Complaint Review: Easton Computer & Electronics
Easton Computer & Electronics Paul Sherman Illegal Labor & Unfair Pay Practices Easton, Pennsylvania
*Author of original report: Update - Jan 2012
I found his job posting here on Craig's List back in July and sent my resume. One day he called and then asked me to come to his shop, and when I got there he expected me to 'prove myself' by working for free. Like hell would I work without being paid, so I told him I had an appointment. He explained his "billable hours" pay scale and right then I knew it was a scam, but I needed the work so I decided to give it a shot. I worked for this guy for exactly two months, and you're about to read what I learned about him and his rip-off tactics.
<u>Warning</u>: He has a new ad up on the site right now because he's obviously looking for someone easier he can take advantage of, who will put-up with his lousy pay scam; comprised of long hours and little compensation. He just modified his ad recently, and stated it's a "long term contract for the successful candidate." Yeah right. More like, "I'm looking to hire the right sucker who will work for me like a slave and make me rich." Hopefully this information will prevent that. Also note that to the best of my knowledge, everything I'm about to tell you is the absolute truth, and what you're about to read is all based on my direct experiences working for this guy.
As I said he calls his pay scam "billable hours," and it's a complete travesty. <u>Here's a run-down of how he rips-off his workers</u>:
1. He only pays you for each hour that you are "able" to write-up his customers for on each of their invoices, and I stress the word "able" because his shop rate is $75 per hour. This is completely improper, because what he's doing is deliberately and greedily limiting your wages by basing them entirely on his business income, rather than paying you a straight hourly rate which would certainly result in a higher paycheck and more money out of his pocket.
2. His shop charges each customer a $60 (of course, 'non-refundable'); deposit. That, in combination with the fact that his shop rate is $75 per hour, means that you can only invoice his customers for two, possibly three hours, because no way in hell are they going to pay more than that to have their computers repaired.
3. Since about 99% of every single computer repair winds-up taking a whole lot longer to complete than what you could possibly invoice his customers for, you wind-up working all those extra hours needed to finish each of the jobs for FREE, while he makes mostly all the profit on all the invoices you turn in. This could very well be considered slave labor and therefore illegal, or even characterized as sweatshop conditions. I should report this guy to the Labor Board because it most certainly <u>is</u> illegal to make someone work over 40 hours without paying them time and a half, and since he's not paying by the hour as he should be, and his "billable hours" pay scam forces you into working more hours just to make a HALF-decent paycheck, he's breaking the law.
4. As a result of 1-3 above, since you are only being paid for the hours you can charge his customers, you are therefore also not being paid for other things, such as spending time with customers who walk-in off the street. You could spend a few hours or more throughout any given day performing standard customer service and you're not even being paid a single penny for any of that time, unless of course you sell something of major value. The last refurbished desktop I talked one of his customers into buying instead of repairing their old junker, was $399. All Paul paid me was a $20 'spiff,' while he made $379, and you can bet he originally bought that computer used for about $65-$75. That means he made $300 or slightly more in profit, and he didn't do a d**n thing for it.
When a customer comes in to pick-up their completed computer, you also have to 'demo' it, to show them that it's working. You also don't get paid for that, or spending time talking to customers on the phone, or the time it takes to sell someone any small dollar items such as computer speakers, cell phone accessories, etc....none of it. You get NOTHING beyond the hours you are able to charge his customers for repairing their computers or for selling a high-dollar item, yet he EXPECTS you to stop working on those computers to help people that come in off the street. You know, you could work at Radio Shack and be paid with greater respect. At least working for them you'd be making commissions <u>on everything you sell</u>, <u>PLUS an hourly rate</u>. At one point I told Zeus (the tech who's amazingly been working there putting up with this crap for more than a year); that I would no longer help any customers who came in off the street because I wasn't being paid for that. Zeus response was to tell me "I couldn't do that," then he started trying to take turns with me each time someone walked in the front door, as if he were 'in charge' and could tell me what to do. Yeah right. I just ignored him.
