I attended a seminar in Santa Barbara, CA 06 October 2003 about beginning an eBusiness. At the seminar I purchased a travel voucher. Afterwards I enrolled in an e-Business Benefits Association for a fee of US$398.00 or C$543.66. I also purchased a deck of travel vouchers (50)to sell to others on the web sight that uSight contracted to help me build. The cost of these vouchers was US$50 or C$68.30. I submitted a form with a proposed domain name. The name was a transliteration of a Japanese word. I have never had difficulty accessing this name for an e-mail address or to incorporate a small business. It simply isn't used in North America. Had the domain name been unavailable, my telephone number was not. Both Mr Gunn and Mr Shortino used it to lobby me to purchase 7-15 thousand dollars US of advertising and marketing services by credit card on the 27th of October, 2003.
On the 30th of October I received a phone call frone my mother stating that a domain name had been taken out in my personal name without any consultation with me at all! Unless this error is immediately rectified, and the services advertised in the e-Business association delivered, uSight has broken their contract with me and I am entitled to a refund of my investment as the product purchases has become vacuos.
At the time of the initial seminar I had an idea for the e-Business I would begin. The concern was how to finance it. USight offered solutions. USight was offering a second seminar in Southern California the week of October 7th, 2003. However as my time is split between Los Angeles and Toronto, I was unable to participate right away. I explained this to the uSight team. They assured me that since I was willing and able to travel, I could make up this second workshop at a later date. What had been most compelling for me was the eBusiness Association. For a returning expatriot the opportunity to work with other entrepreneurs and form a group qualifying for mutual benefits that none of us, as individuals, might qualify for alone, seemed ideal. That evening I purchased a fantastic laptop on e-bay, a good auction.
It was late the next afternoon when my flight arrived in Toronto. My time was heavily booked. Returning to Los Angeles the 20th of October, the computer had been delivered. I set up the software, internet access, Norton, and some office space. On the 27th, in the morning, I met with my accountant. The 29th I'd be on my way back to Toronto to receive my thirty year recognition for my regular job. I was on the verge of a dramatic move into my future.
So, at first when Mr Gunn phoned about a "mentoring" program that was being offered I thought that the timing was just right. I received a voice mail message, and then a call from Mr Gunn at supper time on the twenty seventh. He said that he was calling ahead to identify candidates for this "mentoring" program. For those who "qualified" the a year of advertising and marketing would be offered and the mentor would work with the candidate step by step to create a "sucess story."
He explained that to "qualify" a person must have five to ten hours per week to devote to the e-Business, they must be knowledgeable and motivated, and they must have money to invest. This seemed reasonable to me. I was listening. I said that I had time, I had a vision, and I might have money. He did not elaborate of the services to be offered or how where, or when they would be deliviered. There was no indication of a written contract or anything tangible or considered. But immediately Mr Gunn began asking me about the quality of my credit; whether I had a major credit card; if so, how many; what the credit limits might be on my credit cards; how much I could put my hands on right away. Well, the blinkers were on, and my answeres were evasive. Finally he said that I would need to come up with 7-15K by credit card to enroll in the mentorship program and that he woulod discuss my vision and "qualifications" with Mr Shortino. If he thought I would "qualify" he would call me back within a few minutes.
Mr Shortino called about ten minutes later. We moved briefly through the discussion of time and the business plan. I mentioned that I had not yet been able to attend the second seminar. Mr Shortino replied that it was not necessary. That the actual business was selling web sites and brokerage accounts, and that this business could dove-tail with my vision. He said that their expertise was in this area and if I could come up with 7-10K right away - a credit card would be the best way to "leverage" the debt - he would welcome me into the mentorship program. I said that I would be much more comfortable with a cheque. Mr Shortino Insisted that credit card debt would be the only way to go. I said I would need time to think it through. Mr Shortino replied that my spot could only be held for 24 hour: Call tomorrow.
My plane was leaving LAX the next morning for Toronto. From the airport I called Mr Shortino's Office. A woman answered the phone. I asked the name of the company. She said: Economic Development Centre and gave me the address. When I asked how long the Centre had been in exsistence she said that she didn't know. She couldn't even guess whether it was a few months, a year, a few years or a long time. When I asked her how many people worked for the Centre she said she didn't know. Again she couldn't even make a rough "guestimate:" 1-5; 6-10; more than 10. It all seemed very strange. I was asking simple, straight forward questions. The answers should be automatic. There had been so much pressure on me to make a large investment by untracable credit card. When I checked the original charges for the seminar on my Visa statement unlike other criditors there was no phone number listed.
Then last night mother called from Los Angeles. It was the day after I'd let the "mentoring" opportunity pass me by. "Emily," she said, "called from that outfit that gave the seminar up in Santa Barbara. She said your domain name is LxxxxxWxxxxx. Your password is Lxxxx. "That's useless," I said. I was confounded. How was it that the "company could contact me for a money scam but not to assist with a proper domain name?"
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