Around the end of the first week in June I got a call from a person who I think identified himself as Scott, a representative of Advanced Learning Systems (ALS). I did not initiate contact with ALS. They contacted me. I believe they got my information from another site I had been visiting which was in a similar business as ALS. I say this because in all the complaints I have found against ALS, no one has ever said they initiated contact. However, a common theme is that these people, including myself, were visiting websites advertising Internet business setup. I, as well as others, believe ALS was fishing these sites and getting personal information to make contacts. If so, then ALS already knew a perspective client they were contacting had some interest in developing their own Internet business. This would give ALS a huge psychological advantage. They immediately begin talking to me about the advantages of owning your own Internet business. At this point I thought they were someone from a site I had browsed. It wasnt until after I had gotten into their program that I found out that ALS had no association with the site I had visited? I think it is more than a coincident that others filing complaints were contacted under that same scenario? However, this is not the basis of my complaint, only a reoccurring incident.
The man representing ALS was well spoken and personable. He explained to me that his company was looking for candidates to go through their program and be spokespeople for his company. He asked if I would have a problem being in a video. I stated no. He explained a set of requirements that fit me to the tee and said that only a few would qualify and we, my wife and I, would have to go through a rigorous series of interviews successfully
in order to qualify. This candidate for a company spokespeople was repeated throughout the interview process and through each succeeding interview. He claimed ALS had all the experts needed in their company to make us successful with our own site. He stated they had Internet experts in marketing, business, financing, security, Internet law, and web building. He claimed that ALS would build us a successful business site, help us select the best business to get into if we couldnt come up with a good one, find the best drop shipper for us, and that we would be making money in 3 weeks. We would also get 6 months training with access to all their experts and would extend it up to a year if we still needed help. He asked me what I was currently doing (unemployed), if I
had children (two, a 4 year old and an 10 month old), where my wife worked (Wal-Mart), as well as some other personal information. He asked me if I would be interested in this sort of thing. I said I would and asked several questions to reiterate his claims so I would know what I was actually getting. Towards the end of the interview I asked him how much this was going to cost me becoming suspicious about the whole thing? He said its not free, but not to worry about it because ALS had a program in place that would lessen the blow and that we would be
making money in 3 weeks to cover the cost. He said it wouldnt be a hardship on us. He then said I answered the questions correctly in what they were looking for in a spokesperson and if my wife could be at the next interview. We set up a time for the next interview so that my wife would be able to attend. He said the next interview would include himself and his manager. His manager would want to meet us and ask his own set of questions. He then asked me to make a list of 10 or 20 businesses I would be interested in operating on the Internet.
My wife and I attended the next scheduled meeting where Scott introduced his manager. I believe his name was Tracy Munday. The meeting went much like the first in that he spent time getting to know my wife and I on a personal level and expanded on the services they provide. He said we did not need to understand the technology, ALS would build the first site for us and we wouldnt be responsible for any of it. He said what they would do is teach us everything they did so that by the time they were done with the site we would be able to do the next one. He said not to worry, if we still needed help that we would get an extended six months of access to their facilities and people. He said they had clients that called years latter with questions and they were always
happy to help. We were told as part of the marketing, they made a short professional film promoting our new website and ran it on YouTube. They said this was a great way to get exposure to increase sales. I asked what the website would look like and he said it would be very professional and include a secure credit card and cart
system. He added that they would help us in deciding a business to get into if we couldnt come up with one they thought would be successful. He said they would have a brainstorming session with their best professionals all together in a room and critique our choices and make any necessary improvements. They said they had one of the top people in the business for getting our business on the first page of a web search. They said without this, your business would not do very well. I asked why did he work for them instead of go out on his own? They said he do did work on his own and was paid up to $10,000 a site by big businesses to get their web page at the top of a search, but he also was employed by ALS. Everything they covered sounded very impressive including the talent they employed. They made it sound like all these top-notch people would be working for us.
A couple of questions he asked stand out. He asked what I thought was the best business to be in. Of course I said owning an Internet business since we had toddlers that needed constant care and someone always had to be home. He told me I was correct and started hitting me with all kinds of impressive statistics on Internet sales and businesses. Of course, if they already knew I was interested in learning about Internet business, then they knew the questions to ask and what the answers would be. Now that I look back at it, the whole interview seemed to perfect. Another interesting question he asked me was how much would I like to make a month. Pondering this, I wanted to be careful not to throw a number out there that would be unreasonable and get me disqualified. So I threw out a very conservative figure of $2,000. There was silence, as this didnt get much of a response so I quickly told them if I could make $4,000 a month I would be tickled pink. Their response was that they wanted their clients to be ambitious and that they thought I should easily be able to do this as long as I followed their instructions and didnt try to reinvent the wheel. They made a point that sometimes they got clients that wanted
to do things their way and that it caused problems. I told them I wouldnt do that since they were the professionals. This was the first time that a specific income amount was mentioned and made us feel more secure. Why would they indicate certain money figures if they couldnt meet them, right? I started believing that maybe they could do what they said they could. I asked Tracy how long would it take for us to be making money? He said we should be making money in about 3 weeks if we did as we were instructed. He then informed us that he
agreed with Scott that we would make good candidates for their program. They set up the next interview with someone who was a higher-level manager, like a department head, but I cant remember what the exact title was. The manager ended the meeting by asking if my wife planned to quit her job and work full time with me on developing the business. My wife shook her head no to me and I told them that I would probably start by myself and once we started making enough money to support the family, then she would join in. As you will see,
Im certainly happy we didnt follow that suggestion.
