless Chase makes that promised announcement about their investigation and it changes the outcome.
Or if somebody wants to chip in $0.30 per vote for us.