Monday, July 10, 2006

Smith & Merritt – Spend Your Way to Lameness?

I know I mentioned this briefly in the update to my previous post, but it still irks me, so I thought I’d bring it up again.

Back on July 3rd I put a comment up on the blog of the “Spend Your Way to Wealth” guys, Smith & Merritt—specifically on their post about Payday loan places. By July 5th my comment had been removed. Admittedly, of course, it’s their prerogative to decide what can and can’t be up on their blog, but consider what they say in this post:

Feel free to play rough and tumble, challenge us, ask us questions. All we ask is you keep it polite. No foul language or rudeness. We love a good dialogue and we love explaining why we believe the way we do. Still, we do reserve the right to edit posts if we determine them to be offensive.
They apparently have an unreasonably broad definition for the term “offensive” (as well as “edit”). I certainly didn’t use any foul language. Nor was I rude—unless they define “rude” as any disagreement with them. Unfortunately I did not save a copy of exactly what I wrote, but here is the gist of it:

Payday loan places may be a “scourge,” but how will making them illegal be helpful to their typical customer? Reducing a person’s available options seems rather likely to hurt them, instead.

If you truly believe that these businesses are overcharging their customers, then this suggests a profit opportunity. Why not set up a competitive shop in the neighborhoods where you find these places and then undercut them? I suspect, though, that their near-ubiquity means that they are already quite competitive with one-another, and are thus already charging the lowest price the market will bear. This means that making them illegal will almost certainly result in making credit even more expensive for the very people you are complaining are already being overcharged! How is what you suggest, then, going to be helpful?
It was something like that, anyway. Does that seem rude or offensive to you? If not, then why do you suppose they removed the comment?

Subsequent to the deletion of my first comment I wrote a second one expressing my disappointment at what I saw as cowardice on their part. Not surprisingly, that one was also quickly removed. Could it be that Smith & Merritt have no room for gray areas when it comes to debt? Unfortunately, if you are faced with a situation where you have to choose between spending an extra $50 or having your electricity shut off for 2 weeks, then sticking your head in the sand, as Smith & Merritt would apparently counsel you to do, isn’t going to help.

244 comments:

1 – 200 of 244   Newer›   Newest»
Dikkii said...

Don't get me started on the utter pointlessness of corporate blogs.

Anonymous said...

are you kidding me?! you are actually defending the these types of places? I don't know the reason they took down your comment, but it would probably be for stupidity. These people are very wealthy individuals that are trying to help people out of debt, these payday stores are 3 times more damaging then high interest credit card companies, they probably took your comment down because it was retarded and completely opposite of the good they are trying to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

My brief encounter with Smith and Merritt was a real bummer!

Anonymous said...

Joined Smith & Merritt on Salesman's promises. Found out that these were hype...attempting to get refund. Also they use balance transfer from credit card which eliminates the cc company from becoming involved in any dispute.

Einzige said...

What sorts of promises do they make? How much do they charge?

plewis16@cox.net said...

I've been trying to get my refund from these folks for 5 months. Am I the only one?
plewis16@cox.net

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

I've also been trying to get a refund from them for the past 6 or so weeks. I followed all the rules to cancel and returned the product, but the company seems unwilling to comply. There have to be some more people out there in the same boat. Please let me know if you're either trying to get a refund, or if you were at some point successful in getting your money back.

inthemix said...

Lukily for me I used an online check and when I received the package and realized how much I was paying for another "home based business", I emptied my bank account and told them not to process the check. They did so I was charged but so were they and I did not return their "product".

jdmspg@bellsouth.net said...

My husband and I have been trying to get a refund from Smith and Merrit since December. We had their product less than 24 full hours before we returned it. We keep getting some lame runaround about a merger with another company, which in my opinion is not my problem and should not affect my refund. We have contacted the Better Business Bureau who in turn tried to contact Smith and Merrit but Smith and Merrit did not reply to them. The Better Business Bureau did give us a contact number for the Attorney General's office which we do intend on contacting.

