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Response from AK71 (to accusations) regarding "the" seminar.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I really didn't want to talk about this anymore. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that I am being accused of withholding information regarding my fee for helping to promote "the" seminar due to some ulterior motive.

I don't see why this should be material at all as what should be material was already revealed in this paragraph in an earlier blog post here:

"To be fair to myself and other advertisers in my blog, I told him that I can help him spread the word but there would be a one time advertising fee. He said that he was only helping the organiser of the event and had to check with the organiser. He came back to say that the organiser offered to pay me for every ticket I sold in my blog and to make it more attractive, my readers will get a discount off the official price of $64 per ticket. A "discount code" or "promotion code" was created for this purpose."

Now, did I hide the fact that I was going to be compensated for my efforts? Anyway, since how much I was going to be paid for helping to promote the event seems to be important although the reason escapes me why it should be, I will reveal it as there is no reason to hide (as much as there was no reason to reveal).

Here are the emails, starting from the first email I received from SC, after I replied to his comment in a blog post that I cannot allow free advertisement in my blog. This was when a seminar ticket was advised to be at $57.00 a piece:

Dear AK,
 
I've checked with the organizer and they are definitely paying you a fee for helping them to advertise.
 
Ticket is at $57 per pax.
For every referral from you that sign up for the seminar, you get $6 (more than 10%) if they pay via internet banking.
If the referral pay via EventBrite, then it is $4, as admin cost like eventbrite and paypal takes up a significant portion.
 
So basically, all the cost of paying eventbrite and paypal, goes directly to you as well.
 
Is this ok with you?
 
Event is held at:
 
Nexus Auditorium
5 Koek Road #05-07 S(228796)
Cuppage Plaza (near Somerset MRT Exit B)
Singapore 228796
 
Monday, 19Aug 2013
Time: 7-10pm
 
Let me know.
 
Thanks,
Swee Chye

As I preferred the simplicity of having a one time fee, I replied:

Hi Swee Chye,

Thanks for this. :)

I would like to propose a more straightforward method.

For Value Investing Summit, the organisers told me my blog referred almost 70 participants in January 2013. Of course, since then, I think my blog's readership has grown if you saw my most recent blog stats which I blogged about.

So, I would like to offer a big rectangle banner space (300x250) on the top of my right sidebar for S$400.00. This will run to 18 August.

If the organisers accept this, please deposit the money into my POSB savings account 093-44286-5. They will have to provide me with the HTML code for the banner ad which links to their website too, of course.

As a bonus, I will also compose a short advertorial on the event. This will usually enhance the effectiveness of the campaign.

I hope to hear from you again soon. :)

Best wishes,
AK


A counter proposal was made by the organiser where the commission offered was raised from S$4.00 - $6.00 to $27.00 a ticket! Mind boggling:

Dear AK,
 
Thanks for the quick response.
 
I've checked with the organizer, and they are counter proposing to create a special link for the payment just for you, if you can promote for them, with the number of tickets shown online for that link.
 
The link will have the number of tickets at the start, and it will decrease as tickets are bought in order for you to know how many tickets are sold from your referral.
 
For every tickets sold, you will get $27, so selling only $15 (sic) tickets will net you $405.
So the more tickets that are sold via your referral link, the more you get paid.
 
Is this a fair deal for you?
 
Let me know, so that the organizer can do the necessary link for you.
 
Cheers,
Swee Chye
 
PS: On a personal note, do continue writing your interesting articles in your blog, as from time to time, I do visit it when I am able to have some time. :D

I thought this over for quite a while because it was quite an attractive offer and I was also somewhat surprised at their generosity but I still preferred the simplicity of a one time fee. So, I wrote:

Hi Swee Chye,

Advertising income is nice to have as pocket money but being the fastidious person I am, I know I will be checking on the ticket sales daily. Yikes. I want to avoid that. This is why I proposed a straightforward upfront one time payment. My blog could end up selling 100 tickets and it wouldn't matter to me. :)

I got to know someone who blogs for a living in the USA and he told me that with the traffic I have now, I should charge US$150 a month for a 125x125 button. Example: "TheFinance" in my left sidebar. So, I believe that S$400 for the proposed 300x250 banner is inexpensive.

