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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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tsilvestre

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Thank You Victoria

For the head's up on Writers Literary Agency; the automated responses worried me and your blog confirmed that this is a churn outfit. The latest is that they seek to charge a critique fee of $78 before assigning you to an agent. I've tossed the form of contract and moved on. I appreciate it greatly. Tim
 

JudasFm

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My experience with them...

They don't read or review the critiques either. I was stupid enough to pay out for one and what I got back basically raved about my manuscript. How much of this was true and how much was a scam, I don't know (I thought it was all done by WL's lackeys until reading SpecialKT's post) but I will admit to feeling Many Warm Fuzzies upon receiving it ;)

A couple days later I heard from WL (the infamous Georgina).

It is normal in that it shows
some work still to be done,
And some areas that are ok/adequate.

Okay, there were one or two minor formatting issues (didn't put the contact details on the title page and apparently the page numbers have to be right justified; that was all). She then went on to suggest I hire an editor, saying that I could 'make the changes myself' but that the manuscript would be subjected to an 'in-house critique' to see if the editing was up to scratch. Chances are it wouldn't be and I'd have to cough up more money.

Personally, the critique seemed to say that it was better than 'ok/adequate' (no spelling/punctuation/grammar errors and the critic's exact words were "This is a fantastic manuscript"...in fact, she didn't have a bad word to say about it). So much for 'in-depth review'. If I had any doubts that they were in this purely to rip people off, that email just erased them.

As far as I'm concerned, though, paying some faceless editor at an agency upwards of $1500 to right-align the header and put his address on the front cover wouldn't make me a Real Writer. It would make me an idiot.

Still, I learned (yet another) lesson and emailed them saying as far as I was concerned the contract was null and void, and that I no longer wanted them to do any work on my behalf. Now we just need to wait and see if they squeal about the "90 days of no sale thing".

Oh well, if they do, I signed the contract in December, so they've had 30 of those 90 days already ;) I'm quite looking forward to their reply, to tell you the truth; from what I've seen on this thread so far, their response seems to be not-so-subtle emotional abuse along the lines of You're Not A Real Writer And You Don't Stand A Chance Without Us.

Just my two cents :)
 
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James D. Macdonald

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They're not going to sell your book in the next sixty days. They lack the practical ability to do so; they have no intention of trying.

Their entire business is built around getting you to write bigger and bigger checks.
 

JudasFm

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They're not going to sell your book in the next sixty days. They lack the practical ability to do so; they have no intention of trying.

Their entire business is built around getting you to write bigger and bigger checks.

Which is the main reason why I fired them before adding my post ;)

Ironically, they seem to have ignored this; I got an email from Georgina acting as though nothing had happened so I sent her one back summing up the recent issues. Since they seem so fond of quoting people there, I included one of the more common quotes from The Apprentice, namely, "You're Fired" :tongue

We'll just have to see what comes back...
 

Roger J Carlson

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As I've said before, indications are they never read anything you write except the check you send them.
 

JudasFm

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I'm Free!

Just got Georgina's reply:

Dear Jude,

I am sorry that this didn't work out.

This email shall serve as formal termination and dissolution of our Literary
Agency Contract for Representation.

We wish you the best in all your writing endeavors.

Best Regards,
Georgina - Senior Agent

I have to say I was kind of hoping for a little more emotional blackmail than that (something along the lines of "you can't do it without us, I thought you were a Serious Writer") I was looking forward to ripping it to pieces. Still, they were polite so I guess I should be; I'm not vindictive :)

Oh well, they let me off the contract without the whole 90 days thing rearing its ugly head, so I'm happy :D You know what they say: live and learn.

Of course, this now means I have to begin the whole agent search over again. Fifth time lucky, perhaps?

(Yes, I have had four prior inexperienced, clueless and disreputable agents, mostly due to being so inexperienced and clueless myself and getting too carried away with the whole "WOW, someone wants to represent my BOOK thing". Anyone who wishes to is welcome to point and laugh hysterically at the daft newbie :p Still, this has the added bonus that at least I now know what NOT to look for ;))
 

Sour Lemon Pie

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I wasn't scammed by them mostly because i had no money to pay for their service. Can't really remember how much money they asked for, but the first time they answered back to me, damn, it was like a dream come true.
 