Looking back, I now realize that the final meeting was probably with someone who was the deal closer and not a manager at all. Again, my wife was asked to be at the meeting. I dont remember the name and title of the new interviewer. He got us all excited about running our own business and making good money. He claimed once the business was up it would only take about 15 hours a week to run and we would have lots of free time for our kids
and selves. He also claimed we would be making money in 3 weeks and would be making enough that my wife would be able to quit her job. Again, not a specific amount as before but an implied amount of enough to pay our bills and not have to work any other jobs. He had us really fired up to get started then dropped the bomb on us that the price was $9,350.35. We went dead silent at that point. He asked me if I wanted to pay cash or put it on my credit card. I reminded him of what I was told earlier about having some mechanism in place to help us with the price. He said that most clients put it on their credit cards and were making enough money in 3 weeks that making a payment wasnt an issue. He even told me of one couple that had made over $2,200.00 in the first 3 weeks. I asked him how long would it take to make enough to pay off the full amount. He said it depended of many factors but the average client took about 6 months. I again mentioned my financial situation, 58 years old, unemployed for 17 months, two babies to take care of, living on savings and what my wife could bring in from Wal-Mart each month. He told me I would be OK. He fell back on us being groomed to be spokespeople for the company and that it wouldnt make sense for them to let us fail, right? My wife asked what if we didnt make enough to cover our monthly expenses? He said if we werent happy at the end of the 3 months then just asks for a refund.
I questioned we could get a refund? He said sure so we figured they had to be legitimate. So I let them charge the card for the amount. All the way through the interview process these people expressed nothing but confidence in their ability to make us successful that we really did believe we would be making money in 3 weeks and would be running our own website in no time. One more point we would like to make is that at no time was eBay or Amazon ever mentioned other than for statistical purposes to prove their point about Internet sales.
My first coaching session was cut short because I had questions about the service that the coach didnt feel comfortable answering, so I was sent back to Tracy Munday. I was panicking about the money and had questions about exactly what I had paid for. He told me that if I would only give them a chance that I was going to do well and make good money. I was told that if I put 10 hours a week into their program and do exactly as they say,
that we could not fail, that they would not let us fail. He told me about a lady client who was selling high-end brand name purses for woman and was making about $10,000 a month. He also explained that ALS would do it all for me including the marketing, finding me drop shippers, helping me pick the right business, and building the
website. He told me not to worry about the technology side of the business, as they would be building it. He said I would have an opportunity to learn how to do it all, but if I couldnt understand the technology they would be there to walk us through it. I asked him if I could build more than one site if the first wasnt that successful. He said that was a great idea and many of his clients did just that. He told me not to worry about the 6-month period and that if I needed help they would extend it to a year at no extra cost. So I started relaxing and said OK. I was then sent back to a secretary to reschedule the training meeting but for some reason received a different coach?
Later that meeting got canceled because of a conflict in the coaches schedule and I got a new training time with a third coach named Trevor Shipp. Trevor ended up being my coach for the duration.
In my first meeting with Trevor, Tuesday, June 19th I was asked if I was familiar with eBay. I told him that I had purchased items off eBay and Amazon as well as other sights but not sold anything. He asked me to set up an account on eBay and to sell something around the house that I no longer needed. I wasnt real interested in this and asked him if this is what the program was about? He said no, no, no and reassured me that it was not, but
that he wanted me to get some experience in marketing and that I could learn a thing or two while we waited for my site to be built. He asked me to create PayPal and eBay accounts. I told him I already had a PayPal account and eBay account. He wanted me to create a new eBay account for selling and I said I would. He gave me some pointers on how to create the page for my item and assigned me the eBay videos on the ALS website.
I asked him if I was going to be making money in 3 weeks and he said, Yes, so lets get started. We agreed to make Mondays at noon our regular meeting time. Before we ended the meeting he set me up to meet with another
person in ALS at 2:00 pm on Thursday, June 22nd to go over the finance part of an Internet business. We met for about 30 minutes. I completed everything he assigned me that week.
I received a call from a Fred Seymour at 2:00 pm on Thursday as expected. He gave me the number of a Curtis Harward of Elite Business and Tax as a contact .I didnt quite understand why I was getting this number but Fred broke into what I thought was a class on the Business and Financial sides of an Internet business. The speech lasted about 20 minutes and I took detailed notes that I still have. I agreed with pretty much everything he had to say. When he finished he went into a sales pitch about the two packages they had. One was called the Elite package and cost $2,950. The other was the standard package and cost $2,350. I was surprised and asked him again who he was. He explained to me that he was a rep from Elite Business and Tax and they provided legal side of Internet business start up and the quick path to building a business credit line. I told him I thought I was getting this as part of the $9,350 I had just paid? He assured me I was not. Now I dont want to get into my problems with Elite Business and Tax. I just want to point out that several times I was set up by ALS to meet with someone I thought was their employee only to find out I was being sold something else for gobs more money? Elite Business and Tax has settled with me and have issued me a refund of $5,400. Elite Business and Tax did end up screwing me out of $1660 dollars by performing a service that I said I could do only to tell me that said I couldnt and shouldnt even try. I found out later that there was nothing special about what they did and that I could of done the same service and done it correctly for $160. But at least they were willing to negotiate a settlement and wanted no part of me taking legal action against them.
In my next weekly coaching session, Monday, June 25th with Trevor I brought up the meeting with Elite Business and Tax and told him that this was a surprise and very costly. I asked him if I really need these services. Trevor went into a spill about creating his first website and in the beginning investing half of what he earned each month to purchase services he needed but was currently doing by himself. He said he really couldnt perform these services like a trained person could and that it benefited him financially in the long run to farm these out to professionals. I took this as telling me I did need these services. I asked him what the relationship was between ALS and Elite was? He said they were an affiliate but separate company.
