|Business Owners||Ziad HilalAlice Hilal|
|Address||8374 Market St #447, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202-5137|
|[email protected] , [email protected]|
|Type of business||Software|
|According to the BBB, the company has an unsatisfactory record because they refused to respond to a complaint. That complaint is the one I submitted. In addition, Subdreamer, LLC is no longer a valid corporation. I mentioned in this report how I filed a complaint with the Florida Secretary of State because when I sent a certified letter to their Registered Ageng, Alice Hilal, the certified letter was returned as undeliverable. You can click here to view the certificate that was issued to Subdreamer, LLC when it was administratively dissolved by the state of Florida.|
Subdreamer Investigative Report
Subdreamer is a CMS (Content Management System) made by Subdreamer, LLC. The principle individuals of this LLC are Ziad and Alice Hilal allegedly out of Florida. Exact location of Ziad is unknown. This will be explained in the report below.
On October 23, 2007 I purchased Subdreamer Pro ($99.95) + Brand Free Option ($35). The brand free option is the ability to remove the "Powered by Subdreamer" text in the footer. When you purchase this option you are given a PHP script that removes all instances of "Powered by Subdreamer" for you.
At first everything seemed to go well. It was soon, though, that I noticed shady activity. The first issue I encountered was a security vulnerability in the software that allowed non-registered users to post comments to articles. Mr_Bob on the forums had initially discovered and posted the issue.
The issue was initially posted on October 26, 2007. On November 3, 2007, I submitted an official support request, therefore, the team knew about the matter (read support request log here). On November 7, 2007 Brent stated that the matter was being looked in to. Ziad had even promised a fix "right away." Over two weeks after the promise from Ziad a fix had still not been released.
It now states that the matter will be fixed in the next release of Subdreamer. In other words, instead of them releasing a patch, they rather let their customer’s website be vulnerable until they decide to release another version of Subdreamer.
The next issue was the advertisement of six months of free hosting when you purchase the Pro license. This is a very deceptive offer. The truth is that the only way to get 6 months free is for you to sign up for one year of hosting. When you sign up for the one year of hosting you have to pay for the other 6 months in advance. I posted my concerns here.
Brent made a few statements that didn’t make sense and seemed to be belittling. First is that he tries to say it is "very simple" as if I and the others are incompetent or children that need explaining to. Next he makes the comment of:
The requirement to register yourself and subscribe to a given term is to verify that you are a legitimate and interested consumer in their services/product before giving you something for nothing. This is a normal procedure.
I had actually posted a response to this comment, however, Brent or a team member deleted my post. At first I thought maybe the website messed up and my reply didn’t actually get posted. So, I ended up posting two more times. This time, though, I saved a copy of my post as a text file as well as made sure I saw that the reply was posted. Both times I posted my post disappeared within 24 hours. Below is what I had posted:
[QUOTE=Brent]The requirement to register yourself and subscribe to a given term is to verify that you are a legitimate and interested consumer in their services/product before giving you something for nothing. This is a normal procedure.[/QUOTE]
The fact that a person has taken the time to purchase subdreamer and sign up for the hosting should be some indication of a legitimate interest. The partial statement of "…giving you something for nothing." in reference to something for "free" is completely contradictory. If something is free, then it’s free. There are no fees attached to it.
If actions like this are normal procedures, then such "procedures" are what the FTC considers "false advertising" and "deceptive trade practices.
Prior to emailing Ziad, I submitted a support ticket. I was told that the matter would be forwarded to the owner (Ziad). I received the following response from my email to Ziad:
Date: Thu, 08 Nov 2007 10:08:47 -0800
From: Ziad Hilal <[email protected]>
Organization: Subdreamer, LLC
User-Agent: Thunderbird 18.104.22.168 (Windows/20070728)
Subject: Re: Free Hosting Offer Issues
Can you please explain to me the exact process you went through when obtaining your hosting? Did you go with anhosting or midphase? At what part did they ask you to pay? How much did they ask you to pay & for what reason? Are you saying that the only way to obtain those six free months of hosting is to pay a certain fee up front? If you could give me more detail on this I would reatly appreciate it.
I did respond with step-by-step instructions of what I done. I personally think I was getting the runaround. In an email I received from Ziad which was a response to my concern about my posts being deleted, Ziad stated the following about the continued issue of the free hosting offer:
I’ve been looking into the situation and have been in communication with anhosting/midphase to find out what’s going on. If things are like you say they are then we will of course change the description of the free hosting.
