• Report: #156938

Complaint Review: SMS.ac

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  • Submitted: Wed, August 04, 2004
  • Updated: Mon, June 06, 2005

  • Reported By:Cupertino California
SMS.ac
308 G Street San Diego, California U.S.A.

Investigation Complete! We commend SMS.ac (the "Company") for asking us to look into these Reports with a sincere effort by the Company to satisfy any customer that might have fallen through the cracks. [the Company, Michael Pousti Brandie Williams Greg Wilfahrt ActiveSMS false representation of business achievements fraudulent text messaging cult-like ripoff dishonest fraudulent billing San Diego California] *UPDATE ...the Company exemplifies corporate integrity in it's business practices.

*Consumer Comment: My Experience.

*REBUTTAL Individual responds: A malaysian reporting

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: SMS is irresponsible - I am a former "founder"

*Consumer Suggestion: Contact the San Diego B B B

*Consumer Suggestion: Are We There Yet??????? media articles re-awaken those goo-goo-eyed passangers riding on the road-to-riches magic carpet ride

*Consumer Suggestion: MORE RIPOFF REPORTS ABOUT THE COMPANY

*Consumer Suggestion: An effective response. I have firewalled out their website

*REBUTTAL Individual responds: The company... Stands for "Stealing Money Sweetly" ""

*Consumer Comment: how to get of the problem

*Consumer Suggestion: a bit of detective work reveals the company court records

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: I worked there. It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: I worked there. It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: I worked there. It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.

*Consumer Suggestion: Refund department

*Consumer Comment: The company breaks law -> EEC Directive 2002/58

*UPDATE Employee: Response It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account

*UPDATE Employee: Response It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account

*UPDATE Employee: Response It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account

*Consumer Comment: response I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.

*Consumer Comment: response I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.

*Consumer Comment: response I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.

*Consumer Comment: response I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.

*UPDATE Employee: The company NOT A SCAM

*Consumer Comment: Possible sms refunds

*Consumer Comment: Scam!

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Reponse to Chris

*Consumer Suggestion: I have seen the presentation and am pretty surprised to see these responses?

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Owner of CosmiCell.com an The company mobile Marketing Co. in the US that has done business through THE Company

*Author of original report: Mr. McKibbin. No offense, but you might be considered by those who know better as a person who 'drank the kool-aid in large quantities'.

*Author of original report: *IMPORTANT NOTICE* ...United States Post Office MAIL FRAUD

*Author of original report: *IMPORTANT NOTICE* ...United States Post Office MAIL FRAUD

*Author of original report: *IMPORTANT NOTICE* ...United States Post Office MAIL FRAUD

*Author of original report: *IMPORTANT NOTICE* ...United States Post Office MAIL FRAUD

*Author of original report: Michael Pousti's Bio ..He feels this way he can get attention in the press just by being a dick and take credit for revealing something already determined and call himself a 'visionary'.

*UPDATE Employee: VP Customer Relations

*UPDATE Employee: Who is the management of the Company?

*Author of original report: Concerning the Company Legal Threats

*Author of original report: Concerning the Company Legal Threats

*Author of original report: Concerning the Company Legal Threats

*Author of original report: Concerning the Company Legal Threats

*Consumer Comment: Michael Pousti ? What does that mean ?

*Author of original report: Duplicate copy from above.

*Consumer Comment: publication of confidential information

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The Company exemplifies corporate integrity in it's business practices. As with most successful companies, the Company has its share of disgruntled, contentious, jealous and malicious individuals who have attempted to sabotage the success of the Company. the Company's customer service department operates 7/24 and their mandate is to respond to every customer inquiry within six hours! That is an amazing feat, for a company that has tens of millions of registered members in 180+ countries. The Company gives its members a clear and easy-to-read pricing guide (in local currency) during registration and also through its web site, to avoid any pricing confusion.
EDitor's Comment:
Investigation is complete: We note that with over 35 million registered members, there are only a mere 15 Rip-off Reports filed on the Company, which is an outstanding record. We commend the Company for asking us to look into these Reports with a sincere effort by the Company to satisfy any customer that might have fallen through the cracks. Not too sure what the problem could be with a money back guarantee?! With 35 million customers, and hundreds of customer service people working at the Company, we would think they would have a lot more complaints, but they don't. We all know how customer service people can be, remember they are human too :-) .
Investigation shows many of the comments made about the Company are ludicrous and were more than likely posted by competitors and should not be taken seriously. ALL BUSINESSES WILL GET COMPLAINTS, BUT HOW THOSE BUSINESSES HANDLE THOSE COMPLAINTS SEPARATES GOOD BUSINESS FROM BAD BUSINESS. As a matter of policy, when Rip-off Report is retained by a business to investigate independently and to publish our findings, we use every bit of information at our disposal to determine the truthfulness of the complaints against the company or individual... there are no guarantees as to the final outcome. Our final investigation shows that the company has demonstrated excellent customer satisfaction and has reasonably addressed all outstanding complaints. Anyone may contact me EDitor@ripoffreport.com with any questions or information. ..Also, the company has set up a special email address for those who may have a special refund request (although the regular refund procedures seem to be exemplary). The address is: specialrefund@corp.sms.ac


CLICK HERE to read more about the company "Setting the record straight"

=====================
NOW TO THE ORIGIONAL REPORT THAT WAS FILED
=====================

THE AUTHOR OF THE REPORT BELOW HAS NOT RESPONDED TO OUR MANY REQUESTS FOR VARIFICATION AND ANY EVIDENCE THEY CAN PROVIDE..

The Company is mobile data servies company and is the most interesting example of a criminal business model I have ever seen and most likeley ever will see on a first-hand basis (I hope).

I am openly welcoming posts of other victims to add to my dirty laundry list of the criminal activities and cult-like environment in which this 'business' operates. Having worked for this company as a 'consultant' for a good length of time, I know everything I need to know to determine that this business feeds off employees, customers, creditors, frivilous law suits, fraudulent billings, theft and a multitude of falsehoods about the company that are used to bolster its credibility when, in reality, most 'achievements' are huge embellishments or outright lies.

Number one - I've never seen a company that focuses more on recruitment than on the business model. In fact, I'd say that recruitment IS the business model. Let me explain:

the Company is run by a man named Michael Pousti ("MP") who portrays himself to be a business genius or some kind of 'child prodigy' who claims to have read Bill Gate's books by the time he was twelve (funny thing is that Bill Gates didn't write anything that early on). Everyone in the Company who 'drank the kool-aid' rallies around this guy and believes he will be the next technology billionaire and make them all big business leaders and millionaires themsleves. Although no one gets paid and opts to work for worthless stock options (said to be worth millions by year's end - every year since 2001) they are considered 'consultants' and cut a check for anything from $100 to $1000 a month not from the Company but from another company called ActiveSMS. This money is supposedly what's left after paying the Company bills and split evenly among all employees. The reality is that the Company requires every 'consultant' to be at the the Company business office at 8:00am every morning for the face-time required by MP to show his greatness and attempt to brainwash his followers. There is a holiday schedule, people work more hours than a regular job and weekends are just another work day. The Company is ripping off tax-payers by not paying their fair share and ripping off employees who are not contributing to their unemployment insurance. It doesn't matter if your salary is $45K, you will get about $10K a year with no taxes paid. This is fraud if I'm not mistaken.

Number two - the Company suposedly has 10 million users. A very good engineer who worked directly with the data reported to me that there are less than 500K active users. The bulk of the data is duplicate users, same users with multiple accounts and bogus data. The Company makes the most noise about the user base. Yet the income doesn't reflect what 10 million users buying mobile text messages would be. Not by a long shot. Michael Pousti claims to be a Computer Scientist, yet dropped out of college (http://www.dailyaztec.com/Archive/Spring-1999/05-06/City/story03.html) apparently to pursue a career in ripping off other college students using mail fraud (http://www.usps.com/judicial/1990deci/err-1.htm). If this guy isn't a sociopath, I don't know who is. So many falshoods are tossed around at the company, it's amazing more people don't questions what the hell is really going on there.

Number three - the Company ripps off users who opt into 'clubs' (interest groups who correspond by SMS text messaging) by sending bogus text messages to thousands of users 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Users are billed by their carriers for the usage of the Company services. the Company also has an interesting habit of making canstant database updates that, quite coincidentally, always seem to cause users to get billed multiple times. At least one the Company customer service rep has informed me that customers have never actually been reimbursed by the Company except under very rare circumstances (good enough threat from customer).

