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Consumer reviews about ABS-US, GPS, SMS, IPA, ROI

Feb 1, 2012

Bogus compensation allegations, no repayment of expenses

Wow. Our experience with ABS was exactly what we feared. My husband and I are both trained in sales and communication and know the routine. As a matter of fact my husband has trained for years on sales, communication and behavior. But they entered at just the right time as the recession had hit us hard and we were exhausted and looking for help to assess what was working and what wasn't. We could sell, we could build, we were struggling with management issues. They were slick, they were well trained, they are relentless. I find it interesting that on pissedoff.com the positive recommendations are all anonymous. There is no doubt that the men we worked with knew what they were talking about and presented logical solutions that we already knew, we just didn't know how to implement them in a timely fashion to make a difference. They could possibly made a difference, but we will never know. We initially signed up with them with strong controls built in on how, what, where and when and we thought we had an out clause built in., but we could not control the slick machine that they are. From day one of the contract a timeline clicked into place. The minute one hurdle was crossed, plane tickets were purchased and people were put into motion before we agreed to anything definite on the extent of the contact with their services. They had people set up to come in on specific days over specific timeframes that were a structured format that they were strictly adhering to in regards to "providing us with guidance and solutions". We were blown away and felt that we were about to be consumed. On top of that, a "manager" that oversaw that the first 2 initial visits to access what our problems were did not do anything but walk around our store for 2 days and talk on the phone. When they handed us the bill for the first 2 days, there was a tidy sum of $5000 tacked on for his services. Major short circuit and that was the end of trying anything they had to dish. We knew we were taking a chance. And shame on us for being so foolish. We thought we could manage them and we thought we would be able to weigh the actual value of what they offered. They moved so quickly you could not think fast enough to post objections. We are both Alpha control freaks and they ran us over. We immediately cut our losses, got out of the agreement and kick ourselves everyday since for being sucked in by the shysters. Without them we resolved our problems, got out of debt, structured our issues and are doing well...DO NOT GET TAKEN IN! There should be laws as they prey on those among us that are at the lowest point in their lives and feast on the bones.

Mar 1, 2012

Bogus compensation allegations, no repayment of expenses


Attorney General Says Buffalo Grove Consulting Firm
Practiced Wide-Scale Fraud

Chicago—Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against International Profit Associates, Inc. (IPA), a Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based management consulting firm, and its owner John R. Burgess. The suit alleges that the defendants use wide-ranging deceptive practices to ensnare hundreds of small-business clients into consulting service contracts that fail to fulfill the defendants' promises to boost their clients' bottom lines.

"International Profit Associates takes advantage of small businesses by painting an inaccurate and dismal picture of their financial condition and then conning the business owners into hiring IPA consultants who promise to turn things around, " Madigan said. "It is an unfair and deceptive scheme that has played out hundreds of times as reflected in the considerable number of complaints that my office has received from small businesses that lost tens of thousands of dollars to IPA."

"Small businesses are vital to our state's economy and are already struggling to weather the current difficult economic conditions. The last thing small business owners need is to be targeted for consulting services that simply will not benefit their operations, " Madigan said.

The suit also names as defendants: International Tax Advisors, Inc., Integrated Business Analysis, Inc., and Accountancy Associates, LLC, all based in Buffalo Grove, Ill. Burgess is the majority owner of all of the defendant companies.

Madigan's lawsuit alleges that IPA employs deceptive, high-pressure sales tactics to trap small businesses into management consulting contracts by falsely promising that the businesses will earn increased profits as a result of IPA's consulting services. Contrary to these promises, IPA typically charges the small businesses tens of thousands of dollars for services that fail to provide any constructive or useful information and do not result in any increased profits.

The complaint describes IPA's business practices in detail. IPA allegedly targets businesses through telemarketing, offering an initial evaluation of a prospective client's business for a nominal fee ranging from $300 to $2, 500. Once on site for the initial analysis, IPA sales associates allegedly convince small business owners that their companies are in serious financial trouble if they do not immediately retain IPA for consulting services.

IPA allegedly promises to prepare specialized, industry-specific recommendations that will help to improve a company's performance. The sales associates often promise that the businesses will see a three-to-one return on their investment in IPA consulting services and allegedly assure business owners that they will be able to afford the IPA services as a result of increased profits in the future. However, according to Madigan's lawsuit, the small business owners rarely realize an increase in profits and often are left in worse financial condition as a result of IPA's costly consulting services. One small business owner cited in Madigan's complaint paid IPA nearly $70, 000 in fees for consulting services that provided no meaningful advice to optimize business operations and, thus, failed to improve the company's profits.

As Madigan's lawsuit details, after a small business agrees to a consulting project, IPA consultants arrive, usually in pairs, and bill the small business at $275 each per hour, plus travel, hotel and per diem expenses. The consultants often produce reports and charts that appear to be based on boilerplate or generic data and do not provide specialized recommendations for the small business client as originally promised.

The complaint further alleges that IPA sales associates promise that business owners will not have to pay for consulting services if they are unsatisfied with the results. However, IPA allegedly uses aggressive collection practices to compel clients to pay for unsatisfactory service. Madigan's suit alleges that IPA demands immediate payments and, if a business owner does not make immediate payment, IPA consultants allegedly are trained to refuse to leave the business premises until their demand for a post-dated check is honored.

Since 2004, 215 consumers have filed complaints with Madigan's Consumer Fraud Bureau. During that time, more than 400 consumers have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Madigan's lawsuit asks the court to permanently enjoin the defendants from engaging in this conduct. The suit also asks the court to order the defendants to pay restitution for the small business owners, civil penalties of $50, 000 for violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, an additional $50, 000 for each violation committed with the intent to defraud, and the costs of the investigation and prosecution of the case.

Consumer Fraud Bureau Chief James Kole, Special Consumer Counsel Charles G. Fergus and Assistant Attorneys General Anshuman Vaidya, Katrina Wanzer Derhake and Joshua Orenstein are handling the case for Madigan's Consumer Fraud Bureau

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