Claims and CopiesONE: A case of shoddy fact checking and
TWO: A case of plagiarism revealed
1 July 2003 Mike Strong
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A funny thing happened on the way to my weekend. I got a debt-collector letter addressing me as (DBA) Shooters 21 (a Grain Valley club, now closed) and demanding $1,615. In the process of research to counter this nonsense I found that the Topeka Capital Journal had ripped off my web page for Shooters 21.
The relatives were here for their visit so I did a brief look and reserved the rest of the research for after the visit.
Had the debt collector or the collector's client done any kind of checking they would have seen that my site is not a studio, nor a nightclub, nor any kind of business, at least not then (I'm still working on that). And I do not have a business relationship with any of the clubs on my site, though I might like to do some ads in the future. I most certainly am not and have never been a DBA as Shooters 21 nor had I heard the name Tyke Entertainment until I got this letter.
So what I did by merely using Google was what they should have done a long time ago.
Culp Law Offices, P.C.
Attorneys At Law
June 26 2003
Tyke Entertainment, Inc. DBA Shooters 21
722 Walnut #104
Kansas City, MO 64106
Re: Time Warner Cable
Tyke Entertainment, Inc. DBA Shooters 21
Outstanding Balance: $1,615.00
This office is a debt collector and represents the above named creditor who has contacted us concerning a balance due in the amount given above. Out client informs us that this amount has been outstanding for quite some time.
We hereby demand payment in full.
Very truly yours,
Culp Law Offices, P.C.
Allan R. Culp
Unless you notify us within 30 day after receipt of this notice that you dispute the validity of the debt or any portion of it, the debt will be assumed to be valid by this debt collector. ...
So much for the standard intimidation letter. It didn't intimidate me but it did piss me off. Mostly because of the shoddy identification and lousy work. Now because someone didn't do their job right I would have to do what they should have done to determine who Tyke Entertainment is, not to mention Shooters 21.
The Only Previous Hints
I had received a couple of previous hints that something odd was going on but nothing that did more than make me wonder. The year before, or perhaps more, I remember some sort of an email regarding renewing a page for Shooters 21. It made no sense to me. I clicked a link on the email and went to a listing page of some sort. I didn't even remember it having to do with Time Warner.
What I do remember is because it was so peculiar. This was some sort of internet listing. I remember the impression that this was some sort of initially free offering for which you would need to pay if you wanted a continued listing. It was for the Shooters 21 page on my site. I couldn't imagine why anyone would have picked out that page, or any single page, on my site for a listing offer but I deleted the email along with my other spam.
I got probably one more similar email which I deleted as soon as I saw it. I certainly wasn't about to pay someone for listing a club in town. Made no sense to me.
The other oddity was a strange phone call, again some time ago, I think last year, from someone (I don't remember the identification) who asked something (I'm fuzzy) about whether I was Shooters 21. Somehow this got to web pages because I remember saying I've just got a web site and that I had a page about Shooters 21 on my web site along with a good number of other venues for dance in this area. The call finished and that was all I heard. Until this letter from attorney Culp.
After thinking about it a while I am guessing that whoever decided that it was I who wanted my Shooters 21 page listed with them must have backtracked on my URL (a standard practice to get to a home page) and taken my name, email and address from my site then merely assigned me as the person to be billed.
I might have thought this was the whole bit if only Shooters 21 had been mentioned. Because Tyke Entertainment is mentioned my further guess is that someone who is/was Tyke Entertainment or who worked for Tyke Entertainment received some sort of web-page-listing offer and signed up for it using my web page as the referenced page.
Because there is no person named in the address they must not have given a name, or anything else, or no one would have gone looking for a contact - again a guess. I will further guess that this is a minimum wage person overworked who did the minimum and posted their "research" to their database. It happens too much in this kind of thing
Another thought: If this is a listing service (I don't remember the spam well enough) then why would they not have capped the service long before the bill became so high? And would they not have sent bills. I do think that had the emails looked like a bill or other claim I would have been concerned, as I am with this letter. Had they wished any kind of certain delivery they original client would have sent paper. Certainly more effort than they seem to have put into it.
I also went to the Equifax web site to check my credit doing a three-service check. Just in case this had already affected me. So far nothing noted. But now I also have a benchmark check in case something from this business does affect me. Fair warning.
