• Report: #197461

Complaint Review: IPA - International Profit Associates - IBA - International Business Associates

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  • Submitted: Wed, June 21, 2006
  • Updated: Mon, December 24, 2007

  • Reported By:Buffalo Grove Illinois
IPA - International Profit Associates - IBA - International Business Associates
1250 Barclay Blvd Buffalo Grove, Illinois U.S.A.
  • Phone: 800-531 9585
  • Web:
  • Category: Employers

IPA - International Profit Associates - IBA - International Business Associates Don't work for IPA-IBA! Dishonest employment practices sexual harassment pyramid scheme phone harassment telemarketing consulting business survey ripoff scam, swindling Buffalo Grove Illinois
*UPDATE: Rip-off Report Investigation - International Profit Associates recognized by Rip-off Report as a safe business service - IPA pledges to resolve all complaints, 100% commitment to customer service and satisfaction, feel confident and secure when doing business with IPA

*Consumer Comment: Trent, You have got to be kidding!!

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: take off the rose colored glasses. How about checking out John Burgess? He is a convicted felon, a sex offender and a disbarred attorney in New York and Illinois...

*UPDATE Employee: IPA is a GREAT Company doing a lot of good

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Working as a telemarketer at IPA, Part 3

*Author of original report: Working as a telemarketer at IPA, Part 2

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Working as a telemarketer at IPA, Part 1

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This is a warning to anyone who is considering applying for a job with International Profit Associates (IPA), International Business Analysis (IBA), or any of its affiliates.

I know this post is very long, but believe me if you read it, you'll be thankful that you learned all this information before actually taking a job with that company.

DO NOT accept employment from these scammers. This company perpetrates large scale fraud on its customers. IPA-IBA is also abusive to its employees, and incompetent (at the very least) to accurately process the commissions for its employees' sales. They will promise you stellar sales rates, income in the six figures, huge bonuses, company cars and much much more, but these are all lies. You'll most likely never make more than minimum wage working for them as a "business coordinator" (fancy name for a telemarketer). As an IPA-IBA "senior area manager" (local sales rep) you'll spend hours on the road traveling to meetings with business owners under false pretenses and have to employ bullying, high-pressure tactics to obtain a close. As an IPA-IBA analyst or consultant, you'll be using your knowledge of business to swindle innocent small business owners, compromising your morals and ethics on a daily basis just to make a living.

I was a BC (telemarketer) for IPA-IBA and I can tell you from first-hand experience that this is not a place where you want to work. This company is nothing more than a highly sophisticated, nationwide fraud scheme which operates on a "churn-and-burn" philosophy with regards to the territory they prospect in and the people they employ. They chew up their employees (and their clients) and spit them out afterward. Very few people can tolerate working in an environment like IPA-IBA for very long, so the turnover rate is extremely high. Most employees stick around no longer than a week or two before quitting.

To clarify things a bit, let me describe my employment with this company, from the start. The interview process at IPA-IBA is conducted in a fairly nice looking office in a low-rise building in the Chicago suburbs. The interviewers have a soft touch, and act very professional and respectful. They listen patiently and dispense information about the company in a very judicious manner. During the interview, they may cultivate the impression that your employment is not guaranteed, but believe me, this company will hire anybody. Poor employment history, bogus references, extensive criminal record, IPA-IBA doesn't care, as long as they can exploit you to make some money. For a BC (telemarketer) position, many of the applicants are actually drug addicts living in halfway-houses or prisoners on work release programs, under immediate pressure to find a job, in exchange for a measure of personal freedom and the promise of quick, easy cash.

So after the interview, the in-house paid training program begins. Training pays $8 an hour, as long as you show up for both days and then work at the company for at least a full week. Your actual on-the-job pay is even less, starting at $7 per hour. After 4 weeks, you'll be taking a .50 per hour pay cut, dropping your hourly wage down to the $6.50 national minimum.

