Firepower threaten to sue me!

I just received this:

Dear Dan,

You are an idiot.

I suggest before you make claims regarding a product, you complete all
your research correctly. Maybe you should try a product before you talk
about it.

I have attached a summary of our results.

You can remove your defamatory statements regarding our product within the
next 48 hours and post an apology and reference our results or we will
commence legal action immediately.

Kind Regards,

Stephen Moss
Chief Executive Officer
Firepower International

Kind regards, indeed!

You can currently see fresh-faced young Stephen on, to which redirects. He's placing "the first Firepower Pill in his 2007 Rolls Royce Phantom LWB", which only a mean person would suggest he might just have rented for the day.

(And wait a minute - "the first Firepower Pill"? They've only now gotten around to making one?)

The press release on the front page of also says a study by the University of New South Wales supports their claims about their fuel pills. I presume this is the same one they talked about before when they alluded to one Dr Stephen Hall of that institution, but you will of course still not find the slightest hint anywhere on any Firepower site, or anywhere else I can find for that matter, as to how the supposed study was performed, and what the results were.

What data Firepower have chosen to publish shows, as far as I can see, only that a Firepower pill possibly added slightly more than one per cent to the combustion energy of sixty litres of petrol. And that study's not, of course, been replicated. Whoopee. They have a long list of other claims, mainly of enormous fuel economy gains in unscientific tests, but the plural of anecdote is not data; even if every one of those testimonials is from by someone who truly and honestly believes it, it's far too easy to fool yourself if you don't control the test properly. Literally hundreds of fuel treatment pills, potions and gadgets have come and gone over the decades, all backed by the same sorts of anecdotes and all found to be worthless when - or if - tested properly.

If you're one bloke in a garage, you can't be expected to come up with high quality tests. But Firepower have the money to do proper tests - lots of them. And yet, not only do they still rest comfortably on a big old pile of anecdotes (most of which are from hard-to-trace people in places like Oman, Russia and the Philippines), but they have even previously admitted that when they said, for instance, that tests were done "by Volvo", what they actually meant was they were done on Volvo trucks by... someone.

All this aside, I'd be thinking Firepower would be more interested in suing Fairfax Media, publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age, since all of my Firepower-related blog posts [well, up until Stephen kicked this ant-hill, anyway...] simply link to and talk about the series of Herald stories on the company and its many colourful characters and connections.

Firepower do actually say they were indeed taking the Herald to court... in May last year. But nothing seems to have come of that. All of the Herald articles remain up on the Web.

So let's recap, shall we?

According to the Herald:

Rise of a man with a magic mystery pill (with a sidebar about the not-very-impressive, and not-recently-improved, evidence Firepower provide to support their claims, and the strange similarity of their fuel pill to another one.)

Austrade doles out to secretive firm.

Firepower-AWB inquiry link.

Firepower link to dead dictator and former spy (in which they admit they are "unable to produce some of the promised independent tests that showed its supposedly miracle products extend fuel efficiency.")

Still waiting for the proof behind the spruik.

Magic pills, religious links, Russian death threats, big sports sponsorships.

Mothball additive in tanks gives fuel for thought.

Firepower boss feeling the heat.

I don't have to tell any of you what'll happen if Mr Moss actually follows through with a lawsuit and gets me to stop, um, accurately describing something that I read on other Web pages that're all still very much up, but clearly Stephen is new to this whole Intarweb thing and needs to have the situation explained to him.

If, Stephen, you'd like about a thousand more blogs to start linking to those Herald articles, go ahead and try to stop me doing it. Because that's what'll happen, even if you win a defamation case against me. Which, itself, is far from certain.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of you little monkeys were tapping away at your own blog posts already.

And yes - Stephen did indeed attach the "results" he mentions in his e-mail. I talk about them, in tedious detail, here.

10 Responses to “Firepower threaten to sue me!”

  1. jdanforth Says:

    I sense the beginning of something wonderful here. Surely, Dan, you have the capability of testing these fuel additives in that lab of yours, right?

  2. OgreMustCrush Says:

    Dan, you better watch out! Because you know that all serious legal threats are started with a personal insult, as well as having not come from an attorney. Next the guy will be threatening to shut down your hosting, and that he will repossess your computer or something.

    I bet they just love that one of your letters posts comes up higher in google when you search "firepower pill" than their own website does. Specifically the subtext is:

    On this page, Firepower favour us with some plain nonsense: "When 91ULP, 95PULP and 98 PULP base fuels are treated with the Firepower Pill, the resulting ...

    Though some more nice links across the web could do well to make even more of your pages have higher results than theirs.

  3. Daniel Rutter Says:

    The thing that gets me is that Firepower has, or at least had, serious money to throw around. They were sponsoring major sports teams, and such. Unprofessional legal threats are what you expect from J. Random Quack, not someone who gets major coverage (even if it's mostly negative...) in the press.

  4. sockatume Says:

    I'd say that you've already demonstrated that Firepower's bags of cash have more to do with gullable venture capitalists than any particular corporate savvy, legal manouvering included.

  5. tjscott Says:

    Ah Dan, good to see that the wheels of dodgy legal threats are in motion. It just goes to show that some people do believe that silly adage: Any publicity is good publicity. It will certainly be good publicity for SOMEONE in this fable, but I wouldn't count on MothBallPower coming out on top.

  6. Bruce Says:

    Here is a newsflash for Firepower - most Corporations can't sue for defamation. Don't take my word for it, read it for yourself

  7. reyalp Says:

    Maybe this item wasn't your aunt after all. I'm guessing you probably chickened out and paid off their hitman :)

  8. reyalp Says:

    More seriously, I assume you did check the headers and make sure the threat wasn't a joe job ?

  9. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Yes, it's real. We've swapped numerous messages since then, all of which come from Firepower's server.

    I never get used to this. They always seem to lead out with a serious-sounding lawsuit threat and then start actually trying to argue the merits of their case. This was just the first time that the threat came from someone who obviously did have the resources to retain a lawyer.

  10. safetyboy Says:

    Interestingly, the photo of Stephen Moss looking like a 19 year old next to the roller has been removed from the server completely:

    Anyone got it in their cache - I wanted to see it again.

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