Once again, it seems Ziad is trying to give the runaround and be evasive. How so? The statement of "If things are like you say they are…" That is ridiculous. All Ziad had to do what go to the page where you sign up for the free hosting on one of the hosting providers and he could see for himself that it asks for payment up front. I don’t understand why he keeps beating around the bush as if this were some federal investigation still being processed. In the words used so often by Brent, "It’s very simple."
Ziad responded with the following:
I was always under the impression that customers did not have to pay a fee up front. This is a promotion we have had running for a very long time and have never heard one complaint about it so I’m actually a bit shocked!
I don’t believe this at all. Why? First off the offer is deceptive. You say "free" that means free. There are strings attached to this offer that were not mentioned before. Next is the fact that I am not the only one to comment about this. In another post a user made a comment, but withdrew it, however, judging from Brent’s response it seems they were not happy with this deception either. You can read the post here.
It seems that the Subdreamer team are childish and immature. Either they delete posts they don’t like or they lock topics after they make a smart remark. An example of the locked topic would be the previously-mentioned post.
As usual, Brent tries to belittle people by stating that if they would just read. Brent then comments on how "simple" this is. What Brent seems to forget (or refuses to mention) is the fact that you can read until you are as blue as a Smurf, but the offer page (view here) did not tell you about having to pay for a year in advance. It states it now because of my complaints to Ziad. Before Ziad changed the offer page to reflect the truth you did not find this out until you went to sign up for the hosting.
I have copies of all of the posts as Subdreamer likes to delete posts that make them look bad. It seems, though, that this unethical tactic is catching up with them. I have copies of all of the posts and support tickets mentioned just in case they try to delete those posts as well. I think it’s pretty sad that you have to make copies of all of the posts and support tickets because a company is so unethical that they delete proof of their incompetence and poor customer service.
Unfortunately this is not the end of the Investigative Report. I have noticed that Subdreamer also has "multiple" and unexplainable addresses. Furthermore, Subdreamer is now hiding their information. Doesn’t Ziad realize how shady that makes his company look?
On the contact page of Subdreamer is the following address:
8374 Market St #447
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202-5137
If you do a WHOIS query on the domain, subdreamer.com, there was the address of:
2139 NW Cedar View Ln
Portland, Oregon 97229
If you’ll notice, the phone number is fake. Another issue is that the address for the CEO, Ziad Hilal is all the way in Portland, OR. Oh wait! It gets better. If you look at the corporate filings for Subdreamer, LLC (view here) you will notice the address of Alice Hilal, the address for the corporation (which was on the WHOIS), as well as an address for Ziad Hilal all the way in California!
960 3RD ST
SANTA MONICA CA 97403
Now, you might have noticed that I keep referring to the address on the WHOIS database in past tense. I say "was" because they are now hiding their information. I filed a complaint with the company they register their domain through because of the false phone number. I received an email a day later stating that Subdreamer had updated their contact information.
Unfortunately I cannot verify that because Subdreamer purchased a WHOIS privacy guard service. When you do a WHOIS query on the domain, subdreamer.com, you get the contact information for the company they registered their domain through. In my years of experience, any company that hides their information is either a scam or usually doing some very unethical things.
When you perform a WHOIS query on subdreamer.com, you get the following information:
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
Can you get their real information. Sure. Most of the time you have to submit a letter to the legal department of the company they register their domain through explaining why you want the information. If you have to go through this much trouble to find out information about a company, then they are not worth doing business with.
I have spoken with a few people on the boards privately about Subdreamer. I have been told that this is not unusual that they delete posts they don’t like and that they ignore customers. I guess when I starting pressing the issues they figured I’d just go away. Then, when I started digging in to things they decided to hide their information. Does Ziad and the rest of the unethical crew of Subdreamer think that by deleting "evidence" that no one will ever find about their unethical actions and how they treat their customers? This is what I do! I dig up information about unethical companies and organizations.
On November 27, 2007 I sent a letter to Ziad via the address listed on the website. I requested a full refund. If one is not received within two weeks then I will be filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Ziad and his unethical team can try and cover up as much information as they want. It’s too late. The truth is out!