I am posting this to update readers of this blog on the status of my complaint about Sterling Who’s Who. They have refunded my money, and so I consider the matter closed and have no outstanding or unresolved complaint against the company.
They did at one point threaten to sue me for defamation of character because of my earlier posts, although in a fax they sent they referred to having been able to “amicably resolve” my issue, so I hope that this is no longer their intention. It is nevertheless a further aim of this post to demonstrate publicly that I intend no defamation of character, warranted or otherwise.
Refunding one’s money is not company policy at Sterling Who’s Who. I was told in no uncertain terms that the policy is to keep 30% for the expenses they have incurred, unless one cancels within 24 hours, and after 48 hours all sales are final. When I pointed out that I was not made aware of this, I was told that as a consumer it is my responsibility to check their web site for such information. I will be honest that when I looked at their web site I did not manage to find the relevant page. But as there was at the very least an initial miscommunication regarding how much this would cost, it was not inappropriate for them to make an exception, and I am grateful that they did so.
I have the impression that they graciously agreed to refund my money in full at least in part because my complaint on my blog is second only to their own site as a search engine result for those who enter “Sterling Who’s Who” on Yahoo! and Google.
Their main accusation of defamation of character relates to my assumption that the currently-existing “Sterling Who’s Who” is the same company as the one with that name that existed in 1995 and was sued. I do not think this was an entirely unreasonable assumption. To my own way of thinking, it would be rather ill-advised to name one’s own new company after one that had been the subject of ongoing litigation. But neither Sterling Who’s Who nor any other organization is required to live up to my assumptions. Perhaps it is a result of the fact that articles continue to appear about “Sterling Who’s Who” without making any distinction between past and present companies of the same name that leads to my confusion and presumably that of others as well. The recent article in Courthouse News seems to be about the currently-existing Sterling Who’s Who; many of those who list themselves as members are referring to the company that existed in the 1990s.
As an anonymous poster on my blog has pointed out, the Sterling Who’s Who that currently exists was formed in 2004. I apologize for my assumption that a company with the same name working in the same field was in fact the same company. Clearly there was no intention on my part to defame the currently-existing company’s character. It is only natural to assume that there is continuity under a company name unless one is explicitly informed otherwise.
I was told that they are different companies by the person who answered the phone number on their web page during the lunch hour of Veterans Day Monday. He said he was the president of the company. Some might find this suspicious. But one can interpret the fact that I did not first get a secretary or automated system as a positive thing rather than a suspicious one, if one wishes to, indicative of the hands-on, personally involved leadership of this company.
The company claims to be a premier publisher, and that perhaps contributed to my sense that this was an older company. How can a brand new company be the ‘premier’ anything? But once again this presumably simply reflects my lack of understanding of the world of “Who’s Who”. After all, how can one publish about the “Who’s Who” of other fields if one isn’t in that category oneself. It is natural for a Who’s Who publisher to place themselves in the Who’s Who of publishing. After all, all that seems to be required is payment of the appropriate fee for inclusion. It would be silly of them not to begin by nominating themselves. I should have realized this.
I have decided to follow the usual journalistic procedures for retractions and corrections and leave my previous blog entries posted, with a link added drawing attention to this post that in turn draws attention to the satisfactory resolution of this issue. Were I to simply delete the pages on my blog, the cached versions would remain, without any indication of this resolution. Presumably that is why this is the standard procedure, and so I intend to follow it unless I am advised otherwise.
I also have decided that all my future interactions with Sterling Who’s Who will be in written correspondence, should any future discussion be necessary. After all, this whole thing is presumably a result of my misunderstanding a telephone-only conversation, and so a written one is to be preferred. I suggest that anyone receiving a request for payment, subscription or membership by phone do the same, lest they find themselves involved in similar confusion.
Finally, as a gesture of goodwill, I invite anyone who has a positive experience with Sterling Who’s Who to post a comment about it here. If there should be additional negative comments forthcoming, the owner of this blog is in no way responsible for them, as comments on this blog are unmoderated.