Friday, May 22, 2009

Do I Dare Say "Ben Suarez" in the Title?

Sorry for being so obsessed with this Canton, Ohio/Universal Media Syndicate/false advertising jag I've been on lately, but I just discovered a few more things.

Believe it or not, I found someone who admires the work of the Universal Media Syndicate and its ilk in a discussion thread from a site called The Copywriting Board. The original post asked other writers to share good examples of advertorial writing. After a while, a person going by the name "gjabiz," based in Canton, Ohio, brought up the work of UMS in reply #23. Quoting gjabiz heavily here:

Greater Canton IS a hotbed of [direct marketing]. 3 major players in SCI [Suarez Corporation Industries], Arthur Middleton (holding company for Universal Syndications) and FitnessQuest. All three employ hundreds of people each. Several smaller companies... have emerged in the area. They all link back in some manner to Benjamin D. Suarez [head of SCI].

If someone spends a few years at SCI, they become well equipped to start their own "small potatoes" companies. NOT everyone wants to build a big company, and there are many former copywriters who cut their teeth under John White, Ben Suarez, Rod Napier [head of Arthur Middleton] and other top executives who mastered the art of selling products via direct response....

Akron U. is also supplying many of the established and younger companies with interns from the Direct Marketing Laboratory...the only state of the art college campus facility that teaches Direct Marketing from people who are successful doing it. So, this means we will continue to grow and remain a HOTBED for direct response marketing methods.

With the new Suarez Business Institute coming on line in April (scheduled) we hope to expand the "borders" of Akron-Canton and find talented people throughout the country who can create products and or promotions that work.
Wow, there are some frightening facts in there:
  • First, Arthur Middleton's Rodney Napier isn't the original source of all this dreck, but only the latest incarnation. The originator is one Benjamin Suarez, who may have been Napier's father-in-law (that info is based on a crazy site I found called stopbensuarez.com, so take it for what it's worth).
  • Second, Ben Suarez has funded the Applied Marketing Research Laboratories at the University of Akron (see the description of the funding on the SCI site and on the University of Akron site). It sure makes me feel good to know academics are using modern science to help these scammers do their jobs better.
  • Third, Suarez has just started something called the Suarez Business Institute to teach his methods. You can sign up for it on the RPPurchase site (a subsidiary of SCI), as long as you're willing to give them your Social Security number and $35.
According to a page on interesting-people.org (posted in 1994), Ben Suarez has a long history of scams and run-ins with attorneys general in several states. Among many other things, he's well-known for offering a "free" cubic zirconium stone with the purchase of a non-free setting. The types of products offered by SCI's divisions are a mirror of those offered by the Arthur Middleton subsidiaries: coin collections, air purifiers, collectibles, and quack medicines.

Suarez is infamous for using his acquired wealth to go after politicians he doesn't like, such as former Congressman Jack Brooks (D-Texas), according to onlinemarketingtoday.com. According to the same article, he's sued critics (including the guy who wrote the piece on interesting-people.org, cited above) for "tortuous business interference" and "defamation." And I found a crazy rant he wrote as a memo to his employees back in October 2008, telling them why they shouldn't vote for Barack Obama (if you go to the link, search the name Suarez in your browser and you'll find the rant).

Sounds like Rodney Napier represents the more reasonable branch of the family.

Now all I have to do is wait for an email from Suarez's lawyer.

17 comments:

elena said...

Thank you for delving so deeply into this very disturbing can of worms.

Ms Sparrow said...

Among the many despicable traits these scammers exhibit is the total contempt they have for their customers. That is: If the public is stupid enough to fall for their claims, they deserve to be fleeced. Heaven save us from the smug bastards who do dirt to decent people!

paul "chip" klingaman said...

i am an executive director at suarez corporation industries responsible for the divisions including the united states commemorative gallery, lindenwold fine jewelers, and international home shopping...and i work closely with the directors of biotech research, and the rest of the management team here at suarez corporation industries....

http://www.uscomgallery.com
http://www.lindenwold.com
http://www.ihsmall.com
http://www.biotechresearch.com
http://www.suarez.com

we do advertising that is attention getting and creative, but we do not do advertising that is deceptive or misleading...

please do not confuse our company with any other company, local to canton, ohio or otherwise...

visit our websites above, and draw your own conclusions about the type of company we work at...the most common complaint about our companies on the internet is that if you buy a product from us that you will get additional solicitation offers from our company...or course, we develop and target those solicitations to offer products similar to products previously purchased...and our customers typically appreciate those opportunities...but if they don't, that is easily remedied by requesting not to receive additional offers from us by mail or telephone or email...