Number four - People are being hurt. Employees are losing friends, family and property by blindly falling for the con of Michael Pousti and his two main co-conspirators, Brandie Williams and Greg Wilfahrt. They mostly recruit young ambitious and slightly gullable types who invest a certain amount of time and then feel obligated to see it through. This is what those of us who DO see the writing on the wall refer to as 'drinking the kool-aid'. And many can only afford to live on the kool-aid since all the money they are earning (through deceitful practices they can't seem to see or admit to) most likely goes to Michael Pousti's personal account in Switzerland or wherever he's hiding it (he has family in Switzerland and visited there recently).

Number five - the Company uses frivilous legal threats to harrass ex-employees and sites like this. I can guarantee that this site will recieve a legal doc which claims that this site reveals 'trade secrets'. What a crock. It's happened before at grumbletext.co.uk. It'll surely happen here too.

I will finish this in a follow-up. Please add your two cents for or against the Company and the crooks that run it. An in-depth example of their recent legal threat tactics will be posted here soon.

Bob Dominis
Cupertino, California
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/04/2004 02:43 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/SMSac/San-Diego-California-92101/Investigation-Complete-We-commend-SMSac-the-Company-for-asking-us-to-look-into-these-156938. 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

My Experience.

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

I interviewed with the company sometime ago, and was surprised at how it all went. I wish I could say good. I worked for startups before, and am totally aware of the work involved, however no startup ever expected me to take a 20 thousand/yr paycut when the offer was presented, especially for a senior position.



During my interview, I was whooshed around from person to person, and was amazed at how many people were working there up until beyond 8:30 at night, 2 of them stated they started at 7:30 am when I talked to them while searching for the bathroom, everyone looked worn down, and tired. I felt like they were keeping me occupied so I couldn't study the environment long enough to see what was going on. I asked many questions and did not get many answers.



Even though my references were fantastic, when I pushed back they threw out empty promises of stocks, and a personal involvement in the company, and a possible increase in salary IF the company became profitable in the next quarter, anyone who knows about startups knows that is not going to happen for a few years.. Bottom line is I had bills to pay, a thousand, or two less I can deal with, but 20k a year less than what I was making, No Way.



Around that time frame I spoke with my headhunter friend and told her the name of the company who gave me the offer, she hesitated then said "check them out" first because a few people told her about the environment, and lack of respect for hard work.



Recently I interviewed a person who listed the company as an employer and mentioned to her that I interviewed there and decided against it because I did not get the "warm fuzzies" she replied "good choice" that I stayed away.



I regularly receive email offerings on behalf of friends to join their network because supposed "friends" have signed up for their service. The interesting thing is some of the emails they got are private, and not used for ANY public sites, they are family only. I have also been getting invitations to join from people I have never heard of, let alone how the company got my email in the first place. One friend of mine I know would never use that service, as he is elderly, never uses a cell phone, let alone a chat service like this. So something strange is going on there for sure.



I have nothing bad to say about the people personally, they were not rude, but there was something odd that left me uncomfortable, they stated that Pousti would sell the company in a flash if an offer was presented, and anyone who knows about that knows people loose their jobs when that happens, I would never walk into a company knowing that. Also, any company that sends out bogus emails from people I have never heard of scares me. Even though I sent an email two months ago to customer service and asked they remove me from ANY emailing on their service I still get emails at least once a week from some people I do know. I just got one today from someone I dont even know.
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#2 REBUTTAL Individual responds

A malaysian reporting

AUTHOR: Franklin - (Malaysia)

Dear Sir,



I have filed a report on the company last night after checking out your site.It started out like this, last night at 8pm Malaysian time, I tried to go to the the company website but failed. Then i used another search engine to find it.



There i saw a list of web sites associated with the key words entered. I tried many times to get to the the company site from there but still couldn't get into it. So I saw your web site with the report on Michael Pousti (the company) and i read all that was posted and today i can confirm it by saying that its a scam.



You see, i registered to this site some time ago,About 2 weeks ago i started receiving sms from the site telling me someone wants to be my friend. i never replied them on my mobile phone but added them in my "friends" category whenever i went online. Some of the sms i just left alone.I have now a total of 11 friends only ( luckily for me).



In my report filed last night,i told everyone that to be fair i will get a copy of my phone bill today to check what is really happening, and update them this evening when i have the proof and you know what? For each of the invitations that I received I'm charged 50 cents.



You know what is the amount i have to pay to my mobile operator? RM 5.50 in less than 14 days for 11 messages and for what? For sending me some invitations? What if i was bombarded 3 times a day 30 days a month? That would be RM 45.



This figure would be in USD if in America, right? RM 45. How about if I get 10 sms a day?And that's only 1 person's case,I cant imagine what they are making out of the whole world being charged for some uninvited invitations..Who even knows whether the invitations are real or not in the 1st place. And oh, i received another sms again this morning(darn it!).



When I registered to the the company site there were no indications of any kind on the web site informing us that we were going to be charged for sms received. Neither did i subscribe, So why am i being charged?



DONT HIDE BEHIND WORD JARGONS, CLICK THIS OR THAT IN THE MENU BUTTON, LOOPHOLES IN THE LAW, LEGAL REFERANCES,FINE PRINTS,REFUNDS OR WHAT. Don't try to confuse people. IF there was a CLEAR, I repeat CLEAR warning or indication informing us at the web page that we would be charged for sms received/please check the rates with our local mobile operator THEN the decision to register or not is up to us!The only "CLEAR" indication that is on the web page is "PLEASE SIGN IN TO SEND FREE SMS". the company is going into our pockets using the back door.
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#3 UPDATE EX-employee responds

SMS is irresponsible - I am a former "founder"

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

Hello, my name is Nigel -



I am a former "founder" at the company, or at least that's what they called me when they "hired" me for no pay there.



I'd like to start with the reason I'm posting today:



A friend of mine tired of the spam they send, and his effort to get removed got fed up and sent the company an email saying he'd kick their asses if they did it again. Well the FBI showed up at his work today - to make an appearance and tell him not to send threats. So you can see what type of company the company is - they are trying to hide truth and make people who know the truth afraid to tell it.. They can kiss my ass! They will certainly be sent a copy of this message, with the information I gathered while working there for one day - after signing NO paperwork and receiving no pay.



They threaten lots of people, but I didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement - and they freaked out when I quit, telling me that I was a "spy" and needed to come back and sign a non-disclosure agreement.



So I'm here to say - yes, the company does send out fake/fabricated/fluff/spam messages to their users.



It worked like this In the morning 5 people were assigned 10 groups to send out 'controversial' messages to. The founder Michael Pousti believes controversy will fuel his business, since the company that he runs profits by each message sent - whether legitimate or not. Also keep in mind, these groups contain large number of users.. An example is - Nigel is assigned to send messages to the 'Hockey Group' today.. A good thing to send would be 'Wayne Gretzky sucks!!'. That would go out to who knows how many users, but each would be charged for receiving that, and any subsequent dialogue on the topic.



During my only day there I sent out a few of these messages, but didn't really understand the moral implications of what I was doing.. at least for the first 6-8 hours. After realizing that I wasn't sending out just conversations, but that I was in essence stealing money from the customers of a company that wasn't paying any of it's employees - I walked out immediately never to return.



What they do is herd entrepenurial spirits into their indoctrination chamber (Pousti's apartment) or that's where it used to happen. They then set Pousti free on his used car salesman rant to try and pump people up. It's truly disgusting...



One guy that started the same day as me, quit even sooner than I did.. and during a meeting they made fun of him, and said he was wacko, weird, not forward thinking etc..



Anyways.. the company -

Come after me! I'd love too see you fall on your face. I'm sick of spam, and it makes me sick to think that you guys are sending out spam and making money off the customers that you obviously have no respect for. Your business model is void of all integrity.



Pousti, you are a scumbag - everyone else at the company, I hope that you can escape whatever spell he has you under.



Let me also say I know a member of his family, and I've been told it's common knowledge in the family that he's a scamster - that many of the family members don't even trust him.



I'll keep everyone updated here on the threats that I receive from them in response to this. I know they wont like my post as I'm spilling the truth to the best of my ability.



Thanks for reading,
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

Contact the San Diego B B B

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

I have been invited to join this "web" of users by family members in MEXICO..After going through this site, googling through other sites, and reading through mostly unfavorable opinions, I wouldn't consider using them.



However, I'd like to point out that when I went to the San Diego Better Business Bureau's site, they only had 5 complaints (I think some pending)and were all resolved.



For those of you that haven't resolved your claims, or wonder what else you can do, you may consider going to their website at: http://www.sandiego.bbb.org .. If employees are keeping up with this ripoffreport website, it would be to their benefit to keep all claims resolved. Good luck!
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#5 Consumer Suggestion

Are We There Yet??????? media articles re-awaken those goo-goo-eyed passangers riding on the road-to-riches magic carpet ride

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

I hope these media articles re-awaken those goo-goo-eyed passangers riding on the road-to-riches magic carpet ride guided by a fat little balding "impotent jeannie" who steals away their wishes and then takes them right back where they started the journey in his stinky little corner of the "magic" gas lamp.