None of the contacts were the type to either put me on notice (the phone call went nowhere) and there was nothing to ascertain that indeed a positive contact has been made, including the attorney's letter. Nonetheless the letter adds a notice that they will assume the debt is valid unless I respond in 30 days. I almost sent it back in the mail because it didn't have my name on it, just Tyke Entertainment. The postal carrier and I both looked at each other and he asked whether it was okay to put this is my box. I said I didn't know who this was for but I would take it. The Shooters 21 in the address is what drew my attention and recalled the previously mentioned odd emails and the odd phone call. Normally, when mail pieces have my box number but another name I just mark it for return. Happens every once in a while. The emails, of course are even less certain of delivery because of spam. I get varying amounts of spam. Late last year I was getting 350-400 spams a day. Then I reduced that to less than 70 average. Over the last couple of months it has again gotten to probably 200 a day. The sorting is impossible.
The only mechanism for any certainly of delivery is a "Do not Forward. Address Correction Requested" notice printed on the envelope. Anyone who has ever sent out bulk mail or handled other mailing list mailings knows that post office can be very inconsistent in how it handles any such notices. Sometimes you get them back when they are there and sometimes you just don't know. So, if the attorney is going to hold me liable for a debt if I don't dispute this in 30 days there needs to be a mechanism to be certain of delivery and proper addressing. Otherwise any imposition of debt or credit rating report is at best careless and certainly far short of any diligence.
Googling - Where I do the simple work they should have done to start with.
Google on Tyke Entertainment
Brings up a page from Osage Beach Missouri Board of Aldermen. From this I get the name John Teichman, I'm guessing he is the "Tyke" in Tyke Entertainment. He already owns Shooters 21 in Osage Beach, MO.
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF OSAGE BEACH, MISSOURI May 18, 2000
Liquor Licenses. Alderman Medlock reported that the Liquor Control Board recommends the following be approved for liquor licenses:
...several places are listed, then
Shooters/Tyke Entertainment John Teichman excess 5% drink/pkg/Sun
... followed by a few more places
Google on John Teichman
More pages including some which show that Teichman is the Owner of Shooters 21. One states that Teichman owned the Grain Valley, Missouri building when he was leasing it to Mike and Vicki Burton as No Place.
Grain Valley Planning and Zoning minutes:
D) Request from Mike Burton to change to zoning of certain properties in Grain Valley from M-1 to C-3. 7/30/02
Mr. Mike Burton and his wife are present. This property is located west of the Brass Armadillo. At one time this building was a teenage club then a machine shop. Mr. Burton would like to have this area re-zoned from LightIndustrial to C-3. This does comply with the Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Burton would like to open a bar and grill in this location. The council members showed concern that this would turn into another Shooters 21. Mr. Burton operated No Place, which is now Shooters 21; John Teichman has owned and operated Shooters 21 since February 2001. Mr. Burton assured the council that this would not be a Shooters 21. Mr. Burton also stated that at the time he owned No Place the call outs to the Police Department where minimal. Mr. Burton went on to say that this new location would be Country Western atmosphere. The building is considerably smaller then Shooters. This location has 10 acres and consists of the building, go cart track and miniature golf course. Future plans are to re-plot the whole area and next summer open the track, golf course and add volleyball courts. There will be a nightclub there but the two will be separated. Mr. Burton stated that as far as security, we have a fairly good track record. "Security is an issue to my wife and I because no one wants to go to a club and not feel safe." Mr. Paterson asked about the road access. Mr. Burton stated that the access to the club would be coming off of Adams Dairy. Mr. Burton was asked if he is the current owner of Shooters. Mr. Burton stated that they are in Litigation with Mr. Teichman. Mr. Bob Miller stated that at the present time Shooters 21 is a big problem for the Fire Department and the Police Department. Mr. Burton stated that he has not owned or operated No Place / Shooters since February 2001. Bob Miller stated that kids from Grain Valley or the surrounding area do not go to Shooters. The kids are from the Kansas City area, the bad part of Kansas City. Council does not want another Shooters. Mr. Burton stated that they are looking into a higher-class clientele. Mr. Burton and his wife stressed that they do not want another Shooters either. Mr. Paterson asked what the seating capacity would be. The new location will be approximately 250 people. Shooters has the capabilities to hold 3300 people. Mr. Burton stated that at the present moment they would be open 4 nights a week. He is hoping in the future to expand to a sports fun center and operate 7 days a week. There will be no alcohol served outside. Alderman Stewart asked about food. Mr. Burton said that would be in the future. He does plan to have hotdogs and snacks now and a grill some time next year
The Examiner has several stories on Shooters 21 and its ownership:
Here is the notice of a change in ownership from feb 26, 2002:
"John Teichman, owner of the Shooters 21 at Osage Beach, Mo., asked the Board of Aldermen at Tuesday's meeting for a license transfer."
"Teichman is also the owner of the club in Grain Valley"
"He was leasing the club, formerly known as No Place, to Mike Burton through a lease purchase agreement."
