An open letter to Scott Messick, president of the Media Mayhem Corporation

Paul Raven @ 01-10-2010

Edit, 31 Oct 2010: Mister Messick has since paid the full amount that was owing to Futurismic, and offered many apologies for the confusion and miscommunication that led to the following post.

Hi Scott, me again;

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve removed the Media Mayhem ad-block code from Futurismic, as I informed you I would do last week. I realise that this is technically a breach of the contract I signed with you guys – but then again, pretty much any behaviour other than sitting patiently waiting for the money I’m owed is a breach of that contract on my part. Interestingly, late payment on your part isn’t a breach of contract; were I was less naive, perhaps that would have rang an alarm bell with me earlier on.

I’ve been patient, Scott; I really have. I understood from the outset that Futurismic was small fry compared to some of the other names on your roster of ad publishers, to the extent that I was quite astonished and flattered when one of your employees solicited me directly about hosting your ad units. Oh, I’ve had plenty of people offer ad deals to Futurismic, but you guys were the first one that wasn’t obviously a gang of link-farming hucksters. I mean, the same company who run ads on Tor.com? And you want to run similar ads on my little site? Well, colour me stoked. It seemed almost too good to be true.

Ninety days, Scott. That’s how long I was supposed to wait before revenue from the ads I was running started to come through. The ninety days passed long ago, didn’t they – given that I put the ad-block tags into the site theme on 17th February? So I started making polite enquiries as to what was happening around the end of June. First of all there was the line about the accounting department all being away on vacation (can it really qualify as a ‘department’ if the entire team can be away at the same time?), and then it was a change in payment terms enforced upon you by your advertisers, which would have the knock on effect of delaying the passing through of those payments to us publishers.

Then there was the possibility of sending out a cheque, but no one seemed able to tell me whether the change of mailing address I’d informed you of back in May had actually been registered anywhere, and I’d been told that electronic payments would be fine when I signed up with you (what with me being UK-based, and hence unable to cash a dollar cheque with ease). But there’s an authorisation problem with the company’s PayPal account (or it’s empty of funds, or possibly both), and you’ve never had to look into sending funds via bank transfer before, and, and, and…

A week ago, after I told you I’d be yanking the ad blocks at the start of October, you assured me that you were working on the PayPal problem, and thanked me for understanding. Well, Scott, I’m afraid I don’t understand.

You see, understanding is rather dependent on having information to base that understanding upon. I can’t understand if all I get are hollow reassurances. So I’ve ended up doing what a science fiction fan does best, and extrapolating a narrative from a few observable facts. Facts that include:

  • The notice on your website that says you don’t deal with sites that pull less than 100,000 page views a month; why, then, did you solicit ad spaces from a media minnow like Futurismic?
  • The mysterious mass absence of the accounting department, followed by the revelation that only you – the company president, no less! – can authorise and send payments; sounds like the accounting department’s job to me, really, but what would I know?
  • The fact that for the last three months or so the ads running here haven’t changed from dull plugs for MySpace; minimum revenue space-fillers, and hardly the exciting media promotions that are, according to your website, your stock in trade.

Can you see where those plot points might be leading? Maybe I’m just too used to the pessimistic narratives of contemporary science fiction, but I’m not expecting a happy ending.

I really wanted to believe in you guys, Scott; your customer service was excellent when we had some problem ads appearing in the stream, and Media Mayhem gave every indication of being a legitimate and above-board ad broker company, right up until the point when I started asking about getting paid. Indeed, I suspect that for most of its history it has been… and maybe it still is, when dealing with its bigger publishers rather than the sub-100,000 minnows.

All I know for sure is that Media Mayhem owes me money, and that when I get in touch to find out what’s happening about me getting paid, all I get are excuses (if I get any reply at all). And so I’m using the only leverage I have; without publishers like me to run those ads, you have no business. Currently, you’re taking money from someone somewhere to publish ads on my property, but you’re not passing my share of that money on. Maybe a small site like Futurismic isn’t a priority, and slips through the administrative cracks; maybe you really have run into every conceivable obstacle in the course of trying to pay me (and very kindly decided not to bother me with trivia or keeping me informed of what might be happening with my account). I just don’t know for sure… and I’m afraid my speculations at this point are less than charitable.

So, your ad blocks are gone. I realise that this effectively breaks our contract, and probably means you are no longer obliged to pay me the money I’m owed… but you know what? At this point, I’m not entirely convinced you’ve ever intended to.

Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face here? I guess I am… but hey, it’s my face, and while my pockets may be empty I’ve still got this stupid sense of pride to cling on to. And I’m working on the theory that, should there be any other smaller sites out there on the internet who are running ads for you and wondering when they’re going to get paid, perhaps they’ll realise that there’s something amiss, and that they’re not the only ones getting the run-around.

I’m kind of sorry it’s come to this, Scott; some might say it’s not very professional of me to go public with an issue like this, and perhaps they’re right. But some might say it’s not very professional to string along a client that you yourselves solicited advertising spaces from, and to offer nothing but excuses even when they’ve been waiting for well over twice the stated length of your payment cycle.

