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Watchdog Advisory: Blasty

Watchdog Advisory: Blasty

Blasty emerged in 2015 as a revolutionary approach to confronting piracy. By automating DMCA takedown notices, Blasty provided a quick, convenient, inexpensive, and effective way to suppress infringing content.

Blasty has been a recommended service provider — at least until last year, when the company’s customer service abruptly imploded.

ALLi’s Watchdog Desk has received more than twenty complaints of Blasty failing to respond to customer service inquiries, failing to honor cancellation requests, and continuing to charge customer credit cards and bank accounts after cancellation. Some complainants felt they had no other recourse than to cancel their credit cards, or file fraud claims with their banks.

Although Blasty continues to send out takedown notices, these are noticeably delayed. Customer support inquiries have been met with silence.

It’s a baffling turn of events for a company that was once a highly responsive and respected member of the publishing community.

After six failed attempts to reach Blasty staff over the course of three weeks, including online submissions and emails to [email protected], I began to look for other means of contacting someone at the company. I reached out to Olivier Zetlers, the original CEO of the company, through email and LinkedIn private messaging. Mr. Zetlers’ LinkedIn profile lists his tenure at Blasty as ending December 2018; nonetheless, I was hopeful that he could put me in contact with the current operators of the site, or provide insights into the sudden lapse in customer service.

Four days later, on April 10th, Mr. Zetlers responded on LinkedIn. In his message, he clarified that he is still the CEO of Blasty, that the company is still in operation, and asserted that they respond to all emails from users.

That same day, I provided him with the fruitless history of my attempts to contact someone at Blasty, as well as the email addresses and summary of issues for five of the dozens of authors who have reported problems with Blasty. (Complaints made to the Watchdog Desk are confidential; this information was shared with the explicit permission of those authors.)

Five days later, he responded with further information about those accounts: of the five accounts cited, two were already cancelled, he said, and three more had just been taken care of. He also explained that Blasty was “going to implement a much easier way for users to cancel their account,” to go live by the first week of May.

Mr. Zetlers provided no information about the source of the disruption, or what steps were being taken to correct it. I again requested information on the lapse in communication. I also alerted Mr. Zetlers to the fact that ALLi had suspended Blasty’s Recommended status pending an investigation, and requested a statement from the company for inclusion in this article.

I again received no response. Follow-ups sent to Blasty’s support via their online form triggered an automated response letting me know that my request had been received, but, like so many authors, no further response followed.

Worse still, two of the authors who lodged complaints with ALLi report that they are still being charged for ongoing subscriptions, despite Mr. Zetlers’ assurance that their problems had been resolved.

I had been hoping that a technical issue was at the heart of Blasty’s customer service issues, that perhaps they simply were not receiving the communications and were unaware of customers’ issues. Unfortunately, the company’s staff and CEO have failed to respond to multiple inquiries via email, online forms, and LinkedIn, which makes a technical cause extremely unlikely. I cannot speculate on the cause of Blasty’s deterioration; I can only note that it’s an extraordinary departure from their usual responsiveness.

A fundamental tenet of ALLi’s Code of Standards is service: a company serving authors must be accountable for their work and keep clients informed about the work they do. A company that cannot be trusted to perform its accounting duties and which cannot be reached in the event of a dispute has failed its clients.

Accordingly, we have downgraded Blasty to a Caution rating. Until the company resumes normal communications, and cancellation requests are being honored consistently, authors may wish to reconsider any paid subscriptions.

Blasty was offered right of reply, but did not respond before publication of this article.

OVER TO YOU

What have your experiences of Blasty been?

What's happened to @Blasty_? Unauthorized charges, customer service failures are bad news for #indieAuthors. — by @johndoppler Click To Tweet

Other Posts From The Watchdog

From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive

https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/self-publishing-service-reviews/

 

This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. As of today, May 17, it appears the site is no longer active. I sent out two blasts only two days ago and went to check the status. All I get is a screen stating all access disabled. It has, quite literally, disappeared from the internet.

  2. Can anyone tell me how to contact Blasty. I’ve tried to cancel my subscription which they put on auto-renew…something I never authorized. I ended up challenging it on my credit card. I’d definitely like to send an email to the CEO.

  3. Thank you, John. Another great job done! Fortunately, the credit card used for my billing on Blasty expires soon–and I guess I won’t be renewing it.

    I’m guessing the business got sold to some people who are out to mine it for money and don’t care about providing a service.

  4. I managed to change my credit card to one that expires prior to Blasty’s renewal date. I’ve flagged this on my calendar to monitor. It did say “your card has a temporary hold, please choose another card or contact your bank.” But the new number/date remained, so we’re good. (the card is fine!)

  5. I was also a beta tester and am still a user. I’ve enjoyed their services so far, and I still get emails about ongoing “blasts”.

    I’ve got a dead credit card on file, so I guess I’ll be hearing from an automated system by June…

  6. I have not had the service for very long but haven’t been impressed. I’ve tried to remove my credit card info from the site and will be contacting my bank to cancel it and issue a new one tomorrow. That way, when the service ends in June, they won’t be able to charge me again.

  7. I submitted a ticket March 19th requesting they delete my account. I’ve been sending them follow-ups since, and none have been replied to nor anything done about my account. They just ignore all the messages.

  8. Was a beta tester. DCMA’s went out quickly, sites came down. Many didn’t return. As soon as the free option became nothing more than a search, the number of takedown notices resulting from the paid options dropped noticably. No major sites have been taken down and half of the “active” notices have not been processed for over fix months.

  9. I was a beta tester for Blasty and was originally happy with the service as I’d lots thousands through pirating of my titles. But as soon as Blasty came out of Beta and I signed up with a special offer things started to get strange. The interface changed and I stopped getting as many blasts as I had done when the service was in Beta. Then I noticed that the links I was uploading to the site for removal were not getting removed. I complained, I tried to cancel my account, I searched for a button to delete my account. But all I discovered was that there is no way to delete my credit card details from the site and I cannot cancel.

    In March the site vanished completely for four days and when it returned without explanation the FAQ button that once led to customer service was no longer in use- and the service provider had severed links with Blasty. I’ve written around 10 emails in 3 months and all I’ve received is an autoresponse. At this stage, I don’t even believe Blasty is removing links from Google. I do think its just a huge scam preying on desperate authors If I search for pirated copies of my books I can still find the links that were supposed to be removed.

    The lack of response and lack of transparency by Olivier Zetlers is disgusting and I am still hoping to cancel my account.

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John Doppler

From the sunny California beaches where he washed ashore in 2008, John Doppler scrawls tales of science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror -- and investigates self-publishing services as the Alliance of Independent Authors's Watchdog. John relishes helping authors turn new opportunities into their bread and butter and offers terrific resources for indie authors at Words on Words. He shares his lifelong passion for all things weird and wonderful on The John Doppler Effect.

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