Jim and Diane Collins are from Lawrenceburg, Ky, but operate YourTrailerOnline.com from a basement suite on 1001 Monarch Dr. in the Beaumont Center in Lexington, KY. Jim is a pastor of another business named JC Ministries, Inc. During my interview with him on January 8, 2013, Jim told me that I would generate an annual salary of 60-70K and that this was a sales position unlike any others because I would be working alongside people with integrity.
The following are three reasons why working for or doing business with Jim and Diane Collins puts you at risk for ripoff:
1. They ripoff their employees. Jim and Diane Collins improperly classified me as an independent contractor instead of an employee so that they could avoid paying taxes and wages - a scam they pulled with another former employee who was also ripped off of his earnings.
2.They dodge accountability. Jim and Diane Collins are risky people to do business with because their entire operation is built around shielding themselves from liability. They refer to their underpaid receptionist as the "Executive in Finance" and make her sign her name on business forms despite her minimal effectiveness in financial procedures. Their "How to Buy Form" a purchasing contract that customers are required to sign before purchasing a trailer, states that there are no refunds on the deposit, there are no guaranteed delivery dates - even though this is often a pivotal factor in the point of sale - and that all defects are the fault of the manufacturing plant or the customer. If you call and ask who is in charge of the operation, you will not hear "Jim Collins." Jim Collins refers to himself as the "sales manager," and he will not spell out his name on many of the quotes that go out to customers despite the fact that he is the sole authority behind everything. Jim will blame salespersons for outgoing quotes that he not only approved of but sometimes created. Diane refuses to admit she is responsible for collecting payment, even though she is the "finance department." Jim and Diane changed their policy that sales representatives do not involve themselves in financial matters after Diane had trouble getting customers to agree to the terms of the contract that she and Jim created. Jim and Diane avoid phone calls from unsatisfied customers and solicit their former customers, who were satisfied, to convince currently apprehensive customers to proceed with their purchase. Jim and Diane blame the customers when sales representatives await their commission, and blame their sales representatives for the receptionist's low salary.
3. They pride themselves in being "slick salespeople." After Andrew from PA told me he would be purchasing his BBQ trailer in cash, I was pulled into Jim Collin's office and told by him and his wife that I was incompetent, that that he would be taking over this client from that point on. I barely had time to process this before he and his wife were trying to convince me that I was doing a bad job - despite the fact that I made the first and only sale in January -and that I should work for their other business CVS securities selling security systems. I was then moved to an office on an secluded wing on the other side of the floor. They both bragged about their abilities to sell and sweet talk customers for the majority of the meeting. It wasn't until later that I was like, wait a minute, did Jim just take my sale? I also realized that when I tried to bring up my commission for the sale I did make, they stated it was against policy for salespersons to involve themselves in the financial process. Jim brags that he once preached to a congregation of 2 million, and that God called him to save Kenya, and Diane brags that she used to make thousands of dollars selling fancy Italian sports cars. I learned later that they have little faith in their products, designate little time in organizing how they are presented, and don't really care about how they relate to the local economy. What they do believe in, and take pride in, is their ability to sell snow to an eskimo.
From the day I and two other staff members - another salesperson and a receptionist - started training, I was improperly classified as an independent contractor. I was an employee. I spent at least eight hours a day in the office and worked at least five days a week. I was deprived sales calls if I was not in the office, and I was expected to attend all employee meetings. At one meeting I tried to clarify my understanding of my distinctive role of an independent, but this angered Jim who not only corrected me but threatened to take away my clients.
The other salesperson, who assisted Diane in setting up payroll with QuickBooks, apparently opted for "low commission, high base pay." I was pressured by all three to fill out a 1099, but I never did following the advice of a CPA.
I was the first and only person to sell a trailer two weeks after I started, a "gooseneck" that sold for $14,000. I was curious about what my "high commission" from this sale would be and when I would receive it, but I was told it was against company policy for salespersons to be involved in the purchasing process.
My goal was to then sell a concession trailer, as those were more expensive and would therefore generate a higher commission. After investing hours of listening and modifying Andrew from PA's BBQ trailer, he said that he was going to pay for the entire purchase in cash. I notified Jim immediately following this news, and the next day I was told I was too incompetent to handle the sale, and that it would now be Jim's client.