Please tell the organiser that I appreciate their offer which is very generous. It is more than fair because I am sure I will end up making more money with their method but this would be important to me if my primary motivation for blogging is for money. ;p

Well, if they don't need me to write an advertorial in support of the banner ad, I could lower the price, I guess. However, I can say from experience that an advertorial helps. :)

Best wishes,
AK


Then, I received a reply from SC which I guess shows that he is more knowledgeable about internet marketing than I am:

Dear AK,
 
I've spoken to the organizer, and they are more interested in actual ticket sales, and that is why they made that proposal to you.
 
Of course, any advertorial in support of the banner ad is most welcome, but they cannot track nor have any means to know the actual conversion rate simply from putting up a banner and a blog post.
 
Getting lots of traffic is definitely good and no doubt about it, but it is the actual conversion and sales that is what any advertisers are most interested in.
 
I believe Bloggers and Internet Marketers wants lots of traffic, but their source of income comes from actual sales, ppc, ppv etc 
 
Let me know if you are willing to help the organizer on the actual sales.
 
Cheers,
Swee Chye 

OK, at that point, I really should have just ended it and I would have avoided this entire nightmare. Unfortunately, much to my regret, I gave in:

Hi Swee Chye,

Yes, I quite understand their concerns. Must make sure that their advertising dollar is well spent.

I have given this more thought and have decided to accept the organiser's proposed special arrangement just for me. I could end up making more money. ;p

I will wait for the HTML code and instructions. Thanks. :)

Best wishes,
AK


This was followed by an email from SC in which the official price of a ticket, for the first time, was stated as $64.00:

Hi AK,
 
Here are the details for you to promote the event.
 
The event link:
ttp://www.eventbrite.sg/event/7661797643/
 
You are free to write as creatively as you can, and can use the link information for your write up.
You will notice there are 200 tickets for sale for this special link, and it is displayed visibly.
So every sale for this link will decrease the count by one, so the tracking of each ticket is visible to all.
 
You have a promotional code for all your referrals and subscribers to pay for the event if they are interested.
 
The promotional code is AK71-MSOI
This gives those interested to sign up at least 10% discount from the official price of $64.
 
Some pictures and banner you can use:

 --- (AK71 deleted the link)

 --- (AK71 deleted the link)
 
A picture for your banner in your website as attached.
 
Let me know if you have any other questions or need any other information for your promotion of the event.
 
I thank you on behalf of the organizer and hopefully it will be a successful campaign.
 
Cheers,
Swee Chye 

I took a screen capture to show that I did not make this up:

Click to enlarge.

Then, there were a few more emails on how to set up the ads which I am pretty sure there is no need to reveal, well, just like the above emails really.

Is the fee negotiation process an important part of the revelations? I don't think so. What was material was how certain details were left out in the negotiation process which led me to making a badly informed decision. These details which were left out were pointed out to me by readers of my blog! (You know who you are. Thank you.)

I would have insisted on early bird prices of $30.00 a ticket and $57.00 for three tickets if I was told they existed when they first approached me. Of course, with the publication of my blog posts on the matter, the organisers have stopped the early bird prices. The price is now $57.00 a ticket.

I would have insisted that the official price be stated as $57.00 if I had known that it was being marketed as such in another local finance blog. Instead, I was made to think that the official price was $64.00 and that to buy at $57.00, my readers must use a "discount code". The regular price of $57.00 over at kiasuparents.com's forum now supports my point that $64.00 is not and was never the "official" price.

Have I knowingly left out any details which might skew readers' perception of the organisers of the event? No and I have no need to lie.

One only has to think logically as to what AK71 has to gain from lying about anything. Why would I put in work to promote an event just to tear it down? I gain nothing from it. As another blogger, SMOL, said, I could have simply shrugged it off and put it down to "willing buyer, willing seller". I could have been absolutely nonchalant.

Everything I know, my readers know. Anything else that people say I should know and that I chose not to share with my readers now, well, they are entitled to their beliefs. I don't need to fabricate anything. I don't go around making baseless accusations as a pastime. Regular readers will know that is definitely not in my character. I say it as it is.

If people have been totally honest and fair from the onset, laying down all their cards on the table for me to see, would this have happened? Would there be any need for damage control? No, there wouldn't be any damage in the first instance!

For people who still think that I am blogging because of the money I get out of it, well, I can say with confidence that I won't miss the income but I WILL miss blogging.

In a reply to SC above, I said:

"Please tell the organiser that I appreciate their offer which is very generous. It is more than fair because I am sure I will end up making more money with their method but this would be important to me if my primary motivation for blogging is for money. ;p"

In another reply to SC which I shared in an earlier blog post, I said as much:

"You might know this but the organiser might not: I am not a blogger who is blogging for money. I care about my blog's reputation more than anything else."

I will stop here or else some people might accuse me of having ulterior motives (again).

Related posts:
1. I will not attend Multiple Streams of Income Seminar.
2. Multiple Streams of Income closed early bird prices.

27 comments:

FoodieFC said...

wow, what an experience! I dont know much about this, but glad to see that you have made an effort to help these affected buyers (with reference to your previous post on this too)

AK71 said...

Hi FoodieFC,

Enough to last me a lifetime! I certainly hope this is the first and the last. -.-"

A reader and guest blogger, Winston, just told me that I should be selfish with my credibility. I really like the way he puts it. I think I will have to be more careful about trusting people in future.

Another reader and also a "long time ago" guest blogger, Endrene, told me to ignore and to let it go. However, I know that I cannot. I have a set of principles which I never waver from. I have to do this and I am glad I did.

MrNg said...

Hi AK,

I do not doubt your integrity and your motives in blogging. I know I will get a lot of negative responses and perhaps some offended ramarks. But this is how I feel:

Having know how some of my relatives do business, and perhaps how some retailer do business, they usually mark up the price of products.

SC did mention the seminar price is 57 at the on start, so your AK promotion is all but a gimmick, anyone they bought through your blog without keying in the discount will then be a real Robert ! Apparently, u did not believe in gimmicks in sales but I think they are really prevalent.

On a personal note, when my 4 year old son ask me what does SALE means when we went shopping, I replied without thinking: when prices are not marked up as high as they should be. I deliberately left out the word cheap.

While I think the big price differential at the same time is unwise and really bad marketing strategies, many seminars do offer early bird discounts.

U did not want your readers to feel short changed in any way, the silly thing is: the organizer did not read you correctly. If I am the organizer, I would agree with an additional 5% discount but lower the commission given to u. In this way, I still earn, and if u refused, u no longer have the moral high ground.

Sorry if I offended anyone in this post. Just saying things from my honest perspective

AK71 said...

Hi silly investor,

Actually, I feel bad for calling you "silly investor". Can I not call you Mr. Ng? ;)

I just took their word at face value. I didn't think too much about how they might not be straight. If you are saying that I am naïve when you say that I do not believe in gimmicks, you could be right. I believe you.

I do not have any issue with having early bird prices. I am in business development. This is a common strategy. It rewards people who buy early.

The issue I have is with the organiser not telling me that there were early bird prices when they signed me up! This went against my sense of fairness.

The early bird prices were still going on in kiasuparents.com when my blog started to sell the tickets at an inflated price! I was doubly upset because some of my readers paid the inflated price!

Yes, I think they misread me because I was willing to give up on the entire deal and I did.

MrNg said...

All in all, I think what I am trying to say is, we live by our principles, and we really should, but we cannot expect others to do the same.

Apparently, the orgainsier is just out to make money and not spread financial wisdom and make some money.

We should just take care of ourselves and not let our souls slip with all the temptations and distractions life throw at us, but we should not be so upset with others when we have done all that we could. They could live the life they want as long as they like, I believe in Karma, we will never know how it will come back to us, so we can just strive to lead an upright life and if possible influence others. Others have their life and values shaped by their circumstances, and when I see things that really piss me off, I grumbles and walk off ... I seldom affect me more than 1 day, because I believe we are all accountable for our deals and karma will catch up with us sooner or later

Let it go AK. :)

AK71 said...

Thank you, Mr. Ng. Very good advice. I appreciate it but I haven't reached your level of ZEN. It will take me a bit more time. :)

I haven't been sleeping properly. I have lost my appetite. I just told my sister what happened earlier this evening because she could sense something was wrong.