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I almost got taken in until I received their standard email where they mention 75$ for a critique. That is when I immediately became suspicous. Did some research found this forum and hey presto sent them the email below. Wonder if they will reply. This was to the their Children's writing editor Shelly.
---------------------------
You must think that we have come off a banana boat for the back of beyond.

The minute I saw $ signs in your latest email I got suspicious. So I did some digging around. And guess what I find that you are nothing more than a group of people screwing people out of their money. Not one person can I find that has actually had a book published through your services. The ONLY ones are those linked to your own self-publishing website.
Needless to say we will NOT be taking up your contract.

People like you should be locked up for in affect stealing money from hard working honest authors.
------------------------------------------
 

Donna Pudick

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I have a girlfriend whose book I rejected a year ago. She then went the The Children's Literary Agency and was scammed to the tune of $85 before she got wise to them. She wasn't aware, then, of all the heads of this Hydra. She then submitted the same manuscript to Writers Literary Agency. They offered her a contract for the same book, not even realizing that she had withdrawn it from another division. Or maybe they did and tried to double-dip.

More and more often, I'm answering disturbing emails from my writer friends, asking me about the different "companies" Fletcher owns. All I can do is keep circulating the list that James gave out here.
 

DeadlyAccurate

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I have to say I was kind of hoping for a little more emotional blackmail than that (something along the lines of "you can't do it without us, I thought you were a Serious Writer") I was looking forward to ripping it to pieces. Still, they were polite so I guess I should be; I'm not vindictive :)

I think one of the reasons he's gotten away with it for so long is that he lets people out of their contract without any problems. Rather than sending a lot of insulting replies or fighting tooth and nail to keep his marks, he just drops them. People are less inclined to fight back and report him then.
 

Jeff79922

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Long story short: I too got the "too good to be true" email that Literary Agency Group wanted to rep me and my screenplay. After doing research that ended me up here, I emailed them back and asked them to address my concerns.

They sent back a "interview" with a "famous blog writer" (who I couldn't find any info on--how famous is that?) with them saying how they "work differently" and they've tried to contact Writer Beware and the others but they won't talk to them.

I, like others, must admit it feels pretty good having someone say they like your work and want to rep you, but it just didn't feel right since I was taught a real agent doesn't ask for money. I almost went soft and was going to sign the contract when I came back here and read more and more people's comments, including the poor girl they were paying $7.50 to critique our work. I kept asking in my mail to them to give me one example of where they felt my script needed "polishing" and they never did. It was all form emails, so I'm sure it was never even read.

So, thanks again to all for the eyeopening info, and caution to anyone else thinking Literary Agency Group is the route to take. I'm back in the hunt to find a REAL agent.
Jeff
 

James D. Macdonald

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They sent back a "interview" with a "famous blog writer....

Could you post (or forward to me, Victoria, Ann, and the Florida Attorney General) that "interview"?

Oh -- and when they say that they tried to contact Writer Beware but WB wouldn't answer: They're lying.
 

victoriastrauss

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They sent back a "interview" with a "famous blog writer" (who I couldn't find any info on--how famous is that?) with them saying how they "work differently" and they've tried to contact Writer Beware and the others but they won't talk to them.

DeliriousGirl (the blogger) is real, but I have it on very good authority that Fletcher wrote that interview himself.

- Victoria
 

Jeff79922

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here's the "interview" I was sent:
Thank you for requesting more information about all that information you
found on the web. Recently, we were interviewed by a very known web-writer
named DeleriousGirl, and this is the text of the interview. I think you will
find it interesting, to say the least.

===============================

The Naked Truth Interview: Is WL and AEG a Scam?

Copyright 2008-2009. This interview may be reproduced only in its entirety.