we are a group of professionals, providing products and services to people via "remote" marketing...or "marketing at a distance"...or direct marketing...it is a terrific company to work for, and we have integrity...along with our quality, price, and service...

we sell quality products which enhance the lives of our customers or bring benefits to them...we offer excellent guarantees, and we stand behind each sale and we support our existing customers with customer-oriented customer service (i direct our customer service function here as well)...

report on past or present regulatory inquires if you must, but understand that there are two sides to every story, and most companies our size, and even the most respected companies in america, typically have had some regulatory inquiries in their long histories...

buy or products by visiting the websites above...get on our mailing and telephone and email lists...experience what you get from us in terms of quality, price, service, and integrity first hand...

and don't confuse us with anybody else...

leave ben suarez and suarez corporation industries out of your negative string of comments coming out of canton, ohio...again, don't confuse us with other companies local or otherwise...

we are a group of professionals, and we do have a relationship with the university of akron, educating students on careers in direct marketing...including websites, and more...

if you have something positive to say about our products and services, let me know...or if you need to bring any SPECIFIC advertising element to my attention, please do so...

paul "chip" klingaman, 330-494-5504 x7610, cklingaman@suarez.com

cpugh said...

Arthur Middleton Capital Holdings, Inc. and its family of companies are committed to ensuring that our customers understand the terms of our offers and that they are fully satisfied with the products they purchase from us. We strongly disagree with many of the postings on this blog and strongly believe that our companies have been unfairly represented by the author. We hope that you will post this in response to the many inaccuracies you have printed in the past few months, so that your readers can make a full, fair, and objective purchasing decision.

For instance, the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace has always made it clear that the fireplace heater is imported and that the mantle is made here in America. In fact, many of our earlier versions of the ads specifically say that the heater is from the “China coast”. It is unclear why you chose not to focus on the fact that a substantial part of this product is handcrafted here in America. How many products can you say that about nowadays? Heat Surge has a longstanding relationship with the Amish communities and individuals that build our fireplace mantels here in Ohio, and we are proud of the cooperative work we do with them. Heat Surge recently received a letter from the Holmes County Commissioners acknowledging the benefits our company brings to the local community and we feel that it was completely irresponsible for you to denigrate the quality of this product.

Furthermore, making price comparisons between the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow® Fireplace and a small space heating unit is completely unwarranted. Our customers purchase our product precisely because it doesn’t look like an ordinary space heater. The Heat Surge fireplace has a handcrafted Amish-made mantle; patented realistic flame technology; and is more easily moveable than competing fireplaces for those consumers who wish to save money through zone heating. These unique features are what make the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow® Fireplace stand out from all other fireplace products on the market today. To support the quality of the product, the fireplaces are UL listed, have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal, and the Amish crafted mantle was a 2009 Vesta Award Finalist in the Mantels, Surrounds and Facings category at the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association Expo in Reno this past March. These important features are factual and attest to the quality and safety of the product, yet were never mentioned on your blog.

Here is a link to one of our craftsmen talking about the quality of our Amish made wood mantles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss3mgltmeik

cpugh said...

You have also made repeated derogatory comments and false statements regarding numismatic products offered for sale by the World Reserve Monetary Exchange, Inc. The World Reserve is one of the nation’s leading distributors of unique collectible coin products, including the State Quarters collection, Presidential Dollars Program, and 2005 Westward Journey buffalo Nickels. Most of our products are in never circulated condition, and so by definition, can not be obtained at any local bank, and especially not in the large quantity in which we sell them, or in protective display cases. In fact, The United States Mint has since out of many of the products we sell, including the Westward Journey Nickels. The current collector value of all of the coins we sell can be readily obtained from any numismatic resource guide, such as The 62nd edition for 2009 of A Guide Book of United States Coins, (commonly referred to as “The Red Book” and which continues to be the best selling coin reference book of all time). For instance, The Red Book places a collector value of one of Westward Journey nickel in MS-63 condition at twenty-five cents and one in MS-65 condition at seventy-five cents. Yet, for some reason, you chose not to include this information on your blog for your readers’ benefit.

Clearly, the misstatements contained in your postings and the deliberate omission of relevant facts would leave the average viewer with a negative impression about both the quality of the product being sold and the reputation of the company that is selling it. It is evident that you are biased against our companies and never intended to present a balanced commentary. Your unfair and irresponsible “stories” harm not only our promotions, but the reputation of our companies, the more than 1,100 employees here in Stark County that strive everyday to make our businesses successful, and the reputation of the Amish communities that are proud to work with us. You are certainly entitled to express your opinions, but you can not make groundless criticisms or assertions that appear to be factual, when they are not. We hope that in the future, you will consider the harmful consequences of your writing and that future postings will be more in keeping with accepted journalistic standards, especially since you have chosen to hide behind your anonymity.