Thanks again. :)

MrNg said...

Please call me silly investor, my iPhone doesn't allow me to log as silly investor. Otherwise, I would use another Acc.

I think I made many silly mistakes and I am still making them. It's to remind me to be humble and keep learning in this investing journey. Your blog is one of my must read source, so keep it up.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

AK,

高山不动, 流水不安.

Stand tall. Breathe.



AK71 said...

Hi silly investor,

Hey, I made many silly mistakes too. That makes us two silly investors. We learning from each other might be a bad idea. ;p

Actually, I was working on a blog post on Yongnam when I was interrupted to write this blog post. Sigh.

I would like to have your views on my blog post on Yongnam when I put it up tomorrow. Reading your analysis on LMIR convinced me that you are not a silly investor at all! :)

AK71 said...

Hi SMOL,

"Be the mountain!"

Good advice from a worldly man. Thank you. :)

How come a worldly man now becomes insomniac also har? ;p

I said...

AK,

How ironic that your nuffnang ads are advertising his seminar still. ;)

Anyway, I'm sure all of us, your readers, do not doubt your integrity and clarity.

Don't get angry over this, your conscience is clear. :)

Steven Yap said...

Chill and Take it easy, AK. You meet all kinds of weirdos now and then. Enjoy and cherish your life. Agreed with MrNg, Karma always finds everyone in the end. :) Always...

SG Young Investment said...

Hi AK,

From the things you write, I know you're a good person. There are many readers out there who still believe in your integrity. There will always be a few people who will accuse you for what you do but well I guess in the online world we can't really avoid it.

Just have to move on and don't let it affect you too much :)
I will always support your blogging efforts ;p

AK71 said...

Hi I,

Really? I haven't seen it but I don't have any control over Nuffnang's ads. They are randomly generated by the ad agency.

While we are on the topic of fees, Nuffnang pays me 20c per click. Maybe, I could get back at "the" seminar's organiser by clicking on their ad every time I see it. EVIL LAUGHTER! Nah. I not so free. ;p

I think I am tired from being angry now. I slept 4 hours last night. Mind still buzzing. Still unhappy but not angry.

Thanks for the bracing comment. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Steven,

Weirdoes very often cannot control themselves for being weird. I might not like them but I can tolerate them. Shucks, I think some people think I am weird too, I am sure. ;p

People who are dishonest and unfair? Well, come to think of it, some people lie because it is an illness. Hmmm...

Anyway, you are right. Karmic forces are always at work. I have done the right thing and that is what matters.

Thank you. :)

AK71 said...

Hi SG Young Investment,

Well, to be fair, words can deceive. So, I believe that our actions are more important.

Sometimes, our actions might put us at a disadvantage but it is always about doing what is right for me, even so.

If I had gone along with the organiser, I could possibly make quite a bit of money and it is not often that financial bloggers in Singapore get to make this kind of money. We are in a money related niche but it doesn't make much money for us. ;p

However, I won't be able to live with myself after that.

You are right about how I should not let it affect me too much, of course. Thank you. :)

Cindy Siow said...

Hi AK,
I do not mind you making a referral fee or earning from the commission from this posting at all. I think you have provided lots of valuable free information and this may be a small gesture to thank you for providing the information. Do keep writing your valuablepost and money savings tips plus investments.

AK71 said...

Hi Cindy,

Many bloggers have a fear of making money or, more accurately, a fear of being found out that they are making money from their blog.

I have no such fear because:

1. It is an open secret amongst us local financial bloggers just how little money we make from blogging.

2. There is nothing wrong with making some money from blogging if we can. It is quite proper.

However, some money, I would rather not make. This episode really hurts me because some readers were affected as well which means it is not a personal issue anymore.

In any case, to have affirmation from a reader is heartening, definitely. I really appreciate it. Thank you. :)

MrNg said...

Hi AK, thank you for your kind words.

I doubt I can comment on yongmao since I didn't research on it.

I hope I can more companies if I have the time. But time is always a problem. I am spending more time to research on sabana, and Cambridge in the meantime. I believe there will be windows of opportunity to buy industrial reits. But my worse case yield for sabana is 6.8% for the next 2 years. Worse than your 7.2%.

