WSI approached Rip-off Report and asked us independently to review the claims made in several Rip-off Reports against them . They also requested Rip-off Report to help them resolve any and all outstanding complaints. Through the Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Customer Satisfaction Program
, Rip-off Report analyzes the patterns of complaint against the company and in this case, the claims made against WSI. The company eagerly sought out Rip-off Report services because of its stellar reputation in resolving consumer disputes, and furthermore had no idea what the terms or conditions were for the program but committed to them regardless, because of the reputation the program has.
In order to help those who filed Rip-off Reports and to have their issues resolved, Rip-off Report attempted to locate and contact them. We were only able to find three people, who had bona fide contact information, other than the email address which must be valid. For the other reports, we had no other way to contact them other than the email address. One of the explanations is that some of these complaints may have been bogus; however that is not the norm for Rip-off Report. Of all of the reports filed, the contact data for Rip-off Report victims usually checks out.
Rip-off Report went even further in this review. We studied our internal data base logs, which track the IP address location for each Rip-off Report filed. We quickly noticed a pattern with the IP addresses. In many cases, individuals "claiming" to be from the United States and from various countries internationally, but were actually found to be posted in Toronto, Canada, which their IP addresses revealed.
The next step in the analysis was to determine the reason or the motivation for the deception. Occam's razor corollary came to mind, indicating the reports were most likely filed maliciously and falsely under several identities, but were actually from the same group of individuals, who were pretending to be disgruntled representatives from some of the franchises. So far, it has been determined that they were either competitors or ex-employees with an "axe to grind." Rip-off Report now has a way to avoid this from happening in the future, most of the time.
Based on the information, which we are still in the process of reviewing, Rip-off Report has reason to believe that WSI has been the target of at least one disgruntled former employees and/or competitors and that some of the reports filed against them do not accurately reflect how the company does business.
Here is what Rip-off Report has learned as a result of our review:
We first set out to disprove the claims made against the company in some of the Rip-off Report postings. Although this is an ongoing process, we have begun to obtain evidence that the claims were scurrilous.
WSI SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGED, NOT CONDEMNED FOR SUCCESS
The company headquarters in Mississauga (a suburb of GTA-Toronto); Ontario, Canada operates with a staff of a 100 plus professionals in a 15,000 square foot office, which occupies the entire top floor of an impressive high rise office building, in one of the most prestigious business districts of Toronto. The company, while privately-owned, has been forthcoming about its location
, the identities of their senior management
and franchise opportunity to anyone who inquires. If there had been any deceptiveness in these areas, our findings would have been very different. WSI's management reports that they are highly motivated to disclose any and all information about their operations in order to improve customer confidence. Part of what Rip-off Report does is to advise companies on how to improve customer service, which is the number one reason that companies get a bad rap. A well-trained customer service staff does several things; they communicate the corporate culture, be it good or bad, they "fix" the sale (which connotes permanence), and they determine whether or not you get a repeat performance, which is where companies have traditionally solidified their position in the market.
WSI explained the reasons why it has evolved its brand, and how they did it. They acknowledge how it could have been a cause for concern, but because the company moved to its new office location a year ago, after having been in its previous location for about 10 years. This was part of a very public promotion, announcing the new location.
In Rip-off Report's experience, most rip-off operations use false addresses to hide from their customers.
WSI also proclaims memberships in these industry organizations, including the Canadian Marketing Association
(CMA), International Technology Association of America
(ITAA) , and the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization
(SEMPO). They have stated that memberships to these organizations add credibility to their industry standing and business operations, as the respective Codes of Conduct and Regulations of Membership are very high. WSI's management has expressed that they would like Rip-off Report's visitors to feel similarly reassured in the knowledge that their memberships and ongoing commitment to increasing the professionalism and innovation in their respective industry.