Las Vegas Sun - March 28, 2003
According to published reports, the Chicago stampede began when a bouncer sprayed pepper spray into the crowd in an attempt to break up a fight between two patrons.
John Teichman, owner of new Las Vegas nightclub ibiza USA and the Missouri hotspot Shooters 21, said he takes care to hire staff he can trust to remain calm.
"That was a case of bad security, where somebody made a bad decision," Teichman said. "Some doormen automatically have a chip on their shoulder when they come to work, and we won't tolerate that here. The first time I know about somebody doing something like that, they're gone." Compounding the Chicago incident, according to reports, was a lack of available exits. Several were allegedly blocked or locked up -- a condition Leinbach termed a "very serious violation" of Southern Nevada's fire codes.
Google on Shooters 21
Several pages including one showing that Teichman took over in February 2001 renaming the place as Shooters 21.
Another shows that Teichman open a nightlub in Las Vegas in March 2003.
This is the identification work that should have been done by the client. I don't know what kind of names Culp is used to seeing when his clients send in a claim but the lack of a specific person's name should, I would think, cause some pause or question.
Yet another page which lead me to quickly check my own Shooters 21 page. It was on RockKansas with the Topeka Capitol Journal. The text had been directly copied, not even paraphrased, on their page and the picture was the left-hand portion of a panoramic picture I had taken of Shooters 21. In fact that particular picture was one which was put together a couple of ways because the exposure to get the building produced a lighted sign which was too bright.
Ripped Off in TopekaNote - after sending this: RockKansas.Com (Topeka Capital Journal) handled this very professionally after I contacted them. That was exactly how I figured they would react I had a good conversation with the RockKansas editor. We traded a little comment about Digital Cities with me saying that Digital Cities did wholesale plagiarism. Then I finished my web page about getting plagiarized by Digital Cities "author" Brendan Walsh.
Here is my text with the parts in bold which were copied word for word.
822-D San Kar Drive, Grain Valley, MO 64029
(East of Kansas City, about 25 miles east of downtown on I-70)
Kansas City Social Dance - KCDance.Com
Copyright © 2003 Mike Strong All rights reserved
Early in the evening, as the first customers arrive. Max-Crowd is late night. We will have pictures later showing you the full crowd look but this gives you a panoramic look down the side of this very large building.
The far end has 12 pool tables.
Still the same huge club on the outside. Only the sign saying "Shooters 21" reveals the format and name change.
Shooters 21 is a 21 or over club only. You must produce your ID. $5 cover. Fri and Sat only. 8pm to 3am. Music is Retro to Techno and the crowd is mostly in their 20's.
A VIP lounge and gift shop are in the planning stages (as of the Sept 2001 opening) say owners, Mike and Vicki.
The sound system is extreme with speakers around the platform at the far end of the 4,000 foot dance floor. Each end has a new platform (three steps up) in a wedge shape 15 feet and 20 feet onto the floor with tile dance area on top.
There are three bars. The restaurant has regular meals and chips. Chicken strips, baskets and more in the $6 to $7 price range.
Notice they did add a paragraph of their own and made a directional error (I highlighted it in bold and in red).
A Lake of the Ozarks favorite transplanted eastward in 2001. The self-proclaimed 'HOTTEST Nightclub' with the 'LARGEST' dance floor and 'BEST' laser light show. DJs spins za retro to da techno.
Those of us on this side of the MoKan line know that if you are coming from the Ozarks, Grain Valley, MO isn't eastward.
And the photograph: Mine, not theirs. I do give away a lot of photos for folks to use on their sites and regularly give an okay to use material. I'm glad to do it. I'm glad my work is useful. but I don't like getting ripped off. In essence I give my website to the community at large, if I want to think about it that way. But I don't give my legwork to individuals to come along and mine my site to pass off as their work, paid or otherwise. A couple of years ago Digital Cities' so-called entertainment reporters (read Brendan Walsh, just one example: Antoinette's and the pickup trucks and Harley's phrase) copied off my site. I haven't looked at them for some time. They at least mostly paraphrased, although I still count that as a rip off. And when I went from a radio station news beat in 1976 to a newspaper in upstate New York it was an odd feeling one day when I first heard my newspaper copy being read as someone else's news on a local radio station. My legwork. Their byline. That still goes on in broadcast. I hear it all the time around here.
So, back to the picture.
Here is mine, unchanged:
Here is their cropping of mine. They cut it down and added the drop shadow (also changed the name).
Here is their web page (a local copy on my website - I'm guessing they will change theirs which is at http://www.rockkansas.com/venues/kan_shooters21.shtml)
Here is my web page from which they copied the material above (also located at: sh21_shooters21Sep01.asp).