- Report: #71573
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Complaint Review: International Business Directories
International Business DirectoriesMouyal Corporate Group Montreal, Quebec Canada
International Business Directories The Mother Ship of World Wide Source, Ameri-source Publications, IT Data Direct, National Business Information Exchange and American Solutions Information? Montreal Quebec
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Your Tax Dollars at Work?!!! These Guys Even Scammed the Government!
How Pavlos Angelatos and the rest are connected is anybody's guess but there is certainly a pattern here. Read the following CBC transcript and you will learn how these entities not only scam small business people, but their own government's economic development programs! The bottom line is that all such entities are criminal activities. They have no authority to collect' the money they claim you owe them. They can only use their teleterrorist intimidation tactics to try to convince your bookkeeper that they are legitimate. Do not give in to their garbage. The law is clearly on your side.
From CBC Archives:
Air Date: April 10, 2001
Producer/Reporter: Peter Walsh | Researchers: Mike Gordon, Colman Jones
This is the tale of a Canadian telemarketer who has been the focus of hundreds of customer complaints and a police investigation. The complaints have been filed by businesses who wound up paying far more for office supplies than they were used to.
The company has never been charged. It's still in business with the help of your tax dollars.
December 2000. Montreal police move in on a huge Canadian telemarketing firm. The complaint: deceptive telemarketing practices aimed at businesses.
Here's how it works.
May Lee orders office supplies for a Calgary health food store. A telemarketer pretending to be the store's regular supplier sends paper for the credit card machines. But there's a problem. Lee never made an initial order.
Another problem: the cost. The store's regular supplier provided paper at one-quarter the price as this new supplier.
Now Lee is stuck with paper she doesn't want. What's worse, the company wants her to pay for its return.
"I wish there was no MSS," Lee told Marketplace.
MSS stands for Merchant Supply Services. It's one of 20 corporate names used by the telemarketer to sell office supplies. Other names the company uses:
* Merchant Transaction Supplies
* Commercial Business Supplies.
* International Business Directories
The business is run by Micheal Mouyal from an office tower in Montreal.
Mouyal has other offices in Canada, Barbados (now closed), the United States and Britian. He employs 1,200 people. Many say it's an empire built on deception. Mouyal's critics allege customers are fooled into buying overpriced office supplies.
The Canadian government gave him your money at the same time authorities in the United States wanted to shut him down.
Complaints pile up
The are more than 600 consumer complaints against the company. The complaint have piled up so heavily that it's difficult for Gus La Forge to keep track. La Forge is with Phone Busters, a police task force on telephone fraud. He says it's common for a telemarketer to use many different names. Phone Busters has more than 100 complaints about these companies.
"They're aggressive and they're out there to make money and they'll do it any which way they can," La Forge told Marketplace.
But why buy office paper over the telephone from a supplier you don't normally deal with? Barry Stratton, a former manager at a call centre that operated out of St. John's, says it's really quite simple. You lie. You make people believe you are their regular supplier.
"I was presenting a script," Stratton told Marketplace. "I was doing what I was told. It's drama."
The scam a dramatization
Stratton demonstrated his technique using scripts obtained by Marketplace. The first call is a cold call.
"We're doing a nationwide market analysis on which credit card machine is most widely used," Stratton said.
The telemarketer asks for the model number of the machine and records the name and address of the person on the phone.
Stratton says there was no market survey.
A few days later, another telemarketer follows up and talks specifics.
"How's the machine operating. Any paper jamming up? Are the receipts printing clearly?"
Stratton says the intention was to make people think that the caller was their regular supplier, calling to check on their machine.
Then, the telemarketer gets to the point:
"As a customer service what we ended up doing for your location in your area is we set aside one box at our old price."
Stratton says that's one of many lines used to mislead people. He told Marketplace he took the telemarketing job because he needed the money.
For years the telemarketer did business out of Connecticut. More than 100 complaints were filed against the company. The state investigated, alleging unfair trade practices. But the investigation ended because the company left the state.
That same month, November of 1999, governments in Canada gave the telemarketer public money. The federal government handed over $288,000 under the now discredited HRDC job fund.
In Newfoundland, the company qualified for a 10 year corporate tax holiday, a tax break worth $400,000 based on the promise to create jobs. A promise like that gets you the ear of a person like Beaton Tulk, the minister of Industry for Newfoundland. Tulk admits his government's screening missed the Connecticut investigation.
"Was there a criminal record? There was none. Was there a good credit rating? Yes the credit rating was good," Tulk told Marketplace. "All those things were put through a very rigorous process and none of those complaints showed up at the time."