Anonymous said...

i WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF ANYONE HAS RECEIVED A REFUND? MY WIFEW AND I GOT CAUGHT UP IN THE HYPE AND REALIZED WE PAID ALL THIS MONEY FOR A BOX OF BOOKS AND CDS. I HAVE FILED A COMPLAINT WITH THE BBB AND SOON WITH THE FTC AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND ATTORNEY GENERAL

Anonymous said...

i think its time for a class action

jdmspg@bellsouth.net said...

I agree, we should all band together and file a class action suit against Smith and Merritt.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

Anonymous, there are several of us working right now trying to get refunds. So far my only attempts have been with the company itself, but others have filed complaints with the BBB with no results as of yet. Apparently there have been some staffing changes at the company and we've been given another name of someone to contact. Please email me when you have a chance and I'll provide you with that information. I'd also be interested in hearing what you've done so far.

Anonymous said...

I have been contacted by phone and email telling me I need to be reevaluated. I spoke with a Barb today she was all nice until we spoke about the refund. I was told that I did not qualify because of the reasons I gave. In explained I am ready to take tothe next step. I said I was willing to spend more money on legal just to get them to pay. She said she would get it to her superiors. Now I wait for a few days.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if its legal to do a balance transfer on a credit card for tution for smith and merritt? They called it a student loan.

Einzige said...

What? They loaned money to you? You'll have to be more specific, I think.

ghomp62@yahoo.com said...

My husband and I also did a credit card balance transfer. It seemed like it was a common way to do this - according to Smith & Merritt. Unfortunately, this meant they got their money from us very quickly, and when we decided to exercise our 3-day right of rescission, they already had our money. Now we're waiting to get our money back - over 2 months since we requested our refund. I mailed certified letters to them yesterday with a timeline outlining all my attempts to contadct them over the last 2 months.

Einzige said...

What's the difference between a "credit card balance transfer" and simply paying with your credit card?

And how in the world can that be construed as a "student loan"?

Einzige said...

Anyone feel like leaving a more substantial comment? A lot of these are cryptic and unsatisfying, really.

I mean, why do you feel like you deserve a refund? What were you expecting to get? What did you actually get? How much did it cost?

I appreciate any light that anyone can shed.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

We're requesting a full refund of the $9995 program cost because we changed our mind once we had a change to really think about what we had gotten ourselves into. We were required to make a decision right then - at the end of our 90-minute consultation - and like many others, were pulled in by the hype. By law, we have a 3-day right of rescission once the program materials are received. This was also stated on the contract we electronically signed. We sent a cancellation letter via certified mail to SMI 24 hours after receiving the box with books and CD's - workbooks, I might add, that already had someone else's notes on several of the pages. My expectation was to have a full refund as allowed by law within a reasonable period of time. Since we requested the refund on or around February 7th and it's now April 26th, they have not met my expectations of a refund in a reasonable amount of time. Emails have, for the most part, gone unanswered, and what answers I have received, have been incomplete and unsatisfactory.

jdmspg@bellsouth.net said...

For all of those awaiting refunds I from Smith and Merritt I just received this e-mail from them:

Letters are being processed at this very moment to inform you of the status on your refund. You should be receiving the letter by next week. Our records indicate that you are to receive your refund. The explanation for the delay, and the status of your individual refund, will be explained in the letter.

Thank you so much for your patience!

Smith & Merrit Institute
College Partnership - Financial Education Division

This email has come to me within 24 hours of me sending an email requesting my refund to this email address: refunds@smithandmerritt.com
which was given to us by one of the coaches that has been trying to help us with our refund.

Anonymous said...

First, judging by the questions Einzige is making must be someone that is working for the company. that said.
This company promises or the sales team promises that they will help you start a business reduce taxes teach you about finances educate you. All they do is give a book that tells you to think Abundantly and not scarcity. Affirmations and then coaches ask you how your doing and what do you want to talk about in the next session. Just a waste and not what was promised.I can have my friend call me once a month and tell to read the secret and other books I didnt need to pay $9995 for that.

Anonymous said...