During training, you'll spend 2 6-hour days in a room that resembles a junior college classroom, listening to a lot of fanciful talk about the fabulously wealthy John Burgess and his wonderful $250,000,000.00 business creation, IPA-IBA. You'll be told that you can easily make thousands of dollars per week as long as you work hard on the phones and aren't afraid to put in a little overtime (unpaid, of course). After all, you're not working for $7 an hour, you're working to earn commission! Hell yeah, that's where the real money is... The top BC's at IPA make well over $100,000 a year, and you can, too!

You'll see videos of former presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton giving glowing speeches about the company. However, you won't be told about the millions of dollars that were paid to their campaign funds in exchange for their glowing praise. You'll be told that the average small business owner is doomed by his own incompetence and egotism, and that IPA-IBA is there to rescue him and show him the way to run his business at a huge profit.

In training, they reveal roughly how the system works, right up to the point where you supposedly get paid, but you're never given any details about what happens after the business owner actually becomes a "client" of IPA-IBA. I have found that even after working there for several months, I still had no clue what happens after a business owner was contracted by the sales rep and "sold." The trainers and managers at IPA-IBA are highly dismissive of skeptical questions. Many important details about my employment there were never revealed in training, for instance we were never told about our our .50 pay cut, that the odds of actually making money were heavily inflated, or that telemarketing to these business owners is a hell of a lot harder than they say it is.

One thing they do tell in training that should immediately raise a red flag to anyone who's ever worked in sales: You are not actually selling anything, yet the lion's share of your money is supposed to come from "commissions." How then, you may ask, do you make commissions?

Well, the IPA-IBA business coordinator (telemarketer) cold-calls small businesses throughout the US and Canada, trying to set appointments for local sales reps. The sales reps in turn enter the place of business selling the services of a "business survey analyst," another salesman whose job it is to come in at the business owner's expense, find problems with their operation and soften them up for the big kill. Until the survey analyst arrives at the place of business to do his job, you don't get paid. In other words, your commission is dependent not only on you doing your job, but on the sales rep making a sale, and also on the survey analyst talking his way in the door. If the business owner gets cold feet and decides not to go ahead with the survey analysis, you don't get paid and neither does the sales rep. It works much like a classic MLM pyramid scheme. Look at the IPA-IBA corporate logo. It's a pyramid! Pretty obvious, eh? Actually, I feel like an idiot for ignoring all the signs, but I needed a job badly at the time, so I worked there temporarily.

Looking back, I realize that training at IPA-IBA is just like everything else at IPA-IBA, a carefully worded sales pitch with no real value and very little useful information at all.

I'll post again soon, and describe for you the working conditions at IPA-IBA.

Anonymous Ex-BC
Buffalo Grove, Illinois
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/21/2006 12:02 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/IPA-International-Profit-Associates-IBA-International-Business-Associates/Buffalo-Grove-Illinois-60089-4500/IPA-International-Profit-Associates-IBA-International-Business-Associates-Dont-work-197461. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

Trent, You have got to be kidding!!

AUTHOR: Jim - (U.S.A.)

Trent,

I worked at IPA for 3 months as a Senior Business Analyst ( a better name would be salesman). I was instructed in training that no matter the financial situation of the company I would be calling upon that they needed our help. That all business owners were too dumb to stay in business for extended periods of time. When meeting with the business owner I was supposed to "drop bombs" or scare the owner into thinking that without our help they were doomed. The end result was to have the business owner begging us for our consultants to come in and save the day. This would ensure that the business owner would let the "GO" (a term for selling the the owner to have consultants come in) run the entire course.

