This is an open letter and post for general public viewing regarding my personal experiences with the Trump Institute, their Tax Lien Certificate Course, and the affiliate/partner organizations (A Business Strategies Group LLC of Boca Raton, FL and Business Strategies Group LLC of Rochester, NY), which they work with or may contract through.
I attended the Monday, January 12, 2009, 7:00 p.m. Special Event held at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West Hotel. I heard two speakers and purchased the program covered by the second speaker, Trent E. on behalf of the Trump Institute's Tax Lien Certificate Course, with my bank debit card. I purchased the materials, took them home, and reviewed them thoroughly. After evaluating the materials, I concluded that while it appears to possibly be a worthwhile program, it was neither in alignment nor a fit with what I was looking for. So, I placed my cancellation within the prescribed timeframe of the Notice of Cancellation, see below.
The Trump Institute
A Business Strategies Group, LLC Program
Notice of Cancellation
Date of Transaction
You may cancel this transaction, without any penalty or obligation, within three (3) business days from the above date.
If you cancel, any property traded in, any payments made by you under the contract or sale, and any negotiable instrument executed by you will be returned within ten (10) business days following receipt by the merchant of your cancellation notice, and any security interest arising out of the transaction will be cancelled.
If you cancel, you must make available to the merchant at your residence, in substantially as good condition as when received, any goods delivered to you under this contract or sale, or you may if you wish comply with the instructions of the merchant regarding the return shipment of the goods at the merchants expense and risk.
If you do not agree to return the goods to the merchant, or if the merchant does not pick them up within twenty days of the date of your notice of cancellation, you may retain or dispose of the goods without any further obligation.
To cancel this transaction, mail or deliver a signed and dated copy of this cancellation notice or any other written notice, or send a telegram, to Business Strategies Group, LLC, Business Support Center, 803 West Ave., Rochester, NY, 14611 not later than midnight of 01/16/2009.
I hereby cancel this transaction
You may also call our customer service line toll free at 800-916-7950 or fax a copy of this form to 585-756-4929.
As per the instructions on this Notice of Cancellation, I took the following actions:
1. Called the 800-916-7950 number on Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 2:03 p.m. PST and left a message on the general voicemail box, marked Priority.
2. Faxed my cancellation request to 585-756-4929 on Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 2:50 p.m. PST and received/saved a Fax Log Transaction confirming transmission sent successfully.
3. Sent via USPS Certified Mail Receipt with Domestic Return Receipt First-Class, a letter dated January 15, 2009 providing my Notice of Cancellation. This was postmarked at the 95825 Post Office on Thursday, January 15, 2009 with an acceptance time of 3:34 p.m. PST.
As of today, Wednesday, January 28, 2009, 12:00 p.m. PST, I have not spoken with the responsible individual or department for receiving my refund. What has transpired is the following.
1. Monday, January 19, 2009 at 10:59 a.m. PST, Lauren F. from the Trump Institute called and left a voicemail stating I should call 877-642-9905. (I have downloaded and saved the voicemail recording into an MP3 file.)
2. Since I was traveling, I was unable to return the call until Thursday, January 22, 2009. When I called 877-642-9905, I spoke with Machalle S. She stated I contacted the Trump Institute Coaching Fulfillment number and should be speaking with someone at 800-916-7950 for a refund request.
3. On that very same day, Thursday, January 22, 2009, I called 800-916-7950 and left a message on the general voicemail box, marked Priority. Additionally, I found through the search by name feature on the voicemail system the extension for Lauren F. and left her a message, which I marked Priority.
4. Since I did not hear from anyone, on Monday, January 26, 2009 at 2:31 p.m. PST, I called 877-642-9905 and left a voicemail message for Machalle S., marked Priority.