Anyway, I had started on a Friday, but my second week I put in 31.5 hours because that Monday was a holiday. I turned in nine invoices by the end of that week, plus sold a $599 Acer desktop. As a direct result of his "billable hours" pay scam he paid me a lousy $250, meanwhile he pulled in over $1800 on the invoices I turned in because he also charges his customers astronomical profit margins on parts. When he handed me that pathetic check and saw that I was upset he said, "Well uh, you have to take the initiative and charge the customers more money. Yeah uh, feel them out." Ha, that was my first real week, so my response in argument to this was that I was naturally going by what Zeus was telling me to charge, because that guy has been working there for over a year. Furthermore, earlier that <u>very same day</u> when Zeus was out on a service call, I finished a system and wanted to complete the invoice. I asked Paul how much I should charge and he said, "Oh just wait for Zeus to come back and he'll do the invoice for you." Yet now, here he was, having just handed me a totally pathetic check, telling me to "take the initiative" by charging the customers more so that I can make more money??? Gee, how convenient that he never once mentioned this until <u>after</u> I put all those hours in, eh? This contradictory bullshit screwed me out of the potential to make a little more money that week because he conveniently never told me I should "take it upon myself" to determine customer charges, plus not only that, with a shop rate of $75 per hour, unless you have d**n good customer service skills it's almost impossible to 'charge his customers more' in the first place. What's more, even if you ARE able to charge his customers more, what are YOU getting for that in comparison to what HE'S getting, eh??
In retrospect I found that entire situation to be a setup to screw me out of money that first week because Zeus wrote me a list showing exactly how much I should charge the customer and what I got paid for those certain tasks. (I still have that list, by the way.) This is why I was specifically going by what Zeus stated I should be charging, and Paul d**n well knew that was the case because <u>he himself</u> told me to "wait for Zeus" to finish that invoice. Obviously it was in his best interests to pull that stunt, because he didn't even know if I was a good computer technician and could do the work properly, let alone if I were capable of 'charging his customers more' (which of course I was, on both counts.) And then incredulously, the next week when I <u>did</u> start charging more, Zeus kept telling me "I couldn't do that because the customer won't come back." Yeah right dude. Limit the number of hours I write-up the customers for so that I make less, and have to work more hours? I don't think so pal. In the end I was forced to take a stand against Zeus, because if I did things HIS way, I'd have to work 70 friggin' hours per week like a slave just to make some sort of halfway decent d**n paycheck.
Well, now let's talk about that list Zeus wrote. If you can't "take the initiative and charge the customers more," for reinstalling Windows Paul charges his customers 1.5 and pays you 1.5 hours. For data transfers, it's 1/2 hour. If you sell Norton Internet Security (which he sells for $59.99); you get another 1/2 hour for that.
So let's say you have to reinstall a customer's operating system from scratch. If you're a computer tech, you know that loading Windows is just the first step. There's a whole lot more involved....service Packs, security updates, drivers, software, reconfiguring the operating system....the works. He only pays you a lousy 1.5 hours for all that, because that's what he charges the customer unless you can get away with having them pay more. If you have to do a data transfer as well he only pays you a lousy half hour extra, which is complete bullshit because before you can transfer any data back you have to be sure you removed all the viruses and malware, and that takes a whole lot of time right there. And then of course there are those family computers with several user accounts, which all have to be recreated and all their data transferred. That's a LOT of work, and VERY time consuming. In the end, if you're no good dealing with customers and can't get away with writing them up for more hours, this means that you only get paid 2 lame-a*s hours for a full-blown re-installation; work that every good technician d**n well knows will take a lot more than just those 2 hours to complete.
His entire business is designed to make him all the money while others do all the work. And then one day he came to the shop in this new Camaro and had the audacity to claim poverty like he's not making any money. Gee that's funny, because meanwhile the guy doesn't even work. All he did most of the time I worked in that place, was sit around in his Cardassian-style office that overlooks the rest of the shop doing nothing other than talking on the phone, laughing like a stupid donkey and browsing the internet all day, while his foreigner wife, who knows absolutely nothing about shop operations whatsoever, sits at a desk 20 feet from the entrance to the store showing-off her cleavage and doing the same exact thing. Anyone who owns a small business and doesn't even do any work because others are doing it all, and spends their time laughing and having a good time all day, is obviously doing a whole lot better than they have the audacity to lie to you about, and you can d**n-well quote me on that. It was <u>very obvious</u> to me that I was being <u>totally used to make them money</u>. I was doing <u>all the work</u>, and they were enjoying the fruits of my labor. It's not so much a deliberate act on his wife's part I don't think, because she really doesn't involve herself in much going on in the place, but she <u>is</u> his wife after all, and so she does live-off the money this guy is sucking out of the wallets and paychecks of everyone who works for -or does business- with him.