When calling in to my supervisor, Brent, I was spoken to nicely and courteously whenever the sale was made. If the "Go" was not accomplished I was sworn at and degraded. This was extremely annoying when the day before I would catch a three hour flight, arrive at the airport, rent a car, drive two hours to the business owner's town, spend the night in a cheap hotel ( our per diem was $90 a day, which was to cover the rental car and the hotel) arrive at the appointment the next morning and the owner explains that he cancelled the appointment the day before at noon with someone in the corporate office. If I wasn't able to persuade him into changing his mind and letting the survey run (this is where I would ask all of the set up questions and look over the books) then I was told by Brent that I didn't know how to do my job.

Not only is IPA a scam for the business owner (who is provided boiler plate material by the consultants) but also for the employees. I of course was promised huge commissions.

I have read every complaint on this website regarding IPA and would venture to say that the overwhelming majority of them are correct. If you are doing well within the company then you get to live with yourself.
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

take off the rose colored glasses. How about checking out John Burgess? He is a convicted felon, a sex offender and a disbarred attorney in New York and Illinois...

AUTHOR: Disillusioned - (U.S.A.)

To the current employee of IPA - take off the rose colored glasses and look around. For every person who decides to post on this board, there are at least five or six others who either are unaware of this board or simply wish to move on with things.

You say to check out the person who started this report. How about checking out John Burgess? He is a convicted felon, a sex offender and a disbarred attorney in two states (NY and IL). He was convicted of misappropriating client funds in Erie County New York (Buffalo) in 1988 and was subsequently disbared in New York. He was also convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor. He later moved to the Chicago area and was also disbarred in Illinois.

Read some of the things that have been written about John Burgess over the years and perhaps you might get a different picture of him. Also did you know that the United States Chamber of Commerce has warned Mr. Burgess and IPA about misrepresenting that organization in their dealings? Some of those items have been mentioned in some of the postings on this report and you can find others simply by googling the company.

Perhaps you are also unaware of the ongoing class action lawsuit filed under RICO that is moving through the courts. If not, then check out www.ipalawsuit.com and read the documents posted there. A judge has recently denied IPA's motion to dismiss the suit so that lawsuit has merit. This lawsuit is growing every day as more businesses that have been fleeced by IPA are joining it as plaintiffs.

Prior to its collapse in a mountain of scandal and greed, Enron had many people defending them as a great company. Yet as soon as the cooked books and shenaigans at that company came into the light, Enron collapsed faster than a house of cards. The same will happen with IPA.

One major difference is that Enron was a publicly traded company while IPA is a privately held company not bound by all the auditing and reporting regulations of a public company. I seriously doubt whether IPA actually makes that much money and no doubt their company books are as cooked as a thanksgiving turkey.
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#3 UPDATE Employee

IPA is a GREAT Company doing a lot of good

AUTHOR: Trent - (U.S.A.)

I must rebut the ignorant comments, half-truths, and outright lies I've read about IPA. Having spent a little over three months as an employee of IPA, my experience is that the people of IPA are some of the most professional, compassionate, and dedicated people you will ever find.

Having been confronted with some of the ridiculous charges of sexism, harassment, and so forth, I took it upon myself to research whether these charges were in fact true. I determined to severe my employment with IPA if these charges were true. In fact, I learned that the charges against IPA were at worst anomalies, and frankly found a great deal of information concerning Ed Magedson and the extortion attempts he and his cronies have inflicted not only against IPA, but against many other companies across our great Nation.

I've also chosen to interview various employees of IPA on my own. Many upper level people at IPA are ladies, and the rest are gentlemen. A genuine concern for the business owners we serve is readily apparent to anyone who knows any of the people at IPA. People who are dedicated and intelligent and talented enough to thrive in a challenging business consistently absolutely love IPA, what we do for our clients, and love their work. I've met with a former Army helicopter pilot, a single mom, a divorced woman in her 60s, and a divorced man who moved across the country to be nearer to his children - with IPA's assistance. All of these people have attained excellent income, high professional ethics, and all of them express a genuine compassion for and satisfaction from helping to improve the lives of business owners, as well as the lives of their families and their employees. And all of them express genuine admiration for the privilege of working with the caring, diverse, interesting, positive people who are IPA.

