I started geting calls from Personnel Concepts earlier this year. They indicated that my business needed to be in compliance with state and federal law posters. They did NOT tell me that these posters are provided free from the Government.
The first time I ordered from them, they asked me some simple interview questions to determine which posters I needed. I answered and they gave me a price (~$50 I think) for 2 compliance posters one time, or ~$80 to cover me for the entire year and I would automatically be sent any new posters I needed when the laws changed, which they told me was 2-3 times per year. I opted to pay the ~$80 to cover me for the year.
About a month or 2 later, I get another call from them about new compliance regulations that I needed new posters for. They interviewed me again and said the new posters would cost me ~$160. I told them I had opted in for the higher price before to automatically cover me for the year, in which they replied that these were "new" compliances that were different than the ones I purchased before. At this point, I was unaware that there were alternate means of obtaining these posters, so I went ahead and paid the ~$160 for the new posters.
Another month or 2 goes by, and I get ANOTHER call about "new" compliances I had to get posters for. This time it was ~$240!! This threw up red flags by now. First, when I was employed, I had never seen that many posters in the employee area of any place I worked. The amount of posters they were trying to sell me would have filled up my entire wall in my office. Second, ~$240 for a poster?! That seemed fishy to me in and of itself. So I politely told the lady that I would prefer to wait and do some research before moving ahead with such an expense.
After searching around, I found the complaints about Personnel Concepts selling you posters that businesses can get free from the government. I decided at that point to no longer do business with Personal Concepts.
After that, I started getting the phone calls, asking for accounts payable. They were claiming that I had an outstanding invoice with them for some posters I received. First, We are a financially healthy company, and we pay our bills. Second, every time I did order posters from them, they have always collected payment over the phone, so I told the woman that I have already paid for what I have, and that I do not owe their business anything. I then told her that I no longer wish to do business with them and to please stop calling.
That unfortunately did not stop the calls, threatening to send me to a 3rd party collection agency. I called them back and explained that I do not owe them anything, and I am not going to pay the amount that they are claiming that I owe. The man said "That's fine, you account is probably already being referred to a collection agency" and hung up.
There are several things wrong with this scenario. First, how is it possible to have an outstanding invoice with a company like this when they take payment over the phone? Otherwise they would be claiming that they are sending out product before receiving payment, which is just bad business decisions in my opinion. Second, is it really their business practice to just arbitrarily send customers to collections because they think they're owed something? What happened to talking with the customer and figuring out what went wrong and trying to fix the miscommunication? Third, is it even legal for them to send a business to collections? I never personally guaranteed anything or signed anything saying that I owe them something.
The sad part about all of this is, that I truly believe they have a legitimate business concept. The government doesn't automatically keep you up to date on what compliances you have to have etc, and it would be nice to have an "ally" (as they describe it) to know your business and keep you up to date. The bad part is that their execution is horrible. I honestly thought that they were a government affiliate that was the only place to get these posters (naive, I know). Had they been forthcoming with me in the beginning, and told me about the above scenario, THAT might have been worth something to me.
The other thing that bothers me is that they just got greedy on their markup. I can understand charging for your services, but $200 for a couple of laminated posters? All of these things tell me that what was once a decent business concept, is now predatory, and trying to make as much money as quick as they can from companies before they get caught. I understand that times are tough and everyone needs to make a living, but trying to keep your business afloat at the expense of other businesses is just wrong.