Naturally, I’m not expecting you to lose any sleep over this – heck, that contract means that even if I could afford a lawyer, it’d be pointless hiring one – but I’m damned if I’m going to lose any more sleep of my own. I consider the contract between us null and void from this point; I hope that money comes in handy for you and the company.

Yours…

Paul Graham Raven, Publisher

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39 Responses to “An open letter to Scott Messick, president of the Media Mayhem Corporation”

  1. Justin Pickard says:

    Zing!

  2. Nancy Jane Moore says:

    Sigh. And here I’ve been saying that there must be some money in online advertising and suggesting we try it on Book View Cafe. Well, if anyone lets me bring it up again, I’ll make sure we avoid using Media Mayhem.

    I hope this message shames him into sending you a check.

    BTW, I gather this company is in the US. You might try reporting them to the attorney general of whatever state they’re located in, suggesting that there is something rather fishy going on here. I don’t know if most attorneys general bother with claims between businesses, but they do usually have consumer protection divisions that get involved when someone gets ripped off.

  3. SMD says:

    You should also report them to the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org). I’ve refused to purchase anything from companies that have bad ratings with them.

    Also, a way you might help deal with revenue is to put up a donating button through Paypal. It’s easy and I imagine folks would gladly donate few bucks here or there.

  4. Heidi Cautrell says:

    I have to agree with SMD. I’ve been an avid reader of this site for over six months and I would gladly donate for all the excellent articles you’ve given me to read and ponder.

    I am sorry to see that Media Mayhem has treated you and your site so poorly. You deserve better and I hope things workout for the best.

  5. Wintermute says:

    I’ve run into exactly this problem before.

    There is no online advertising economy. Only Cloud Lords and their peons.

  6. Robert Koslover says:

    I found no record of them with the Better Business Bureau.
    In case you decide to sue them, below is the info from
    the California Secretary of State’s Website. Good luck.
    MEDIA MAYHEM CORPORATION
    Number: C3037127
    Incorporation Date: 3/18/2008
    Status:Active
    Jurisdiction: CA
    Type: Domestic Stock
    Address
    1749 14TH STREET,
    SANTA MONICA, CA 90404
    Agent For Service Of Process
    J. JOHN OH
    625 THE CITY DR. SUITE 355,
    ORANGE, CA 92868

  7. Julie Gray says:

    You weren’t joking about positivity supply issues were you? I really know nothing of such matters but it feels to me like you totally did the right thing.

  8. Div says:

    I’m having the exact same problems with them it seems. I signed an agreement back in May and haven’t received any payments at all as per their “net 60″ time frame. They’re over 90 days overdue with my first payment and owe me a couple of thousand dollars in total.

    I tried calling their 1-888 number, only to reach a voice mailbox with no human operator, as well as their 310 area code phone number that is (apparently) no longer in service. Also, the agent that I was originally in contact with doesn’t seem to be around anymore, as my e-mails bounce off his address. If others are experiencing the same thing, then there’s definitely cause for concern. I’ve removed all their Helios ad code off my site in the meantime.

    I did make amendments to the contract before I signed it, so I’m seeing if I can leverage those changes now.

  9. An says:

    Div…. remove their tags right away!!!!! They wont pay. They stopped paying after a few months. They owe me so much $$$$ since 2008. I wont disclose the amount but its in the thousands! I removed them but they screwed me over and now after reading this they still are screwing people over!!! They are SCAMMerS.
    Same issues I had and that was in 2008.!!!

    I found this page doing a search for Media Mayhem because I been searching for this exact thing forever to see if I was alone.

  10. An says:

    Also, I’m trying to send some comments to Paul via the contact form but I’m having some trouble. Paul, if you are reading this please contact me if you can or if there’s a direct email I can reach you at.

  11. Div says:

    I just removed their ads today. I’m still hoping to get a response from them at the very least.

  12. An says:

    Good luck! I have never been able to get a live person once they stopped paying. They were emailing me too but never paid. Just making promises to send payments. Money talks… bs walks.

  13. Div says:

    An, you were able to get some payments though? At what point did it stop?

    Thanks.

  14. An says:

    They paid only for a few months at the very beginning, but the amount of non payment months far exceeds the first few “smaller” payments. When I noticed something was wrong by the fact that no one could give me a straight answer, but mostly how I stopped getting check after check and kept their codes on. I wish I removed their codes after they missed that 2nd check.

    I think why they are so able to deceive is the fact that they run good ads and when you look at their website they have all these big names on there.

    Somehow though they are conning people and still running a business. I am shocked that they are doing this to hard working publishers.

  15. Neil says:

    I find I’m in the same situation with them too!

    Can anyone recommend an alternative to them?