Yes, IPA will give people a chance to work there. That's a good thing. People who've had misfortune in their past get a chance to do better with hard work, humility, and perseverance in pursuit of excellence in their job performance. If they are not willing to take advantage of the thoroughly professional training and high ethical, moral, and professional standards constantly pursued by IPA, then that is a personal weakness of that person, NOT of IPA in general.

IPA's charitable arm supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which saved the life of one of my daughters. IPA also supports the Salvation Army and many other worthy charities.

The president of IPA serves on the small business committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce, and the founder of IPA received the Ronald Reagan "Entrepreneur of the Year" award for 2005, and was listed as one of the top business people for 2003 by the Business Advisory Council, as published in the Wall Street Journal.

In January 1997, IPA was recognized The Business Ledger, a Chicago area business newspaper, for growing the business at a phenomenal rate by way of its "Client First" approach to doing business.

Business owners - by contract - do NOT have to pay for a thorough, reasonably priced analysis of their business by an experienced professional unless the business owner deems that the job was done in a satisfactory manner. Will the analyst offer to provide additional services to the business owner? Of course! That's what businesses do, for cryin' out loud! Does someone get angry if a fast food order take offers an additional menu item to you? Not unless they are an absolute jerk!

The publisher of Ripoff Report is the object of numerous lawsuits across the country for slander, defamation, and more. Do a search on Ed Magedson for yourself, as I did, to get an idea of how the sleazy accusations against many reputable companies have been followed by offers to "repair" the reputations of those companies - for a fee. That is extortion. In fact, Mr. Ed Magedson has eluded authorities for many years while making his money by tearing down others. One company paid $2 million to 'clean up' the false charges against them, only to be ripped off by the publisher of the ripoff report. IPA executives had the backbone to refuse to pay the ripoff report the extortion money. I say "more power to them!"

Is IPA or any other company going to be absolutely perfect at all times? Only the seriously naive would believe that. No company is going to be perfect as long as human beings work in them. And of course without human beings, the company is literally dead.

I actually complained about the actions of one particular employee at IPA several weeks ago. He was reprimanded within 24 hours, and counseled about what he had done. He took the reprimand well and is working in a conscientious manner. This is in fact an indication of a very health corporate culture, and I respect that very deeply. I'm the new kid on the block who complained about an action of someone in management, and I was heard, respected, and feel deeply appreciated by all concerned. What more could I ask?

In summary, IPA is an excellent company providing real benefit and value to tens of thousands of business owners each year. The supportive, compassionate, encouraging environment at IPA makes me glad to be a new part of the team and pleased to be associated with such high-quality people who work hard at delivering excellence and improving the lives of literally millions of American workers each year.

Lest you think this is written by some naive person, please know that my Dad was a business owner most of his adult life; my cousin founded one of the largest and most respected chains of hotels in the world, I have served as a local community leader in my home town of over a million people, have served five years as director of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Council for an association of about 140 churches, have served two terms as an officer of a State-wide association of ministers reaching out to small groups of needy people, and I posess college, graduate, and professional education. I've taught accredited classes to licensed professionals working towards their professional degrees. My history includes spending several years as a public speaker, consultant, and solo concert artist, as well as owning my own business through which over 400 professionals conducted some or all of their own businesses.

When I accepted the job offer from IPA, I owned my own business, and had two other job offers open to me at the time. At this point, I'm glad I accepted IPA's offer.
If I stay with IPA for another year or for a couple of decades, my experience is that these are people worthy of respect, appreciation, and admiration.

Statements to the contrary are most likely written by people who do not know this company, or who couldn't or wouldn't rise the the professional standards and are not willing to be honest about what really happened. IPA is a great company.
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#4 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Working as a telemarketer at IPA, Part 3

AUTHOR: Undercover - (U.S.A.)

