When I first saw the advertisement for WTA (World Traders Assoc.) at www.franchiseoppurtunities.com I was very intrigued with what they had as far as startup costs, and the opportunity that the surplus industry afforded. They made it sound like all of the things that they mentioned on their site was available most of the time, and that because of the availability and the amounts of surplus out there, and the retailers that wanted to buy this surplus at very reduced prices, was a dream come true. The way I understood, or was lead to believe by the brochure was that all this surplus merchandise was there in their warehouse, or at least available by them, so all I had to do was fax a company and give them a great deal on some merchandise that was surplus, but still very marketable because of the huge liquidation price reductions that we would be able to offer them.
I was somewhat skeptical, because it just sounded to good to believe. I asked Hal Firestone, the contact I had at WTA if I could just see the EGML (Exclusive Global Merchandise Listing), before I decided to join the WTA. He said that he couldn't do that because it was against company policy, but that I could visit the Exclusive Merchant website that was available to affiliates to send their clients to, which showed some of the merchandise that was available.
I looked at the site, and saw some merchandise that intrigued me, but there were no prices available to see the potential profitability. I got the feeling that something was not quite right, and I wished that I would have followed my instincts, but Hal was a very likable person, and it seemed that I could trust him when he came up with the excuses for not letting me look at the site before signing up, and paying for membership. The only thing that he did do was to give me a list of people who were supposedly affiliates, and told me that I could contact them, and ask them some questions about the WTA. Well I contacted a couple of them, but most of them I was not able to contact, and I didn't really know if they were affiliates or not.
These are my major complaints: Here is the website brochure: www.wtraders.com
The brochure, and the web site, were very miss leading in making you believe that there is much more available, than there really is, unless you are the one to track it down yourself, which is what they really want in the first place.
The brochure, and the web site, says, sales with no salesmanship required which is totally untrue.
The brochure says that an affiliate can sell their affiliation, but the contract says that the new owner has to pay the $6,950.00 again to belong to the WTA.
The brochure, and the web site, tells of the ongoing support, and the development of the affiliates first 25 accounts, in order for them to start having some income generated. In reality the training is done by phone, in about a week, and when completed you are given a list of contacts that you are supposed to cold call to solicit business (except about a third of the lists businesses were out of business, or bad contacts, or phone numbers.
The profits and sample transactions in the brochure, and the web site show examples of merchandise that I have never seen made available at the price they show, or even the merchandise at all. They show a wholesale price of: $90.00, Then a retail price of: $180.00, and a member price of: $25.00 (this is just one sample of a 4 head VCR that they show, and I have never seen anything come close to this price).
They are not honest in the way they are selling this business to people, and if they want to sell it for what it really is, then they should do that, instead of making it sound like something that it really isn't. For the money that they charge, and what a person gets in return it is not worth it.
Once you become an affiliate no one wants to address the issues that I bring up here, and in fact try to make the person feel like it is their fault for not trying hard enough, and avoiding the questions that I pose to them about not being honest about how the company works.
They are unethical in their business approach to gain membership, and even though they might cover themselves legally from being sued, they should re-think their practices in the future, because of the way the public is perceiving the un- ethical ways that some businesses are doing business these days, and are not being tolerated the way they used to be.
I filed this with the Washington State Attorney Generals office on 5/6/03, then forgot about it until now because they would not do anything about it. These are the people I complained to at WTA.
My first complaint was to the trainer that was assigned to me. His name was Erick Morstad. I told him that I did not like calling people like a telephone solicitor, and that I thought it was supposed to be as easy as sending a fax, like they had told me. I also told him that the merchandise did not sell like the brochure says, because most of it is over priced, and that I could get it at Wal-Mart cheaper than what they were offering it for. It was always insinuated that the merchandise at WTA was at such low prices, and name brands that it would sell it self with very little salesmanship on my part, which was the reason I was interested in the first place.
