- Report: #234374
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: International Profit Associates - IPA
International Profit Associates - IPA1250 Barclay Blvd Buffalo Grove, Illinois United States of America
International Profit Associates - IPA. now you should report your experience to the officials - those who may be considering working for or doing business with IPA. Buyer Be Aware. Buffalo Grove Illinois
*UPDATE: Ripoff Report REVIEW - International Profit Associates recognized by Ripoff 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
Unfortunately, not all small business owners are as savvy about using the internet for research. Therefore, one of you next steps absolutely should be to go to your local newspaper and all others in your area. Tell your story. Impress upon your editor that it is their responsibility to report sources of potential harm to their readership. If your editor needs more info, perhaps the following will help:
NOTE: This email has already been sent to over 400 newspapers across the country. The widespread coverage of your paper is needed to spread this information for the protection of all small businesses. Thank you for your help.
Dear News Editor,
(This is long, but very, very, very important.)
This company has been investigated and reported on by numerous resources, as listed below. However, the news and information has not been widespread enough. Please help. Do your own due diligence. You will be shocked by what you find.
I believe you will find the following article published by the NY Times this year critical knowledge to all the small business owners in your reading area. Please publish both online and in print.
Small business owners may not read Inc magazine or the New York Times, but they do read your paper. You owe it to your reading public to make them aware of this company and their predatory nature.
**************************************** May 7, 2006 Rubbing Shoulders With Trouble, and Presidents By MIKE McINTIRE
John R. Burgess makes for an improbable courtier of presidents, or of a senator who might become one.
A disbarred New York lawyer with a criminal record for attempted larceny and patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute, Mr. Burgess owns International Profit Associates, a management consulting company in Illinois .
Federal authorities are pressing a sexual harassment suit against the company on behalf of 113 former female employees.
The Illinois attorney general is investigating accusations of deceptive marketing tactics, officials say, and the company has been the subject of 470 complaints to the Better Business Bureau across the nation in the past three years.
But despite the trail of problems dating to the 1980's, many prominent politicians have accepted campaign contributions and speaking fees from Mr. Burgess and his company, which offers organizational and financial advice, mostly to owners of small businesses, and claims annual revenues of more than $200 million.
Former President George Bush was paid $82,000 to speak at a company banquet in 1999, and former President Bill Clinton received $125,000 to appear in 2001.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has collected more than $150,000 in contributions from executives of International Profit Associates, some as recently as September, and spoke at a company event in 2004. As a group, company officials and their spouses are one of the largest sources of contributions to Mrs. Clinton's re-election campaign.
Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Clinton all say they were not aware of problems with the company, known as I.P.A., or with Mr. Burgess when they took the money, though some problems were documented as early as 1997 in newspapers, magazines and on the Internet.
Other politicians have returned money to I.P.A. upon learning of Mr. Burgess's history, among them Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic governor of Illinois, and Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat running for attorney general of New York. Mr. Cuomo gave back $20,000 in 2002, when he was running for governor, and Mr. Blagojevich returned $125,000 the same year. Just last month, Wisconsin's governor, Jim Doyle, and attorney general, Peg Lautenschlager, said they would return $35,000 in I.P.A. contributions.
A spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton said her campaign "will be reviewing" the I.P.A. contributions.
The story of I.P.A. underscores the perils politicians face when they accept money from companies they have not closely vetted for problems. It also exemplifies the ways some companies attempt to use relationships with prominent politicians - or the appearance of relationships - to promote themselves and burnish their images.
In one of the many lawsuits I.P.A. has been involved in, for example, the company filed papers saying it "holds honors" from former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Gerald Ford, Mrs. Clinton and former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas . On its Web site, the firm posts images of Mr. Burgess, wearing a tuxedo, standing with political celebrities like Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton. Former clients said I.P.A. sales representatives would sometimes pull out those photos to impress them.
Just last week, in response to questions by The New York Times, Mr. Burgess invoked a presidential visit to the company. "Lots of people have very good things to say about us," he said, "including former President George Bush."