===============================
DeleriousGirl (DG) decides to see what is really going on with the merger
between one of most vocally discussed and denounced literary agency and
publisher companies on the internet, the WL Literary Agency Group, and AEG
Strategic & Eloquent Publishing.

The two companies have recently announced a merger and DG has decided to
"dig for dirt". What is really behind this company? Is it the scam everyone
says it is? Why all the flack? DG decides to see for herself what all the
commotion is about.

Note: For reference, The company press release is at
http://www.aegpublishinggroup.com/aeg_pressrelease.html .

But we didn't want to go with the 'party line", we wanted to get deeper, as
we suggest that most writers do.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

DG: OK, let's get right to the point, there's an elephant in the room and
I'm going to go ahead and shoot it: I have seen and read some very, very
derogatory online forums regarding your companies, both past and present.
As a writer and a voracious reader, my first knee-jerk reaction was to be
worried about the integrity of your publishing companies and how you treat
writers. "Where's the beef? What's the problem? Why are you so hated by so
many?

AEG: The short answer is that we don't fit anybody's mold. We're
different, and we're already bigger than the industry pundits know what to
do with. In the last 6 months, we've published over 250 authors and we're
selling 1500 books a week for them. We expect to sell over 150,000 books
for our authors next year, and a million books by 2010 if we keep growing at
this pace. We are also one of the few companies already doing joint
ventures into China and Australia for our authors.

We have venture capitalists approaching us and we are 'squeaky clean" from
and accounting and legal perspective as we are also considering going
public. Believe me, if there was anything to anyone's allegations it would
have been a deal killer by now. Any real business-person can look at those
numbers above and realize that our company must be legit, because you don't
grow that big as 'scammers'.


Also, we employ about 50 people now from all over the world, and those
employees certainly wouldn't work for a scam company either.

In short, those sites like Writers Beware and Preditors & Editors, are run
by 'minor league writers'. We're in the big leagues and frankly, we scare
the shit out of them. The people that run those sites don't have the time,
or the inclination to do an interview like this. They are like old, and
tired, and worn-out horses that have been around too long and like the old
'Mikie" they hate everything that is different But if anyone wants to
believe them, that's fine, we don't have time to waste as we are building a
very, very global business with real "writer-business-people" that are
committed to their careers. Our clients don't sit around reading whiner
sites, that's for sure.



DG: Do I detect a bit of frustration?

AEG: Of course, it's like the old kindergarten game, where you sit in a
circle, whisper into the person's ear next to yours, and the end result is
so far removed from the original statement, that it is very, very
frustrating. I will give our detractors a bit of credit though, they have
caused us to toughen up, and succeed in spite of their crap. As the old
saying goes, "that which does not kill me makes me stronger", and believe
me, we are so lean and mean right now, that we are approaching unstoppable,
and frankly their opinions no longer matter to our business. And don’t tell
them this, but they are actually helping us at this point . . . They are
free advertising, as most rational authors can't believe what they are now
saying, and the authors come to us to '”see for themselves".

We don't work with authors that won't spend the money it takes to improve
and that has served us well. The industry is realizing that the fastest way
to separate the good from the bad, is how much time and energy the author
has spent developing their craft. That's what we want. We won't stomach or
tolerate "something for nothing" people, and that attitude has perhaps
become misconstrued.



DG: That all sounds nice, but really, why all the negative press?

AEG: We have really tried to listen to the marketplace and we have made
certain adjustments to the way we do business, however, we are very clear
about one thing, we only want committed authors with edited, or reviewed
work. That means that we only want authors that have been edited, or are
willing to get help and assistance. So, what happens is this, we say, "your
work needs help", and immediately we are jumped on. Why authors think that
they get the world for free is beyond me. We can make EVERY author a better
author, and we do, it just costs some money, and this is a business, so
we're used to investing in our business, why wouldn't a writer invest in
theirs?

We have tried to dialog with P&E, Writers Beware, SFWA, etc. Unfortunately,
those people are so backward-minded and stuck, that they really didn't
listen, so we now ignore them and we just keep chugging. Frankly, and I
don't want to be mean about it, but we think some of our authors make more
in one month than that crowd has made in their in their entire writing
career. We suggest that authors make up their own mind, and not rely on
anyone else when forming their opinion, especially minor-leaguers.