COMPTERWORLD -- Compensation Culture Clash (The Options Issue)

http://www.computerworld.com/careertopics/careers/recruiting/story/0,10801,54313,00.html



"At some firms, IT employees hope to earn a lot more by cashing in stock options after an IPO. That was true at College411.com and CollegeClub.com Inc., but both companies were acquired by Student Advantage Inc. before they could launch IPOs. That meant IT employees had to be educated about the differences between preliminary options and options in an already-public company.



Some employees had to be reminded that options aren't stock and don't have monetary value, says Debra Gibb, CIO and senior vice president at San Diego-based CollegeClub.com, now a division of Boston-based Student Advantage. That was hard to hear for some veterans with fully vested options.



"But many people were tired of the promises that 'Yeah, yeah, we're going public,' " says Gibb. These people were relieved to work for a stable public company. She also notes that public companies are required by law to reveal more about their finances and performance than small, private start-ups. "Nothing is hidden," Gibb says.



WIRED MAGAZINE -- http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,39630-2,00.html?tw=wn_story_page_next1

"Student Advantage is acquiring CollegeClub.com, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The deal is expected to close on Oct. 30.

Student Advantage paid $7 million in cash and 1.4 million shares of common stock for the failing company."



FORRELEASE.COM -- http://www.forrelease.com/D20031115/nyf141.P2.11142003231804.18367.html

"Student Advantage, Inc. (BULLETIN BOARD: STUA) announced today that it has sold substantially all of the assets related to its CollegeClub.com business to Alloy, Inc. for $600,000 in cash, a performance based earnout and the assumption of certain related liabilities."



FORBES -- http://www.forbes.com/2001/09/26/0926sf.html

"The business model for CollegeClub.com, which filed for bankruptcy last year, never made sense. At the height of the Internet frenzy, CollegeClub.com offered voice mail, e-mail and paging services--all for free--to 3.4 million student members. The company also threw parties at campuses around the country."
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#6 Consumer Suggestion

MORE RIPOFF REPORTS ABOUT THE COMPANY

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

You may be interested to know that there are other highly informative reports about the company in this site.



the company Target of Private Investigation Ripoff Court Records Reveal Interesting Facts



the company ripoff These guys are deceptive beware



the company ripoff



the company - Michael Pousti - Greg Wilfahrt - Brandie Williams ripoff dishonest tax evasion underground Economy Operation



the company "always Connected" Bait and switch viral web and mobile device marketing
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#7 Consumer Suggestion

An effective response. I have firewalled out their website

AUTHOR: Evan - (South Africa)

I run a medium sized ISP company in South Africa.



After having several of my clients scammed by the company, I have firewalled out their website (where they scam my clients into registering for sms "services") and am in the process of getting the company blackilisted with our 3 major cellphone networks as they are fraudulantly billing clients $25 PER SMS - this in a country where the average earning is equiv to $250 per month !!!!



If more ISP's where to take this action, this branch of the company would die and wither as all parasites should.
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#8 REBUTTAL Individual responds

The company... Stands for "Stealing Money Sweetly" ""

AUTHOR: Mert - (United Kingdom)

Unfortunately I am a victim of the company..



I live in UK they got me too..



I have registered to their FREE text service but they have sent me a lot of junk messages, each cost 50p !.. at least 5 every day.. Total amount they steal from me is 9,50 !! If they steal that amount from every Pay-As-You-Go customer in UK, they must be very rich!! After I have changed my already-chosen (!) message options to none, they also continue to send me messages.. It was crazy!..



I really don't care what employees of the company say here, I am the one who lost some money and I believe that there are many people here in my situation.. That is the final stage of modern theft and I have never seen anything like this before..



There must be a legal solution for that, but I don't know what it is.. I am definitely willing to take a role, if there is a legal solution for this.



Best Regards.
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#9 Consumer Comment

how to get of the problem

AUTHOR: Lorena - (France)

your site goes on and on about how the company is a rip off but nowhere do you offer the victims a way out of the mess they were tricked into.



any hints?
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#10 Consumer Suggestion

a bit of detective work reveals the company court records

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

I have included an in-depth research of the company court records as part of a personal investigative exercize at



http://badbusinessbureau.com/reports/ripoff127603.htm



Please follow the link above for court records about the company including a class action complaint filed recently with the San Diego Superior Court.
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#11 UPDATE EX-employee responds

I worked there. It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.

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

I worked at the company for 1.5 days and within that 1.5 days I witnessed the morning regiment of creating fake messages. Each employee is assigned a set of groups to send out fake messages to.. something like 10 groups each x 5 people(the big ones).



They were running it out of one of Mr. Pousti's condo's in UTC. If they are still there all anyone has to do is call the fire department and they will be fined and kicked out.



Mr. Pousti's philosophy is that by sending out controversial messages, it will spurn discussion and create lots of messages.



I didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement and this freaked them out when I walked out after 1.5 days.



It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.



I also know a close relative of Mr. Pousti, and he has said affirmed that Pousti isn't really the type to be trusted. People change, but it doesn't look like that had happened since I was there being asked to send out fake messages.
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#12 UPDATE EX-employee responds

I worked there. It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.

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

I worked at the company for 1.5 days and within that 1.5 days I witnessed the morning regiment of creating fake messages. Each employee is assigned a set of groups to send out fake messages to.. something like 10 groups each x 5 people(the big ones).



They were running it out of one of Mr. Pousti's condo's in UTC. If they are still there all anyone has to do is call the fire department and they will be fined and kicked out.



Mr. Pousti's philosophy is that by sending out controversial messages, it will spurn discussion and create lots of messages.



I didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement and this freaked them out when I walked out after 1.5 days.



It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.



I also know a close relative of Mr. Pousti, and he has said affirmed that Pousti isn't really the type to be trusted. People change, but it doesn't look like that had happened since I was there being asked to send out fake messages.
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#13 UPDATE EX-employee responds

I worked there. It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.

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

I worked at the company for 1.5 days and within that 1.5 days I witnessed the morning regiment of creating fake messages. Each employee is assigned a set of groups to send out fake messages to.. something like 10 groups each x 5 people(the big ones).



They were running it out of one of Mr. Pousti's condo's in UTC. If they are still there all anyone has to do is call the fire department and they will be fined and kicked out.



Mr. Pousti's philosophy is that by sending out controversial messages, it will spurn discussion and create lots of messages.



I didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement and this freaked them out when I walked out after 1.5 days.



It's very cultish, and I'd love to see them threaten me, because it would only further expose the weak pratices.



I also know a close relative of Mr. Pousti, and he has said affirmed that Pousti isn't really the type to be trusted. People change, but it doesn't look like that had happened since I was there being asked to send out fake messages.
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#14 Consumer Suggestion

Refund department

AUTHOR: Chiang - (United Kingdom)

I would like to know from current employees as well as ex-employees whether any customers have been redunded before. I myself has filed a refund form (after I was alerted from my mobile phone bill that I was unknowingly charged for receiving a few dating spam sms everyday since registering the company) in September 2004 and has heard from this guy from customer service department twice, first telling me to file a refund form, second one telling me after a month and a half later (after I sent him a follow up email as they said it takes 4-6 weeks to deal with refunds) that my refund is being processed. Ever since then I have never heard anything from the company about my refund. IS THIS THE COMPANY'S POLICY IN DEALING WITH THEIR CUSTOMERS, OFFERING FULL REFUNDS WITH NO HASSLE?? Well my personal experience is that these are all lies? If the company hasn't got enough men working in the customer service department then this company is poorly run, and should not claim to offer any customer service, as I don't seem to receive any service. 4 months to process a refund? And no responce from that customer service rep after I contacted him again (well I know email is not very reliable, but if the company is using emails as their only contact option they should well have a pretty good email response system, unless they are not prepared to deal with customers or probably thinking of making customers contacting them difficult). I'm pretty impressed (or relief should I say) how quicky the company discontinued my membership as soon as I emailed them. I hope they can be as impressive too when it comes to answering customers and refunding customers back on charges for receiving dating spam sms which they are unaware of and which cost money and which mobile phone operators (vodafone in my case) permit them to do so.
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#15 Consumer Comment

The company breaks law -> EEC Directive 2002/58

AUTHOR: Paul - (United Kingdom)

Unsolicited Commercial Emails are against European law under the terms of EEC Directive 2002/58



How can this joke of a company defend mailing everyone in a customer's address book with the sole purpose of advertising their highly questionable services?



