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FTC Cracks Down on Fake Guitar Review Scam


Following on the 2009 FTC guidelines for bloggers to disclose commercial relationships when writing product reviews, the FTC has fined Legacy Learning Systems $250,000 for deceptive advertising practices.  Legacy Learning Systems, publishers of the "Learn & Master" Guitar course has been accused of planting phony reviews for years. 

According to the FTC:

The FTC charged that Legacy Learning and Smith disseminated deceptive advertisements by representing that online endorsements written by affiliates reflected the views of ordinary consumers or ‘independent’ reviewers, without clearly disclosing that the affiliates were paid for every sale they generated.”

"Whether they advertise directly or through affiliates, companies have an obligation to ensure that the advertising for their products is not deceptive," says David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

While the FTC settlement is a good sign, it's still a slap-on-the-wrist for Legacy Learning Systems.  The company generated more than $5 million in revenue through it's affiliate program.  

So if you want high quality guitar courses without scam reviews, my recommendation is Metal Method.  Doug Marks, the developer of this series, has always played it straight.  It's a great product and one that doesn't need scam reviews to promote it.  

This is definitely a win for the little guy!


I own and use L&M Guitar, and even gave some thought of becoming an affiliate (I actually signed up for it, but in the end, before entering my tax information) but decided not to do it. I thought (still think) that reviews that have a handy-dandy way to buy the product you just reviewed smacks of an alternative agenda. I tried it with Amazon and Adsense on another blog and couldn't do it. Some bloggers do, and that's fine, but I felt bad with them on my blog so I took them down. I'm much more comfortable with real advertisers, not commissions, and donations from readers who genuinely like the blog and want to continue reading.

All that being said, I really like the program and I haven't seen a better one yet. I'm obviously not trying to get any money from the program, but the version I have (pre Gibson being all over it) has been a good learning tool to get a grip on the guitar - particularly musical notation which is something I've always wanted to learn.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to comment and say that if Legacy did plant reviews, that's awful, and really, the whole commission aspect of advertising needs to be closely analyzed because I think it really messes up reviews, but if you find a copy of L&M Guitar, it's worth checking out.

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