A few months ago, Kristy talked me (and Jeff) into going to a seminar held by American Billing Systems. The basic premise is that they sell you a “business opportunity” to do medical claims biling (and some other services) from home, for almost nothing (only $15,000!!), guaranteeing immediate riches and early retirement.
K has been looking for something for the two of us to do for several years. We are both disenfranchised with corporate whoredom, and would love to be able to make money in a way that is more flexible so that we can do more important things, like spend time with children (K) or yarn and animals (me). Medical billing seemed like a great thing – it can easily be done from anywhere, anytime, and since we have both worked in the medical/insurance industries for a long time, we figured we knew the right language, and could pick up the actual billing pretty quickly. When in doubt, consult the coding books. 🙂
American Billing Systems would supply us with the software, marketing materials, and ongoing training and support to set up our business. It’s not a franchise – it’s in a different class of business called a “business opportunity” which is basically showing you how to do something, and then releasing all activities (and responsibilities) to the “licensee”. It sounded great – get to pick the brains of people that knew what they were doing, but still get to do everything our own way, in our own time.
The problem? We needed money. I think that our personal assets at the time were about seven dollars, and we were both about to buy new homes. I had just gotten married. We were flat bum buster. We needed an investor.
Banks sure weren’t going to give either of us money, so I asked my Local Bank of Daddy if he might be interested in getting involved. He has mentioned over the years wanting to get into some sort of business, or that if I found something he might be willing to fund it. I thought this might be the thing. Local health issues had made continuing “regular” employment difficult for me, and I thought that he would agree that it was time for me to strike out on my own.
I talked to him about lending the money, but he wanted a lot more answers than I had. I was going to have to research.
American Billing Systems had provided K with a list of licensee references, but I didn’t want to talk to them. I knew that, as with any reference list, the people on it were only going to tell me glowing things about their experience. I wanted to talk to real people.
My friend Google and I did some research, and found about 40 licensees that I could identify online. They all had about the same web page (ABS can set you up with one – a $2,000 value FREE!!) and I filled out a bunch of contact forms so that someone would call me and talk about their experience.
What I found out about the company through their licensees didn’t impress me, and what I found out at the seminar downright terrified me (but that’s a story for a different day). However, what was interesting was that a couple of days after I started talking to people, I started getting phone messages from Sarah King, the Director of Licensing (and the daughter of the founders/owners). One day, I had three messages on my voicemail after work. And then the emails started. And the mailings.
Now, I had never contacted ABS on my own, and I asked K if she had given them my information, which she hadn’t. She was also not receiving any emails or phone calls. I figured that one of the people I had spoken to as references squealed that I was asking questions.
After the seminar, and the treatment we received there, K and I decided that we were not interested, and were pretty much told by their “Success Coach” that we were not a fit for them. We started thinking of other opportunities (if you have any ideas, we are open to suggestion!)
Even after we had been summarily dismissed by ABS, I continued to get email and mailings. Even though I moved almost two months ago, they sent me something just this week – to my new address. A while ago, I had sent an email in reply to the one I received asking to be taken off the mailing list. I got a reply from Sarah King herself that there was an unsubscribe button on the messages. (I never found one until today – Gmail automatically filters out “pictures” from unknown sources, and that link showed up as a picture, and not at all as text I could follow.)
The messages kept coming and I kept ignoring them. Until today.
I got yet another message, and replied – again – to TAKE ME OFF YOUR MAILING LIST.
Here is the response I got:
You could’ve unsubscribed yourself at ANY time.
I have gone into our system and gladly done it for you.
Thank you and have a nice day!
Director of Licensing
American Billing Systems, Inc.
Phone: 866-565-8413 Ext. 102
Excuse me? Do we need to be listed on Passive-Aggressive Notes? I had apparently not had enough coffee, and I shot off this reply:
Considering the fact that I never signed up for your email lists, and that my personal information was given to you by one of your licensee stoolies when I was investigating investing, I don’t feel as if I should have needed to request that the harassing emails and phone calls cease.
To which I got:
I’m sorry you feel that way, because it’s simply not true. No one is harassing you.
Please do not respond as your e-mail address has been blocked.
I particularly like the complete avoidance of how they got my information, since it wasn’t from K, and it sure as hell wasn’t from me.
And can I point out what a Big Woman this is? I ask to be taken off your mailing list. You refuse. I ask again. I get a snarky reply. I point out my irritation of your techniques. So you BAN me from every emailing your organization again? Have I just been un-friended? By a business entity?
I’m going to go ahead and admit that I was less than polite, and that had I unlocked the “pictures” which turned out to be links, I could have been off this list quite a long time ago. However, this exchange just further confirms my opinion that this is a poorly run, unethical organization that is out to make a cheap buck off of unsuspecting and uneducated people. In my opinion, if you are going to sell a “business opportunity”, you want people investing in this opportunity to check you out, and independently verify your claims. To be vilified for doing just that tells me that ABS is not a company to be trusted – or invested in.
(Interestingly enough, I got that last email when I was on the phone with my mom, and she suggested I blog about it. I had been just waiting for an opportunity to use that picture from LOLtheist.)