Newfoundland may have been happy. But 4,000 kilometres away, officials in Florida were not. From Connecticut, the company moved its shipping centre to the sunshine state. Complaints poured in 150 of them.
Florida's Division of Consumer Affairs investigated. Their conclusion: "possible instances of unfair and deceptive telemarketing practices."
Five years before the federal government gave the company public money, its own Competition Bureau was receiving complaints about the telemarketer.
"If someone were to phone us up and ask if we had a compliant against a particular individualwe have a confidentiality clause in our act," the bureau's George Bennet told Marketplace. "We could not reveal to them the fact that we have these kinds of complaintsIt wasn't until late 1999, early 2000 that we really noticed an increase in complaints."
Last year, The Competition Bureau put an undercover agent in the telemarketer's Montreal operation.
"The telemarketers pretended to be the regular supplier of these products for these companies and they were very clever in the way they did it," Bennet said.
In December, the Bureau raided call centres in Toronto, Montreal and St. John's.
"They came in and said to everyone don't do anything. Just move away," one employee told news reporters at the time.
The St. John's call centre closed in February, leaving more than 100 people out of work.
Michael Mouyal is still in business. In 1999, he claimed $48 million in sales. He says his company is growing 40 per cent annually.
Michael Mouyal keeps a low profile. He declined to be interviewed for this story.
He did send out a press release after the raid in December. He said his business is legitimate and he is co-operating with the Competition Bureau investigation. He also said he is puzzled at all the attention.
* 7 years since the first complaint in Canada
* more than a year since the Competition Bureau began its probe
* 5 years since the first investigation in the United States.
Michael Mouyal has never been charged with any crime.
Newfoundland's industry minister, Beaton Tulk, says you're innocent until proven guilty.
"The complaints are still complaints. They are not proven in any way under the competition act."
The Competition Bureau's George Bennet says the investigation is ongoing.
"We expect that we'll come to a conclusion I should say within the next couple of months."
Meanwhile, it's business as usual.
Press Release Issued by Muyal Group: (Ryan Kidney, please note, if you can provide a response of this caliper or better -- go ahead! But please use your spell-check this time and get your mother to proof-read).
Attention Business Editors:
Large Teleservice Company Confused in Wake of Investigation Montreal's Mouyal Corporation Issues Statement
MONTREAL, Qc, Dec. 7 /CNW/ - The Mouyal Corporate Group issued a statement today regarding the recent invasion of its Canadian offices by the Competition Bureau on allegations of misconduct. The Mouyal Corporate Group
has cooperated with Industry Canada to help expedite the investigation process. "Due to these recent events, the Mouyal Group has endured negative publicity which ultimately affected all aspects of their business."
Since Industry Canada entered the Group's various offices on Monday, for example, the Group has lost 120 employees.
The Mouyal Corporate Group is a 1200 person office supply business which operates in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, France and the Caribbean.
"Our mission is to provide top quality retail supplies and business directories to companies in North America and Western Europe", says Michael Mouyal, President of Mouyal Corporate Group. "We do so through a call center
formula, a blend of inbound and outbound services. In each facility, the Group offers rigorous training programs and provides a positive work environment.
Ultimately, The Mouyal Corporate Group has become unwittingly caught up in the scandal, which as engulfed HRDC for the past six months. They underwent
a rigourous, eight month application process and was compelled to provide references, extensive financial projections and a comprehensive business plan
before it was considered for the subsidy. Further, the claim that the Group received the $287,000 funding prior to set-up is inaccurate. To date, in accordance with the initial contract which specified the number of employees
they needed to hire and maintain, Mouyal Corporate Group has received $62,000.
"This is in addition to the fact that we have exceeded the job creation projections", Mouyal states. Mouyal Corporate Group also intends, in the wake of these allegations, to forego the remaining funds, in an effort to distance itself from HRDC's escalating troubles.
"The Mouyal Corporate Group is in fact a legitimate teleservices enterprise, despite the allegations of Industry Canada and the media" , says Mouyal.
"Each customer we contact has three opportunities to reject our products; first the initial sales call, second, the quality control call and third, at the point the product is shipped". The Mouyal Group operates only on
an invoice basis, which the customer receives the bill only after he or she has received the product, in effect allowing him the option of keeping or returning the product".
The Group takes an enormous risk - many customers keep
goods and refuse to pay - by offering, effectively, a line of credit to an unproven customer. Their return policy is printed unambiguously on each of the
packing boxes. In addition, an unsatisfied customer, for any reason, has 30 days to return a product. These processes and policies are all part of a comprehensive Compliance Program, instituted in late 1998 in response to
changing legislation on telesales. The Group's compliance with these laws has been unwavering.
