On August 1st 2003 David purchased Thoth.
On that same day very soon thereafter we received instructions from
Brian Clark, the author of Thoth, to immediately refund David's
purchase and to make sure we never allowed David to purchase products
from Brian Clark ever again.
I cannot recall a prior time when a software author asked us to ban
one specific customer from purchasing only their products. This was an
entirely new situation.
Kagi has what are referred to as negative files (as does every online
store) containing pieces of customer data that we use to prevent
additional purchases from known bad customers. The negative files
apply to all purchases regardless of software author. The negative
files are not software author specific because we never envisioned
that a software author would turn away a sale from a legit customer.
When we were presented with Brian's wish that David be prevented from
ordering any of Brian's products, there was only one solution that I
could imagine; add David's data to the negative file. So that is what
we did. When the refund was processed, it was set to the reason code
that was closest to the actual situation and that would add David's
data to the negative file. That reason code is something like;
supplier initiated refund due to customer fraud. Obviously that is not
the situation but it is the only reason code that does an immediate
refund, states that the supplier initiated it, and adds the customer
data to the negative files. Perhaps we need a new a reason code of;
supplier initiated refund because of customer's personality and tact.
David was refunded, and David would not be able to order additional
products from Brian Clark (or anyone else at Kagi).
David has bought products from Kagi prior to this and David has bought
a product since this from Kagi, but not with the email or credit card
used to buy Thoth.
David attempted to purchase something recently and he got the generic
message that states that the charge has been declined, or something
like that, very non-descriptive. We have considered giving a more
specific decline message that says something like "Your transaction
has been declined because we have blocked this specific email address
and we have blocked your credit card and if you want to bypass our
fraud filters, just use different ones." But we kind of thought that
providing that much detail would defeat the purpose of the negative
list. So the message is non-descript. For every other person who gets
declined because of the negative list, they go away and fraud some
other store. Since David is not a frauder, he researched it and
complained to us.
David sent email to Kagi and communicated with Mike. Mike provided him
with the data available to him in the database (software author refund
requested due to fraud). After communications with Brian Clark, Mike
removed David from the negative file, except he only removed the
credit card number. Mike is our second newest employee and he didn't
realize that he needed to remove the email address also. Mike replied
to David that he had removed him from the negative list and David
found that he still could not order products. David was not happy and
dealt with the situation in his normal tactful manner.
One claim David makes is that Mike must have seen his posting to this
news group because soon after the posting he got a reply from Mike.
Mike doesn't have netnews access, I didn't have access to netnews, no
one at Kagi did prior to today.
In the meantime, David sent emails to bunches of Kagi addresses and I
don't know about you but when our spam filters see a bunch of email
addresses in the TO field, it looks like spam and gets dealt with
accordingly. The trouble ticket system did receive the copy of David's
email and operational folks were replying to David on a periodic
basis. But since this situation is so unusual, they were not able
understand the situation nor able to immediately resolve the issue.
The original posting to netnews was sent to me by folks who read this
news group. Their forwarding of the posting got through my personal
spam filters because it was an email just to me. They also provided
suggestions on how I could get access to netnews so that I could post
a reply. Thank you all. groups.google.com is a pretty easy way to do
Last night I researched as much as I could and replied to David and
copied Brian. Today I received additional information from Brian that
helped me remember the uniqueness of the situation and why the refund
was marked as it was. This evening, after sitting around all day for
jury duty, I was able to sign up for netnews access, and post this
Last night I removed the email block and informed David that I think
all the blocks have been removed such that he should be able to order
through Kagi in the future. I told him that I have not ordered a
product using his data (and am not going to) so if it does not work,
to have him contact us. But I think it should now work.
I have also asked him to never order another product from Brian Clark.
The only falsehood David can claim was that our "your transaction has
been denied" message was incorrect. In the past, we didn't want to
tell frauders how to get past our fraud filters and except for David,
all the other entries in the negative list are frauders. David is not
For David to make a claim of slander and libel kind of requires that
Kagi employees post communications about David in a public forum, say
for example comp.sys.mac.apps perhaps. Prior to this time, no one at
Kagi posted anything concerning David's communications to a public
forum so I think claiming slander and libel is a bit extreme, perhaps
even slanderous and libelous?
I'll admit that a better solution would have been for us to have
refunded David and then informed him that he was not to order any more
products from Brian Clark. If this happens again in the next 9 years
we'll know how to handle it.
I started Kagi in 1994 and as far as I can remember, we have never had
a product supplier refuse to deliver their products to a legit
customer. David is the first legit customer that a product supplier
has refused to sell their product to.
Questions and comments raised in other postings:
Q: Is it legal to refuse to sell it to an individual is something
offered for sale to the public?
A: From what I remember of a contract law class in college, I think
D.F. Manno provided the best answer to that question.
C: "But if they already said there's fraud involved when it was
actually a personality conflict, that can be construed as libelous
behavior, and can only alienate their customers."
A: The only person we told that our systems indicated that there was
fraud involved was David and he decided to tell the world. If anyone
is to charged with libeling David, it would have to be David. As far
as I know, David is the first legit customer to get grouped with
frauders on the negative lists.
C: "Kagi is claiming I attempted fraud and refusing to provide proof
A: Kagi made no such public claim, David did. Kagi employees were
communicating with David in an attempt to rectify the situation and at
no time did a Kagi employee communicate to the world that David had
attempted fraud. The word "fraud" was in the text associated with the
reason code used to satisfy the software author's request and was not
a statement or conclusion by a Kagi employee.
C: "Whenever any one company reaches a position of dominance in its
field, that company becomes greedy, abusive, arrogant, and
self-righteous. Standard Oil was onne such company; Microsoft, PayPal,
and Kagi are current examples, All of these companies are dishonest
A: Kagi may not be perfect but to say that we are dishonest and
unethical is truely libel.