DG: Ok, I can understand that you tell authors that they must improve, and I
agree with how important that is, but what about the fact that you refer
them to your own company?


R: That "own company" that you are referring to is now the second largest
editing and services company in the world, second only to Scribendi.
Frankly, the editing companies that we used to refer to were very 'mom and
pop" and couldn't do the work and handle our volume. So in order to keep
prices down, and turnaround quick, we built our own company. Also, the
press release about the two companies working together has been on the web
for years now. We don't hide the fact that the companies are working hand
in hand. They have to be to handle the kind of growth and volume that we
have created. In short, it's a big business, we're global, and it works well
for the author, and for us. Frankly, we can do editing faster and cheaper
than any editing company in the world. Hell, we might buy Scribendi next
year.



DG: Here's another issue . . . Why have you changed names so many times?

AEG: It's marketing my dear. Have you ever noticed how many domain names
the Children's Writing Institute uses? We spend a lot of time on Google
pay-per-click for our authors, and we've seen at least six names for them,
for sure, that go back to their site or a clone of their site. I'm sure
you are aware of search engine optimization. The simple truth is that as
Google has changed it's algorithms, we have changed our domain names so that
we get better positioning. It's that simple. Also, as partners and
principals have come and gone, new companies, with new stock allocations
have been formed. That's part and parcel of a small business.

And, we are very proud of this, we are starting the wheels in motion to
setup a stock ownership plan for our employees and even our authors. We'll
probably undergo another name change at that time . . . That's how it works
for rapidly growing businesses.


DG: C'mon . . . If there’s smoke, there has to be fire, what about all this
stuff about criminal backgrounds, investigations, etc.?


AEG: It's identity theft with a twist. Let's say that I decided to "get
you" for one reason or another. It's simple really. All I have to do is
google search "your name - criminal records" and I will get plenty of hits,
of your name, in all kinds of criminal situations. Then all I do is copy
and paste that info into 3-4 sites, anonymously, and you're screwed. I
guarantee it. You'll never live it down and never clean it up. Believe me,
we've tried. Also, we've been investigated up and down, and nothing had
ever come of it. The fact is that these days any disgruntled person can
file a complaint with a District Attorney.

We do what we say, we tell the author up front what to expect, we never
over-promise, and we deliver.
We have a real business that helps authors that are willing to help
themselves that's why all this stuff about investigations and backgrounds,
etc. is such misinformation.



DG: Here's another one, why do you even advertise? I thought agencies didn't
need to advertise?

AEG: We still have requests from publishers that we can't fill. We still
find great books to publish every day because of our advertising. Early on
we learned that more is better. Our business strategy since day one, is to
have 'depth off the bench'. And that strategy is paying off. Why do you
think the agency is so valuable to the publisher? Frankly, we think the
agency has provided over 100 authors "ready to go" to the publisher. Those
authors are now making money and receiving royalty checks. Those authors
will be part of the 100,000 - 1 MM books we'll be selling in the medium term
future.



AEG: Over 100 authors published? Prove it . . And did the agency take a
commission since you merged? Isn't that 'double dipping"?


R: No commission was taken by the agency. Period. Guaranteed. The authors
were told up front about the merger. And if you want to see the books we've
published, please visit www.AEGauthorsEdge.com .



DG: Well, I admit to being glad that I dug a little deeper, I can see both
sides of the story, and it is tough to break into any industry. Is there
anything you wish to say in conclusion?


R: We truly feel sorry for the author that is trying to make a decision
about how to proceed with their writing career. Our best advice is to trust
yourself and dive in. Sometimes analysis = paralysis. You can't win if you
don't play, so we say, "get out there, get bloody, improve, take your lumps,
learn, learn, learn" and as Winston Churchill said, "never, never give up".