5. On that very same day, Monday, January 26, 2009 at 2:40 p.m. PST, I called 800-916-7950 and finally spoke with Bill E. with Trump Institute Advance Training. He stated Lauren F. was unavailable and attempted to assist me. He provided a Return Authorization Number RAN and a return address for the materials of Trump Institute, 5030 Champion Blvd., Suite G6-153, Boca Raton, FL 33496. He said I should send it back at my expense via USPS or UPS. I read the Notice of Cancellation back to Bill E. and he said that they could send me a prepaid return label; however, it would take several days to get to me and it would further delay my refund process. Since, according to Bill E. that my 10 business days would commence only after the materials were confirmed received by the Trump Institute.
6. I asked Bill E. to transfer me to Lauren F. extension and I left her another message on her voicemail, marked Priority.
7. Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 10:50 a.m. PST, I called 800-916-7950 and left a message on the general voicemail box, marked Priority. Using the transfer feature, I also left a message on the voicemail for Bill E.
8. Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 11:20 a.m. PST, I received a call from the Trump Institute (I believe from Bill E. however a name was not left). The voicemail message stated that I was provided a Return Authorization Number on the 26th and that they have not received the materials so far. I should expect a refund within 10 business days of them receiving the materials. He then left a return number of 800-495-1941, which is different from all previous numbers provided by the documentation or individuals I had already dealt with regarding the matter. (I have downloaded and saved the voicemail recording into an MP3 file.)
First, per the Notice of Cancellation, which was on the reverse of the Invoice Receipt I had signed, I am entitled to a full refund within 10 business days no questions period.
Second, per the Notice of Cancellation, it states, If you cancel, you must make available to the merchant at your residence, in substantially as good condition as when received, any goods delivered to you under this contract or sale, or you may if you wish comply with the instructions of the merchant regarding the return shipment of the goods at the merchants expense and risk. Where does it state within this language that I must send the materials back prior to receiving my full refund? Where does it state, I must pay for the shipping and handling to return the materials?
BEWARE, I highly caution all other individuals to strongly reconsider dealing with the Trump Institute or with A Business Strategy Group LLC of NY or of FL. Regardless of whether or not this is actually the Trump Institute or an affiliate/partner organization, I hold the Trump Institute responsible for honoring its obligations based on what I executed on a legal and binding contract. The Trump Institute elected to affiliate or partner with this organization and/or the individuals I have dealt with are in the direct employ of the Trump Institute.
While the program itself may or may not have any merit, I would highly caution others to take my experience into serious consideration regardless of what you may hear from the speakers at the program, hear from the individuals at the purchasing/closing table, or read on the Invoice Receipt/Contract/Notice of Cancellation.
If you intend on reserving the right to exercise your Notice of Cancellation, you may end up getting the poor or lack of customer service, poor or lack of response, ill-informed individuals, endless contact points and phone numbers to call, and a general runaround and headache for which you may have not bargained.
As a result of this single interaction, I will never return to the Trump Institute for any future events, workshops, coaching, books, programs, materials, or transactions. A company that does not or cannot abide by its own contract is not an honorable company to deal with in any transaction. It is a shame, I would have thought that a Trump branded organization would have exceeded any expectation I may have had as a client and customer. Sadly, even with the Trump brand on this organization, it falls flat and definitely short of what I would consider reputable or honorable.
As for my $1,828.52 investment, I am cooperating with my bank (who kindly applied a temporary deposit into my account as a possible charge back for the merchant: Trump Institute) while they continue to investigate my complaint and claim over the course of the next 90 days. I also advised my bank that we should keep an eye out for the next 6 to 12 months (at a minimum) for any other activities by this merchant. Within the Invoice/Contract, it states, We will bill the monthly fee of $29.95 plus any applicable tax to the Payment Method you provided to us when you purchased your Trump Institute course. Since they are not responsive nor cooperative nor informed about their own contract, I have serious doubts and reservations about their capacity and capability to follow through with also canceling this extra billable service.
Additionally, I am prepared with my notes in hand to contact the Better Business Bureau of Sacramento, CA and Rochester, NY and of Boca Raton, FL. Finally, since there is no valuable or worthwhile communication with this organization, I will continue to communicate my personal beliefs and impressions of the Trump Institute with the public and media.
Frustrated in Sacramento