Actually, I post some qn on sabana on value buddies, but no one answered. Maybe u can answer them when u are free and feeling better ? No obligation.


Hi guys ,

One of the main grouses for this counter is its weak sponsor. It is assumed that a weak sponsor will make it more difficult to get a loan when liquidity is tight.

However, for a weak sponsor like freight links, isn't it a good thing that it own only a small stake? Lets assume freight own a big chulk like SPH, in a rights issue, the biggest shareholder need to stump out the most. Wouldn't the fact that freight which is weak be less of a burden since it own less??

Besides this point, what implications are there for a weak sponsor? As fr pipeline of assets to be injected into reits, they might not come at a good price, like the case o Keppel REIT, even LMIr malls took a while to be yield accretive.

2nd question, beside the yield of properties, how else can we know if a I industrial property is of quality? Malls seem easier to scuttlebutt. Any other numbers to look t beside NPI ?

Last is a silly qn which is always on my mind. Lets hypothetically assume the sponsor go under, it's small stake in units are fire sale to creditors, and the sponsor partially owned the manager. Can the manager be taken over by creditor?

Lastly, say A owns a few companies. One of the company go under, can creditors go after A private assets or the other companies A own, or all the creditors can recover is whatever assets the company that goes under has?

------

Sorry, know the post is out of point, u dun have to publish it if u find it weak to appear here

Thanks!

AK71 said...

Hi silly investor,

Not Yongmao (what is that? forever hair?). Yongnam lah. ;p

As for Sabana REIT. Quite a few people talk about it having a weak sponsor. Personally, I treat the REIT as one without a sponsor and I analyse it as such. :)

I mean although it was offered as a REIT with a sponsor at its IPO, it is really behaving like one without. So, there is no need for investors to be stuck in a box trying to think it through.

As to how we can tell if a REIT has good quality properties, well, we have to examine each property in turn. I work and move around in an industrial area. So, I see lots of industrial properties around me.

It always boils down to price. Tenants don't mind an older building or even a shabby looking building if the price is good and the building does what they need it to do.

Industrial properties are different from shopping malls and office buildings. They don't need crowds of shoppers (who crave new shopping experience in attractive environments) and they generally don't have atas workers (with the exception of high tech industrial parks probably).

So, personally, I think the biggest threat to industrial property S-REITs is the big increase in new industrial space in the next few years.

When we take into consideration the developments across the Causeway, there is even more scope for worry.

It is true that tenants of industrial buildings are less footloose compared to tenants of office buildings and shopping malls. It takes a lot more work for them to move. However, it doesn't mean that they won't especially when costs become more prohibitive in our country.

This is one area of investment where I feel a top down approach is very important in helping us make a decision.

My last blog post on Sabana REIT presents to readers my thoughts on the REIT which are still valid now. I have not changed my mind. Not yet.

Ray said...

wow, alot has happened since i last visited your blog AK..

but since you are also being lied to, I'm sure your readers wont be too upset. maybe give them more stock tips in future may make up for it :)

Matthew Seah said...

Hi Cindy Siow,

I just went to your blog.
Are you still looking for trackers to track your progress?

I do have some google sheets just for you =)

Mr. IPO said...

AK, unfortunate incident but nevertheless a life experience. I was approached a few times but prior to replying them, I googled the company they want me to promote and I have to say a few had dubious reputation and complaints. That is why I never do adverts unless they come from reputable source. :)

AK71 said...

Hi Mr. IPO,

This proposal was from a regular reader and it all started with a book recommendation.

There was no mention of any company, just a seminar based on the book which seemed bona fide and tied in with my philosophy of having more than one income stream.

This was why I said that there was misrepresentation aplenty and that not everything was made known to me when I was approached.

Anyway, I will have to be extra careful in future. Now, I need to put this incident behind me. :(

AK71 said...

Hi Ray,

More stock tips? That is a dangerous suggestion. LOL.

No, AK71 does not give stock tips. I never do. ;)

Derek said...

Hi AK,

Let the downpour today wash away all the unhappiness.

It's a super short week today. Wanna meet up for kopi?

Cheers!
Derek

AK71 said...

Hi Derek,

Kopi? Aiyoh, I very shy one.

Let me think about it. Thanks. :)

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