All of our contracts have 'easy out' clauses, so if we don't perform, you
can fire us. By the same token, if the author won't perform, we can, and
will fire them. This is a business and we are here to stay, and play, for
the long term, and make profits for our authors, our employees, and our
shareholders.


===================

DG: Ok writers out there, you have it. I am not endorsing anyone, but I do
think that everyone deserves a chance to be heard. Frankly, my personal
opinion is that those sites have gone too far, and are doing a dis-service
for writers and this company. Perhaps these guys made mistakes in the past,
but I have a hard time arguing with 250 published authors and 1500 books a
week being sold within 6 months of operations. (I looked at the royalty
reports).

At the end of the day, DG says: Make up your own mind. And yes, please feel
free to email me if you’d like: [email protected]


PS--I tried to find "deliriousgirl" but only found a profile of her on a social networking site that hadn't been updated in a few years.
 

escritora

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DeliriousGirl (the blogger) is real, but I have it on very good authority that Fletcher wrote that interview himself.

Meaning Fletcher wrote the questions as well as the responses?
 

Momento Mori

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AEG:
In the last 6 months, we've published over 250 authors and we're
selling 1500 books a week for them.

Even if that's true, 1500 books a week is a pathetic figure. 1500 books sold for one author wouldn't be enough to get them into the NYT Bestseller list or the USA Today List. It certainly wouldn't get them into the The Times bestseller list (where if you look at the figures, the lowest seller is still shifting over 5000 copies a week).

Of course, the difference between those publishers and AEG is that AEG is most likely selling those books back to its 250 authors.

AEG:
We are also one of the few companies already doing joint ventures into China and Australia for our authors.

Most publishers won't do joint ventures because that's not how publishing works. A publisher might buy the rights for two or more territories where it has a presence, but authors can do better keeping their territorial rights and selling foreign rights direct to established publishers in those areas. In any event, although China represents a massive potential market for publishing, it also had a problem with copyright infringement and although I think China has signed up to international standards on the protection of IP rights, it's still slow to implement them on the ground.

AEG:
We have venture capitalists approaching us and we are 'squeaky clean" from and accounting and legal perspective as we are also considering going public.

"Considering" going public isn't the same as going public. I'd be surprised if venture capitalists are approaching AEG given the difficulty of securing leverage in the current market and the reluctance of private equity to involve themselves in an industry that has always been cut-throat.

AEG:
Also, we employ about 50 people now from all over the world, and those employees certainly wouldn't work for a scam company either.

Cough - Bernie Madoff - cough.

AEG:
The people that run those sites don't have the time, or the inclination to do an interview like this.

Except for the part where people who run Writer Beware and P&E engage with people and answer questions on the internet and elsewhere that's all true. Oh and also the fact that AEG/WLA haven't responded to any question on this Forum and have to resolve to doing an interview with a blogger that I've never heard of in order to get their view across.

AEG:
We don't work with authors that won't spend the money it takes to improve and that has served us well.

Translation: we are going to take your money.

AEG:
Frankly, and I don't want to be mean about it, but we think some of our authors make more in one month than that crowd has made in their in their entire writing career.

I seriously doubt that. In fact I think that AEG is confusing the words "make" with "spend". However, if AEG wants to stand behind that claim, perhaps it can disclose the average amount that its authors receive each month in royalties.

AEG:
The simple truth is that as Google has changed it's algorithms, we have changed our domain names so that we get better positioning. It's that simple.

That makes absolutely no sense at all. Changing business names would not get you better positioning unless you wanted people searching for you to not automatically discover the bad opinions expressed about your company.

AEG:
It's simple really. All I have to do is google search "your name - criminal records" and I will get plenty of hits, of your name, in all kinds of criminal situations. Then all I do is copy and paste that info into 3-4 sites, anonymously, and you're screwed. I guarantee it. You'll never live it down and never clean it up. Believe me, we've tried. Also, we've been investigated up and down, and nothing had ever come of it. The fact is that these days any disgruntled person can file a complaint with a District Attorney.

I note that he's not actually denying that anyone from WLG or AEG has a criminal record. The least he could do is answer the question he's actually asking himself.

