Bandwidth Hijacking

I   
believe I have found a new internet scam. It may be just bad programming from a new web business ... but ... it is curiously insidious. It may well be intentional. Only time will tell.

The possible scammer is called "Avantgo.com".

What they do is provide a service to handheld devices like the Palm Pilot. Using this service, someone with a handheld device can access any site on the internet and see it (with some modification) on their little screen. You just "sync" your machine with your regular computer and download from it all the sites you want to see. Presumably altered to some degree by their program since it is not possible to view a web site as it was designed on these tiny screens.

Now, I certainly don't mind the alteration of my site if it increases traffic. I assume that when the Palm user goes home he would often see my site as I intended it to be seen.

What I object to is this.

I'm getting thousands of page views from-through avantgo.com (according to my stats page) and I have no idea how many people are downloading (I suspect that only a few dozen at most are doing this). But these few have increased my site activity by as much as 40%. This is good if it is many people and bad if few.

My site is growing exponentially. Right now there are no problems. But in about two years, my bandwidth allotment of 3 Gigs is going to be pressed (then I would have to pay 8 cents per megabyte overage or turn off my site for the remainder of the month). And one of the main contributors to that "pressing" is fast cable and dsl connections coupled with IE5's ability to let the user download whole sites with the click of a mouse. And now ... avantgo.com ...

Now, get this ...

When the avantgo user syncs his machine to his computer, it downloads all the sites he wishes to see ... AGAIN ... EVEN IF THE CONTENT ON A PAGE HAS NOT CHANGED. In other words, their program functions like a "reload" button. This jacks up my stats and consumes my finite bandwidth.

Now, the kicker.

I can do something about this. I contacted their rep and inquired about this practice and he said that I could become a "partner" and then my site would be "cached" on their server and I wouldn't get all those duplicate hits!

Wow! That's a good deal!

All I have to do is sign an agreement (a Word .doc file of several thousand words in legalese small print) that as a partner, if I sell anything on my site, I agree to pay Avantgo.com a "remuneration" for the advantage of being a "partner".

So, here's the gaff. They shaft me by hijacking my bandwidth (completely legal) then offer to fix the problem by MAKING ME AN OFFER I CAN'T REFUSE.

It's a good thing I don't sell anything. Clearly this scam (if it is one) is not directed at me ... I'm just "in the way". The real scam is directed at small entrepeneurs trying to sell something-anything on the internet. So, if you take care of the bandwidth problem by becoming a partner ... then ... make some money ... you pay them for not sucking down your site.

Hmmm ... an electronic protection racket [which is tooooooo small to be noticed].

Well, I'm noticing it here.
And it's only been around for a few weeks.

Notice to Avantgo

Fix this download problem now or get off the net.



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