In one instance, Mr. Burgess seems to have garnered positive attention from his investment in politicians. Mr. Clinton's foundation publicized a pledge by I.P.A. last year to provide $10 million worth of free services to businesses damaged by natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina. The commitment raised the company's profile. Now, however, I.P.A. says that the pledge was "premature and unrealistic" because the storm damage drove away so many businesses that providing much consultation was impossible.
Jay Carson, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton, said that I.P.A. was one of many companies the foundation called on to answer the thousands of requests for help it received after the hurricane.
Like "many other dignitaries," Mr. Carson said, "President Clinton spoke to this company once more than four years ago."
Mr. Bush's chief of staff, Jean Becker, said that former President Bush had no personal relationship with I.P.A., and she expressed displeasure that Mr. Burgess would try to use his appearance at the company banquet as a character reference.
"It is inappropriate for I.P.A. to use generic statements from a speech President Bush gave seven years ago to defend its record," Ms. Becker said. "We are very disappointed they are doing so."
In a four-page statement, Mr. Burgess denied trying to ingratiate himself with political celebrities for business purposes and he defended I.P.A.'s work, saying some complaints are inevitable considering that the company has worked with 125,000 clients.
He said that his two arrests in the 1980's "occurred long ago" and that his accomplishments building I.P.A. since then "are far more representative of my character and contribution to society."
"I do not deny that I have made mistakes in the past," Mr. Burgess wrote, adding, "We make it a point at I.P.A. to judge people on their performance, not their past."
Myron M. Cherry, a Chicago lawyer who represents I.P.A. in several legal matters, said that he believed Mr. Burgess first met Mr. Clinton at a fund-raising event that Mr. Cherry held at his home in 2000.
Mr. Cherry, who raises money for many Democrats and helped arrange at least some of the I.P.A. contributions to Mrs. Clinton, said Mr. Burgess's background was irrelevant to determining whether to accept his money or services.
"John is a really nice guy who has helped a lot of people," he said. "He should not be defined by what he did 24 years ago."
The spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton, Ann Lewis, said Mrs. Clinton was not aware of Mr. Burgess's background when he held fund-raising affairs for her in 2000 and 2003, nor did she know whether other prominent Democrats had rejected contributions. She said that Mrs. Clinton's vetting procedures have been strengthened since the senator's appearance at I.P.A.
In 1997, the Chicago Tribune noted that Mr. Burgess had been disbarred and pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in upstate New York in 1988 after being accused of stealing $15,739 from a client's account.
In June 2000, an article in Inc. magazine reported that Mr. Burgess pleaded guilty to patronizing a teenage prostitute in 1984 and that I.P.A. had falsely claimed that Mr. Burgess served on a White House advisory committee on small businesses. The Web site for the Lawyers Fund for Client Protection in Albany, a state bar program that reimburses clients defrauded by their attorneys, shows it has paid $30,868 to six former clients of Mr. Burgess from the 1980's.
Mr. Burgess, 56, left New York and worked for a few years at another Illinois-based consulting firm before starting I.P.A. in 1991. Based in the Chicago suburb of Buffalo Grove, I.P.A. became what it calls "the largest privately held business development company for small and medium-size businesses in North America ." It claims to have 1,789 employees and annual revenues exceeding $200 million.
When asked for help locating people who had positive experiences with I.P.A., Mr. Burgess initially directed a reporter to dozens of anonymous testimonials on the company's Web site. Later, I.P.A. produced names and phone numbers for two people, who both praised the company.
One of them was Ray Hicks of Michigan, who said I.P.A. helped him sell a business in 2002 that manufactured photofinishing machines and has advised him on the purchase of other small businesses. He said the I.P.A. consultants did good work. "I just thank God there are people out there who are capable of doing that sort of stuff," he said.
Some other former clients and employees paint a far different picture.
Bart Greenhut, the owner of a pet-supplies business in California , was so angry about his experience with I.P.A. that he set up a Web site to post information about it. Mr. Greenhut said an I.P.A. representative tried to impress him by pulling out a binder filled with photographs of company executives shaking hands with President Clinton and other dignitaries. Mr. Greenhut agreed to a consulting contract, but soon regretted it, he said.
Three I.P.A. consultants arrived at his office the next morning, each charging $235 an hour, he said, and proceeded to give what he considered useless advice. When Mr. Greenhut told them to leave on the second day, he said, one of them presented a bill for $16,775, demanded immediate payment and became hostile when he refused.