Chris Pugh
Arthur Middleton Capital Holdings
Multi-Media Communications Specialist

DrKent said...

Chris,

The following statements are my opinions. I do not want them to be considered facts.

I wish you the best and I hope some day you work for a better company. Unfortunately, I think you have conned yourself into believing that Uni-Syn is a respectable business.

I remember being there a long time ago and having a job that put me close to some of the products they were selling. It is my opinion that many of the items they sell have a very cheap look and feel, and personally I think the price tags on these items are too high. I recall thinking to myself that I would never feel right if I owned a company that sold the products they do, at the prices they do, using the ads they do... which, in my opinion could potentially be misleading.

I also never got the impression that very many people I worked with actually believed in the products they were selling.

claudia's blog said...
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claudia's blog said...
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Mark said...

I don't see how it's a company's fault that someone is impulsive...as for getting your money back, almost every state has consumer protection laws that allow you to cancel a transaction within 72 hours. Whether this will pay for your shipping is another matter. If the company proves they shipped it, they've spent the money at your request. Most of these processes are setup to ship product quickly, not to stop orders quickly.

claudia's blog said...

I have to inform everyone that my case was resolved to my satisfaction only two days after posting my first comment. Im sorry for not clarifying this as soon as my money was refunded I just wanted to be done with it but its never too late to post the outcome. Although they refunded up to the last penny, I have to admit that I feel I wouldn't have gotten their attention if I hadn't written on a blog where someone from the company was monitoring. It was just hard to try to speak to a manager or someone from a "higher rank" over the phone. I tried but wasn't successful! Anyway, Im satisfied and learned my lesson. Thanks Mr. Pugh, and thanks Daughter Number Three for letting people post here.

LR said...

Anyone who wants a fun evening of scammer reading should google "chris pugh" in quotes, along with "heat surge", "WRME", etc. It's also interesting to note that this guy is listed on LinkedIn, and apparently no longer works there. I can only imagine it had something to do with the lazy, cookie-cutter responses on most blogs - occasionally on ones that were not even criticizing the products. That, and things like this:

"Most of our products are in never circulated condition, and so by definition, can not be obtained at any local bank, and especially not in the large quantity in which we sell them, or in protective display cases."

I hope you have used that line on customers, since that would probably cross the line from misleading claims into outright fraud. One can, in fact, walk into almost any bank in the country and pick up more 'never circulated' coins than you can carry in a large paper bag. They aren't circulated until the rolls are busted. In fact, as the coins offered by WRME have been removed from mint packaging and placed in proprietary packaging, they have actually seen *more* circulation than those found at your local bank. Funny, huh? As for protective cases, your local bank may even offer bank uncirculated sets, which are privately assembled in the style of US Mint proof sets, in a much nicer package than WRME and selling for a good deal less money.

Or:

"For instance, The Red Book places a collector value of one of Westward Journey nickel in MS-63 condition at twenty-five cents and one in MS-65 condition at seventy-five cents."

And exactly how much does WRME charge for its (likely MS-60, the lowest uncirculated grade) pieces? And more to the point, individual coin prices and bulk prices are very different. A particular wheat cent might book for $0.20, but when selling a roll of them you would be lucky to get $0.05/coin. Because very few people are actually out purchasing these incredibly common coins individually, and the extra cost takes into account the dealer scrounging around to pull an individual common date from stock.

If you want to go off on someone for misrepresenting what your company is doing, it's usually best not to prove their point with your comments.

AlasanMD said...

Years ago I worked for Ben Suarez and Rodney Napier (who was Ben's son-in-law at that time). I was a high level creative director, and my job was to write deceptive and misleading ads. The ads were written in such a way to avoid violating postal and other laws. I'm ashamed of what I did. The breaking point came when a poor Ohio farmer, dressed in his overalls, appeared at the office, asking for his sweepstakes winnings. It was tragic.

Despite being a part of an unscrupulous company, however, the worst thing that I ever experienced there happened during a meeting with Rod Napier. On his table I noticed an anti-Jewish magazine, full of filthy anti-semetic words and pictures. had never seen "hate" literature before and must have looked shocked. When Rod saw the look on my face, he said, "Oh, that's Ben's stuff."

CrookedCallCenter said...