They are a bunch of criminals.



Incidentally they now seem to be pushing birthdayalarm.com in their SPAM emails as well. Steer clear.
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#16 UPDATE Employee

Response It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account

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

It has nothing to do with sticking up for my company, but rather the arguement that the company is not a legitamate company and only exists to rip people off. Your friend probably didn't take the time to read anything as they were going through the registry. This is nothing new as many people have had this same complaint, even my own friends.



I tell them thus: at the top of the page on step 2 of the registration where you have the OPTION of "synching your address book", that is namely, putting in your hotmail address and password thereby allowing the company to send invites to people on your addressbook. It clearly states at the top what this does and that by putting in your hotmail or yahoo address and password you agree to this. If you didn't want this to happen WHY put in your email address and password? In fact as a basic rule of thumb anytime someone or a company asks for pertinent personal information, you should read about what they do with it BEFORE you give something like that out.



The legal laws are there to protect the company from the consumer. A corporation must protect it's own interests especially when it can be sued by anyone for almost anything nowadays. The consumer has the responsibility to protect themselves, no legalities can force a consumer to do something beyond their own free will. In this case there was no legal jargon, or hidden small text. Your friend, like so many others irresponsibly blazed through the registration clicking (NEXT) without even bothering to read the LARGE text, much less the small text that will accompany ANY established corporation be it "Microsoft", or "Bob's Garage & Repair". If you buy a house, do you read the agreement? What about when you're buying a new $60,000 car? Of course! You want to make sure you know what you're getting into. How does this differ from that?



As for you being "charged a rediculous amount for text messages", I want to point out the confirmation page that lists very clearly all the premium features that one can sign up for. Also, keep in mind that the company does not send out any text messages that are not related to premium stuff. Why? Because even though, we do not charge for text messages being sent from the company, this does not mean your carrier won't charge you for ANY text message received or being sent. We have no control over this as you agreed to the "Terms of Agreement" when you signed up with your carriers. The registration is very clear and follows a logical 4-5 step approach with a summerization and confirmation page. It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account.
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#17 UPDATE Employee

Response It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account

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

It has nothing to do with sticking up for my company, but rather the arguement that the company is not a legitamate company and only exists to rip people off. Your friend probably didn't take the time to read anything as they were going through the registry. This is nothing new as many people have had this same complaint, even my own friends.



I tell them thus: at the top of the page on step 2 of the registration where you have the OPTION of "synching your address book", that is namely, putting in your hotmail address and password thereby allowing the company to send invites to people on your addressbook. It clearly states at the top what this does and that by putting in your hotmail or yahoo address and password you agree to this. If you didn't want this to happen WHY put in your email address and password? In fact as a basic rule of thumb anytime someone or a company asks for pertinent personal information, you should read about what they do with it BEFORE you give something like that out.



The legal laws are there to protect the company from the consumer. A corporation must protect it's own interests especially when it can be sued by anyone for almost anything nowadays. The consumer has the responsibility to protect themselves, no legalities can force a consumer to do something beyond their own free will. In this case there was no legal jargon, or hidden small text. Your friend, like so many others irresponsibly blazed through the registration clicking (NEXT) without even bothering to read the LARGE text, much less the small text that will accompany ANY established corporation be it "Microsoft", or "Bob's Garage & Repair". If you buy a house, do you read the agreement? What about when you're buying a new $60,000 car? Of course! You want to make sure you know what you're getting into. How does this differ from that?



As for you being "charged a rediculous amount for text messages", I want to point out the confirmation page that lists very clearly all the premium features that one can sign up for. Also, keep in mind that the company does not send out any text messages that are not related to premium stuff. Why? Because even though, we do not charge for text messages being sent from the company, this does not mean your carrier won't charge you for ANY text message received or being sent. We have no control over this as you agreed to the "Terms of Agreement" when you signed up with your carriers. The registration is very clear and follows a logical 4-5 step approach with a summerization and confirmation page. It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account.
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#18 UPDATE Employee

Response It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account

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

It has nothing to do with sticking up for my company, but rather the arguement that the company is not a legitamate company and only exists to rip people off. Your friend probably didn't take the time to read anything as they were going through the registry. This is nothing new as many people have had this same complaint, even my own friends.



I tell them thus: at the top of the page on step 2 of the registration where you have the OPTION of "synching your address book", that is namely, putting in your hotmail address and password thereby allowing the company to send invites to people on your addressbook. It clearly states at the top what this does and that by putting in your hotmail or yahoo address and password you agree to this. If you didn't want this to happen WHY put in your email address and password? In fact as a basic rule of thumb anytime someone or a company asks for pertinent personal information, you should read about what they do with it BEFORE you give something like that out.



The legal laws are there to protect the company from the consumer. A corporation must protect it's own interests especially when it can be sued by anyone for almost anything nowadays. The consumer has the responsibility to protect themselves, no legalities can force a consumer to do something beyond their own free will. In this case there was no legal jargon, or hidden small text. Your friend, like so many others irresponsibly blazed through the registration clicking (NEXT) without even bothering to read the LARGE text, much less the small text that will accompany ANY established corporation be it "Microsoft", or "Bob's Garage & Repair". If you buy a house, do you read the agreement? What about when you're buying a new $60,000 car? Of course! You want to make sure you know what you're getting into. How does this differ from that?



As for you being "charged a rediculous amount for text messages", I want to point out the confirmation page that lists very clearly all the premium features that one can sign up for. Also, keep in mind that the company does not send out any text messages that are not related to premium stuff. Why? Because even though, we do not charge for text messages being sent from the company, this does not mean your carrier won't charge you for ANY text message received or being sent. We have no control over this as you agreed to the "Terms of Agreement" when you signed up with your carriers. The registration is very clear and follows a logical 4-5 step approach with a summerization and confirmation page. It is hardly different than signing up for Hotmail account.
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#19 Consumer Comment

response I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.

AUTHOR: Caroline - (United Kingdom)

I understand you wanting to stick up for the company you work for and I believe that it is possible to see a ligitimate service in sms. However, the fact still remains I signed up for this service because I thought I was being invited by my friend via e mail. He knew nothing about it. It doesn't matter what legal loopholes you are able to hind behind it is still completely immoral way of finding new customers. I ended up being charged a ludicrously high amount for text messages I was not aware of signing up for and was unable to stop. I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.
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#20 Consumer Comment

response I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.

AUTHOR: Caroline - (United Kingdom)

I understand you wanting to stick up for the company you work for and I believe that it is possible to see a ligitimate service in sms. However, the fact still remains I signed up for this service because I thought I was being invited by my friend via e mail. He knew nothing about it. It doesn't matter what legal loopholes you are able to hind behind it is still completely immoral way of finding new customers. I ended up being charged a ludicrously high amount for text messages I was not aware of signing up for and was unable to stop. I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.
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#21 Consumer Comment

response I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.

AUTHOR: Caroline - (United Kingdom)

I understand you wanting to stick up for the company you work for and I believe that it is possible to see a ligitimate service in sms. However, the fact still remains I signed up for this service because I thought I was being invited by my friend via e mail. He knew nothing about it. It doesn't matter what legal loopholes you are able to hind behind it is still completely immoral way of finding new customers. I ended up being charged a ludicrously high amount for text messages I was not aware of signing up for and was unable to stop. I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.
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#22 Consumer Comment

response I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.

AUTHOR: Caroline - (United Kingdom)

I understand you wanting to stick up for the company you work for and I believe that it is possible to see a ligitimate service in sms. However, the fact still remains I signed up for this service because I thought I was being invited by my friend via e mail. He knew nothing about it. It doesn't matter what legal loopholes you are able to hind behind it is still completely immoral way of finding new customers. I ended up being charged a ludicrously high amount for text messages I was not aware of signing up for and was unable to stop. I see no way that anyone could ever justify this.
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#23 UPDATE Employee

The company NOT A SCAM

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

Hi there,

I'm a web/graphics designer for the company. I've come across a few of posts in forums about the company that have ranged from the completely absurd and hilarious, to some very valid comments. I think it's funny the conclusions some people have made to Michael Pousti's name, as well as the the company = scams. Clever stuff. Anyways, I am a real person working in San Diego at this company and I wanted to mention a few things.



the company is not a scam - nor has it ever been. Had we been a real scam you would have definitely heard it from everywhere not just the four or five forums that i found searching google. There have been plenty of scams on the internet and I remember hearing about them posted on MSN, on the news, radio, and tons of other resources. If you do some research you will see that CBS, CNBC, IDC, Alexa, Yahoo Finance, Lycos, etc have all done major reports on us and the company. Surely if the company were truely scammers they and their resources at hand would have said something. Here's some articles they've done on us.