I sold a concession trailer the following week and created leads through my own means of marketing and networking. During this time, I had customers who, after deciding to purchase a trailer and speaking with the "financial department" aka Diane, call me back expressing their apprehension in wiring large amounts of cash when there was seldom information about the company online and when the form they were required to sign to purchase seemed "sketchy."
Jim and Diane began deflecting responsibility in some minor way every day. They soon encouraged their sales reps to involve themselves more in the purchasing procedure, in order to take the burdon of explaining the sketchy policy away from Diane. The receptionist was soon dubbed the, "executive in finance," despite her meager pay without benefits. (When she questioned this at an employee meeting, Jim exploded into one of the frequent tantrums I witnessed in my short time there, sending her away in tears.)
If there were any defects or problems with the operation of the trailer, the form made it clear that it was the fault of the manufacturing plant or the customer. The form absolved Jim and Diane from everything, including guaranteed delivery dates. Jim would soon say, "There are no perfect trailers," and Diane would laugh over their pending lawsuits.
I later encountered a difficult customer who was local. He wanted a trailer for a mobile tech business and wanted to work out every detail about the trailer's structure and cost with a sales rep. After he challenged my limited product knowledge and some of the pricing, I turned to Jim to assist in the consultation. I was still denied access to inventories detailing profit margins. I figured that Jim would take over the sale as he did with Andrew from PA, but this customer's trailer, costing only a third of Andrew's, must not have been worth the time. Despite the customer's insistance that Jim respond to this inquiries, Jim avoided him and blamed me when the sale didn't go through. The customer insisted that this wasn't the case, that it was Jim's shady character as the owner of the company that made him walk.
After working for the company for over four weeks and receiving only half the commission from my first sale, I began to suspect that Jim and Diane were avoiding me. They put in less time at the office which was inconsistant with their previous tendencies to heavily monitor their employees through surveillance equipment and micromanage even the most minute tasks. While they were absent from the office, we were unable to process sales, resulting in the loss of two of my clients who wished to make a purchase the same day.
As my frustration over their inconsistant behavior grew, so did my need for income. On Friday, February 22, 2013, I was supposed to receive the other half of my commission from a sale I make the month before. After being absent from the office all day, Jim and Diane arrived in the late afternoon. I called them all day pleading with one of them to speak with my customer who had questions about financing. He was worried that he would not receive his trailer on time if he did not pay by the deadline Jim gave of 12 PM that day. The customer also wanted an explanation of why he was required to sign a form that stated that no delivery dates were guaranteed, when the delivery date was a stipulation of his purchase. After speaking with Diane, Jim conferenced me and her on the intercom and slowly explained how the customer's frustration was my fault. In the process, the intercom shut off.
I then turned to see Jim running towards my office like a madman, and worried, I immediately called my dad. Diane, who was at Jim's heels, began joining Jim in taunting me for "calling my daddy." I later learned that Diane disconnected the intercom, and Jim, thinking it was me, lost all composure. I managed to escape with my life, but I had still not received any payment.
I contacted the last sales rep, and discovered that Jim ripped him off of wages and commission as well. I called his lawyer and a couple others to discuss my situation, and it seemed like an ideal case for pursuing litigation. However, after sending Jim and Diane emails detailing my intentions, I was sent my "final payout" over a week later. It was then that I finally received receipts detailing the the sale, deductions, and the profit of which I was given 20%. I sold nearly $50,000 in one month and made $7.50 an hour, meaning that in order to make 60-70K a year, I would have to sell over 4x that amount, something that the company, according to the past sales representative, never did.
I was very productive in that office despite the obstacles, and I made the most sales, but I was paid the least. I later learned that Jim was suggesting to the other employees that I was exchanging sexual favors for sales. I was shocked by Jim and Diane's conduct as employers and business owners, and I can't even imagine how they run their other business, the "ministry."
Salespersons were soon instructed everyday to involve themselves further with the financing. The receptionist was then dubbed the "executive in finances." All defects were blamed on the plant or the customer. However, everyone was denied access to any inventories detailing what percentage of every sale was profit - including me, despite their claim that I was contracted and my pay would be based on "20% of the profit."
Diane and Jim went back on their original policy to not involve salespersons in the financing and began encouraging more involvement of us everyday. On the last day I worked there, I received a message from Jim that said, "Ask him when we can expect the full balance and how he intends on paying."