More than a dozen Alaskans say they've been ripped off or harassed by a popular online site for classified ads, complaints that have earned the locally owned website Alaska's List an 'F' rating from the Better Business Bureau. 

The website, run by Alaska Web Service, is similar to online classified site Craigslist.

According to Steve Harrison, he used Alaska's List years ago when it was a free service, but had a very different experience recently. 

"Towards the end of placing the ad I realized that they weren't free any more, and that I can advertise for free on another social platform, and I just dropped it," Harrison said. "And the next day, this guy sends me an email saying, 'Don't I mind him making money,' and that, 'What am I, a communist?' And being a disabled veteran, I immediately took offense to that." 

Harrison said he was told he had to pay a couple dollars for the ad or pay a slightly lesser fee to delete it. 

"It never got posted to begin with, so why would I pay to delete something that never got posted?" he said. 

He said once he refused to pay the small fee, emails telling him "Action Required" started to appear in his email inbox daily. 

According to the BBB's Michelle Tabler, Harrison's complaint is one of 18 they've received against the company. One user reported receiving hundreds of emails, up to seven daily, urging him to pay the site to either post or delete the ad. 

Tabler read part of a complaint from the stack in front of her: 

"[The company owner] responded, 'Suit yourself. You can either pay now, or pay later. You won't be the first criminal we've busted and probably not that last. Can't wait to see you in court and the look on your face, all caused by your larceny of something that would cost you less than a cup of coffee. People like you give new meaning to the word stupid.'" 

Tabler said the abusive emails and pattern of unanswered complaints have earned Alaska Web Service an 'F' rating from the BBB. 

KTVA visited the owner of Alaska Web Service, Michael Baker, who lives in Chugiak. 

"The Better Business Bureau is a racket," he said, when asked how he felt about the poor rating.

Baker insists he's done nothing wrong. 

"When people come to my website, they agree to abide by my terms of use agreement," he said. 

The agreement on Baker's site includes lengthy verbiage, which users must agree to before they're ever explicitly told they will need to pay for an ad. 

Notification that ads are not free can be found 3,150 words into the agreement document: 

"You acknowledge, understand, and agree that Alaska's List does not offer free services to anyone;" 

The agreement also warns of the emails Baker says he has every right to send:

"You acknowledge, understand, and agree that Alaska's List will send you an Ad Management Email when you make a posting at our Web site, and that this email is not an unwanted spam email, but rather a fullfillment email, which permits you to access the Ad Management Page for that individual posting, so that you can manage it in accordance with our Terms of Use Agreement. You also hereby acknowledge, understand, opt-in, and agree to receive these Ad Management Emails from our Web site on a regular basis, and in perpetuity, until at such time as you delete the posting." 

"They agree to the terms before they post and see, that's the deal," Baker said. "You agree before you post to my terms of use, and if you don't read them, that's not my fault." 

One complaint on the BBB's website said, "Their fees are small. I don't have an issue with paying for a good service. I do however have issue with being tricked into doing so." 

Tabler urges Alaskans to do their research before posting their personal information to websites.

Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: