Sunday, 21 May 2017

Fury, Fame, Frauds and Witch Hunts

I'm back, refreshed and recharged and although the hoped for 103,000 hits on my last post didn’t quite materialise, falling about 102,000 hits short, the post did generate a few comments and the target of 1,000 hits a day number for this month is still looking good. With so many comments, I'll probably address them over a few posts rather than just one, to keep topics fairly discrete.

First up was Aaron who wrote:

Hi Robert, a little one sided. It seems James doesn't like hyperbolic statements however the twitter storm erupted by his refusal to answer any comments as to why his book was removed by Betfair. Also — I don't see any "proof" on his site (or yours) on trading successfulness (and I note you shouldn't need to you have been round long enough). But why then is it demanded of Caan or whoever else is the subject of the current fury.
I think its also classic that between you, you think that PeeWee is some kind of fraud. Anyway, enjoy reading your blog (most of the time) I just feel recently your blog has gone a little biased and one sided and in support of James.
My nom-de-plume is actually Cassini, and on the subject of James’ book being removed by Betfair, I’ll jump ahead to his response on that topic which was this:
I only became aware that Programming for Betfair is no longer advertised by Betfair at one of the two locations when it was pointed out to me by someone on Twitter.
I have not asked Betfair why they stopped advertising the book at this location as I am not interested as to the reason why. I stopped being an API beta tester and being in regular contact with Betfair of my own volition over a year ago when Betfair decided to punish users of the API with a one-off £200 registration fee for live data. Still, it's cheaper than perennial subscription but off-putting for newcomers.
I am surprised I sold so many books. It rather took me by surprise and shows there is a large group of people looking at alternative trading methods.
I guess the "fame" has been hard to shoulder but my pending retirement will be as welcome to me as it will be to others. No doubt it will be seen by some as a victory for manual traders.
They would be foolish to think so. Sports trading gets harder every year, never easier.
As for the “I don’t see any “proof” on his site (or yours) on trading successfulness (and I note you shouldn’t need to you have been round long enough). But why then is it demanded of Caan or whoever else is the subject of the current fury” - I would say that there’s no “proof” on this blog for several reasons, the main one being that I have nothing to sell, so it’s unnecessary. 

At my age, I don’t feel the need to brag about wins or bleat about losses. This isn’t my life, it’s just a hobby. If someone wants to believe that I have spent nine years blogging on a topic that hasn’t been profitable, that’s fine with me. 

Logically, it wouldn’t seem to make too much sense, but if someone wants to believe it’s all made up, then I’m fine with it. I have no sales that would be hurt, and my feelings can take it at my advanced age. There’s also the question of what “proof” would be acceptable since screenshots can be faked easily enough.

I can’t speak for James, although I would say that he makes no claims of enormous wealth from his trading, preaching instead the message that profitable trading is very difficult. His books aren’t promoted with the message “buy this book, and make £100,000 a year”. 

The first book "Programming for Betfair" appeared to be very technical with a niche target audience, the second (the one that I have) - "Betfair Trading Techniques" - is more of a trading manual with ideas rather than any get rich quick strategies, which couldn’t possibly work anyway. 

It’s also worth mentioning that the outlet for James’ books is the reputable Amazon site, and if you are dissatisfied with your purchase, you can get a refund with no problem.

So why is “proof” demanded of Caan and others?

It’s not, at least not by me. No one is demanding proof. All this blog has ever suggested is that anyone considering buying manuals or video packs should, in the absence of any proof, carefully consider a few things before spending their money.

If you’re reading his blog for entertainment, who cares if he’s making the £2,000 a week he claims or not?

The problem comes when someone uses this claim as the basis for selling a product, especially one sold in the absence of a money back guarantee. Some buyers are more discerning than others of course, but trouble-free refunds are something I look for when buying anything online. 

With no guarantee available, one might look at other areas as part of the due diligence process - independent reviews of the product, for example. The problem here is determining whether or not a review is genuine. Then there’s the “gut feel” of the sales pitch, in this case the blog.

Caan Berry or others may well be making £100,000 a year as claimed trading horses from their living rooms. They may all be steeped in the horse racing industry, live in Newmarket and descended from a long line of trainers, jockeys, breeders, owners perhaps, or maybe they are quantitative analysts with degrees in Advanced Quantiness. Who knows, but if such traders exist, would they be selling their secrets for a few quid?

In this specific case though, the products are from an ex-Army, ex-BT cable installer, ex-salesman of solar panels, who left education at the age of 16.

Not the most impressive of qualifications for someone selling the dream of a £100,000 a year income perhaps, so the claims should assume even more importance. 

Are they realistic, or do they seem a little improbable? 

Are the claims backed up by any evidence at all?

Is the narrative consistent and specific? 

If evidence comes to light that a full-time professional trader was actually selling solar panels for several months, is it a little odd that this change in full-time trading status wouldn’t be mentioned in the blog at all? 

We are probably all guilty to some extent of putting ourselves into someone else’s shoes and asking what we would do with a few hundred thousand pounds, but many people would invest in a home. No mortgage required with that amount of winnings in the bank. Heck, buy more properties and rent them out. Being a landlord can be a pain, but property has always been a solid investment – as ‘safe as houses’ you might say. Caan may well have his reasons for not living in his own home but he has often mentioned the benefits in his blog.
A comment from G, possibly not his real name:
To me it is clearly obvious, if you're selling/pushing a product with claims of making a 6 figure sum per year, then you should be able to back it up with solid proof.
No witch hunt etc- a reasonable ask imo
I've seen that term 'witch hunt' somewhere else this week!
Enough about Caan. Ultimately it's for each of us to make up our minds on the veracity of his claims, especially of you are thinking of giving him money. 

My opinion is that the evidence available doesn't support the claim, but then I am by nature skeptical. 

To Aaaron's final point - "I think its also classic that between you, you think that PeeWee is some kind of fraud" - I've certainly never used language suggesting that to be the case. 

PeeWee's software has many users, which is convincing evidence that it is a decent product, although I am not qualified to comment on how good it is relative to others in the market. 

The main problem I have with PeeWee is that his blog posts are misleadingly one-sided, with verifiably false statements, not to mention poorly written, and the courses he runs are not going to give you anything of value, since doing so would hurt PeeWee's long-term trading profits in exchange for a short-term £400.

Of course I understand that the blog is a vendor-blog with the sole purpose of attracting business, and telling the truth isn't going to do that, but lost in the message is the distinct possibility that the vendor's gain comes at a potentially large cost to the customer, many of whom can ill afford either the £400 or the likely additional losses chasing an improbable dream. 

As James says in a later comment on my last post:
I have always thought that selling subscriptions for software that in over 90% of cases will lose the subscriber even more money is like being a used car dealer who flogs cars where over 90% of the vehicles have no engines.
That's probably enough for now. Still a few more comments to address, which I will get to in time once I get back into my normal routine.  

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