W spent the rest of my time critiquing my ad on eBay and suggesting how to improve it. I ask him again about making money in 3 weeks and he said it would happen just do what I asked. He told me he wanted me to
get more items up on eBay. I told him a couple of items where bit and heavy and he told me to check with the post office and get some shipping estimates. I suggested Craigslist where there wouldnt be any shipping cost and he said good idea. He then told me he wanted me to experience a drop ship sale, as it would pretty much be the way I would run my own business. He had picked out a patio set off the Sears site that was on sale for the month of July and explained how I could advertise it on eBay. The idea was to sale it on eBay like it was mine and when I was paid for it I would go to the Sears site and order it for that person and have it directly shipped to their home. He assigned me 3 more videos on using the classifieds and Craigslist. He also set me up with a person who was a specialist on accounting he wanted me to speak with on Thursday, June 27th at 5:15 pm.
I set up the drop ship sale as he had explained to me and sent Trevor an email so he could review it. He later replied back that it looked good and let him know if I sold a set. He told me the story about one of his clients selling 3 of them just last weekend and making $600. I also went out to the ALS site and logged in to watch the videos assigned me. The first one was about 25 minutes long as was by a guy who said he maid his living finding
items on the classifieds, eBay, Amazon, even garage sales and relisting them for a profit or making trades with other people that turned out to be profitable. It was interesting but not something I wanted to do for a living.
The second video had a different title but was the exact same one as the first video? When I selected the third video I got a message that it was under construction and would be available at a later date. This is the first time I
got the impression that ALS may not be all they said they are?
Steve Harward of Elite Business and Tax (the guy who Fred Seymour had given me his phone number and was not clear about why I needed it) was the caller on Thursday. He immediately went into the benefits of getting the tax accounting for the business set up properly at the start of the business. Again, it was not what I expected and thought I was going to talk to someone from ALS? I explained to him that I had already talked to some one from
Elite Business and Tax and thought I already had that covered for the $4,600 they charged me. He said no, that was for business startup and financing.
Again, I dont want to get into any more details here since they have settled with me but he basically did a hard sale on me telling me that Internet businesses were different and a normal accountant wouldnt be trained to handle it, a fact I found was not even remotely true later. He ended up selling me for the Premier package for the price of the Standard package, $2,350. By this time I was starting to question my all that was going on?
In my next meeting with Trevor on July 2nd I questioned him about sending me to all these meetings with sales people to hit me up for more charges and asked him how many more were there? He said no more and that I didnt have to buy them but that I would benefit in the long run. Basically, he was on the same page as the sales people he had sent me to? I just wanted to make sure I wasnt blind-sided again and there were no more hidden cost. He then did a quick critique of my drop ship ad on eBay and made some suggestions that might help me make a sale. Before we broke for the holiday weekend he set me up with a meeting for July 5th at 11:00 am with a Paul Andrews who he promised was an ALS employee. He described Paul as sort of a company expert in knowing Internet businesses, what worked and what didnt. The meeting was to go over my list of businesses, 18 in all, that I was interested in possibly creating a website around. I took this as the brain storming session they had mentioned in one of the interviews to determine if any of my ideas would work and if not, suggest ones that would. My weekly meeting with Trevor was rather short, only lasting about 10 minutes.
On July 5th I got a call from Paul Andrews at 11:00 am. He introduced himself and we immediately went into my list of 18 suggested Internet businesses. He said he thought they all were pretty good and would probably work, a statement that surprised me? I could certainly see fault in some of them but he was the expert. He asks me which one I was most interested in and I told him the high tech futuristic home entertainment one. He then started explaining to me the two main reasons an Internet site failed; Marketing and finding a good drop shipper, the drop shipper being the number one and biggest problem. He explained the 3 different types of drop shippers, direct, middle and post. He explained their pricing methods and which one would make me the most money and be to my benefit. He then told me about the site My Source Supplier, which they used to find drop shippers. He told me that this was their business and they were experts at it. He said My Source Supplier had the best connections and could find me the right drop shippers at the right price. He then said that they charge a one-time lifetime fee of $9,500. I about dropped dead. I said you got t be kidding me? I said why couldnt I do my own research and find the suppliers myself and save myself $10,000? He said I wouldnt be able to do what they could do, that this was their business and they were the best. I told him that seemed ridiculously high just to find a drop shipper. He said they do much more than that, they also did the marketing and built the website and that was a pretty good price for all of that. At that exact moment I was so upset that it didnt click with me that ALS had told me during the interviews that they were the ones providing these services for the initial $9,350 fee.
Paul told me my chances of being successful would be greatly diminished if I didnt hire My Source Supplier. All I could think of was they had $16,000 of my money and now they wanted another $10,000. I thought went through my mind that if I didnt go with his suggestion that I might be out the full $16,000. I asked Paul just what was the relationship between ALS and My Source Supplier and he said they where complete separate companies and were not related in any way other than the business they each where in. Finally I said go ahead and try my card but that it would take me way over my limit and it probably wouldnt go through. He said lets give it a try. After a few minutes he said it went through. I was shocked and kind of disappointed it did. He then directed me to the My Source Supplier website, gave me a user ID and a password and told me to log in. He then showed me how perform a supplier search using the My Source Supplier website. Basically, it is nothing more than a search using keywords or a short description of the business products you are interested in.
During this week I made a sale on the Sears patio set I had advertised on eBay. When I went out to purchase the product on the Sears website I found out that the sales price was only good for the July 4th weekend and that the price had been raised $200 or about the price I had listed it for. To make a long story short, I spent about an hour and a half on the phone with Sears Corporate Customer Service and was able to get them to give me a 10% discount. As a result I did make around $60 on the sale, which is far from the $200 I had originally shot for.