"I could see by the second day they were just churning time, with nothing of real value happening," Mr. Greenhut said. "It was a complete rip-off."
The Better Business Bureau said that I.P.A. had resolved most of the 470 complaints against it, but that the company had received an unsatisfactory rating because it had failed to remedy the root causes, including accusations of high-pressure sales tactics, poor quality service and aggressive debt collections.
The Illinois state attorney general's office said it has received more than 200 complaints since 2001 and is investigating the company.
Deborah Hagan, chief of consumer protection for the attorney general's office, said that I.P.A. paid $20,000 in 1998 to settle accusations that it improperly withheld payment to former employees and that it agreed in 2004 to better inform clients of their rights and obligations.
"The thing that is of concern to me is that the complaints have just continued," she said.
Mr. Burgess would not discuss individual complaints but said in his statement that I.P.A. had "instituted policies to continually reduce complaints," which he said are resolved through an arbitration process at I.P.A.'s expense. He said that the company gets complaints from fewer than 0.5 percent of its clients.
I.P.A.'s troubles extend beyond client complaints. For almost five years, the firm has been battling a lawsuit filed by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which asserts that its executives had routinely harassed female subordinates with crude comments, groping and demands for sex. Mr. Burgess himself was accused by a former employee of making comments about her body and "telling her that her future with the company depended on having sex with him," the lawsuit said.
Mr. Burgess said that for legal reasons, he could not discuss specifics of the case, but that he and the company strongly deny the accusations and do not tolerate harassment in the workplace.
Diane Smason, the commission's lead attorney on the case, said the government's I.P.A. investigation, which began during the Clinton administration, found that "sex harassment is the standard operating procedure of this company." She said that 113 women had been victimized.
"This is probably the most egregious case of sex harassment that the Chicago district office has seen," Ms. Smason said in an interview. "The owner of the company engaged in harassment, and that set the tone for the company, on down."
For all of its controversies, I.P.A. has had little trouble lining up its high-profile guests for annual company galas. Although Mr. Burgess told Inc. magazine in 2000 that the speaking engagements meant "instant credibility" for his company, he said last week that they were intended only to boost employee morale.
I.P.A. did not limit itself to paying speaking fees. In 2000, the company and its executives contributed $400,000 to the national Democratic Party and $50,000 to Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaign. Since then, employees of the firm and their spouses have contributed an additional $107,000 to the Clinton campaign. Company officials have also given about $30,000 to the national Republican Party in recent years.
For their support of the Democrats in 2000, Mr. Burgess and his wife, Dana, were rewarded in September of that year with an invitation to a state dinner at the White House for the prime minister of India . When Mr. Clinton appeared at I.P.A.'s banquet in December 2001, he thanked the Burgesses "for being such good friends to Hillary and to me" and praised I.P.A.'s work with small businesses.
"The small and medium-size businesses that you helped to flourish fueled America's economic growth," Mr. Clinton said.
************************************************************************ Please note that some of the information in NY Times article relating to the BBB was not presented accurately causing the writer to report a somewhat skewed version of IPA's official record with the BBB. The following information should be taken into consideration when researching the complaints filed with the BBB.
According to our research, the Better Business Bureau has received well over 860 complaints filed against IPA since November of 2000. Unfortunately, many of these complaints were closed by the BBB simply because the BBB was unable to assist most who filed ccomplaints, mainly because these cases involved and/or required legal remedies.
The BBB views these complaints as being ?resolved? simply because the BBB had received correspondence from both sides and they processed the complaint as far as their very limited arbitration abilities would allow. Generally, they will send one last correspondence to the plaintif stating, ?The Bureau recently received a response from the above-named company. We have attached, for your review, a copy of the company's response. If the plaintiff wishes to pursue the matter further, the BBB suggests that the plaintiff contact local or state law enforcement agencies or obtain legal council.?
They end their correspondence by stating, ?Please mark the appropriate box below and return this form to the Bureau. If the form is not returned WITHIN 14 DAYS, we will assume the complain is settled and will officially close this case.?
At this point, the BBB will close the complaint, labeling the case ?resolved? when in reality, no true resolution was ever reached according to most plaintiffs.