I think it is only fair that a company that says it is tuition you are paying to be educated in finances and we all paid promptly. That a prompt refund should be in order. They should be no question why you want a refund. If you are not satisfied with the product and services promised than you should be given your money back. Only legitimate comnpanies give refunds within 30 days of requesting. The scasmmers make you jump through hoops hoping you will get tired or pursuing. If I go to school and dropout after 2 months they dont keep all your money. they give the unused portion back. These people want to hold on to it.

Einzige said...

Judging by my questions I must be working for Smith & Merritt???

Are you joking? Have you read the rest of my blog?

My questions were based on the fact that all I knew about Smith & Merritt was that they charged $179 for a "customized financial profile" that, as far as I could tell, probably amounted to a simple income/expense statement and balance sheet (the sort that you could easily generate yourself in Quicken). When I first heard of them they were giving this crap away for free, so I decided I couldn't be too angry with them, although at the time I couldn't figure out how they would make money that way (See here for more detail on that).

It seems pretty clear, now, that they are a bunch of scamming frauds, just like they seemed to me at the beginning. How can this be surprising, though, when their slogan is "Spend Your Way to Wealth"???

Anonymous said...

Well folks just received email that my refund request has been denied and they will continue my coaching sessions. I have filed a complaint with the FTC and BBB. I think I will be contacting my lawyer next.

P.S. Sorry Enzige

DC said...

We just decided to post our BBB complaint because I can't tell you how many times we have retyped our experience in pleading our cause with S&M. We apologize in advance for the length.

When we signed up for this program, we understood that we would get sound financial advice. Being this was our first experience with financial coaching & the cost of the program, we had no other reason to assume we weren't going to get financial advice. The salesman used high-pressure sales tactics & a needless sense of urgency in selling us the program stating that even if we wanted coaching there was a chance we wouldn't get "accepted". From the sales call (we have detailed notes of the call) he stated we'd have "unlimited access" from the best people in the business which implied financial advisors, yet he NEVER told us that we would NOT get coaching from financial advisors or planners. Had we known this, we wouldn't have signed up for the program. We purchased on Aug 7, 2006 for $3895 for 3 months of coaching. Even though we had 72 hrs to cancel after purchasing we hadn't started any coaching to determine that our coaching was just a professional form of cheering rather than financial advising. The first two sessions focused on our abundance statement and not finances! We realized especially after the 3rd session (around the beginning of September 2006) that this was not the service we expected. Besides calling us late, our coach hadn't even reviewed our financial reports we had emailed to her & after talking with our coach on the phone she informed us that she was not LICENSED to give us financial advice & we discovered that she didn't have a strong financial background! We were then assigned another coach because he used to sell insurance & had a "strong" financial background, yet after tolerating 2 sessions with him, we made the decision to seek a refund. We contacted the head of coaching and explained our concern & over the course of a few weeks or so she kept meeting with a "committee" giving us the impression that a decision would be made as to our refund. However, we eventually received a letter from a "customer care" lady stating that we should continue coaching & later another letter that we were to continue with 6 more sessions due to "contractual responsibilities" (whatever that means) & then they would reevaluate our complaint. Knowing that the coaching does not advise like we originally understood, this is an unreasonable request. She mentioned in the letter that we needed to file an "official withdrawal" from the coaching program & other pertinent information, yet when we have called the SLC office to receive further instruction to get the form or other information, we have had no response. We have made numerous attempts to talk the salesman regarding the sale & others regarding a refund & neither has returned our calls. We filed a complaint with the BBB on March 1, 2007 & the information was sent apparently to California & was returned with a correspondence stating that he wasn't in charge of refunds. We filed a complaint with the SLC office. That BBB complaint came back unanswered.

I THINK WE SHOULD COMMUNICATE AND SEE IF WE CAN GET SOMETHING GOING.

We called consumer protection of SLC today and were informed that College Partnership did have an action against them in the past that resulted in a citation. We are waiting further info from the investigator. If anyone wants to join in with us on getting something going, email us.