In the July 9th meeting with Trevor spoke to him about My Source Supplier and how the additional cost had me on edge. He said he could understand my feelings as he has been there before. I grilled him on why he wasnt running a site. He said he was, that he sold Bee Boxes and information on how to start your own beehive. He told me he spent about a half hour at night processing his orders and that was it. He claimed to average about $5,000.00 a month. When I asked him why was he working he said his wife wouldnt stand for him being at home all the time, that he got bored and liked what he was doing. When I asked why he isnt opening more sites he said he was getting ready to open another one. He had all the right answers? He claimed I could open several with their help and be able to run them on minimal time. He even suggested I do that. I asked him if I would be able to make that can of money and he said Of course. He said I might not make it on the first site but that I would find my niche and would do well. I asked him how much it cost him to start his business and he said about $25.000. Oddly enough, about what they now had out of me? I then asked him how long it took him to recoup his money and he said about 6 months. He said at the time he was single and living very cheaply so he could put most of his earnings toward paying it off and that it might take me a few months more. Now that I think about it, he seemed to have all the right answers?
When I had nothing else to ask we went over the Sears sale and I explained to him my problems I had encountered, but still managed to turn a small profit. He asked me to send him an email of the experience he could give to his boss. He said his boss was interested in knowing our experience with our first drop-shipping sale. I told him I would when I got a chance. He also introduced me to another one of their sites, gave me a user ID and password and asked me to go out and watch the 4 beginner videos on how to use the web builder software. He then told me to go out to My Source Supplier website and do a drop shipper search on all the businesses I was interested in. I questioned this as I thought it might be confusing to enter so much different search data but he said it would be OK. I expressed my concern that I was still not making money and that I was told 3 weeks when I was pitched their product. I was told that we are almost there and to be a patient. The meeting lasted about 25 minutes. I watched the 4 web builder videos and did the search with My Source Supplier as requested. It takes 3 days to get your search results from MSS.
I received the search results from MSS on Thursday and researched the links. I received and checked out two links given me on the high tech home theaters and music systems idea. One of the sites did not even sale the types of systems I was interested in. The other site had about half a dozen or so systems that fit the bill of what I was looking for. However, their selection was weak and I would have to do better if I was going to try and sale these types of systems. I only got a single link on the green coffee beans shipper I was looking for and it was for a company I was familiar with but didnt think sold green coffee beans. I have been buying green coffee beans and doing my own roasting for about 10 years. As such, I am familiar with quite a few sites that sale green coffee beans and supplies. Never the less, I made calls to these sites to find out if they did drop shipping and if they had a wholesale price list. The first site on the home theater list didnt drop ship. The second one did but would not give me a price list without a Federal Tax ID number and a resellers permit from the state that my business was registered in. I was still waiting for this information from Elite Business and Tax. The only green coffee bean supplier on the list did not even sale green coffee beans as I suspected. I later called and found out that Elite Business and Tax was not even aware that I needed a resellers permit to run a website that did drop shipping, making me question their self proclaimed expertise with eCommerce businesses? I had to call the state and order the permit for $60 more dollars and another 3 to 4 week delay.
In the July 16th meeting I told Trevor about the mess up by Elite and the cost and time loss due to the sellers
permit not being ordered. He said that ALS was always interested with how their affiliates where doing since they recommended them. He told me that ALS was always interested in the job their affiliates did and would pass the
information up to management. I then told him that I was disappointed with the number as well as the quality of the drop shipper links returned to me by MSS. He said he would talk with My Source Suppliers management team. We went over the search results I received from My Source Supplier. The list of drop shippers was very convoluted and confusing. In many cases the drop shippers links I received were to businesses I was not even interested in and did not sale the products I was looking for. So I suggested that I take my top 3 business ideas and do a separate search for each one and for only those products associated with that specific business. Trevor agreed that this was probably a good approach. He suggested I write a small paragraph of exactly what it was I was interested in selling and be as detailed as possible. He said use that paragraph in the search and select all in the category to see if we couldnt find better hits and a larger selection. He again asked me to write an email on my first drop shipping experience for his boss and I said I would get to it. I again mentioned my concern about making money and that my credit card bill will be due soon. He told me that at least I had made some money with the eBay sales and that should be of some help. I said that was very little and I was told 3 weeks on numerous occasions and by numerous people. He said be patient we are getting there. The meeting only lasted about 10 minutes.
Shortly after that meeting, my 10-month daughter became ill and developed a bad case of diarrhea and loss of appetite. It took her 5 days to recover and I didnt get much of anything done. I did start the email about my first drop shipping experience but did not get enough detail in it to satisfy me so I held it back.
In the July 23rd meeting I explained to Trevor the situation with my daughter and told him I would get back to creating the business paragraphs for the drop shipper searches and get the email completed on my first drop shipping experience. He told me he was going on a short vacation next week and we would not meet on July 30th. August 6th was set as our next meeting. I asked him if he could go out on eBay before he left for vacation and look at a listing on an item I had listed that was not selling. He said he would before he left for vacation. The meeting lasted about 5 minutes.
During this week I got my paragraphs for the two businesses written and sent copies to Trevor for his approval. He responded a couple days later and said he though the descriptions were excellent and that My Source Supplier would appreciate the detail. I got them entered into the My Source Supplier search engine I believe on Thursday of that week. The 3 days it took to get a response ran over the weekend so I did not hear back from MSS until the following Monday.
The drop shipper list I received from MSS was not much different than what I received from the convoluted search description I was directed to enter the first time? I again received two links given me on the high tech home theaters and music systems idea but they were to different drop shippers. I received the exact same link for the green coffee bean idea that I received the first time? Both links for the home theater business idea were to large electronics companies that were hard to navigate and literally sold hundreds of electronic items many of which I was unfamiliar with. Nevertheless, I called each and found out neither of them sold home theater or stereo systems of any kind. It was not there main business. So I decided to email My Source Supplier myself and see if I couldnt help solve this problem.
