[Final DRAFT] Open letter to the CEO of Fairfax Media; Comments please :)

Alan Grace
21 August 2017

Open letter to:     The CEO of Fairfax Media


Dear Sir

Concerns about Neighbourly

[Final DRAFT: Please email me any changes you think may make improve this letter]

View the pdf version of this open letter. Please read the disclaimer.

I understand that Fairfax Media has at least a 45% shareholding in Neighbourly.

I further understand (or at least hope) that Fairfax may be unaware of the members’ concerns throughout the country.

I have written this letter under my name alone to prevent Neighbourly from kicking out more members.

I am writing this letter to make you aware of Neighbourly members’ concerns regarding:

  • Ads on the Neighbourly Noticeboard: Recently even a single business ad on the Noticeboard means no member posts can be seen
  • The sacking of Leads and kicking members out
  • The lack of interest of the Neighbourly Team in resolving issues/ bugs on Neighbourly
  • The hard-line approach of the Neighbourly Team
  • The number of members according to the Neighbourly Team being considerably more than that recorded on the site (over 15% more apparently)


The Neighbourly Team (NT) has now recently kicked me out of Neighbourly after sacking me as a Lead last year.

While I doubt I can help my own position, I can only hope that your awareness of the above can lead to a resolution acceptable to the existing members.

I believe NT has a high/heavy-handed hard-line bullying totalitarian sledgehammer approach that is losing the goodwill of members except perhaps for the 99% of members (lurkers) who by definition seldom (if ever) contribute anything and would not buy anything commercially through Neighbourly anyway.

I am sure you believe in freedom of the press. I hope you are also an  advocate for freedom of expression.

NT’s approach is not congruent with the ideals of what Neighbourly should be all about or of New Zealand culture 😦

NT needs to consider whether their physical neighbours would be talking to them if they treated them the way they treat the members. NT is not being “neighbourly” and would not be a good neighbour 😦

Just because NT gives itself the right to do these things, it does not mean that it is the right thing to do 😦

So long as what you say does not affect Neighbourly’s business interests the Neighbourly Team (NT)  don’t care of course what members think or feel (they have shown no interest in fixing any bugs [unless they affect the business users]).

We all believe in the concept of Neighbourly with a passion.

We are very disappointed that the concept has been used as a hook by the Neighbourly Team to grow the database of members with little (if any) concern for the members or staying true to the original concept.

I think it is sad that the business interests are now being promoted at the expense of the members.

Members simply will not buy from companies if advertising continues to be rammed down their throats on the Noticebard.

Members will simply Boycott companies advertising on the Noticeboard.

Even issues brought to the attention of NT by Leads have been ignored.

Even posts in my blog that may not seem relevant are useful for your review since they have all been made accessible (on Neighbourly) to members in my suburb/ Neighbouring suburbs.

You may like to review these posts in my blog at https://aaamazingsite.wordpress.com/

We are very committed to the original concept of Neighbourly.

As an example I and another Titirangi (Auckland) member (both Titirangi Leads until we were sacked by NT) provided assistance and support to another member in a neighbouring suburb.

This member had a fridge repaired by a repairer who claimed to be an authorised Fisher and Paykel repairer (but would not supply any evidence of this). He refused initially to even come back when his original repair did not resolve the issue.

It appeared that the owner’s warrantee was likely to be voided through using a repairer that was not an authorised F & P repairer.

Through our intervention over two months the person now has a new fridge.

Many members offered support to the owner.

Neighbourly (NT) disabled replies to the owner’s post claiming that it had been hijacked.

Clearly Neighbourly had not even read the post because the “ticket” expressed concern over the owner’s “cat”- no wonder they thought the thread had been hijacked (gone off track)!

Below is the “ticket”:


Once NT disabled replies, the post would quickly disappear out of sight (long before the usual 30 day automatic disabling of replies) and many members would not be able to benefit from the valuable information in Karina’s post including the lessons she learnt. Very disappointing 😦

There should never be any disabling of replies (even after 30 days) unless the original poster wishes this to happen.

Below is the member’s post:


I am surprised that even the (updated) poem I wrote (and included in my reply) did not make NT realise Frosty was not a cat 😦

Other versions were also included in replies.

Below is my final version:


Clearly NT could not have read virtually any of the thread. Otherwise NT would have realised Frosty was not a cat.

Almost all active Neighbourly members may become lurkers without your assistance.
Imagine the business consequences since 99% of members are already lurkers who by definition seldom (if ever) contribute anything and would not buy anything commercially through Neighbourly anyway.