Also FYI, we went to the office personally today and the doors are locked and partitions are all over so that you can't see into the office. We saw a bunch of manuals in the garbage cans and were told by an inside source that they will be moving to Bountiful. Yet, they have been telling people to send any correspondence to a Sandy,Utah address and when we checked it out, it is only a UPS drop-off site. No kidding! They might be trying to "disappear".

There is so much more, but if you think that you could get involved, let's work together. THERE IS POWER IN NUMBERS!!! WE ALL DESERVE OUR MONEY BACK!!!!!

Let's keep this going

PS There may also be a recourse on how quickly they took our money because they have to wait until AFTER the 72 hour cancellation period before they can take your money. Ours was taken only one day after our decision. Based on that premise alone, we may have something to go on legally.

Anonymous said...

I have written to help me howard on the WB and Shame on you. I filed a complaint with the FTC, BBB and consumer affairs. Still waiting on answers. We cannot let them getaway with this. They told me my coach was the problem when in fact its this scam.

jdmspg@bellsouth.net said...

We received an email two weeks ago from Smith and Merrit stating we would receive a letter in a week stating why we have not received our refund and that we were on the list to receive a refund and guess what no letter. We did receive a phone call stating that yet again there was another delay and that we should receive the letter in another week. I don't think it is ever going to happen.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

I got a letter today. It's too long to type out here, but I'll be happy to scan and email it to anyone who's interested. In short, it apologizes, and puts the refund delays off to the fact that SMI was recently acquired by CP, unforseen issues, blah blah blah. There is a board of directors that manages and approves funds to be allocated and released to SMI for past client services & refunds. There will be a weekly amount allocated for SMI refunds. As it's decided, they'll be able to give a better idea of the timing of the refund...blah blah blah. The letter closes by asking any questions or inquiries be directed to 800-591-8296 or to refunds@smithandmerritt.com. The letter was signed by Kathryn Merritt.

I sent an email to that address on Friday, 5-4,and have heard nothing back. I can be a patient person, but their request for patience is costing me interest on my credit card each month - as I'm sure is the case for others out there.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

One more update - just received a phone call from an Eliza Rauch at College Partnership. Phone number showed Barbara Huguenin on my caller ID so I knew it had to be from SMI / CP. Eliza is in the Student Care Department located in Southern California. She could not tell me more about when to expect my refund - her job is just to "communicate" with everyone regarding the situation. Ultimately, she indicated Kathryn Merritt is the one who has control over the refunds. I reminded her that there should be no decision to make - my husband & I requested the refund within 72 hours and therefore, they are required by law to give us our money back. I also reminded her that every month they make us wait, interest charges are piling up and that's unacceptable. She really didn't have much to say - she can understand our frustration, very sorry to hear all this, blah blah blah. No direct email or phone number for Kathryn Merritt. I indicated I've been in contact with other refund seekers, and everyone is very unhappy. I also indicated they should expect to hear from me on a regular basis because I am not going to let this rest.

jdmspg@bellsouth.net said...

We received our letter yesterday, it seems to be the same letter everyone else is receiving with the lame excuse of a merger and a pitiful excuse for an apology from Kathryn Merritt. I am not interested in her apologies I want my money and I am at the point that I believe Smith and Merritt should not only refund my $9999 but all interest that has been assessed to my credit card because of this. I am also to the point that I should be compensated for all of the aggravation I am having to go through to get MY money back! I have received emails from other refunders about a class action suit and I believe this is way overdue!

Anonymous said...

The Division of Consumer Affairs for the State of Utah has met with a Smith and Merritt attorney. All students who have been authorized a refund will be hearing from the attorney shortly. This situation is being handled deligently by the Division of Consumer Affairs per all your communication with them.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

To the last poster "Anonymous" how do you know this? Did you receive a phone call from someone? How do we know if we're on the the list of "authorized refunds"? The letter I got just referenced
"refund due" and apologized for the delays - but wasn't addressed to me (or anyone else that I know of) specifically. I, myself, have not communicated with the Division of Consumer Affairs. And, do you know what they mean by "shortly"? I sent SMI an email to the refunds email address referenced in their letter on May 8th and requested a response no later than tomorrow, May 22nd - but have received absolutely no response - nothing. To me, that would qualify as "shortly". Just curious....