For the past 5 years, IPA has consistently earned, and has never waivered up or down, from its ?unsatisfactory? rating by the BBB.
But, there is more.
From Inc magazine are numerous articles exposing International Profit Associates, John Burgess (owner) and staff. I have provided you with the appropriate links so you can perform your own research and due diligence.
http://www.inc.com/magazine/20000601/19115_test.html (published June 2000)
The article is very interesting however, even more interesting than the article, are the 500 plus comments posted on the ?Sound Off ? page linked to this article. There is a huge amount of very accurate and reliable information posted by former clients as well as former employees. Here is one of the posts:
Name: Ex-Analyst Posted: Thu Jan 4 2007 18:01 EST Location: USA Occupation: Ex-Analyst Timmy, allow me to clarify a couple of things. If a client is large enough and has enough money to pay the IPA bill, and John has sent the right consultants, then the client will receive value. There are some good consultants at IPA.
Now understand that I am NOT complaining, the following is just INFORMING.
The problems, feelings of being ripped off, and obviously being unsatisfied occur when the client is very small, has no money, yet is promised that IPA will work within the cash constraints of the business. This is a statement acceptable to IPA and the analyst can even put it in writing. (To have anything extra put in writing really upsets the consultants.) It goes something like this:
"IPA will work within the cash constraints of this company recognizing that first the employees must be paid, then the vendors required to keep the company operating, then third IPA gets paid."
What happens is that the client is totally committed to doing whatever needs to be done to get their business fixed, so the client signs the "Working Agreement". The following morning, in come the consultants, spend the first day looking for the money to get paid, and when the money cannot be found (client has tapped every source of funds already, often including a second mortgage on their house, borrowing from family and friends, and the bank has cut them off) the consultant calls the office and tries to negotiate something on behalf of the client, stating the facts. When the office will not concur (which is most of the time) the consultant prepares an invoice for the one-day (the client has to pay for the consultants coming to the same realization that the client already knew - the client is broke), presents the invoice to the client and the war ensues. Client can't pay, invoice goes to collection, client gets the harrassing calls. And rightfully complains about having to pay for the consultants spending all day just trying to find money to pay the IPA bill.
Reality is that in many cases, the client has assets that can be borrowed against, or IPA could spend the time getting the company in a position of strength to be able to acquire funds - but IPA is not willing to stand any risk of that nature. Does it always work, no, but if IPA can't get paid FIRST (despite what the analyst has said), IPA walks away and client is worse off than before.
If I were a satisfied customer (client as IPA puts it) then I would be willing to shout it from the rooftops, not refuse to tell anyone. In today's age, people celebrate companies who have managed, with or without outside help, to turn their companies around. So I find it absurd that IPA would not capitalize on those success stories.
When I was an analyst, we were told to say we gave no references with the retort "what do you want, good ones or bad ones", or "we used to give references but our clients got tired of getting calls" or "the only reference that matters is the work we do specifically for you" or "the consultant will bring the references with him." We were instilled (guilted) with "if the client wants references, you didn't do your job right."
What really did me in was always having to explain away this Inc. article, the BBB reports, the NY Times article, and the sexual harrassment mess. All true reports of IPA work. Finally, I asked myself why I was continuing to work for a company that was always screwing up and expecting us to be able to come up with valid reasons for their misdeads. And if we couldn't get past what was deemed "excuses by the client" then we, the analyst, had failed.
Understand the irony? It took me a long time, but finally became an
Let me restate - this is not complaining, just informing those who may be considering working for or doing business with IPA. Buyer Be Aware.
Note that the largest segment of IPA business comes from small businesses with revenues under $800,000 a year, that's only $67,000 a month. One day of IPA ?consulting? with a Project Manager and one consultant can easily be $6,700, 5 days can be $21,000. Here are approximate fees with a project manager and consultant for 2 days, 1 consultant the other 3 days:
10 hr ea. (2)
per diem (2)
1 Week Total
Small businesses don't let IPA in unless they are in trouble. In fact, those are the ?easy GO's?. Promise the client that IPA will work with them, and they bite. Then reality sets in that IPA's contract says ?Payment is due upon receipt of the invoice?, there is no ?working with? the client. IPA takes no risk in the process of ?fixing? a business. Every time the small business lets IPA in it is worse off than before. Is that consumer fraud?