A portion of this report has been culled from a rebuttal that I originally submitted a few months ago for another Rip-Off Reoprt. I am resubmitting that information here because I feel that it presents a pretty good idea of the culture and ambience within this company:

The corporate culture at IPA is extremely sleazy and is based solely on greed. Top-producing BCs are worshipped almost like pop stars, their names bandied about on a daily basis and their stats cited by managers and trainers.

All the BCs in the telemarketing division are ranked monthly according to their performance, and a list of the top 85 BCs is posted prominently in the office, to stimulate morale. There are rankings for most appointments set, most sales resulting those appointments, most sales resulting in "GOes" (meaning that the business owner was sold on consulting services after the initial survey was completed), largest total annual sales volume of companies sold, etc.

I was told by one of my managers that "The numbers speak louder than words," and that pretty much sums it up. Any amount of abuse and disruption will be tolerated from the "top performers," as long as they rake in the bucks, yet the newbies are treated like reform school kids. Managers are constantly yelling and threatening the BCs.

One day I was talking in measured tones with another BC while one of the highest-ranking BCs was on the phone in a nearby cubicle pitching to a business owner, and this guy slammed down the phone and started yelling at me at the top of his voice in the middle of the busy office. When I complained to my manager about this, he said, "Well, he's one of our top BCs. He can afford to be an ***hole." In another incident, a fistfight occurred right in the telemarketing office between two BCs. Both were fired, but the one who'd been there the longest (and had a better sales record) was re-hired shortly thereafter.

In this environment, the top BCs are praised and given free lunches, asked to give speeches to the new recruits in the training seminar, their names are posted prominently at the top of the performance lists, there are special plaques all over the walls proclaiming their greatness with their pictures beside John Burgess himself in his slick tuxedo.

All over the offices in the telemarketing division there are large posterboard placards with inspirational slogans lettered on them. "Do not let the failures of the past distract you from the opportunities of the present," "Obstacles are the frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal," "Nobody plans to fail, they just FAIL to PLAN!" "You must have a VIOLENT determination to succeed!" etc., etc.

Every week or two, the telemarketing office holds contests for most appointments set in a day, a week, 2 weeks, etc. Usually, the prize is something like a coupon to see a movie, or pair of tickets to a sporting event. For a shot at these cheap-ass "incentives," some of the BCs will sacrifice all their free time for days on end, putting in 12-hour shifts on the phones (while of course getting paid for only 6 hours per day).

Whenever a field sale is made, the rep calls in the news to the telemarketing office, where it is recorded prominently on a large markerboard. When this happens, the manager responsible for that rep's area will usually announce it in a loud yell to the entire telemarketing office floor. Other managers respond with loud whoops and shouts: "YEAH!" "ANOTHER SALE, BABY!" These obnoxious displays of enthusiasm are laughable and obvioulsly forced. More than once, I was on the phone when this happened and I had to wonder what the person on the other end was thinking.

All the artificial exhuberance constantly being generated throughout the office has the effect of creating a strangely desperate atmosphere. When talking with business owners on the phone, the true nature of the company became painfully apparent. The BCs would say that "We've just opened a new office in your area" to business owners who have been receiving solicitations from IPA for many years. They would be making the most outrageous claims about the scope of the services IPA provides, including "finding better employees," "profits engineering," "networking within your industry to bring you more business." IPA is NOT a headhunter, nor a market research firm, nor a job broker.

There was a joke around the office that IPA really stands for "I'll Promise Anything."

Among the employees at IPA, there's an atmosphere of denial regarding the ethics of the company's business practices. When you spend your entire day calling business owners at random all over the same town, you will inevitably come upon a few here and there who've had prior experience with IPA and are not too shy to tell you about it. Out of all of these, I never had a business owner give me a glowing review of his IPA experience and welcome us back into his office. Every time I have spoken with a business owner who's dealt with us, the impression was the same, "I know all about your company. We've dealt with you before. Don't ever call me again."