"I am puzzled concerning the allegations of Industry Canada", says Mouyal. "The reason for this particular reaction is that in July of this year two senior people from Mouyal Corporate met with the Competition Bureau as
well as the RCMP and discussed at length our presentations, products, processes and customer service strategies." declares Mouyal. As a precautionary measure the Mouyal Group took the added step to send a copy of our training kit to the Competition Bureau, which comprises all elements of our business. It was indicated that the practices were sufficient and in compliance with the new regulations that were established by Industry Canada.
While cooperating fully with Industry Canada, The Mouyal Corporate Group resents the intrusive investigation and media exposure. The business currentlyhas 110,000 active customers, satisfied clients with whom business is conducted each day. The recent media coverage suggests that 600 complaints since 1993 compelled Industry Canada to warrant an investigation. "It is unfortunate that we have been lumped together with other companies that have
blemishes on their record", says Mouyal.
For further information: Elyce Eisman, Spokesperson, The Mouyal Corporate Group, (514) 369-8017
The FTC has also sucessfully prosecuted These Entities:
Hanson Publications, Inc. (Hanson), 9069-5057 Quebec, Inc. (Hanson-Quebec), Associated Merchant Paper Supplies, Inc. (AMPS), ALBERT MOUYAL, Adrian P. Towning, and Charles Hamouth.
The Telegram (original at www.thetelegram.com)
Tuesday, December 5, 2000
Local call centre raided
BY GLEN WHIFFEN
(Photo cutline: Officers with the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada raided a local call centre located in Atlantic Place Monday with the aid of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Here, employees are searched by officers from both organizations before they are allowed to leave the premises.)
Several officers from the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada swooped in on a call centre in St. John's Monday as part of an investigation into complaints about the operation.
The incident coincided with similar raids at call centres in Toronto and Montreal, all conducted under a search warrant issued by the Superior Court in Quebec. All three centres are reportedly operated by the Montreal-based Mouyal Corporate Group.
We are conducting an investigation with respect to misleading advertising or misleading representations under the telemarketing section of the Competition Act, said George Bennett, assistant deputy commissioner of the bureau's fair practices branch.
We've had a number of complaints about the operations from across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, and we are just checking out the facts at this point in time. No charges have been laid.
In St. John's, federal officers were assisted by six Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers. RNC spokesman Sgt. Bob Garland said the RNC came into contact with Industry Canada through its own investigation into call centre activity.
The RNC has been conducting an investigation for the past number of months, he said. We had a request from Industry Canada, the trade practices branch, to assist them in their investigation in conducting a search. That's our role here today.
Garland said he couldn't comment on the nature of the RNC's own investigation.
Unsuspecting employees at the St. John's location Monday, which is operated under the name Merchant Supply Services, were told to leave work and to call the centre today to see if their jobs still existed. About 120 employees work at the St. John's location including day, night and weekend shifts. The company sells supplies for debit machines such as ink cartridges, paper rolls, ribbons and swipe cards.
Tania Davis, an employee at the centre for the past 3 1/2 months, said the officers arrived quickly about mid-morning, revealed their badges, and told employees to move away from phones and to not touch anything.
They were pretty unfriendly, she said. As we left, they took everything out of our bags and searched them, leaving us confused and pretty upset. Working there is great and everyone loves it, and it's hard now just before Christmas.
Davis said she believes that call centres get negative media attention because some people have problems with the prices placed on products for sale.
It's a little bit of a high price compared to other competitors, but people will buy it because it gets delivered to your door, she said. People, in general, think we are a scam because we are such aggressive sales people. And, I mean, they just don't want people calling their business, that's all. And we are aggressive, we'll call, and our job depends on it. It's telemarketing and no one likes us.
Davis said employees are not allowed to misrepresent themselves or the products to customers. She said the company has people in place monitoring the calls to ensure that doesn't happen.
The Mouyal Corporate Group announced the official opening of its St. John's call centre last February, but had begun operations in December 1999. The company received EDGE status (Economic Diversification and Growth Enterprises a tax incentive program) from the provincial government, as well as reportedly nearly $300,000 in federal grants to set up in the province.
Bennett said he could not release details of the allegations against the company as it is information sealed under the search warrants. He said the bureau's investigation has been under way for about six months and involves complaints from people who feel they have been deceived as to various aspects of the sale being made.
He noted investigators were looking for documentary evidence with respect to the kinds of representations made by the company's employees.
The investigation is being carried out under Section 52.1 of The Competition Act. The section, which came into effect in 1999, relates specifically to telemarketing and outlines requirements and restrictions operators must abide by.
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