One member has mentioned McCarthyism to me in relation to NT. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism


McCarthyism soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations …” (ibid).

Early in 2015 I wrote a post:
Neighbourly: Big Brother? Nanny State? Police State? Cyber Nazis? I hope not 😦
Sadly I’m afraid it is … and not just a Nanny State either!

Maybe Neighbourly should be renamed Casey’s Banana Republic. No bananas here. Certainly no Garden of Eden. No Eden snake tempts you with an apple; it just strikes without warning and poisons you with its venom 😦

Until then (and perhaps afterwards) Neighbourly will keep its apt nickname Neighbully.

I believe Neighbourly was a master of “fake news” and “alternative facts” before I heard this terminology was popular in the U.S.

We are also concerned that the number of members has been exaggerated.
When Neighbourly claims to have 500,000 members there could actually be at least 65,000 non-existent ghost members included in this figure. i.e. the actual number of members could be over 65,000 less (less than 435,000).


On 20 March 2015, I was asked a second time to write something for the NZ Fairfax Easter Ezine (e.g. Western leader etc.).

I sent in a poem two days later “The Meaning of Easter”, renamed this year “Neighbourly Lost” based on Ecclesiastes Chapter 3.

Below is the poem with the new title:


It is sad that the original concept of Neighbourly has been lost … lost forever? 😦
Has the concept of Neighbourly that we believe in, if it ever existed while Neighbourly was being developed, become merely bait to attract new members to grow a database for commercial purposes?

I believe that Neighbourly may have lost its way: 😦

  1. Many members believe they have been “sold a bill of goods.”
  2. NT has been alerted to bugs for many years by many members but has refused to resolve them. Most have existed for years. It is time for NT to put its “Trello lists” aside and give fixing the bugs a priority.
  3. Members are tired/ sick of seeing “Oops” and “Woah” (sic) messages.
  4. The ding dong bell is a complete waste of time. Some members find it unreliable. It would have been better to spend the time on fixing bugs.
  5. Likes and Thanks sometimes disappear. Members find this very disappointing.
  6. Some members find that when pictures are attached to a post/reply, not all the pictures appear when the post is viewed live.
  7. When you want to see the next picture in a post/reply, you have to click the left button when you want to see the next picture on the right (many members probably think the pictures appear random).
  8. NT doesn’t know right from left. Or right from wrong apparently 😦
  9. When you ring the Helpdesk, you can no longer speak to anyone. You have to email the Helpdesk and then nothing is ever resolved.
  10. Members are tired of having to work around the issues. I set up a “Just testing” group, solely for myself, just to see how I could work around the issues before posting live to members.
  11. NT’s solution is to actively discourage members from posting 😦 Members, including Leads, are frustrated. Many Leads have given up in frustration. A Titirangi Lead has been sacked for posting cat pictures. A heinous crime?
  12. Help is hard to find at the bottom of the page. NT adds to the Guidelines and retrospectively enforces changes. Does anyone really think there was a section on cat pictures always there? There is not one for dog pictures … yet.
  13. Online Business 101: Don’t upset your members by issuing “Tickets” and ramming advertising down the throats of members. Lately a single ad fills up Noticeboard space so that members cannot see a single member post. Members cannot turn off the paid ads. This should be an option.
  14. All members of Neighbourly are address-verified. It follows that Neighbourly has inflated the membership numbers.
  15. NT puts posts “On Hold” (so that members cannot see them) or “Disables Replies” without notice and issues “Tickets”, usually without indicating what needs to change and later deletes them even when changes are made. My changes were accepted (extremely rare) for one of my posts, the post was made “live” again and then the post was deleted anyway later the same day.
  16. You’re not in China now Neighbully (for any Shortie St fans). Who issues more “Tickets” online than China? Neighbully? Watch this space.
  17. It would be an understatement to say a great deal of goodwill has been lost. One day NT may realise how important goodwill is to the success of Neighbourly. Members will Boycott companies advertising on the Noticeboard. Maybe Boycott Fairfax Media too if Fairfax Media does not sort this out.

I was hoping to complete this letter in ten pages. Oops … I didn’t quite make it.

Neighbully has of course been aware of all these issues and has simply decided to ignore them and considers sacking anyone who raises the issues (including Leads).

This letter expresses the opinions of the author and has not been sent … yet.

I hope you can address our concerns and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours faithfully


Alan Neil Grace M.A. (hons)
09 817 8179

P.S. Just for NT:


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