Anonymous said...

You might want to contact the Division of Consumer Protection for the State of Utah and you should find out if you are on the list for a refund and what they are planning to do to assist the people that are due a refund.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I gotten the run around as you folks since February and I am meeting with a Lawfirm next week to start a class action lawsuit. If you are interested in getting involved please let me know. It seems that there are a lot of us that have all had the same issues with Smith Merritt and the College Partnership. I have setup an email account (Get your money back...gymb). If everyone gets involved we will have some leverage
Thank you
if interested please send to
gymb1@comcast.net

Chris

Anonymous said...

I also joined the SM 2 year $10000 club. That was last year. I tried to get a refund at first and was given such a run around by them that I kicked myself (hard) and tried to make the most of my very very bad mistake. After one year I do indeed think more abundantly, but that is due to me...not due to some half hour phone mtgs. I also experienced lack of follow through, missed appointments and general lameness not befitting such an expensive course. I just have been assigned a new coach, and he seems slightly better than the last, but overall i feel suckered and silly fo rever doing this. I am joining hte lawsuit! Someone please tell me how to get on board...

Anonymous said...

My husband and I also joined the SM 2 year $10000 club. The very next day we had second thoughts and asked for a refund but were told by Barb "that they just don't do that". So we were like "okay lets make the best of our $10000 mistake". After being switched to several different coaches we finally received one that seemed somewhat competent. About 4 months ago all communication stopped. I have sent emails and left phone messages with no response. I have since leared that my coach is no longer with the organization. Does anyone know what the likelihood is of receiving any type of refund? This has got to be the worst financial decision my husband and I ever made. Ironic isn't it, since it was supposed to help us!

-Lisa

Einzige said...

Sorry to hear you got burned, Lisa. Given the trouble everyone else is having with getting a refund, it sure doesn't sound likely that you'd be able to get one, too, but I sure hope you can. I'll be sure to post pertinent information about the class action suit, if that ever gets off the ground.

Anonymous said...

A class action lawsuit only financially benefits the attorney representing the lawsuit. If SMI goes bankrupt, where is the money supposed to come from to pay for the refunds? The best way to deal with this matter is to contact the Utah Department of Consumer Protection. Get their number from their website. It is the best, most cost-effective way to handle this. If criminal charges are to be filed, it will be filed by their office. Do NOT help the attorney's profits. It does nothing for you. Use your consumer rights and contact the correct regulator. Be assured that they ARE on top of this matter! VERY on top of it!

Einzige said...

A class action lawsuit only financially benefits the attorney representing the lawsuit.

True, indeed--although who exactly benefits in a criminal case?

Speaking of bankruptcy...

An examination of the SEC filings of College Partnership reveals a company that doesn't appear to have ever even come close to making a profit (not exactly the ideal organization to be getting your financial advice from, huh?).

And, just for fun, since I live in Phoenix, I emailed Acentus and told them that I was "tired of feeling like just another nameless faceless employee", that I was "ready to feel like what I am doing matters", that I "like working with positive, professional and like minded individuals", that I "feel stagnant", and I'm "ready for growth and the opportunity to excel both financially and mentally". Supposedly, if that's you, then Acentus "has a place for you." Sadly, I never heard back from anyone. Why do you suppose that is?

I wouldn't be surprised if bankruptcy is in Smith & Merrit's future even without a class action suit.

Anonymous said...

In a criminal case, the "people" benefit as justice will be served! Sometimes people need to accept their losses and learn from the lesson. Each lesson will be different for each person. IF any funds are dispersed, the funds will be dispersed to the individuals who contact the Department of Consumer Protection. It is VERY important that each individual contact them for any potential refunds. They will be keeping a list of all individuals who contact them.

Einzige said...

In a criminal case, the "people" benefit as justice will be served!