Lycos Finance: http://finance.lycos.com/qc/news/story.aspx?symbols=PRIMEZONE:100&story=200411191850_PZN_68067

Yahoo Finance UK: http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/041210/290/f8asr.html



Here you will see articles and verified press releases about the company http://www.sms.ac/corporate/post/video_pousti.aspx



I was curious about some of these allegations and did some research of my own. I found out that several of the people that have posted this stuff are indeed ex-employees of the company that got pissed off and quit, determined to do whatever they could to disrupt the company. Real mature. Also, the company does indeed have millions of active users and we see a lot of satisified customers everyday.



There has been some mention about "seeding" and how the company is using employees using ghost accounts to spam club messages to premiere accounts. This was indeed done FOUR YEARS ago when the clubs first were offered as to increase interest and site activity. It has not been done since then.



I sit right next to the Customer Service and i hear them taking calls. There are people that choose to opt out of our premiere services. I do not hear the CS people in any way badgering these people. We offer full refunds and will cancel you from our services no hassel guaranteed.



Malaysia was our 2nd biggest market, we lost that market because we were not clear enough in our pricing and opting of our channels and clubs. This has been changed and we have re-entered Malaysia's market sometime in the last few months. They are now steadily becoming one of our top markets again.



The two major VALID concerns I've seen is that:

1. During registration the synching of your Hotmail and Yahoo accounts were done without you knowing it.

- I am personally making sure that this changes. There is now a "manual" button that you can manually de-select people that you do not want to synch. I am further improving this by making sure that if you simply click NEXT on the registration it DOES NOT send out stuff to everyone on your address list. You would HAVE to manually ADD them in order for this to work. I am also personally creating an online flash tutorial that will go step by step to show you how and what this function of the registration does.



2. Billing for the company text messages.

- We do NOT bill you for official ads/notifications. You are billed for premium services only. The problem is thus: we do not have control over your carriers policies. If they say they are going to bill you for every txt message you get or receive we can't do anything about it. So even though WE don't charge you, you are still getting charged by the CARRIERS. The amount of e-mail and text message advertising we send out HAS to be regulated. This is something that I personally feel has to be done. I hate SPAM as much as everyone else.



Guys, complaints, feedback, etc, is important. I'm a regular guy like you - I'm not some high and mighty corporate worker sitting in a corner office with a plaque of my name stamped on it. I have a wife and a family to support, i have no illusions of grandeur. I work hard and take pride in what i do. I am not ignorant or have had the "wool pulled over my eyes." Come on people, the people that have started these threads haven't really provided any concrete information...they've posted second and thirdhand crap that they found on the internet. No verifiable sources, no PROOF, just personal attacks and their say-so. Read those articles, talk to real people that use this service and our site. We have gone through many changes - you can be sure that people complained a lot about this software company that came out with a operating system...you might know it called Microsoft. But they got better, they improved...the company may not be godlike answer to all your needs but the company is real, legit, employs and pays real people, and truely believes in the goal of becoming the #1 in the Mobilespace.
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#24 Consumer Comment

Possible sms refunds

AUTHOR: Caroline - (United Kingdom)

I had pretty much the same experience as Brian from Alberta. It felt no different to me than if someone had broken into my house and stolen money from my purse. Anyway imagine my amazement when I discovered that sms is a company approved by Orange (a leading UK mobile phone company).

I managed to get hold of a number for the sms customer service line in America and after a few choice words I was offered a refund form. I have filled it in and am waiting to hear back so it may well be part of the scam but fingers crossed.

Anyway the number is (00800) 72203000. Please vent your anger!!!
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#25 Consumer Comment

Scam!

AUTHOR: Brian - (Canada)

All i have to say is i signed up for this site thinking it was going to give me free text messaging.. I did not click on any other options they had. At the time i did not have free incoming text messaging, but sms kept sending me 3-10 trivial questions a day on my phone. When i sent a email to sms and asked them to stop. Ofcourse it did not... i ended up costing me $40 for incoming text messages for the month... excuse my language, but that pissed me off... that is all. I agree.. the site is a scam!!!
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#26 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Reponse to Chris

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

I used to work at the company Chris, and all the crap sms pulls is true and you know it. You run the "seeding" department and you know that each person in your department is required to send 1000 fake messages a day because the amount of messages that actual members send is next to nothing. Anyone who wants to get out of the scam send STOP to 188 1051.



And Chris I will be more than happy to publish my full name and email address if you give me your word that the company will not file suit against me. But you won't do that will you? Because you will sue us, we all signed non disclosure agreements and now we are divulging company secrets. So you force us all to speak out anonymously.
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#27 Consumer Suggestion

I have seen the presentation and am pretty surprised to see these responses?

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

I recently have seen the presentation given to prospective employees and thought it was excellent. I have worked for several start-ups and understand what it takes to make a company successful (of which, 95% do not). I have also been following the mobile industry and know most of their business models. If one was to look at www.upoc.com, www.blah.com, www.zed.com, etc.. (there are a many of these companies) you may find some similarities.



From what I am seeing from these posts, the company is not getting a fair shake. I met with some of the people after the presentation and everyone seemed to me.. very genuine and proud of what they are doing. Some very bright and motivated people over there.



All and all, I don't think what is happening over at SMS.at is "fraudulent", I think it is a company trying to acheive big things with the resources they have. I personally appluad them for this.
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#28 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Owner of CosmiCell.com an The company mobile Marketing Co. in the US that has done business through THE Company

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

As an owner of a Mobile Marketing company here in the US, I have done business with a now Ex employee of the company and wish to address my concern after being called personally by the CEO of the company asking not "to stir the pot" after I used my Club CosmiCell on the site to ask for suggestions and comments about your report. I certainly have many questions as to the company's way of doing business after being accused of spamming my own Club by simply letting my Club know that we are offering to let qualified persons to start their own SMS mobile Marketing Company in the USA or abroad.



I received a letter from them telling me that they would....Well let me quote from a Copy & Paste "Spamming is a violation of the the company agreement that you consented to during registration. If you continue to send commercial messages, your club will be removed and you will be banned from our systems.



My Club is about Mobile Marketing and by joining the club I allow my members of 104 people to get 1st hand knowledge of what we are doing in real time. Tell me if this is a violation of any spam as this is what I wrote: we are letting any one with right stuff to start an SMS business in the USA and abroad at CosmiCell. Check us out.



Well I sure do not know what these clubs are for if we can not talk to our members about the very thing we exist for?



I am a legitimate company that wishes to help others get started in a business of their interest. This is why they joined. So if they do not let me speak to my own members I see no use in it.



I have a concern about a company that claims to have 10 million users and can not even give us a member count in a given geographical area. 12snap.com does this very thing in real time stats and I will be doing the very same thing as I am not one to hide such an important asset about my company so just tell me why they would?

I told their CEO that even bad press is good press as it has been that way in the media for years and has not changed so why be hush-hush?

I can not call myself an employee as I have never received any documentation when asked to bring companies to them for a % of their income, but I am certainly glad that I got red flags when the rep I was working with was fired and gave me the reports he did about the company. I stopped doing business with them and never looked back. God knows what may have come of my reputation I have worked so hard to accomplish over the years on the net.



Like many others out there I have been scammed on the internet and just wish we could here the truth behind all the accusations posted here.

If I were Michael Pousti I would certainly stand up and address this 1st hand. He has everything to gain from a public announcement.



I hope I speak for the many and hope to hear from any one that has a question for me about my discussions with employees and excutive from the company as i do know you are unable to post directly to me but then just go through these guys at www.ripoffreport.com and I am sure they will forward your questions to me.
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#29 Author of original report

Mr. McKibbin. No offense, but you might be considered by those who know better as a person who 'drank the kool-aid in large quantities'.

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

Thank you Mr. McKibbin for your response.



Mr. McKibbin. No offense, but you might be considered by those who know better as a person who 'drank the kool-aid in large quantities'.

Thought-reform techniques combined with so much misinformation and the sapping away of life outside the company might be convincing enough to some that the company is run *LIKE* a cult. Whether or not the company *IS* a cult is purely the opinion of anyone who experienced it. People I have talked with at length are convinced the company *IS* a cult and a dangerous place to be.



Mr. McKibbin. Did you ever send SMS text messages from the company headquarters to the company users opted into 'clubs' posing as an actual user and costing the recipients money that the company gets a portion of? Yes or no. Are you aware that those messages are theft and/or fraud? One thing you failed to defend in your rebuttal is this theft-fraud issue. There is as you must know a potential criminal case against the company should anyone decide to contact the FTC or FBI or EDD.I think the more the company threatens people who speak up the more likely it will happen. Time is ticking away.