When I asked my managers about these kinds of replies, their response was inevitably the same. They said, "Do you know how many dissastisfied customers a company like Sears has, or Best Buy? We have served over 15,000 companies in the past few years. Of course there are going to be a few who will claim to have had trouble with us. Besides, if they've hired us for consulting and failed to follow our recommendations, of course they're going to be unhappy with the results! Just don't worry about it. They're probably lying. They've probably never even dealt with us anyway!"

Most of the other IPA employees I've talked to about this would just laugh and say, "Yeah, that's IPA!"

One business owner told me, "IPA, huh? Yeah, buddy, you tell your guy to come on in here tomorrow. I wanna have a few words with that boy. Y'all's company took me for $25,000 last year! You send him in here!"

When an appointment is made with a business owner, it goes through a "confirmation" process. A 2nd telemarketer (the "confirmer") will call the company back, attempt to speak with the business owner, and verify all the information about the company that was initially taken down by the BC (including the company's address, the owner's name, the number of employees, the company's yearly gross revenues, etc). Sometimes, if the business owner sounds too friendly and is a bit too forthcoming with all this information, the confirmer will become suspicious and the lead will be flagged as a possible "set-up." This means it is suspected that the business owner has endured so many cold-calls, he has finally decided to take action and will be waiting for the sales rep with the police in his place of business, all ready to arrest him for phone harrassment! I have heard that this has happened quite a few times, and now the confirmers have a process in place to deal with this possibility.

As to the stories of drugs being dealt in the telemarketing office, yes, it's true. I've witnessed it. Although I have never partaken of it myself (I personally feel that being high at a job like telemarketing for IPA is a waste of good dope) I have seen the bags being exchanged, the joints being rolled in the cubicles, the long group walks in the parking lot during breaktime... There are even a few cases of hard drugs being used on company time. One guy was reportedly shooting up in one of the bathroom stalls when he dropped his syringe on the floor, in full view of the washroom attendant (who is actually more of a security guard, placed there primarily to make sure that nobody spends too long away from his desk and phone). That employee was escorted out of the building and fired. Another girl caught nodding at her cubicle was escorted out, but allowed to return tthe following day, since no actual drugs were found on her person. I have been told stories of top BCs snorting lines of cocaine at their cubicles with no negative repercussions whatsoever. There are lots of people around that place who certainly act like they're high on something, but it might just be the effect of all the money they're making, or that certain IPA magic in the air.
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#5 Author of original report

Working as a telemarketer at IPA, Part 2

AUTHOR: Undercover - (U.S.A.)

Note: In IPA-IBA parlance, the terms "business coordinator" and its acronym "BC" are used to mean "telemarketer." To avoid confusion, please note that in this report, these terms will be used interchangeably.

At IPA-IBA, telemarketers do not actually sell the company's services. BCs set the appointments for the sales reps to come in to the business. The sales rep meets the business owner in person and then attempts to sell him on IPA's survey analysis service. The survey analysts, in turn, sell the consulting services, which are the real "bread-and-butter" of the corporation.

This multi-leveled sales structure is important for the BCs to understand, because commissions and other financial incentives are not awarded to the BCs unless the sales reps and survey analysts perform as well.

For example, if you were a BC and you worked your ass off this week to set 50 appointments (that's an awful lot), you won't get a single dollar in commission unless 2 additional sales are made: 1) One of the sales reps manages to sell one of those 50 companies on a survey analysis, and then: 2) The survey analyst manages to meet with the business owner on the survey date and run the survey. If either one of these guys fails to make a sale, the BC doesn't get his commission.

The reality of the situation is that on average, the number of appointments that actually pay off is very small, maybe 1 in every 10-20. On average, it probably takes between 100-300 phone calls to equal one appointment, depending on many factors (including which city you're calling).