My own political bias is probably causing me to misinterpret the intended tone of that comment as humorous.

In any case, you might be interested in reading an argument by Santa Clara University Economics and Law professor, David D. Friedman (son of the late Milton Friedman), in which he asserts that perhaps we have civil and criminal law exactly backwards - meaning that perhaps burglary (for example) should be treated as a tort and an auto accident should be treated as a crime.

See here, for example. Or this.

Anonymous said...

I tried to contact the state of utah dept. of consumer protection, but couldn't figure out who to leave a message for. anyone know how to leave a complaint there re: S+M?

I also contacted S+M re: a refund and they assure me that "senior management" will be making a decision soon about my case. ButI dont have my hopes up after reading all the blogging on this topic.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

Kent Nelson is the investigator handling this. I talked with him about 10 days ago and found him to be very easy to talk to and very informative.

gymb1 said...

Anonymous wrote
If SMI goes bankrupt, where is the money supposed to come from to pay for the refunds? The best way to deal with this matter is to contact the Utah Department of Consumer Protection.


Is it you contention that if we go to the UDCP SMI wont file Bankruptcy and the State of Utah will make sure we all get our money back. I don’t think you have all the information. I had a brief conversation with Kent who heads the UDCP in this matter yesterday and SMI has is not going to give you money back without a fight. They currently are not discussing refunds for anyone who has joined the program and received services. Their main focus is on those who have joined the program and have not received services. SMI’s current payout schedule of 3000 dollars per week is only for those people who have joined the program and not received any services. The UDCP feels that this is not adequate and is trying to persuade them to increase the amount of the payout, again, only for those who joined and have not received services. Hmmm, I wonder if the UDCP push’s hard enough for the minority that the majority of us will fall victim because SMI Files for protection or Bankruptcy, Hmmm, I wonder. Well I'm not one of those people who joined and didn’t receive services and neither are many of the posters on this blog.
Here are the facts as I know them to be.
1) The UDCP and SMI are working for a refund for those who joined and have not received services.
2) SMI is not giving refunds at all for those who have joined and received some services. I have my own requests for refund and the letters from SMI telling me no. I would be happy to share those.
3) The UDCP has a website that list business that our on a consumer watch list and SMI is does not appear.
4) SMI can claim bankruptcy anytime they choose and most certainly will.
5) People are still joining SMI and the UDCP has not done anything to stop it or posted a single warning to potential victims. This problem getting bigger!
So if your concern is Bankruptcy, which is most probable outcome given the UDCP’s interaction with SMI and the way they intend to make payouts, should the majority of us who are not included in that payout sit idly by and hope the Government can make it all better for minority of us or should we be proactive in our own futures and help EVERYONE get a refund. I like the idea of helping everyone.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

Anonymous, I don't know exactly what your involvement is in all this - whether you are a refund seeker, as well, or how you may be connected. While I agree that if SMI files bankruptcy, none of us will see our money back, maybe some people are forgetting that SMI was acquired by College Partnership - a larger and hopefully more solvent company. As the owner of this blog commented sometime back, acquisition of SMI didn't mean just acquiring assets, but liabilities as well. Liabilities being those of us who want our money back. And, there must be a definite link there, because if you look at the copy of the effusive apology letter from Kathryn Merritt - also posted on this site - it's on CP letterhead. While I am one of those refund seekers who signed up and never received services because I requested cancellation within 72 hours, I don't think those who DID get services are owed any less than I. After all, they signed a contract which promised them specific things, and by cutting off coaching sessions, being non-responsive, etc., it seems to me - granted, I'm not an attorney - SMI / CP has a serious case of breach of contract.

Einzige said...

Keeping in mind that this is all pure conjecture on my part, I'm sure that SMI/CP's main strategy right now is to avoid any sort of legal action on the part of the UDCP, so they are making a show of attempting to "do something" about the problem.

It seems likely that they are getting lots of requests for refunds. They don't have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to the 3-day right of recision, but for those people who have been given "services" they can make the argument at least that they lived up to the contract (or are in the process of doing so) and should be compensated according to the agreed-upon terms.