I was very kind and understanding in my email, as I did not want to ruffle any feathers, just help solve the communication problem. I described exactly the type of business website I was trying to create using the green coffee beans as the example. I described exactly what products I was looking for and even gave them a link to the Coffee Universe site I had found hoping that would help. Two days later they sent me an email reply telling me that their primary means of contact was live chat or email. I didnt understand this since it was an email I sent them they were responding to? They said I would need to resubmit a request to receive new suppliers. I had already submitted two? And finally, they wrote that maybe a link to the products Im interested in would help? I felt that if I had to do that, then how much harder could it be to find the drop shippers myself?
Now I was getting frustrated and decided to try my own luck at it. I did a search for green coffee bean importers and found a site named Coffee Universe. It listed all the green coffee bean importers to the United States as well as all the local companies that imported and then sold green coffee beans to companies within the United States. There were pages of them. I then started investigating some of the sites and found that some of them sold large quantities to local businesses at whole seller prices. On another search I found three ex-patriots living in Medellin, Columbia that were trying to get a green coffee bean importing business together and was looking for partners in the United States to import and sell a variety of Columbian green coffee beans. I corresponded with them through email on their website and they wrote back saying they where interested in talking with me. I found all this out in less than 30 minutes. I then did a search for home theater entertainment systems that played digitized music and video, wireless speakers, compact quality speakers, and came across a site that sold about 50 or more of the exact type of systems I was interested selling to my target niche. Systems that you could download your music collection in mp3 format from your computer, cell phone, or iPod that had huge local data capacity to hold your digitized music and video collection. Systems set up to support 5X1 and 6X1 configurations that where small enough to fit in a single box when you had to move. Systems with speakers of top of the line quality but were small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. Subwoofers that where less than a foot square in diameter ut put out room vibrating base. Being able to hold your entire audio and video collection on a single thumb drive so you never had to lug around CDs or DVDs again. This was my target niche, the younger generation. They had dozens of them in prices ranges from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. I decided to take Tracey Mundays suggestion to call him anytime if was having any problems and talk to him. I got his secretary that said he was on the phone and would call me back right after he got off. I never did receive a call back. In fact I have still never had a chance to speak to him. I called and left a message for Trevor to give me a call.
Being able to do a better job than I was paying a company $9,500 to do and not being able to talk with anyone about it (Tracy Shipp was still on vacation) really got me worried about who I was doing business with so I started doing Internet searches on ALS. I can across several sites that had complaint after complaint with stories that sounded to the tee exactly like mine, only the prices charged were different. The same companies, Advanced Learning Systems, My Source Supplier, The Coaching Department, all created by the same guy doing business out of the same town in Utah. I found a history of all the companies this guy, a Ken Sonnenberg, had created or been heavily involved with that morphed from one company to another. His original company, eVertex Solutions, had an FF rating with the Better Business Bureau and Government action had been taken on another. I printed and included a small stack of some of the complaints I found with this documentation. I have made comments in by the similarities of events told by others that happened exactly the same way to me. I could have printed dozens of more pages but didnt want to overwhelm anyone with that much information. I then called my credit card company and was connected with the disputes department. I reiterated this story to them and filed a dispute for the $25,880.35 that had been charged my card by Advanced Learning Systems, Elite Business and Tax, and My Supplier Source. My credit card company suspended the charges from my account so that they would not be part of my next bill and sent me paperwork to fill out to initiate the complaint. This is standard credit card procedure for initiating complaints. I was sick to my stomach with the similarities in the complaints I found on the Internet and felt I had been conned.
A few days later when Trevor had returned from vacation, he emailed me his suggestions on the listing he said he would look at before he left. I emailed back for him to call me. When he called me I told him I had tried to contact Tracy Munday while he was gone but never got a return call, so I would speak to him about it. I started going through a list of some
of the issues I had with the curriculum and started telling him we had only met a total of about 15 minutes over the last 3 weeks and I hadnt been assigned any of the webinars from the ALS site in a long time. I told him I couldnt see
how I was even going to get through all the webinars in a six-month period at the rate we were going. He immediately got defensive. I told him we were over 5 weeks into the program and I had not made a dime from my own website as I was repeatedly told I would, even by him, but that I had spent a ton more of money since I had entered the program for what I though was poor quality work and in some cases for stuff I could easily get off the Internet for free. I then
mentioned the complaints I had found on the Internet and this really set him off. I didnt get another word in for the next minute or two. At this point I no longer wanted to discuss my issues with him. With me being pretty quiet he said he would like to address my issues in the next coaching session on August 6th. I said thats fine, no longer wanting to get him yelling again. The next day I got an email from Travis apologizing for being so harsh on me and explaining why he had gone off on me. Basically, he took great pride in his work and was an honest person. He may or may not be. However, my main complaint isnt so much with Travis as with those who lied and misled us in order to get our money. My only complaint against Travis is that when I raised concerns about what I was told and what I was actually getting, as well as all the additional companies I had been passed along to and given a hard sale for products with huge price tags, in many cases for services I was told I was already getting when I paid the initial $9,350.35. Travis always took the company position and defended them. He also failed to give me straight answers to questions I asked and didnt ask and by dong so perpetuated the lie I had been told upfront until I was deep into the program. He was a company man on all fronts.