Pursuant to the accusation that the company's staff have been trying to avoid being found or contacted, they claim that nothing could be further from the truth. WSI believes that the recent location move is responsible for some of the confusion. Rip-off Report found senior members of their organization very easily, who were quite forthcoming with information about their company, its business opportunity, franchisee's network and in all aspects of their business; nonetheless, we have been assured that if we obtain independent information from any valid complainant, the company will take immediate steps to correct the matters. It was made very plain that WSI will submit to Rip-off Report's oversight and review and implement actions that will satisfy its customers.
It appears that WSI's rapid growth contributed to the problems described in certain Rip-off Reports filed against them, such as response times to inquiries for support. This company acknowledges that in the past their responsiveness may not have fully met the expectations of some franchisees but like any growing organization they have been adding additional support capacity and improving their processes continually. They have agreed to follow Rip-off Report's recommended approach to customer service which includes that issues be logged and that unresolved issues are escalated for executive review.
WSI's website also announces that it has a franchisee-elected, 12-member, internationally-recognized representative council
that guides the company to better understand and respond to both issues and opportunities that their franchisees may have.
COMMUNITY INTEGRITY: WSI TOUTS STRONG REPUTABLE PARTNERS ALSO
WSI's strong business partner alliances seem to have enhanced their operations and support to customers and franchisees. These include world-class firms such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, who are their consultants on major technological strategic initiatives, and IBM, who they utilize for their data center software and hardware. The company also recently chose Oracle to be their software provider in the development of their new multi-million dollar ERP/Portal software system for franchisees as recommended and approved by their Franchisee Council.
While it is our policy to leave all postings up on our site, Rip-off Report has devised a method of helping the complainant maintain their anonymity, because in at least two cases we have determined that those complainants fear retaliation and that is why it is so important in this case that Rip-off Report maintain its role as mediator. Should any of the complainants come forward, WSI has promised to incorporate Rip-off Report's recommendations to assist us in resolving any bona-fide grievances.
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
The company provided some video footage from their franchisees which they thought might be useful to Rip-off Report readers, who want to understand the franchise system better. We have included them here in the report.
In this video, we hear from some of the franchisees, operating their business:
Here is a video of some of the women who work as franchisees:
Lastly, here is a "promotional video" that the company uses to illustrate how their franchise works:
CARING AND SHARING ARE MARKS OF TRULY GREAT COMPANIES
Like any responsible company, caring and giving is an important part of its mission. WSI works with and for kids around the world. This company has shown goodwill and financial support to many charitable organizations including kidsearchnetwork.org, disastervictims.org , runawayteens.org, the Cancer Society, Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Canada and has been very supportive as one of the larger corporate sponsors of World Vision. In fact, WSI reports that they have taken a leadership role in sponsoring all eligible children in select villages in Peru, Thailand and Africa as part of World Vision, and their mission is supporting children, one village at a time. This video shows a little about that charity, which was part of a press release about WSI's partnership with World Vision. Rich Chapman of World Vision stated, "Already WSI is one of our leading corporate sponsors in the country!"
WSI's altruism and dedication to meaningful causes is also evident in their sponsorship of the foundation, Make Child Poverty History. This video is a recording of a Canadian television channel's broadcast on how the company has worked closely with the Mississauga Firefighters to help reconstruct a village destroyed by fire in Peru.
Here is a video from the company's president illustrating their commitment to their outreach programs. We've included it below.
RIP-OFF REPORT TAKES REPORTS OF CRIME & CORRUPTION SERIOUSLY: WSI IS OK
The next phase of our investigation will focus on those reports claiming that WSI lied to franchisees or stole their money during the franchise application process. Rip-off Report takes these kinds of allegations very seriously so we will spend a considerable amount of time investigating each of these reports. According to the company, applicants who are interested in buying a franchise are required to complete extensive profile documentation, prove they have appropriate funds to run the business (funds which are not borrowed), and to verify that they've received and reviewed all pertinent details about the franchise opportunity. WSI maintains that all of this is done BEFORE they accept a deposit from the applicant.