AEG:
We do what we say, we tell the author up front what to expect, we never over-promise, and we deliver.

Okay, how many publishing contracts has WLA delivered that haven't been with AEG?

AEG:
And that strategy is paying off. Why do you think the agency is so valuable to the publisher? Frankly, we think the agency has provided over 100 authors "ready to go" to the publisher. Those authors are now making money and receiving royalty checks. Those authors will be part of the 100,000 - 1 MM books we'll be selling in the medium term
future.

So basically, WLA is just referring authors onto AEG then. Thanks for that confirmation.

[CUT IN RESPONSE TO SUBSEQUENT INFORMATION]

MM
 
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DaveKuzminski

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We have tried to dialog with P&E, Writers Beware, SFWA, etc. Unfortunately,
those people are so backward-minded and stuck, that they really didn't
listen, so we now ignore them and we just keep chugging. Frankly, and I
don't want to be mean about it, but we think some of our authors make more
in one month than that crowd has made in their in their entire writing
career. We suggest that authors make up their own mind, and not rely on
anyone else when forming their opinion, especially minor-leaguers.

Um, like the brief conversation at URL http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/warnlag05.htm where P&E pointed out that agencies are expected to have expertise, skill, knowledge, and publishing industry contacts, all areas in which Robert West and the WL Agency are deficient. At least we (P&E) know now that we were definitely ignored in that conversation because we were listening and responded--they didn't.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Once again, Fletcher, I repeat my offer. I'll interview you any time, any place. That offer's been on the table for years.

Victoria and Ann have repeatedly agreed to interviews with you.

And a line-by-line on your latest twaddle is coming, too.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Even if that's true, 1500 books a week is a pathetic figure. 1500 books sold for one author wouldn't be enough to get them into the NYT Bestseller list or the USA Today List. It certainly wouldn't get them into the The Times bestseller list (where if you look at the figures, the lowest seller is still shifting over 5000 copies a week).

That works out to six books per week per author.

When you consider that the authors are required by their contracts to buy five books per week, it looks like Bobby's latest scam is selling next-to-nothing at all.
 

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Hi the very real DG here. I was an employee of AEG Publishing for around two months before I was ripped off by this Robert person (at this point I have doubts that that's even his real name). I DID NOT write the interview that he is STILL apparently sending out with MY email address still attached to it (what a dumbass). I did write an interview with this Robert person, but it was very very different from THIS ONE as I had no idea of most of this stuff in this interview.

And another warning to anybody answering any ads for marketing/writing/editing jobs from this company: THEY ONLY WANT TO USE YOU FOR FREE WORK and will string you along with promises of a rosy future "when the economy picks back up" among OTHER blather. The truth of the matter is that this Robert person apparently has around 200 company email addresses and he PRETENDS to be different editors, PR people, and marketers to make people think he has a REAL company going.

My story is this: On Dec. 15th I had a horrible death in my immediate family (my brother) and had to travel to a town about 400 miles away to take care of all that. At this point Robert was about 3 weeks behind in my pay, yet he was sending me daily and sometimes HOURLY emails of more stuff he wanted me to do. I even continued to answer author emails and concerns while trying to plan (and pay for) my dead sibling's funeral. I called and emailed Robert DAILY, telling him that I NEEDED the money he owed me, I had to buy food for a wake, clothes for my dead brother to be buried in, flowers, all kinds of unexpected expenses. Which I told him about. NO RESPONSE. This rocks on for over a month. NO PAY. He didn't even have the BALLS to call or even send an email telling me ANYTHING, but one day I tried to log onto the co. software program and was locked out.

So, the moral of this little story is: I don't care how broke you are, how much he offers you, or how he tries to put a good face on this bunch of company names that he goes by. . . DON'T DO IT. My personal assessment is just this: NO INTEGRITY AND NO BALLS.
 

Deliriousgirl

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Ohhh yeah, by the way, I found out later from another unpaid employee that Robert was gone the whole month of December on a VACATION in the Caribbean or somewhere while his employees went largely UNPAID.
 
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