In the Aug 6th coaching meeting Trevor started off by saying sorry about the incident again but that he had heard me
and was going to assign more work (webinars) so that I would be making steady progress at getting through them in the time range given. He assigned me 7 webinars on how to use the web building software they were currently using,
named Apply Builder. He told me the 4 webinars he had assigned me prior were for a web building tool that the company no longer used but that was OK because it was a good introduction into web builders. I disagree. Each proprietary web
builder software has its own unique user interface and as such, has its own look and feel. So getting something done always takes a different path based on how the company decided to implement that functionality. Also functionality
itself usually differs between web builders with some offering a complete range of functionality and others not so much. I feel watching a video on a software product I am never going to use is a complete waste of time. He told me to skip the
DOBA integration webinar, something that will come up later in this document. We discussed the lack of drop shippers returned to me from the My Source Supplier service and told him about the green coffee bean search I did and the
Coffee Universe site I had found. He again defended My Source Supplier stating that in many cases when they dont return anything or poor selections then a drop shipper just didnt exist in that business. I find this ridicules. If you
visit the Coffee Universe site you will find dozens of US based companies that are selling green coffee beans to customers all over the United States. They all must be getting their beans from somewhere and they all must be getting
them cheap enough to make a profit? Otherwise, there wouldnt be as many as there are. I then mentioned my concern about my credit card charge and bills and when would I start making money. He said we need to find a drop shipper
first. Oddly enough, when ALS had sold us on their program I had been told if I couldnt find a drop shipper or Internet business that they would find one for us and recommend a business. I guess that had gone along the wayside with
grooming us for becoming successful company spokespeople? Trevor then told me he would be out of town Monday of next week for business reasons and that we would have to schedule another time on a day later in the week. He gave me the number of his secretary to call to set up the meeting. This coaching session lasted the full 30 minutes.
When I called his secretary she told me Trevor had an opening on Thursday of next week at 4:30 pm. I told her my wife went to work at 3:00 pm and I had a 4 year old and 10 month old to take care of. There is no way I could guarantee my undivided attention for a half hour under those circumstances. The following Monday (two weeks out) at noon, which was our normal time, also was not available. I found this odd? So the best she could do was Tuesday, August 21st at 1030 am. This put me out another two weeks and a day without a meeting. I seemed to be getting less and less time as
time went along which is also one of my complaints as well as a complaint by other people when I searched the Internet for complaints on ALS.
I again called the credit card company and asked if there was a time limit on when I could dispute a charge and specifically, the first charge ALS had made. I was told 60 days and that I had five days left. It was time to make a decision. I weighed out all the facts and remembered reading one complaint in which the person worked through the full six months and still didnt have a working, money producing website. This person he hadnt made a penny and there was no end in sight. He had asked for his money back and ALS offered to give him six more months of free training but not a penny back. I didnt want to end up like that. I considered what I was originally told I was getting and what I had now ended up with now and he quality of the services I had received to date. I also took a close look at the expense I started with and it had now ballooned to. My overall trustworthiness of my relationship with every person and company was not so good. I came to the conclusion that would be crazy to continue on in this direction. Our hoping that things might change and the quality of the service would improve did not seem appropriate with all we had been through. I decided it was time to try and recover our $25,880.00 dollars.
All of the services we had received could be gotten off the Internet for free and of better quality. I began gathering evidence and documenting everything that had happened to date. About a week later I got a call from a guy who
introduced himself as Ian from Elite Business and Tax and said that he had taken over my account from Fred Seymour because Fred was on extended medical leave. To make a long story short, I informed him of my unhappiness with the services to date and wanted a refund. A couple of days later Steve Hardward called me and we worked out an agreement. Elite Business and Tax returned $5,400 of the $7,000 they had charged me. As I alluded to earlier, the legal service I acquired came from a membership I have with a company named Pre-Paid Legal. For a small monthly fee I get a very limited group of legal services. These services include writing a letter on my behalf and reviewing contracts fewer
than 10 pages. I have taken advantage of these services and had my PPL appointed attorney review my contracts and write a letter on my behalf. After looking at all the documentation I provided, my attorney told me I have been
scammed. However, my attorney took a complete different approach to the problem and believes ALS has violated Texas State Statute. I have included a copy of the letter. If you would, please review it. My wife and I do not have the money to actually take this case to trial. In fact, we are not sure we wont be filing bankruptcy in the coming months if this matter is not resolved. As such, I would appreciate if this letter is not shown or forward to any of the companies we
have grievance against. I have already provided a letter as requested by my credit card company covering the same grievances.
On August 21st, at our occasional weekly meeting with Trevor I informed him of my decision. This time he was polite. He
said we would be working together again because the company does not give money back, EVER! He said he would be looking forward to working with me again when I have gone through the process and wanted to continue. I find his unsettling since no one from ALS has even listened to my side yet?
Two days later on Thursday the 23rd of August at around 5 or 6 pm, I received strangest calls I can ever remember. I
got a call from a person who started the conversation off with a statement to the effect that he was returning my call and did I have a problem? His voice sounded confrontational as if I was the problem? I asked him who was he and
what was he talking about? He would only say that I called him yesterday and gave me his first name. Not only would he not tell me who he worked for, he would not answer any questions that would help me figure out who he was? I was
trying to figure out who I had talked to yesterday but couldnt remember anyone? So I went back farther and the only call I could remember for the week was with Trevor on Tuesday. So I took a guess and asked if he worked for ALS? He
said yes. After making some good nature fun of him for trying to conceal his identity from me, I pointed out that I did not call anyone from ALS, they called me, and that it was not yesterday, but on Tuesday, two days ago. I told him the call he is referring to was my weekly meeting with my ALS coach. He then asked me again, Do you have a problem?