Also, interestingly enough, there are comments posted by current IPA employees who are contemplating ?going public? with all they know.
You may ask why people post comments or details anonymously. History has proven that John Burgess, now fondly called the new Teflon man (title formerly held by a major mafia personality and it has long been rumored that Burgess has very close connections to the Chicago Mafia/Mob), has made both legal and physical threats to many previous employees. Former clients fear retaliation, especially if they were forced to settle their claim with IPA which always includes a clause prohibiting the client from communicating, in any fashion or manner, anything negative about IPA in the future. So, they post anonymously.
Other articles in Inc.:
http://www.inc.com/magazine/20000801/19752.html (published August 2000 with many letters from dissatisfied clients and John Burgess feeble reply)
http://www.inc.com/criticalnews/articles/200605/ipa.html (published May 10, 2006 which discusses not only continuing client complaints but campaign contributions from IPA and staff members).
Be sure to read the ?Sound Off'? comments relating to the article above. The comment made by John Gitchell from Memphis , TN is excellent. He describes not only IPA but also George S. May International, which is John's predecessor ? identical in methods and complaints.
Note that IPA and its employees have become the SECOND largest contributor to Hilary Clinton. In the NY Times article, she states that she ?will be reviewing the contributions.?
(Please note: Our investigation shows closer to $145,000.00 being donated to Hilary Clinton's campaign by IPA or IPA employees and their family members)
Many other political figures have already returned their contributions:
****************** Lautenschlager, Doyle vow to return donations; At issue is $35,000; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The, Apr 15, 2006 by STACY FORSTER
Madison Gov. Jim Doyle and Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager said Friday that they would return campaign donations totaling $35,000 from associates of a company that was the subject of a state enforcement action last year.
The contributions came from executives at International Profit Associates Inc.-Integrated Business Analysis Inc. of Buffalo Grove , Ill. , a company that provides consulting services to small businesses. In February 2005, the firm reached a settlement with the state Department of Justice over complaints from customers.
A few months later, in June 2005, Lautenschlager's campaign received donations of $5,000 each from John Burgess and Gregg Steinberg, both of whom listed IPA-IBA as their employer; Burgess is the founder and managing director and Steinberg is the president. Another $15,000 came from company employees in December, with $10,000 from Dana Burgess, John Burgess' wife, and another $5,000 from Steinberg.
In May 2005, Doyle received $10,000, $5,000 each from John Burgess and Steinberg.
Oprah Winfrey says:
Here is a link to the Oprah show featuring two former employees of International Profit Associates and their sexual harassment:
IPA is a SCAM that has been eroding small businesses and their owners for nearly 15 years. Why has it not been stopped? Because more small businesses open each and every year and they become IPA's new targets.
Other businesses don't know the real IPA, only the slick words from the IPA Sales people, Analysts, and Consultants, and don't do their research. Small business owners are always very busy running their business. IPA insists on instant decisions from the client which allows no time to do any research. Next day, next day, next day is IPA's mantra.
Please take the time to read these articles then do your own research. Their validity is easily substantiated. Go to: http://www.ipaclient.com/ for another story and quick links to many public documents. This is one website that John Burgess has failed to have taken down via payoffs and/or threats.
You may even have small business owners in your own community who have had various dealings with IPA. Just ask! Put in your paper a request for stories from local business regarding their dealings with IPA. You may be amazed at the responses.
Again, small business owners may not read Inc magazine or the New York Times, but they do read your paper. You owe it to your reading public to make them aware of this company and their predatory nature.
Encourage your readers to keep a copy of your paper with this information handy in their office to quickly show IPA (or George S. May for that matter) salesmen when they show up on their doorstep.
Again,Robert, I encourage you to go to your local and area newspapers. Then, file a report with the Better Business Bureau, AND with your state attorney general.
Sandy Somewhere, Texas
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/04/2007 06:20 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/International-Profit-Associates-IPA/Buffalo-Grove-Illinois/International-Profit-Associates-IPA-now-you-should-report-your-experience-to-the-offici-234374. 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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