Australia is fuming over your 'referrals from friends' as you put it. It turns out that it's not as simple as they told you at the company or as harmless as unsuspecting new users are led to believe. Friends are bombarded and emails are sent that are composed by the company but signed as though a user sent them. This is very misleading and most would agree a very shady business practice. ( http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=223940&p=-1 )



I don't see the caring, honest, eager to please company that you attempt to portray in your rebuttal. You can't steal from people and then say 'we want to help you and we will refund your money'. If I go out and rob a local convenience store I can assure you that I will go to jail whether I return the money or not. Unless I'm never caught. Is that what the company hopes? That they will never get caught?



When a blip occurs that double/triple/quadruple bills customers do you investigate all cases of wrongful billing and send refunds *TO ALL*? or do you only refund those who scream the loudest or use your special refund system? I believe *ALL* victims of such faulty software (over billing blips) should be refunded regardless *AND* a letter of apology sent by the company. What do you think? You are qualified to answer this question.



As for the identity issue. If posters reveal their identities they will be threatened by the company. History has shown this to be fact. Already the only person who did reveal their identity is being harassed and told to rat off others or risk being sued. Do you think that's wise? Do you think the company should do such a stupid thing and open themselves up to a counter-suit? People know more about the law than you give them credit for. I wouldn't be surprised if this latest victim of your 'sensitive and caring company' counter-sues you and exposes your 'trade secrets' for the courts to sort out. I estimate that there will be in excess of 40 individuals ready and waiting to testify concerning the open and accepted practices of criminal activity happening right under *YOUR* nose at the company. It doesn't take much imagination for someone like you who's been there long enough to figure out what we're talking about.



As for your news article defending Michael Pousti, I am not aware of the relevance to the USPS information and I am not certain of the credibility of the news source. The USPS site appears quite credible. Anyone reading this report can follow the link provided and make their own determination. I never heard how the operation ended. Can you enlighten us? Were refunds issued?



There is nothing criminal about exercising our God-given fifth-amendment right to free speech and expressing either opinions or facts. Everything in this report is an opinion or fact based on credible information or first person accounts. Where information is not a first person account, links are provided to help the reader to form their own opinions. the company has the right and the ability to respond in like in public with their own rebuttal just like yours. Your rebuttal makes it hard for the company to pursue any libel case. You responded with your facts'. Case dismissed. Let the reader form their own opinions based on yours and our information.



Be careful Mr. McKibbin. You are in this too. I understand you are a sweet guy with a kind heart. Just be very selective who you give it to. Sociopath parasites will think nothing of sucking all the kindness they can from whoever they can to quench their insatiable appetite for personal gain. It would appear, given all the interest worldwide in exposing the company for what it is, that the the company management team is not in a very good light these days. Are you a part of that team?



I can assure you Mr. McKibbin that *WE* are real people and have no doubt that our sentiments ring true for other individuals too afraid or too busy to step forward. As you may have noticed more than one person uses this account. Bob Dominis was gracious enough to provide us a gateway to use it. There are many very intelligent and credible people that are disgusted to have been a part of the company for the time that they were. Not knowing until their last days the extent of the slime-factor'. Believe it or not our interest lies not only in alerting others of the theft of users but also in helping those in the company who may be criminally charged to have a chance to get out of harms way before its too late. Many good people are being used to bankroll a few greedy people who have no conscience. You can only imagine that the inner-circle has plenty of resources to fight given the dividends they must pull. But many of those who may be charged criminally do not have such resources (no thanks to their employer) and will pay a huge price for their roles.



If you have any doubts about what's going on there ask a peer or a relative your spouse or your parents what they think. First give them the whole truth about what is going on behind closed doors. You may find that things you've learned to generally accept they consider ludicrous and that their advice may be the best advice of all - take it.



I commend you for your loyalty Mr. McKibbin assuming you are not knowingly benefiting or planning to benefit from theft and fraud. If your loyalty really is with the customer you couldn't possibly be comfortable if you know how much money is sapped on a daily basis from unsuspecting customers who may not be able to afford to keep their phones activated after getting their bills - only because they trusted the company and were lured into a billing trap - refund or not.



I can imagine that the shareholders of the company will be forgoing more pay to support huge legal fees incurred by defending themselves from all the intelligent and good people out there who don't take criminality kindly. This is what happens to businesses who operate in the 'underground economy' and who use theft as an instrument of financial gain. Always somebody must pay. In this modern world of forums and sites like this, rip-off artists are not getting away so easily. Four years is way too long to milk the industry without drawing attention. As CollegClub obviously waited too long to open their books (as a publicly traded company) the company now waits too long to close their doors and run with the money. All the leaders need now is someone to blame for the fall so they can get out without having to actually produce the big grand exit promised to all (anyone who knows better will come to the conclusion that this is impossible given the *actual* business model).



One last question, Mr. McKibbin. Why did Malaysia shut off the company? Did any other countries ban the company? Do you think Australia will be next?
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#30 Author of original report

*IMPORTANT NOTICE* ...United States Post Office MAIL FRAUD

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

ALL REFERENCES TO "MAIL FRAUD" AND THE ALIAS "MICHAEL RELLER" IN THIS REPORT ARE BASED SOLELY ON INTERPRETATIONS OF INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM THE USPS WEB SITE - http://www.usps.com/judicial/1990deci/err-1.htm . TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE, MICHAEL POUSTI WAS NOT CONVICTED OF MAIL FRAUD AND NOTHING IN THIS REPORT IS INTENDED TO MAKE SUCH CLAIM. HOWEVER, IT HAS NEVER BEEN MADE CLEAR BY MICHAEL POUSTI THE DETAILS SURROUNDING THE OUTCOME OF THE USPS CLAIMS OR WHY THE BUSINESS IN QUESTION STOPPED DOING BUSINESS. AGAIN, WE CAN ONLY GO BY OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE USPS WEB SITE UNTIL MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.



THIS REPORT PROVIDES THE CAPABILITY TO RESPOND WITH A REBUTTAL. THIS IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR MICHAEL POUSTI TO SUBMIT A REBUTTAL AND TELL US HIS SIDE OF THE STORY. WE OPENLY WELCOME SUCH RESPONSE. SHOULD ANY OF OUR REPORT BE PROVEN FALSE OR MISLEADING, WE WILL PUBLICLY RETRACT ALL SUCH INFORMATION AND HUMBLY APOLOGIZE. OUR INTENTION IS NOT TO MISLEAD OR MISCHARACTERIZE. OUR INTENTION IS TO INFORM. THE MORE INFORMATION WE HAVE, THE BETTER INFORMED WE CAN HELP THE READER TO BE.



THANK YOU.
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#31 Author of original report

*IMPORTANT NOTICE* ...United States Post Office MAIL FRAUD

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

ALL REFERENCES TO "MAIL FRAUD" AND THE ALIAS "MICHAEL RELLER" IN THIS REPORT ARE BASED SOLELY ON INTERPRETATIONS OF INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM THE USPS WEB SITE - http://www.usps.com/judicial/1990deci/err-1.htm . TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE, MICHAEL POUSTI WAS NOT CONVICTED OF MAIL FRAUD AND NOTHING IN THIS REPORT IS INTENDED TO MAKE SUCH CLAIM. HOWEVER, IT HAS NEVER BEEN MADE CLEAR BY MICHAEL POUSTI THE DETAILS SURROUNDING THE OUTCOME OF THE USPS CLAIMS OR WHY THE BUSINESS IN QUESTION STOPPED DOING BUSINESS. AGAIN, WE CAN ONLY GO BY OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE USPS WEB SITE UNTIL MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.



THIS REPORT PROVIDES THE CAPABILITY TO RESPOND WITH A REBUTTAL. THIS IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR MICHAEL POUSTI TO SUBMIT A REBUTTAL AND TELL US HIS SIDE OF THE STORY. WE OPENLY WELCOME SUCH RESPONSE. SHOULD ANY OF OUR REPORT BE PROVEN FALSE OR MISLEADING, WE WILL PUBLICLY RETRACT ALL SUCH INFORMATION AND HUMBLY APOLOGIZE. OUR INTENTION IS NOT TO MISLEAD OR MISCHARACTERIZE. OUR INTENTION IS TO INFORM. THE MORE INFORMATION WE HAVE, THE BETTER INFORMED WE CAN HELP THE READER TO BE.