Arthur Middleton just laid off 300 employees, illegally, after Mr. Napier's repeated private visits from our new Governor, Mr. Kasich. Just to give you the inside scoop Napier worked for Suarez as a janitor, started dating his daughter, got promoted to copywriter, wrote all of the cubic zirconium ads you may remember from the 80's, and made millions. When word got out that he was gay, a divorce followed, and he and about 6 other SCI employees were fired at that year's xmas party. They started their own company....a company that cares more about getting paid than putting out safe products. As for products, I can tell you that they try to cut corners by all means necessary, which isn't wrong in this economy, but the problem is that even if you buy a "miracle" product and return it, we still get paid....The company has a few ex-cons on payroll, including a vice president who was sentenced to 10 years for trafficking coke in the 80s, but magically released after no time at all....but hey, the heaters work good for a few months, and heat-surge is in a class action lawsuit currently. And the funny thing is that the litigator is a friend of the judge, so guess who will win...I learned a lot at AMCH, but all of their flaws have shown me how to be successful...any questions, let me know!

Calvin Ruth said...

Hey there "Crooked Call Center" I'd like to hire you in a competing company of Napier. Are you free to talk?

CR

CrookedCallCenter said...

Im always free to talk, which company do you represent Calvin?

Shazaam said...

According to Chip:
we do advertising that is attention getting and creative, but we do not do advertising that is deceptive or misleading...

Perhaps you intend to try to keep the SCI/SMI advertising truthful. Your companies do not always succeed very well. Case in point, the Edenpure US-1000/Gen4 advertizes a 10-15 year service life and a 20,000 bulb life. http://web.archive.org/web/20101224215620/http://www.edenpure.com/heater/edenpure-gen4.html/ <--Archive.org link because it cannot be "vaporized"

Heater development work in winter 2009 - 2010 revealed that the bulb life was more like 350-450 hours due to the nature of the application. The corporate response was to eliminate the messengers after those inconvenient facts were brought to the attention of Paolini & Tyburk.

The veracity of your US-1000/GEN4 advertising claims about bulb life appear to be at least somewhat more than questionable based upon the growing volume of online complaints being published. (and just wait until it gets cold!!!)


According to Chip:
we are a group of professionals, providing products and services to people via "remote" marketing...or "marketing at a distance"...or direct marketing...it is a terrific company to work for, and we have integrity...along with our quality, price, and service...

Despite numerous published advertising claims about the fine work of the SCI/SMI engineers designing your products... I never once met a qualified engineer in the employ of SCI or SMI in all the times I was on site. Perhaps the SCI/SMI engineering staff were all on vacation during those months.


According to Chip:
we sell quality products which enhance the lives of our customers or bring benefits to them...we offer excellent guarantees, and we stand behind each sale and we support our existing customers with customer-oriented customer service (i direct our customer service function here as well)...

Perhaps you could direct some of your advertising copy creative energies to SCI/SMI's product quality issues. You have a top-notch quality control group (Williams, Monte, et al). And the SCI quality group does care about SCI's product quality. However, SCI/SMI management does not listen to them for some reason. Why bother with a quality control group if SCI/SMI management is just going to ignore their concerns???


According to Chip:
if you have something positive to say about our products and services, let me know...or if you need to bring any SPECIFIC advertising element to my attention, please do so...

paul "chip" klingaman, 330-494-5504 x7610, cklingaman@suarez.com



Well, something positive to say??


OK, how about I am really looking forward to this winter. When the SCI/SMI chickens will come home to roost on the issue of SCI/SMI's misapplication of the Sylvania heater bulbs. (SMI/Pinnacle did not want to know what was wrong)

A cold winter will be great for your new heater sales!!

And the first cold snap will reveal that the bulb life on all those lightly used heaters sold last year and the year before is nowhere near 20,000 hours. Which is also my very specific advertising concern as well.... (for giggles, try asking SMI/Pinnacle for their US-1000/GEN4 heater bulb life test data for heater bulbs operated in the heaters)

I don't remember which advertising genius it was who said "The quickest way to destroy a brand is to pitch a bad product" (he was talking about tomato soup) Still, that quote is quite appropriate today.

pastbulldog said...

In stumbling upon this blog I experienced an interesting morning of reading about Benny, Rodney and that crew. Its been many, many years since I moved away from Canton and had no idea they were still generating such drama. . . and money. A little surprised about Rodney, but he always was a clever boy who looked out for #1 and would land on his feet wherever he landed. Didn't know Benny was selling space heaters but I guess there is only so much zirconia jewerly you can sell by direct mail. Benny continues to pick up enemies like this Andrew Martin guy. Sounds like he sure has a bur under his blanket.