What's more, he's so entirely greedy that even if you work there and can manage to actually afford to buy something on the criminal amount he pays you, <u>he won't even sell you anything at a discount</u>. It's totally pathetic. This guy would rather have you make his a*s money working like a slave and still charge you $299 or $399 for a refurbished laptop that he likely bought from some customer for $75 friggin' dollars. I tried to buy a prepaid cell phone once and he refused to sell it to me, "because he could sell it to a customer for more money." Those were his actual words, no bullshit. I even offered him my laptop once. I told him I'd reinstall the operating system and get it to factory conditions for free, if he'd let me trade it in for a newer model he was selling for $399. A great deal, since he'd resell mine for probably $350 since it has two batteries, a brand new CPU fan I just installed, and newer hard drive. He asked me to bring it in so he could look at it, and then when I did he said, "Oh. It's one of those HP's. Yeah we buy those from our customers for like $65, yeahhhh," then gave me that moronic donkey laugh and brushed me off. It was like, 'Gee thanks for wasting my time and having me drag my laptop in, jerk-weed.'
I did one networking job at a local doctor's office, having to do with their HMO network software not being able to connect with the HMO network. Paul told me the week before that he'd pay me $25 straight per hour for those kinds of jobs. On the way there, I asked how much I should charge on the invoice. His response? A whopping $95 per hour! That bugged me, so on Day 2 of that particular job, I called Paul at the end of the day and told him I wasn't comfortable working for a mere $25 per hour while he was making $70 off my back, and you know what this son of a b***h did? He tried to knock my rate down to $20! "Oh uh, I'm only paying you $20 since I'm not charging the typical $125. If I were charging the customer $125, then I'd pay you $25 per hour, yeahhhh." Screw that! So in other words, if HE'S making another THIRTY DOLLARS PER HOUR, THEN he'd pay me an additional FIVE DOLLARS PER HOUR?? What a friggin' money-grubbing p***k, I thought. So I sent him two texts after he 'conveniently' cut me off during that conversation. These are copies of the actual texts I sent:
8/5/11 5:42 PM
Me: After this doctor's office, I'm no longer interested in any network jobs. You told me $25 per hour, you never stated any stipulation about "$95 or $125," now you're telling me $20 when I wasn't even satisfied with $25. I said nothing about my laptop deal and you not selling me the Verizon phone, or other things that irked me, but for this I am. You're not paying me fairly as it is. I'm not 18 with no bills, and you need to respect that.
Me: Last thing. It's inappropriate to change the terms of an agreement after a job is started, so come Tuesday I would hope you'll be honorable and pay me what you promised. And in the interests of maintaining a good working relationship I give you fair warning: I don't take kindly to being taken-advantage of. Have no confusion. Zeus and I are two very separate individuals here, and I'm not content. See you Tuesday. 5:42 PM
In other words, I was saying that he can take-advantage of Zeus all he wants, but I'm not putting up with that s**t. And after I sent these two texts it forced him to keep his word and pay me the $25 per hour, but in my mind I still wasn't going to be doing those jobs for him anymore because $25 was not enough, and no way in hell was I going to watch this friggin' guy make $70 per hour off "MY" back. And this situation certainly shows a few things, in that (1) Paul thinks everyone who works for him is stupid and will just put-up with this kind of bullshit, (2) he thinks he can take-advantage of people, and (3) how insanely greedy he truly is. And of course, let's also take into account that this entire situation could have been yet another scam; the old 'reverse-psychology' ploy: When someone asks for more money, tell them you're dropping their pay and then after they complain give them back what you originally promised. That way they feel falsely satisfied as if they accomplished something, and ignore the fact that now they're right back where they started and still getting paid unsatisfactorily. But not me....I don't fall for that s**t either, which is why I still refused to do any other networking jobs.
And then there came a time when my ride fell through and I could no longer get to the shop. Considering how absolutely cheap this guy is, I was amazed that he started bringing computers here to my home for me to work on. That was all well and good, until I realized that I was now using my own equipment instead of his, running my expensive custom desktop for hours on end, using it for grunt-work on <u>his</u> customer's hard drives. When I told him I didn't want to be using that for his jobs, and asked him about bringing over a workstation I could use, he refused and said, "Oh no, my network guys use all their own stuff. Yeahhh." First of all, you should see the inside of his shop. He must have 60 junk computers just lying around collecting dust. (See images.) Oh gee, it was just such a big financial hardship for him to let me use one of those as a workstation. Secondly, "network guys?" What "network guys?" He doesn't have any, obviously because he's too d**n cheap, and no one with any stripe will work for him! And he sure as hell wasn't paying me enough money to be burning-up my equipment for his d**n business, nor did he have the right to just 'unilaterally allocate' my personal equipment to his needs in the first place. In the end, bringing computers here was all to <u>his advantage</u>, and so it sure as hell wasn't some 'favor' because he was making d**n good money by doing that. Considering that, I suppose I shouldn't have been so amazed at him bringing systems here after all, and in retrospect, I see now why he didn't want to bring a workstation here for me to use...because he was planning on just using me to get his backlog done, and in his greedy little narrow viewpoint he obviously didn't want to be getting further tangled-up with someone he was planning on dumping once I got him all caught up with his customers. Yeah, real nice guy, eh?
