I recently represented a sales trader who received a Wells Notice, alleging that he had violated the rules of fair practice by "url guessing." It seems that a public company was not particularity concerned about the publication of its earning releases, and numbered them sequentially - the press release for the first quarter ended in "1", the release for the second quarter ended in "2", and so on. In September, before the release of the third quarter earnings, analysts at the firm tried to find the press release - and they changed the URL of the second quarter press release URL from a "2" to a "3". Much to everyone's surprise, the third quarter press release appeared in the browser.

Analyst told sales trader, sales trader told customer, customer purchased. NASD investigation ensues, and we successful argued that "url guessing" was an accepted practice in the Internet age, that the issuer had actually released its earnings by posting the release in an unprotected portion of their web site.

While it is unclear if the NASD agreed, we received notification, after a receipt and review of the Wells Submission, that the NASD had decided not to proceed with an enforcement action.



PatrickI learned a new trick that can be used by retailers on eBay this week. They ask you for feedback on the transaction, including in their note that 'we will do the same for you.' So you may not like how the transaction went but may avoid commenting because of the possibility of getting vengeful comments back from them. Another issue is in whether it's worth returning items which cost very little. It's really not worth the postage, packaging and hassle of returning low cost items.

So I figure that with more expensive items people are more likely to return them and complain. What this probably means is that the ratings for retailers who sell only low cost items may be positively biased. So it's probably worth checking the average price of their entire shop before buying anything.

Sam Humbert replies:

There's a time-limit (90 days, last I checked) after which eBay won't accept feedback. So if you're eager to flame a seller, send the negative feedback (90 days - 5 seconds) after the transaction. The seller won't be able to retaliate.

Also, you can use the Toolhaus site, or a browser plug-in, to quickly display only the seller's negative/neutral feedback. That's all you really care about anyway.

East Sider notices:

Speaking of eBay: Two on the aisle, $1.8m to open!

Mike Desaulniers explains:

Don't laugh! That parking is two blocks from the Delano. Vintage BMW drivers take note!



 (There’re Not Enough Songs About) Squash
By Darren Hanlon

Why do I bother I don’t know
I’ll turn off my radio
Day after day the airways are awash
With songs of folks in love
And those who are out of
There’s just not enough songs about squash

Maybe to you it’s just a game
Somewhere you heard the name
Not for the claustrophobic, a pastime for the posh
Without sounding too peculiar
If it’s the cardiovascular
You’re after then you can’t go past squash

Netball, t-ball, orienteering
Are all worth a second hearing
Football, handball, four-in-a-square
Are all good but they just don’t compare

Oh no it’s raining
We’ll have to cancel tennis training
But look here, never fear, throw down that mackintosh
I know a game under a roof
It’s just four walls and the truth
It’s fun, rain hail or sun, it’s squash

Red dot, green dot, yellow dot ball
Try and bounce it off the wall
Headband, wristband, fuzzy handled racket
Can’t some DJ play a squash song in their bracket



 Fat March, a reality-TV program currently in production (based, as usual, on a similar UK program) passed through Westport yesterday with no fanfare. The premise is to take several persons of size on a Bataan march from Boston to Washington, record their sufferings, and the survivors win prizes (and lose weight!).

I happened to pass the crew, on my bike headed eastbound, as they walked westbound on Beachside Ave. We crossed near Imus's beach house. As I approached, the soundman waved his arms wildly at me, but I couldn't tell if he meant "naff off, you're ruining a Kodak moment" or "hey, swing by for a photo op." Since I was looking dapper (yellow jersey/ yellow bike) I assumed the latter, and did a quick 360 around the group, calling out "good luck!" to contestant Will Millender, who returned a cheery grin despite his obvious distress — flushed, and sweating profusely, although conditions were ideal, shady and 70 degrees.

Those at points south (Darien, Greenwich, Larchmont, etc.) might expect to see the entourage soon.

Alan Millhone laments:

They will do whatever it takes to drive up TV ratings at overweight people's expense.

Mike Desaulniers remarks:

Speaking of Boston, where the March kicked off — from today's WSJ:

Last year, the Boston area counted at least 1,210 doughnut shops, or one for every 5,143 residents — five times the national average.



Last night I visited the local EB Games store with the idea of picking up a few DVDs for my kids. While I was there I took a look around at the videogame equipment, immersed myself in the state of the art, which is currently Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. It appears PS3 is the 'it' game right now, and is selling out. Amazon says: We are currently out of stock. Allocations of the PS3 have been very limited but we are working with Sony to secure future allocations. We will send email notifications and provide updates on the product detail page as well as in the customer discussions on the this page when we have availability. At the EB Games store, several parents had glommed onto the salesclerk, hoping he had tips on where to get a PS3. Then one parent said she'd heard the local Circuit City was "getting a shipment of 17 units in Monday morning," and the chatter turned to how early (5am, 4am, 3am?) to get to the parking lot to camp out pre-open on Monday for the privilege of buying a toy that costs more than a computer. For a second I thought (hoped?) they were joking, but soon realized they weren't. In a rare display of good sense (that didn't even require my wife's kicking me in the shins) I refrained from joining the conversation. Had I chimed in, I'd have offered:

Forget the Wii/PS3/XBOX360. Instead, write on a piece of paper: My gift to you: every week of 2007, all 52, I will walk with you in the woods on Sunday afternoon at [around us, Brett Woods, Devil's Den, Lake Mohegan would be appropriate] for an hour. We'll look at the frogs and turtles in the summer, the deer and turkeys in the winter. And for the entire hour, I'll listen to you, with my full attention, and without offering criticism, advice or suggestions. Then, tear up the piece of paper (your 12 year old would think it's some sort of trick anyway) but commit fully to it in your heart. And on Christmas day, tell him you have a special gift, but can't deliver it until next year.

Mike Desaulniers adds:

And for the entire hour, I'll listen to you, with my full attention, and without offering criticism, advice or suggestions.

As a gift, this is technically cheating, because, of course, this is when you get the most back from them. But they don't realize that.


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