At this point I took over the questioning and told him I had a simple question to ask him. My question was, What is it that Advanced Learning Systems is actually providing me? Paraphrasing his response, he basically stated that Advanced Learning Systems provided training. They teach people how to build their own website, how to do some marketing, and some of the ins and outs of an Internet business. My response was simple and core to my complaint, this is NOT what my wife and I were presented when ALS was trying to sign us up. We were told that Advanced Learning Systems was going to build us a professional looking website that would include a secure credit card and cart system, help us in deciding the best business to choose, find us the best drop shippers, provide the marketing expertise to include creating a video to put it on YouTube, show us how to get our business on the first page of a Yahoo or Google search, give
us 6 months of training on their site that would extend up to a year if we need be, that we would have weekly meetings and unlimited access to our assigned representative, and finally, as he had stated, ALS would also teach us how to
do all these things so that we could do the next website by ourselves. I told him that the number one reason I agreed to their terms was because they where going to build us a working business website and have us making money in 3
weeks. I told him that if we had been pitched anything near what he has just told me, training only, there is no way in the world I would of agreed paying $10,000.00 for this?
I then asked, Just what services is My Supplier Source providing me? He told me that they were the ones that built and
marketed the website including the video I had referred to. They were also the ones responsible for finding our drop shippers. I told him that ALS promised everything he had just said My Supplier Source did for us. I told him that what
he was now telling me that My Supplier Source did the majority of the work that ALS sold me on in the beginning. I told him MSS was never even mentioned during any of the sales presentation. In fact, we did not even know that My Supplier
Source even existed until 3 weeks into the program, and then, at an additional expense of $9,500.00 which was not quoted to us when the program was being pitched. I told him that in no way would we have agreed to dish out another $9,500.00 if we would have been told this up front instead of being misled into believing that Advanced Learning Systems was providing all these services and then laying this on us when ALS had us thousands of dollars in debt. I then asked him the same question I asked my coach, Trevor, weeks earlier, Just what is the relationship between Advanced Learning Systems and My Supplier Source? He told me that they were separate companies. Then I remarked, Trevor was the one who presented My Supplier Source to me and insisted I needed them in order to be successful.
Trevor also guided me through signing onto the MSS website so that I could pay the fee and trained me on the MSS system as well as handled my complaints when I was unhappy with the results I was getting from MSS. He then stated that They are a separate company but that they worked in the same building hand and hand with each other on a daily basis. I feel this was a fact that was withheld from me when I asked Trevor this same question. I believe this was
done so this information wouldnt get in the way when he was selling me on My Source Supplier. Again, this is a perfect example of how ALS tells half-truths in order to manipulate their clients for their benefit. Obviously, if Trevor would
of told me what this guy just did, I wouldnt of believed the separate company bit and would of confronted him of trying to pile on expenses and lying to my wife and I in the beginning. Finally, I asked him If that what ALS meant by us
making money in 3 weeks was nothing more that us just selling our own property on eBay? His response was straight up Yes. At this point I lost my temper and lashed out What do you think we are, a store? Were out of property to
sale and out of money! I took a deep breath and recomposed myself. I told him that I was told just the opposite by Trevor Ship when he first suggested me going out on eBay in our first session. I told him if we had known that the
money they were referring to so many times during their sales pitch as well as the coaching sessions was going to come from selling our own property on eBay, I would of laughed and hung up. I cant call this anything other than what it is,
a direct lie to mislead us and conceal the truth from my wife and I purely for the benefit of ALS at our expense. I also deeply believe they should be held responsible for these types of shady and maybe even criminal tactics. During
the whole conversation with this ALS rep, he never once addressed any of my grievances, act surprise, apologize, or show any emotion or concern about what I had just expressed to him? In fact his response was just dead silence on the other side. I got the feeling he was a real rookie and had probably been thrown into this situation unprepared by ALS management. I asked him if he had anything else to say to me and all I got was silence, so I hung up. I have to say that I have never in my 58 years of living had such a bizarre call from anyone I had done business with?
I then called my credit company up and explained to them what had just transpired. They, unlike the ALS employee, did show concern and offer me some advice. They explained to me what information I needed gather for my dispute. I had a fair amount of information to get together as well as a lot to say, so I expressed my concern about a time limit. They told me a couple of weeks would be fine but if I needed more, to just keep them in the loop. I thanked them and went to work.
Shortly after turning in all my documentation to the Chase disputes department, which holds my VISA account, I received a call from Mr. Chazib Kahn, who identified himself as the Disputes Manager handling my case. I discussed with him many of the facts I have stated in this document. He asked if I would be willing to do a 3-way with him, an ALS representative,
and myself. I told him I would be happy to. A few days later I received a call from Mr. Kahn saying that the meeting had been set up and he gave me a time and date of when to expect his call.
When the call came Mr. Kahn introduced himself, the ALS Rep, and myself. I do not remember all the time, date, and name specifics. However, Mr. Kahn stated the meeting was being recorded so I am sure he has all this information. The ALS Rep, who I do remember was a female, started out by saying that the last time someone from ALS had contacted me about my complaint, that I had been totally uncooperative and difficult to work with. This floored me so I asked her how she could come to that conclusion? She said this is what she had been told. I asked her if she had received my report? Mr. Kahn stepped in and said he had sent a copy to ALS and asked if she had received it? She seemed a little confused by this question and it sounded like she was shuffling papers around trying to find something. Finally, she said, Yes, I have it. I asked her if she had read it? She kind of stuttered around but never responded to my question either way. So I went through the final call I received from them describing it just like I have here. Her exact words to what I felt were a rather bizarre phone call from an ALS employee was Well, thats unfortunate. I then set out and started
addressing my many grievances, all which have been outlined here. I want to note that while I was trying to explain my grievances, the ALS Rep would interrupt and dispute what I was saying before I even got it out of my mouth.