Rip-off Report reminds consumers who are considering buying a franchise that in the United States, and in many other countries, franchise companies are required by law to disclose a great deal of information about their business to people who are interested in becoming a franchisee. This includes giving franchise applicants a copy of its UFOC, or Uniform Franchise Offering Circular. The UFOC explains the franchise opportunity in detail, including the franchise agreement, what support is offered and so on, as well as a listing of existing franchisees and their locations and any past or present litigation. This gives you a lot of information on which to base your decision, before you make any commitment; however, that should just be the beginning of any investigation. Monitor this site for more hints on buying a franchise.
WSI's selection process is conducted by fully trained, competent and independent Regional Development Directors, who collect a considerable amount of information required by the company before awarding a franchise and to answer all of the questions an applicant has.
WSI TAKES THE HIGH ROAD - HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY
We appreciate the honest, cooperative approach the company has taken in this process. The underlying question in these allegations is whether or not they offer a successful business model. As we are not franchisees we do not have first-hand experience with WSI's business model or their products and it is not really our place to get involved in that issue. The real issue is whether or not the allegations presented on this site are true. At this point, that is more or less irrelevant because WSI has pledged to address each and every person who has complained about them, as outlined in the Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Customer Satisfaction Program agreement .
FRANCHISES ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE
WSI emphatically states that their business model may not be appropriate for everyone, and that to be successful, a franchisee must closely follow its system and be active in promoting the business. This is true of any business, and is why they instruct every applicant to conduct due diligence, obtain the advice and guidance of a lawyer and ask as many questions about the business opportunity as needed before making any commitments.
Rip-off Report strongly recommends that anyone who is considering ANY type of business opportunity to do their homework, carefully research any information given to them, review reports on Rip-off Report critically and consider all credible opinions before becoming a franchisee. WSI reminds potential franchisees that once you purchase a franchise, you've made a commitment.
RIP-OFF REPORT ALWAYS ON GUARD
Rip-off Report will continue to investigate all future posts on WSI independently and seek clarification from the complainant and the company, protecting the anonymity of the complainant, in order to provide accurate information about this company to all of its readers; however, the company has vowed they want to do the right thing and in the name of good will has pledged to address any bona fide complainant on Rip-off Report. We have devised a way of confirming the validity of the complainant to the satisfaction of WSI's management, which does not compromise their identity. The company has also recognized that they have some improvement they need to make, like any responsible business, and pledges to work with Rip-off Report consultants with their customer service issues.
ALL COMPANIES GET COMPLAINTS, BUT HOW THE COMPANY HANDLES THOSE COMPLAINTS, SEPARATES GOOD BUSINESSES FROM BAD BUSINESSES.
Rip-off Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Customer Satisfaction Programrequires EVERY Member business to agree to satisfy all complaints past, present and in the future when applicable. Rip-off Report is always working harder for you, the consumer, so you can feel confident about what to look for when dealing with a company or individual. Remember, just because a company or individual is reported on Rip-off Report does not mean you should not do business with them. Use Rip-off Report information as a tool to your advantage, so you know what to look out for when dealing with that company or individual. No company is perfect, that is why political activists, and consumer advocacy groups are needed to instigate public action for the betterment of our society.
Rip-off Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Customer Satisfaction Program,..A program that benefits the consumer, assures them of complete satisfaction and confidence when doing business with a member business. ED Magedson, Founder of Rip-off Report explains how this program works to benefit both the consumer and the reported business on Rip-off Report.com
Fortunately, when companies like WSI get involved in our Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program, it allows us to investigate further and in greater depth and obtain the resources to keep Rip-off Report alive.
An educated consumer is an informed consumer.
Any questions or comments, please let us know..
ED Magedson - Founder, Rip-off Report.com
Don't let them get away with it.
Make sure they make the Rip-off Report!
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We are not a collection agency.
We are Consumer Advocates.
...the victims' advocate
WE are Civil and Human Rights Activists
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...by consumers, for consumers