THANK YOU.
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#32 Author of original report

*IMPORTANT NOTICE* ...United States Post Office MAIL FRAUD

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

ALL REFERENCES TO "MAIL FRAUD" AND THE ALIAS "MICHAEL RELLER" IN THIS REPORT ARE BASED SOLELY ON INTERPRETATIONS OF INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM THE USPS WEB SITE - http://www.usps.com/judicial/1990deci/err-1.htm . TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE, MICHAEL POUSTI WAS NOT CONVICTED OF MAIL FRAUD AND NOTHING IN THIS REPORT IS INTENDED TO MAKE SUCH CLAIM. HOWEVER, IT HAS NEVER BEEN MADE CLEAR BY MICHAEL POUSTI THE DETAILS SURROUNDING THE OUTCOME OF THE USPS CLAIMS OR WHY THE BUSINESS IN QUESTION STOPPED DOING BUSINESS. AGAIN, WE CAN ONLY GO BY OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE USPS WEB SITE UNTIL MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.



THIS REPORT PROVIDES THE CAPABILITY TO RESPOND WITH A REBUTTAL. THIS IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR MICHAEL POUSTI TO SUBMIT A REBUTTAL AND TELL US HIS SIDE OF THE STORY. WE OPENLY WELCOME SUCH RESPONSE. SHOULD ANY OF OUR REPORT BE PROVEN FALSE OR MISLEADING, WE WILL PUBLICLY RETRACT ALL SUCH INFORMATION AND HUMBLY APOLOGIZE. OUR INTENTION IS NOT TO MISLEAD OR MISCHARACTERIZE. OUR INTENTION IS TO INFORM. THE MORE INFORMATION WE HAVE, THE BETTER INFORMED WE CAN HELP THE READER TO BE.



THANK YOU.
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#33 Author of original report

*IMPORTANT NOTICE* ...United States Post Office MAIL FRAUD

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

ALL REFERENCES TO "MAIL FRAUD" AND THE ALIAS "MICHAEL RELLER" IN THIS REPORT ARE BASED SOLELY ON INTERPRETATIONS OF INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM THE USPS WEB SITE - http://www.usps.com/judicial/1990deci/err-1.htm . TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE, MICHAEL POUSTI WAS NOT CONVICTED OF MAIL FRAUD AND NOTHING IN THIS REPORT IS INTENDED TO MAKE SUCH CLAIM. HOWEVER, IT HAS NEVER BEEN MADE CLEAR BY MICHAEL POUSTI THE DETAILS SURROUNDING THE OUTCOME OF THE USPS CLAIMS OR WHY THE BUSINESS IN QUESTION STOPPED DOING BUSINESS. AGAIN, WE CAN ONLY GO BY OUR INTERPRETATION OF THE USPS WEB SITE UNTIL MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.



THIS REPORT PROVIDES THE CAPABILITY TO RESPOND WITH A REBUTTAL. THIS IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR MICHAEL POUSTI TO SUBMIT A REBUTTAL AND TELL US HIS SIDE OF THE STORY. WE OPENLY WELCOME SUCH RESPONSE. SHOULD ANY OF OUR REPORT BE PROVEN FALSE OR MISLEADING, WE WILL PUBLICLY RETRACT ALL SUCH INFORMATION AND HUMBLY APOLOGIZE. OUR INTENTION IS NOT TO MISLEAD OR MISCHARACTERIZE. OUR INTENTION IS TO INFORM. THE MORE INFORMATION WE HAVE, THE BETTER INFORMED WE CAN HELP THE READER TO BE.



THANK YOU.
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#34 Author of original report

Michael Pousti's Bio ..He feels this way he can get attention in the press just by being a dick and take credit for revealing something already determined and call himself a 'visionary'.

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

Taken from the CTIA website ( http://www.ctiawireless2004.com/education/speaker_bios.cfm?speakerID=2651 ) where Michael Pousti was a guest speaker earlier this year. His followers at the company who went to the show with him used stolen badges to enter the floor.



What Michael Pousti spoke about (again) was something that everyone knows but doesn't like to talk about. Problems with regulations and so on. He feels this way he can get attention in the press just by being a dick and take credit for revealing something already determined and call himself a 'visionary'. Fact is, everything he does is 'me too' but with less regard for people, property and the law. This pattern of conduct has been cited by the company in legal threats as their 'trade secret'.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



EMBELLISHED BIO OF MICHAEL POUSTI (as seen at the CTIA web site):



"Prior to the company, Mr. Pousti co-founded CollegeClub.com in 1993, serving as chairman and CEO of what was the largest youth product on the Internet. He led that company to file an initial public offering (IPO) in early 2000. Collegeclub.com was acquired later that year. Prior to CollegeClub.com, Mr. Pousti served as co-founder and CEO of Productivity Solutions Corporation, a company that he led from concept to acquisition by Unisys Corporation. Mr. Pousti founded Higher Educational Resources, Inc., At the age of 22, Mr. Pousti employed 170 people and his corporation became the first company to successfully commercialize searching on the Internet (then called the Arpanet)."



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



BIO OF MICHAEL POUSTI (created by compiling information from the Internet):



"Prior to the company, Mr. Pousti co-founded CollegeClub.com in the mid-nineties, serving as chairman and CEO of what was the largest youth product on the Internet. He led that company to file an initial public offering (IPO) sometime after the dot com implosions when Internet IPOs came to a halt. Collegeclub.com was acquired later that year in a bankruptcy fire sale only after Michael Pousti was relieved of his duties. Prior to CollegeClub.com, Mr. Pousti dropped out of college ( http://www.dailyaztec.com/Archive/Spring-1999/05-06/City/story03.html ) and founded Higher Educational Resources, Inc., which he used to bilk thousands of college students (his peers) out of money through a mail fraud scam. At the age of 22, Mr. Pousti used the money sent by unsuspecting college students to employ 170 people to answer the 800 lines and stuff envelopes. It looked like the scam would work until the Feds knocked on the door ( http://www.usps.com/judicial/1990deci/err-1.htm ) with a cease and decist order." Luckily Michael Pousti was not convicted of fraud and he may have even profited from the scam.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Former employees of CollegeClub speak out online in forums and blogs. Here's a sample: ( http://www.spies.com/~gus/ran/0006/cclive.htm ).



Nothing has been found to either confirm or deny the following 'fact':



"Prior to CollegeClub.com, Mr. Pousti served as co-founder and CEO of Productivity Solutions Corporation, a company that he led from concept to acquisition by Unisys Corporation."



But it sounds impressive. I guess all people who were there when Gore opened the doors to the ARPAnet and made it public as the 'Internet' can claim some major fisrt. But this first is simply ridiculous since the searching of the internet prior to the World Wide Web was called 'GOPHER' and Mr. Pousti did not commercialize GOPHER. In fact, when the Internet was ARPANet, any commercial use of the network was prohibited. Maybe Mr. Pousti did make history being the first to use the ARPANet for commercial use breaking all laws and respect for the network for his personal gain. Now this I can believe. But this wouldn't have taken a great business leader. Any crook with a computer could have done the same thing.
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#35 UPDATE Employee

VP Customer Relations

AUTHOR: Chris McKibbin - (U.S.A.)

Greetings. My name is Chris McKibbin and I am the head of customer service at the Company. When I came across this posting (I found it on Google), I decided to personally respond to the outrageous and libelous statements that are being posted here. As you can see, I am not hiding behind an alias, unlike the person that is making false statements about the Company on this web site.



Perhaps Bob Dominis realizes that posting damaging lies is actually a crime that may be punishable by prison time and/or fines. I can only assume that this is why they dont want us to know their real name. Despite what that person wants you to believe, no person named Bob Dominis has ever worked at the Company.



For that reason alone, this person should have zero credibility with you, or anyone that is reading the text posted on this site. If you look closely at the wording he or she uses throughout their rant... I believe that youll come to the same conclusion I have that the postings are a personal attack on the Company from a bitter individual, nothing more. Thats my opinion.



The Company is a business. We have millions of registered members in more than 170 countries. And while having so many users around the world presents an enormous challenge for my customer service team, we are working super-hard to answer every inquiry within 24-hours. Why? Customer satisfaction is really important to the company. Do you know any other company that offers their customers a no questions asked refund? We don't hide that in small print, either. Have a look at the statement that is viewable by clicking the help button on every page of our site:



Your satisfaction is our highest priority. If at any time you are not satisfied with our service -- FOR ANY REASON -- we will work around the clock to incorporate your suggestions, or even refund ANY COST you have incurred in the last 30 days. That's our commitment to you, our customer.