This is why telemarketing at IPA-IBA is described by the management as a "numbers game" where the more companies you call, the more appointments you set, the better your chances of making commission. This setup is devised to coerce BCs to setting as many appointments as humanly possible in the hopes that a few of them per week will pan out. The idea is to foster a "goal oriented" mind-set in the employee.

I'm sure you can understand why business owners in an IPA target market complain so much about phone harrassment. Another factor that makes it difficult for the BCs to obtain sales commissions is that the same companies are being called multiple times every day. In a major calling area (usually a large city, with many small businesses) there are usually many sales reps working, with overlapping territories. Therefore, there are many many telemarketers calling the businesses in that area every single day, trying to set appointments for multiple sales reps who all work for IPA-IBA.

This may seem counterproductive, but IPA-IBA operates on the philosophy that if you make the job competitive enough and make the incentives large enough, you'll attract the hungriest, most agrressive sales people and that will benefit the company in the long run. This is what is meant by a "churn-and-burn" approach. There is no interest in cultivating long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with either clients or employees. If an employee is unhappy, let him quit the job. If a client is unhappy, threaten them with legal action. There will always be poor people who need a job and gullible business owners to use as marks. IPA-IBA will get their money one way or another.

As I've said before, the corporate culture at IPA is driven entirely by greed. Every level of management encourages and feeds upon the greed of the level below it. Cash incentives are dangled above the heads of the BCs to entice them into working many hours per week beyond what they're paid for. It's a vicious pyramid, with John Burgess sitting at the top, raking in the money.

Few IPA telemarketers ever learn to make a decent living on their commissions, and the ones who do have to become proficient at lying and cheating. What's worse, commission is paid AGAINST hourly wage, not in addition to it. In other words, you get paid EITHER your hourly pay OR your commission, whichever is larger. The hourly wage for a BC is pitifully small. IPA pays its telemarketers $7 per hour to start, and after 4 weeks the pay scale drops to $6.50 per hour. Regardless of how many hours an IPA telemarketer may work, she is only paid for a maximum of 6 hours per day. Some BCs at IPA-IBA regularly work from 7 AM to 6 PM every day, in the hopes of making commissions on their next check.

It's a pay scale for the lottery-ticket crowd. Most of the IPA telemarketers come from a background of extreme poverty. Many of the BCs become so conditioned by this ravenous environment, that they will even work 12-hour days while only getting paid for 6 hours, in the hopes of making a few commissions and getting the "big bucks."

The IPA telemarketers are treated by their managers like children or prisoners. If a BC doesn't respond to the IPA corporate atmosphere in the intended way, the managers resort to threats and bullying. I have heard managers tell their employees that if they leave for the day without making a certain number of appointments, they'll be placed on probation or suspended. Some managers even require their BCs to notify them before leaving their desks to use the washroom!

The really sad part from the perspective of employment is that many of the IPA telemarketers are trying to raise families on the income they get from this job, and are working hard to shoot for more money without realizing how badly they're getting screwed. Most of them are working longer hours--while getting paid less--than an average high-school kid working at a McJob.

IPA-IBA has a phemonenally high turn-over rate. Two training classes are held per week, with 20-50 new BCs in each. That means that there are some 40-100 new telemarketers coming into the company every week. Most of them quit within a week or two. Within 3 months there may be one or two still working at IPA.
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#6 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Working as a telemarketer at IPA, Part 1

AUTHOR: Undercover - (U.S.A.)

Note: IN IPA-IBA parlance, the terms "business coordinator" and its acronym "BC" are used to mean "telemarketer." To avoid any confusion, please note that in this report, these will be used interchangeably.

After finishing the paid training program, BCs at IPA are expected to show up on Monday morning dressed in "business casual" attire, ready for work.