Now, my personal feeling is that everyone should get their money back and not one more person should get suckered by this shameful organization, but that's just me. Then again, where are the happy clients? Are there any out there?

Anonymous said...

The happy customers are not reading this blog. There are hundreds and hundreds of them. However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the customers who are due refunds! When customers have problems with a specific car, not ALL customers are unhappy with ALL the cars! Two separate issues.

The customers who are due refunds should NOT lighten up on pursuing getting the refunds! Kent Nelson needs to know about ALL the customers who are due a refund, even the customers who did not cancel within 72 hours. There are many customers who are due refunds who are not part of the 72 hour refunds.

Einzige said...

The happy customers are not reading this blog.

You don't find that a little unusual? I do. After all, looking around the web, you can find defenders of some of the most obvious scams. Check out scam.com, for example.

Please note, that, yes, I do recognize that there are many different possible explanations for why no SMI supporters are posting here.

There are hundreds and hundreds of them.

I don't doubt it, as there are hundreds of supporters of psychic surgery and homeopathy.

However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the customers who are due refunds!

I'm sorry. I certainly didn't mean to imply a connection.

Anonymous said...

Wait a sec....I happen to know that Homeopathy is much more effective and costs loads less than the S/M program (dont know about "psychic surgery though). I hereby invite any supporters and "happy customers" of S/M to post for all of us to see. I dont think we'll see any though.

Einzige said...

It's definitely less expensive!

I recommend reading The Double Blind Gaze, by Steven Bratman, as an excellent introduction to the evaluation of health claims in general--and how our own biases can fool us into seeing benefits where there are none.

For articles specific to homeopathy (and its complete lack of a scientific basis), see The Ultimate Fake or the website homeowatch.org.

And, yes, I am looking forward to any and all comments from persons happy with SMI's service.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how this blog can so easily move to another subject!

Bottom line . . . just make sure that the Division of Consumer Protection for the State of Utah, Kent Nelson, knows that you exist. That seems to be the only recourse any one has to get a refund.

Anonymous said...

Here is what I know. Acentus, S+M, CP and Modius are all together. They also have no money and have trouble paying Employees. I would bet Bankruptcy is just around the corner. I do have a few numbers you can try as well. 801-580-6466. at one point this was Kathrin's Cell. and 801-755-7411 Dan Smith's cell. that is the best I have.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of Smith and Merritt Institute suckers. I returned the box of "product" (lame notes and a CD that did not load) within two days back at Christmas time, 2006. Then SMI still did the balance transfer of $7,865 to themselves on 03JAN07, nearly two weeks after I returned their "product". Now it is 09JUN07, 5 months after they "stole" my money, and there is no sign of a refund (unless you count a apology letter from Kathryn Merritt). I did manage to convince my credit card company to dispute the transaction and registered a complaint with the Utah BBB, but a busy personal schedule has kept me from really going after SMI for my money.

Anonymous said...

Found this press release on the Internet. Seems the company we should be going after is College Partnership. They are the ones who are now responsible for Smith & Merritt's business dealings.

LAKEWOOD, Colo., Dec. 18, 2006 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- College Partnership, Inc. (Pink Sheets:CGPA) announced today that it has completed the Equity Exchange transaction with Acentus Consulting Group, LLC., and Smith & Merritt Institute, LLC. ("collectively Acentus"). College Partnership, Inc. acquired all of the issued and outstanding membership interests of Acentus in exchange for the issuance of 9,757,946 shares of Convertible Preferred stock of College Partnership, Inc. This acquisition will add approximately $16,000,000 in gross revenues (unaudited) to College Partnership's fiscal year end (7/31/06) gross revenues for a total of approximately $20,000,000 (unaudited). There will be over 180 employees with the combined companies.

Mr. John J. Grace, Chairman of College Partnership, Inc. stated, "This acquisition provides a platform to expand our educational products and services. We can now create a more comprehensive program for families seeking college and financial planning. We have also acquired strong operating and marketing talent from the Acentus team. We have started to monetize College Partnership, Inc.'s extensive data base with Acentus' state-of-the-art call center as well as their experienced inbound and outbound call center staff."