It got so bad that I finally had to ask her to let me finish my statements without interruption. However, she continued to interrupt me. Finally, Mr. Kahn stepped in and asked her to allow me to speak as I had allowed her. However, this didnt stop her so I just continued, ignoring her the best I could. I explained to her that what I was getting is not what I was told I was going to get and what I paid for. That I was not making money in 3 weeks as promised several times by ALS, that it appeared they sold me a course on how to use eBay, which also was never mentioned during their presentation and denied several times by ALS employees when asked about. I told her the work her company said they were going to do was actually being done by another company which also was never mentioned during the presentation, and that they had tacked on one charge after another for work they said they were going to perform but was actually being performed by others. At no time did she deny these charges nor did she respond to a single concern I raised. More than once, Mr. Khan would step in and try to encourage the ALS Rep to reach some type of mutual settlement. The ALS Rep would have nothing to do with this. Her only position throughout the meeting was that we (ALS) would be happy to continue to work with me, but ALS would not be giving any money back. I let her know that selling me one product and giving me a complete different one after you had my money was not going to be solved by more Coaches Meetings, that I had no problems with my coach, Trevor Shipp, in terms of personality or us getting along with each other. I thought he was a
nice enough guy but that what he was teaching me was not what I had been told I was getting and had paid for. This meeting continued for an hour and 10 minutes before Mr. Kahn finally gave up on getting any type of meaningful negotiation started. And ended the 3-way.
About 20 minutes later I received another call from Mr. Kahn. He told me that he wanted to give me a refund and asked me what I would be willing to settle on. I told him that I didnt feel I owed anything to My Supplier Source because I had received nothing from them. They never found me a drop shipper which means I had no business in which to build a website around and hence, nothing to market. He was agreeable to this $9,500.00 refund. I told him about all I was willing to pay ALS was $350.35 of the $9,350.35 I was charged. I told him I based this on the 2 hours and 20 minutes, or 150 minutes, of training time I had received. I told him that considering what I mostly received was instruction on how to use eBay, which no one really needs and was told was not even part of the program on more than one occasion, that
this was more than fair and amounted to more than $2.00 a minute. Mr. Kahn thought that was fair also. Mr. Khans biggest concern was that if he issued a refund that ALSs bank would come back and request it be charged back and
possibly get it. He asked me to send him more information. He asked for a letter stating what I received and what I hadnt received from ALS. He also asked that I look at other companies and see what they charge for the same type
of services. He also wanted to know about any complaint history. He also wanted the contract I had with ALS. I told him I would gather this and send it to him.
I have included all this information with this documentation. I have not received a response from Mr. Kahn as of yet and am not aware of any refund to date. To the best of my knowledge, and I have verified this, the charges are still under dispute and are still temporarily suspended from my monthly charge.
I have included a few pages of testimonials from several different websites and have highlighted the areas that are identical to what we experienced. There are far too many to believe this is just a coincident or isolated event. It appears many others have been scammed by this company to the tune of thousands of dollars. However, they have seemed to raise their prices as they may have taken us for the most. In one story the victim actually completed the full six months without making a penny or seeing an end in site. ALS offered him another 6 months of training instead of a refund, as
if that would be of help? Another found ads for sales positions in the local papers but no adds for marketers, web designers, programmers, business or financial experts. Storys like this scare us and make us believe that at the
end of the process, regardless to how hard we work at it, we will have nothing to show for it. All indication to date leads us to believe that they couldnt perform the technical work even if they wanted to. I have not seen one piece of
evidence of having expertise in anything other than hard selling. Even my training coach has shown us nothing but how to use eBay. EBay is built for ease of use and already teaches any novice how to use it for free and they do it
much better than ALS can. I went out to the ALS Facebook page and found a blank page with only their name on it. Nothing else? These people claim all sorts of Internet business expertise, yet they have taken the time to remove everything you get automatically created when you register for a Facebook account? Its as if they dont want you to know who they are, what they do, or how to find them?
One more incident I would like to convey. Remember the DOBA Integration webinar Trevor told me to ignore when he was assigning me the webinar classes to watch? A few days after my last contact with ALS I got a couple of emails from a company named Doba. I briefly looked at them but they were a company that located products for people with sales websites, or something of that nature. The next day I got a call from a man who identified himself as from Doba. He wanted to know what I thought about their program and how could they help me be profitable? I asked him where he got my name and number?
He said from Advanced Learning Systems. I told him I was no longer doing business with ALS. He told me he was unaware of that and if I changed my mind to please feel free to call him. Unbelievable! I guess it never does stop?
In conclusion, I guess you can call me a sucker. I doubt if I will ever listen or trust another Internet company again. At a
minimal, I will not be pressured and rushed into signing a contract before I do my own research, even if I do lose the sales price? I have been ripped off before for a few dollars here and a few dollars there, but nothing to the tune
of $20,000.00! We just paid this months bills and have enough money left over to last a month, maybe two if we are tight? We are even considering if bankruptcy may be in our best interest if we cannot get our money back? This
whole affair has weighed heavily on my family and I to the point of making me sick. That people exist like this and
operate openly in our country without being held accountable floors us both? I could understand a little misunderstanding or difference of opinion but this is nothing of the nature. Our only hope may be that this letter gets in the hands of the right person who can do something to help us get our money back. At a minimal, I hope that we can at least prevent someone else from going through this type of gut retching experience. I am more than willing to take a lie
detectors test to anything I have stated in this letter. Are the people who interviewed us from ALS willing to do the same? I also have all the emails sent to me from ALS and from me to ALS, which will corroborate our story. Please, if
there were anything you can do to help us recover from this scam, we would be deeply in your debt. Thank you for the time to look at our problem.
Michael and Ethelma S