For some reason, IPA makes a big deal about dress code, even for telemarketers who will never be seen by a client. They require all their male BCs to wear oxford style button-down shirts and ties, and dress slacks or khakis. Women are given the option of wearing dresses or slacks, but are not allowed to display bare midriffs or wear extremely short skirts. No jeans, sweats or athletic clothing or shoes are allowed. Many BCs seem to get away with certain liberties regarding the dress code, but for the most part the telemarketing office employees are dressed in shirts and ties.

I don't quite understand this aspect of IPA's corporate culture. The managers and trainers say that John Burgess believes that if someone dresses in a professional, businesslike attire, then professionalism in attitude and performance will result. If anything, IPA/IBA is a perfect case scenario proving the exact opposite! The best reason I can figure for this emphasis on dressing up is to create a positive impression of the IPA - IBA workforce and to hide the BCs' ghetto upbringing, should Mr. Burgess decide to take an esteemed visitor on a tour of his facilities.

On a BC's first 2 days, he or she is put into a kind of on-the-job training situation. A working BC is chosen by one of the managers to train the fledgling BC, and the trainee is then placed in a nearby cubicle and told to listen to the BC's pitch.

The working BC also gives specific tips and instruction to the trainees, concerning how to talk to the secretaries and screeners they'll be dealing with in order to get the business owners on the phone. Basically, this is a crash-course on the finer points of lying and pretexting (creating false impressions) to obfuscate the nature of the call. The reason for lying is to fool the secretary into believing that it's a legitimate business call which the owner will be interested in receiving.

IPA requires its telemarketerss to speak directly with business owners when setting appointments for the sales reps, because that better ensures that the owner will be on the premises the following day at the prescribed time when the sales rep comes by.

The IPS telemarketers employ a host of tricks when calling different kinds of businesses. When calling a building contractor, for instance, they identify IPA as "a development firm." When speaking with manufacturing companies, they will say that IPA is an "industry resource firm." I was told that under no circumstances should I ever mention that IPA is a consulting firm (which is exactly what it officially purports to be).

This pattern of multileveled lying is a key part of IPA's success in swindling its marks: when talking to a secretary, the IPA BC may pretend to be a business collegue looking to speak with the ownwer; when talking to the business owner the BC will claim to be an industry insider looking to do business. The sales rep is misrepresented by the BC as a "Senior Area Manager" or "Senior Director."

When the sales rep shows up, he runs a sales pitch to mark for IPA's "Business Survey Analysis." The analysis is a clever ruse used to case the company for a possible fleecing, and frighten the small business owner enough to get the "consultants" in the door, etc, etc. These techniques have been specially devised over the years to increase the odds of obtaining access to business owners, then pressuring them into signing contracts authorizing IPA-IBA-ITA's services.


The commissions for BCs work like this. If a BC sets an appointment that results in a "sale," that means that the sales rep went into the place of business and successfully talked the owner into consenting to the "survey analysis" for a set fee to be collected upon the survey's completion. For the BC to get paid, the business owner must actually be present the following day, and meet personally with the survey analyst.

After a day or two in training with a working BC, the new BC has the option of either going on his own and trying to set appointments for a sales rep, or he can take an intermediate step known as the "T.O. program." At IPA-IBA, "T.O." stands for "Turn-Over," and it means that the new telemarketer (now known as a "T.O.'er") works in tandem with another, more experienced BC.

The T.O.'er places calls to businesses and attempts to obtain access to the business owner. Once contact with the owner is established, the T.O.'er hands the phone receiver over to the experienced BC, who then makes his pitch to the owner. In return for this service, in the event of a paying sale, the T.O.'er is paid a small bonus, taken out of the BC's commission.

The BC's incenvtive to work this way is that he will have many times the opportunities to run his pitch on different business owners as he would by just dialing on his own. Most of the top BC's at IPA employ multiple T.O.'ers, and wouldn't make anywhere near as much money without this team of dialers feeding them business owners all day long.

I'll follow this up with another report detailing the T.O Program and other aspects of working within the IPA telemarketing operation.
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