As for the one guy he has working there, Zeus, he's a foreigner and has been there for over a year, and I can see why Paul hired him. He's certainly a competent technician, but in my opinion he's also rude, self-absorbed, has no outgoing personality whatsoever, was certainly no fun to work with, and a complete SLOB. Check out this guy's <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtCtvyFL0IE/">WORKSTATION!!</a> One time this over-caffeinated freak lashed out at me all because I was looking for a CD that I happened to need, and then while looking for it he demanded that I "not mess up his workstation." Ha! See that video yet? LOOK AT THAT WORKSTATION. How in the **LL could anyone possibly mess THAT up, eh?? What a jerk this guy was. If I were to use one word to describe him, I'd use the word "introverted," to say the least. Total B-Type personality. In my opinion he's afraid of change, he likely has no dreams or aspirations to have a better future for himself beyond his job, and so he'll bend over and take anything Paul dishes out and then ask for more. That guy pans out such blind loyalty you could fry it up and fill the stomachs of an invading army. He works like an alcoholic drinks, likely for bar peanuts considering how cheap Paul is, and whenever he says the word "we," he actually means the shop, as if he's the CEO of some major corporation. "Oh, 'we' can't do this and 'we' can't charge that." Uh yeah whatever, drone-boy.
The entire time I worked in that place, whenever I said anything about the crappy pay or anything else I didn't agree with, he defended Paul <u>every single time</u>, without fail. Paul gave him the keys to the shop after he learned what kind of guy he was and that he could take-advantage of him, and Zeus I imagine just thought that was so awesome....that psychological stuff.....'Oh boy, Paul trusts me so much, he actually gave me a set of keys to his shop! Wow, I'm just so important!' But in reality what he <u>really</u> got was the responsibility to have to be there on time, every day, to open the place up every morning, giving Paul the freedom to come in whenever the hell he wants. I really don't know why Zeus gives Paul such blind loyalty, but in my opinion it's completely misplaced and I certainly didn't trust the guy not to be going behind my back like a little nark office-informant telling Paul everything I said about how greedy he is and how his "billable hours" crap was nothing but a scam. I don't know for sure if he actually did that, but considering what kind of guy Zeus is, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.
Well one thing's for sure, one day soon Paul is going to want to retire, and on that day if Zeus thinks he's going to get some kind of big reward, he's got another thing coming. Likely Paul will sell that shop to the highest bidder or close it up for good, and then he and his wife will fly off to Bermuda or someplace on all the money Zeus made their asses, and Zeus' reward for all his misplaced loyalty and hard work will be nothing more than a trip to the employment office and a new job search. That's when he'll finally wake the h**l up and realize how stupid he was.
Anyway, the end of the first week in September was the last time I saw Paul. Two weeks beforehand he was claiming there was no work coming in, and I knew he was lying because Zeus was telling me the opposite. Then the second week I saw his new employment post here on Craig's List, and I knew it was his ad because I asked if it was, and he said yes. But, he continued on lying about there supposedly being no work that second week like I was stupid and didn't know what was going on, because he was too much of a coward to admit that he was just using me to get his backlog done, and afraid to continue with me because he knew I wasn't content putting up with his lame-a*s pay scam. The fact is, you don't run an ad looking for help if there's no work, duh, and I already knew what was going on the instant he claimed there was no work coming in. Then he came here to pick-up the last three computers I completed (which by the way was like 9:45PM and very rude to be showing up here that late on a Friday evening.) After we loaded them into his car he gave me the old 'thank you and a handshake' routine, as if all was just 'a-ok' and I had just finished mowing his lawn or something. Yeah whatever. Get the h**l out of my driveway.
In closing, I hope by posting this information on Craig's List I'll have prevented that guy from taking advantage of someone else. Everything I said here is the truth, and any comments I've made are based on my opinion of the actual experiences I had while working there. Since Paul visits this site, I'm sure he's going to find this post and read what I've said here. In that case I may as well say, "Paul, you're a greedy b**tard, a user, a liar and a cheat, when it comes to money you have zero respect for anyone but yourself, and you and your little man-servant slave-boy Zeus can go to hell. Oh and PS - I'm turning you in to the Labor Board, you dirty low-life son of a b**ch."
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/01/2011 03:41 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/easton-computer-electronics/easton-pennsylvania-18042/easton-computer-electronics-paul-sherman-illegal-labor-unfair-pay-practices-easton-pe-783514. 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. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content
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