  16. Neil says:
  17. another website owner says:

    Another website owner that’s getting dicked over my Media Mayhem here. I want to add my story about Scott Messick dodging my questions, telling me that advertisers have been late to pay him, that his paypal account doesn’t work. I pulled the media mayhem ad blocks from my website too. This company is circling the drain if it’s not already insolvent. At least I can take comfort in knowing if anyone does a search for Media Mayhem now the complaints about Scott and his company will show up on google searches.

  18. Neil says:

    He just told me this weekend (gone) that a cheque will be in the post… If it doesn’t arrive within two weeks I will be creating a website dedicated to Media Mayhem & Scott Messick advertising the fact they are scammers! This company/individual needs to be addressed if he is indeed robbing people! How about http://www.scottmessick-scammer.net and http://www.mediamayhem-scammers.com for starters? I’d be willing to throw a few tens of dollars into this project!

    Can I ask for anyone having problems with Media Mayhem to please email mail so I can start building up information about him/them? (mediamayhem[AT]nfawcett.co.uk)

  19. David says:

    Doug was their PR guy and left them when their Biz Developer Jamie Ashe left them about 2 years ago and that is around the time Media Mayhem went to complete shit.

    Mayhem is broker than a broke joke.

  20. Bob says:

    Anyone contacted AdTechUS about them? That’s the ad portal they use right?

  21. Strealine says:

    Another publisher here who’s owed 90% of what was served. Have given up hope of getting it, has been over a year. Is anybody here suing?

  22. Pissed Off At messick says:

    I made contact with Scott regarding my unpaid revenue and he’s giving me the run around. He said a check was sent 2 weeks ago… NOTHING> People we need to do something here.

  23. Another Disappointed Guy says:

    I’m having the same issue. Anyone would think they’re a crooked operation after this.

  24. Pissed Off At messick says:

    Anyone here know whats going on? All those out there who have not got payment or have had the run around.. start posting on YOUR SITES!! Do the same as this site. The owner of this site got his money and it was probably because of this internet post!!!!

    Disappointed Guy – How can I reach you

  25. Andy says:

    I’m in the same boat. Already looking at legal possibilities. Anyone still having this problem, feel free to contact me at mediamayhemcomplaint@gmail.com

  26. Scott says:

    To whom it may concern,

    If you have monies owed to you please email scott@mediamayhem and jeff@mediamayhem. Over the the last year and a half a number of issues have caused areas of delay. We are being proactive in fixing these areas. If you would like to setup a game plan on how we can attack this situation together, then please contact Scott and Jeff.

  27. Andy says:

    Looks like a lot of people are in the same boat. I ran into another complaint letter at http://blog.girlsaskguys.com/2011/01/20/public-letter-scott-messick-media-mayhem/. Looks like Media Mayhem is using this as their business model. I am glad to have found out about this sooner than later..

  28. Messick does not pay says:

    Notice the careful wording of “Scott’s” post. The “game plan on how we can attack” is called PAYING YOUR PUBLISHERS. Since he’s not contacting anyone directly (already asked around), and just leaving information in the comment section of a blog, chances are still zip that you will see any money without writing your own post to out this scammer.

    And note that the folks on Girlsaskguys received a BAD CHECK that BOUNCED from Media Mayhem. Very professional.

  29. Another Publisher Screwed says:

    Another publisher who is owed $,$$$s of dollars since August, I will be sueing Jeff and the company at the end of this month.

  30. Hollywood Rag says:

    They stopped paying me as well. Checks stopped coming while I had ads running.

    Owe me quite a bit from summer of 2008-march 2009. I been chasing the money since.

    http://horrornews.net/29937/media-mayhem-advertising-fails-the-horror-industry/

  31. Person says:

    They are entering chapter 7, I think it is time to launch an investigation into their criminal activity not civil, since they were signing up publishers well after they knew they could not pay prior publishers.

    Please respond here and I will try to collect information and we can get these guys.

  32. INVESTIGATOR says:

    I agree it is time to put the Feds onto this case. We are going to file a criminal complaint. I believe that the chapter 11 is another RUSE.

  33. Screwed by Scott Messick says:

    I’m all for it too. I have site logs, plenty of acknowledgement from Messick that our site has been owed thousands, and more. I’ve also been fed his “plan of attack” BS and excuses, but they’ve never amounted to anything. It’s time to file criminal charges here.

  34. INVESTIGATOR says:

    do you have any other upset victim contacts ?

  35. Manny Benor says:

    they took us for 11k
    i have contracts e-mail if anyone else wants to contact me
    BrideClick
    Manny

  36. HollywoodRag says:

    I was screwed and even posted something on my site. Their website was already down by the time I did!

    http://www.hollywoodrag.com/index.php?/weblog/comments/open_letter_to_scott_messick_of_media_mayhem_corp/

  37. Also Cheated by Scott Messick says:

    Be careful, he’s back, and now he’s running http://hutchmedia.com I strongly suggest to avoid him. He still owes me around $200.

  38. Neil says:

    Amazing how these ‘people’ can just lie and cheat, walk away, and start up again…

    If he’s involved with hutchmedia.com don’t go near them!

  39. Neil says:

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