As for the personal attacks that the imposter Bob Dominis is making against Michael Pousti (CEO) they too are ridiculous and false. Of course, youve probably already decided that for yourself. Michael Pousti was NEVER accused of mail fraud, as suggested by Bob, or whatever his/her name is. That person is desperately attempting to tie Michael Pousti to a disagreement that took place four companiesand over 14 years ago (he was 22 years old). Michael did have a disagreement with the Postal Service that basically amounted to the use of a LOGO. But, the court sided with Michael Pousti and the complaint was immediately thrown out of court. Does that sound like mail fraud to you?? Have a look at a truncated version of the related news story that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune in 1990:



Judge Won't Bar Mail for Scholarship Firm



by The San Diego Union Tribune



March 10, 1990 Page(s): B-2 Edition: 5,6



Section: LOCAL



Record Number: SDU2292198



A federal judge here Thursday refused to issue a preliminary injunction that would have put a Postal Service hold on incoming mail of a San Diego firm that charges $60 fees to students for assistance in obtaining scholarships and grants.



U.S. District Judge Judith N. Keep said the government failed to show evidence of serious harm to warrant the injunction against National Scholastic Resource Administration Inc., which does business here as Academic Council on Financial Assistance (ACFA).



Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen M. Shichman, seeking the injunction, contended that the wording on advertising material is misleading in implying that ACFA handles the applications for grants and fellowships. She also said the use of letterhead seals bearing an eagle symbol implies that the organization is official.



But Keep agreed with attorney William J. Olson, representing ACFA, that any student reading the marketing material in full would realize that the service being offered only matches students with available sources of student aid.



Look at the facts and then judge for yourself. The company is a terrific company, not a cult. Give me a break. The statements being made by person or persons on this site are not only hurtful they are criminal. Unlike the persons(s) that are making those accusations, I am happy to step-up and be identified as a REAL person that works at the company.



If you are posting to this site and are unwilling to identify yourself and engage me in public debate, then go awayyou have no credibility. We have customers to serve almost all of whom ARE satisfied. In fact, the vast majority of people registering at the company heard of us through their friends.



The company welcomes constructive feedback as to how we can make the company even better. If you are already a member of the company and you need help, or have any questions or comments-- PLEASE contact us. I've set-up a special email mailbox for posters to this site, so that I can respond to you as quickly, as possible: [DELETED].

[Place your comments below and be sure to include your FULL contact information so Rip-off Report can contact you.]



And if you want to discuss ANY DETAILS of these postings in greater detail over the phone, you can ring the executive vice president of the company, Greg Wilfahrt. His direct line: [DELETED]. (Note: please only call him for any issues related to this posting thank you). As you can plainly see, we are hoping to hear from you.



Thank you for reading. With my regards,
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#36 UPDATE Employee

Who is the management of the Company?

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

I thought it was important to let everyone know who the management of the company is. I make no claims as to what they have or have not done. I am simply passing along their names. If you have issues, you should deal directly with them:



Michael Pousti

E.G. Brower

Greg Wilfahrt

Amanda Schaffer

Brandie Williams

Chris McKibbin

Brianne Pedersen

Ken Smith

Todd Sabo

Dennis Shresta

David Vandertie

Tim Carter

Dave Hanson
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#37 Author of original report

Concerning the Company Legal Threats

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you run a forum or are the originator of one of the many threads disclosing the facts about the Company, be prepared to recieve a letter from their attorneys citing libel or the revealing of "trade secrets". These are empty threats aimed only at inciting fear and shutting down the thread. the Company cannot act upon their threats because the information customers and ex-employees reveals is the truth or an opinion and criminal practices cannot be protected as "trade secrets".



the Company is not the only company with a Community Development department. But they do use "seeding" which other companies most likely don't. I'll pose this question - is seeding a "trade secret" protected by intellectual property laws or is it a criminal practice punishable by law? Maybe the courts should decide.



Do yourself a big favor and do not leave any trails back to your true identity unless you want a nice gag gift in the form of an empty legal claim with an impressive letterhead.
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#38 Author of original report

Concerning the Company Legal Threats

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you run a forum or are the originator of one of the many threads disclosing the facts about the Company, be prepared to recieve a letter from their attorneys citing libel or the revealing of "trade secrets". These are empty threats aimed only at inciting fear and shutting down the thread. the Company cannot act upon their threats because the information customers and ex-employees reveals is the truth or an opinion and criminal practices cannot be protected as "trade secrets".



the Company is not the only company with a Community Development department. But they do use "seeding" which other companies most likely don't. I'll pose this question - is seeding a "trade secret" protected by intellectual property laws or is it a criminal practice punishable by law? Maybe the courts should decide.



Do yourself a big favor and do not leave any trails back to your true identity unless you want a nice gag gift in the form of an empty legal claim with an impressive letterhead.
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#39 Author of original report

Concerning the Company Legal Threats

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you run a forum or are the originator of one of the many threads disclosing the facts about the Company, be prepared to recieve a letter from their attorneys citing libel or the revealing of "trade secrets". These are empty threats aimed only at inciting fear and shutting down the thread. the Company cannot act upon their threats because the information customers and ex-employees reveals is the truth or an opinion and criminal practices cannot be protected as "trade secrets".



the Company is not the only company with a Community Development department. But they do use "seeding" which other companies most likely don't. I'll pose this question - is seeding a "trade secret" protected by intellectual property laws or is it a criminal practice punishable by law? Maybe the courts should decide.



Do yourself a big favor and do not leave any trails back to your true identity unless you want a nice gag gift in the form of an empty legal claim with an impressive letterhead.
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#40 Author of original report

Concerning the Company Legal Threats

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

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you run a forum or are the originator of one of the many threads disclosing the facts about the Company, be prepared to recieve a letter from their attorneys citing libel or the revealing of "trade secrets". These are empty threats aimed only at inciting fear and shutting down the thread. the Company cannot act upon their threats because the information customers and ex-employees reveals is the truth or an opinion and criminal practices cannot be protected as "trade secrets".



the Company is not the only company with a Community Development department. But they do use "seeding" which other companies most likely don't. I'll pose this question - is seeding a "trade secret" protected by intellectual property laws or is it a criminal practice punishable by law? Maybe the courts should decide.



Do yourself a big favor and do not leave any trails back to your true identity unless you want a nice gag gift in the form of an empty legal claim with an impressive letterhead.
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#41 Consumer Comment

Michael Pousti ? What does that mean ?

AUTHOR: Shen Long - (Australia)

Just to let all you out there know a little about the name "Michael Pousti".



Michael Pousti is a not in itself a name. This person has given us the public plenty of warning that he was out to get rich quick & that he did.



Lets say he got 500K customers all connected etc etc even if he only made $1.00 off of everyone he would have banked a cool half million dollars within what ever time frame it has taken him to get the scam happening.



Michael Pousti is a Greek originated name & any Greek (i.e. Person from Greece or even some who knows how to speak Greek) would of easily picked out that the word "Pousti" translates as Faggot or gay (homosexual). But this is not the true essence of the word either, infact it means to be shafted from behind or to be taken from behind in an unsuspecting manner.



So given this info & the info i read on this website in relation to this scam, Michael & his associates have given us the public plenty of warning that this business was & is a scam.



1.0 He used words that have double meanings or hidden meanings that not everyone would or could of been aware of (i.e. The surname Poustis).



2.0 The company was named. Changing the letters around would make the word "scams".



I for one would like to say that i have been sucked in & sucked in good. I hope that there is a Worldwide Alert into this company's actions & some suitable punishment is passed on to the owners/directors.



Then we would be the "Pousti's" & im sure Michael wouldnt of seen that coming :-p



Best of luck to you all & i really truley feel you all.
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#42 Author of original report

Duplicate copy from above.

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

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#43 Consumer Comment

publication of confidential information

AUTHOR: Adrian - (United Kingdom)

Hi - wondering if you could help (great site by the way).



There is a reference to a site called grumbletext.co.uk which I run which includes certain information which I recently divulged to 2 people in an email bearing a 'strictly private and confidential' banner and I would be grateful if you, or the report writer, Bob Dominis, could edit the report so that the confidential information is not displayed - which will be very simple and straightforward.



The relevant section of the report is:



"Number five - the Company uses frivilous legal threats to harrass ex-employees and sites like this. I can guarantee that this site will recieve a legal doc which claims that this site reveals 'trade secrets'. What a crock. It's happened before at grumbletext.co.uk. It'll surely happen here too."



What is said here is indeed true, however I only disclosed the information to these two parties confidentially in order to help them - the information can have come from nowhere else so one of them appears to have breached my confidentiality which could have serious negative implications for me and my website.



I would therefore be grateful if you could modify the para so it reads:



"Number five - the Company uses frivilous legal threats to harrass ex-employees and, I imagine, sites like this."



If Bob Dominis wants to mention the fact that there was a page on the company at grumbletext.co.uk which got taken down, he can do so, but I do not want any inference that we have been threatened legally, and the nature of that threat.



Thank you for your help - would you be good enough to email me to let me know..



Thanks,
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