I also complained to Hal Firestone, who was the person that I made first contact with when I learned of the company on the Internet. I also told him that the merchandise that is mentioned in the brochure, is not what is in the WTA website (at most on a very small scale). He just deferred me to someone else in the company, who I can't recall their name, but in essence told me that I need to do what the trainer told me to do and work harder with the cold calling.
I complained to Shannon Holden who is the person in charge of the trainers. I first contacted her because the trainer that was assigned to me did not follow up on a deal that I was trying to put together with a major toy company, and because of that the deal did not happen. The only thing that Shannon offered to do was to assign another trainer to me, and to finally put my membership on hold while I was going to school.
I wrote an email to the last trainer (Kevin Meister) that was assigned to me to ask him what happened to the Exclusive Merchant web site that WTA had operated, because I was thinking of linking a web site that I wanted to create to it, so that I could recover some of the money that I invested in the WTA program. He wrote me and said that they took the web site down because it was being abused by some of the members. This is what broke the camels back, in my eyes, and I decided that almost everything that enticed me to want to become an affiliate for this company, was now gone, and I just wanted to be dropped from their membership, and refunded my money.
I emailed (Kevin Meister) and told him that I wanted to know who I could send the materials back to the company to, and that I did not want to be belittled again by someone there, and made to think that it was all of my fault. I was tired of all of the excuses that the company made in order to explain their shortcomings. He emailed me back and told me that he was sending it to his boss, and that he would want to talk to me.
Harry Fisher called me a few days later, and when my wife took the call he asked her if I was working or going to school. Well my wife didn't know who he was, so she told him that I was working, even though I had been layed off at Boeing for some time, and going to school on the Trade Act program. When I called him back he said, I thought you were going to school, but your wife said you are working. I told him that she didn't know who he was, and she didn't want to fill him in on many details, and that I could do that.
Once he believed what I said he asked why I was so interested in the web site that the WTA had taken down, and I proceeded in telling him that I was trying to find a way to re-coup some of the money that I borrowed by linking my web site to theirs, so I could pay off the loan. We are on a very fixed income while I am going to school. He then asked why I sent an email threatening to file a complaint to the Washington Attorney Generals office. I told him that I was tired of the same old run around that they kept giving me, and not being the way they promised in the original brochure. He than proceeded to tell me that they were in compliance with their contract, and that I would have to prove other wise, if I were to do the complaint.
He also said that if Scott Rinaldo, the founder of the WTA would have seen my email, and the threat of the complaint, that he would not refund anything and that I would have to prove my case. Well I was upset, so I told him that this conversation was over, and I will do what I have to do. He said no, don't do that. I just sat there fuming, trying not to get angry, and waited for his next response. He said that since I was unemployed he would meet with Scott Rinaldo, on the 21st of April, because he only meets with him once a month, but he wouldn't tell him about the email I sent, so that I could get a full or a partial refund, and he would be in touch. He called last Friday on the 25th of April, to say that he would send a fax.
I received a fax saying that because of my situation that this would be a perfect opportunity to make the business work. They also mentioned that the web site that I talked about earlier was not of my contract, and was only experimental. They offered three options:
1. Go through the contract/agreement, and if there is a breach, they will give a full refund.
2. For me to go back into training.
3. For WTA and me to mediate or arbitrate our differences.
Well I was very disappointed to say the least, and I am just tired of the whole thing. This company needs to be investigated on how they do business in this state, and the methods they use to miss-guide people into joining their company. I know I should have had legal advice, and insisted on looking at the web site that is really used before I signed the contract, but I have always been very trusting when it comes to these matters. I think that The WTA should at least be reprimanded for the ethics that they use in their business dealings, and should be made to disclose everything they purport to have access to.
Now that I am done with school, and looking for work, I am revisiting this again, because I will not let this go away without a fight. The U.S. Attorney General should get involved since it involves many states. There has to be some kind of recourse to put a stop to this once and for all, before countless other honest people seeking the American Dream get treated like this and shattering their hopes.
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on World Traders Association