About College Partnership, Inc.

College Partnership, Inc. is a full-service college planning company offering college-bound students and their families' integrated resources and services to guide them through the college preparation process. College Partnership's suite of products and services integrates career planning, college major field of study selection, college selection, preparation for college entrance tests, as well as searches for merit awards. The program consists of printed materials, exclusive, secured pass codes to proprietary websites and coaching throughout the program. The Company provides educational resources that assist families to save time, develop a plan, decrease stress and reduce college costs. For more information, visit: www.yourcollegepartner.com. and www.cbsa.com. For information on Acentus, see www.smithandmerritt.com.


This release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results, specifically in the areas of future sales growth and profitability. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified. Future events and actual results could differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking statements. The risks and uncertainties to which forward-looking statements are subject include, but are not limited to, the effect of government regulation, competition and other material risks.

CONTACT: College Partnership, Inc. Dr. Janice A. Jones, Co-Founder (303) 804-0155

Anonymous said...

News today is that S + M no longer are honoring any contracts. They have suspended coaching without any offers of refunds. I am informed that I need to contact the College Partnership as S+M will not return any calls. What a bogus sham! Biggest mistake of my financial life! Let's get these thieves and make them pay!! I'm calling College Partnership tomorrow and someone will have to deal with this...i refuse to lose $10K this easily.

Einzige said...

If that's the case, then why does the web site currently say nothing about this?

Where did you get this news?

Anonymous said...

From the coaches. An email was sent out yesterday saying that coaching was done. They are not employees of S + M. They were contracted by S + M to provide the coaching. Coaching would continue except that they are not getting paid to coach any longer. We need to contact College Partnership to get satisfaction. This is just not right!

Anonymous said...

Today's word from College Partnership is that S+M has been stealing from them too! They took them to court over it on friday, which is probably why the coaches have no more money.

They are upset too and I have asked them to post to this blog.

here is another way to try to contact Merritt "www.parkermerrittt.org". Apparently Merritt lost her son to cancer...and this is a foundation for it.

WE can also contactr Acentus.com.

let's go get these crooks!

Einzige said...

Do you have a court name and docket number?

Given that SMI is owned by College Partnership, how can it be possible that they are in a court battle?

Anonymous said...

Acentus is the same as Smith & Merritt.

Einzige said...

Indeed it is. What gives the impression that I or other commentors are not aware of that?

Is there something important that we are missing?

Anonymous said...

It's in the press release which was posted to this blog on 6/9. Lots of good information in that press release.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

If you go to the Acentus website and click on "partners", it does allude to Smith and Merritt. Also, on the College Partnership website, the Company Overview button will give information on the 2 owners - both referenced in that press release someone posted on 6-9-2007. There's also an address on the website for College Partnership. I'm keeping copies of everything I can find that allude to CP & SMI being "merged" or related in any way. In my mind, that provides proof that when SMI scammed my money, they were part of CP. The "apology" letter I received from Kathryn Merritt is on CP letterhead with a reference to SMI as the "financial division". I think that definitely shows a relationship between the two companies and that CP should live up to their obligations. Just because they're trying to pull out now doesn't erase what they've done in the past.

Einzige said...

Yes. And I strongly recommend that, if you've read this far, you read everything else I've written on this blog about SMI, Acentus, and College Partnership.

Anonymous said...

We joined last fall (2years, $10k.) Got the same email saying the coaches were out of business as of Friday 6/8. I called the CP number given to us by our coach...sadly for the poor young woman answering the phone she is in the dark. She gave me the CP customer service number - after 100 rings I gave up. We were not unhappy with the coaching we received and the materials. It costs too much yes, were we taken? Well- with our eyes wide open, yes. We understood there was a risk. For those who got nothing - you were ripped off. At least we had 3 months of coaching before we lost our coach etc...

Anonymous said...

i dont know about the validity of CP being owned by S+M or vise versa, but I did get a sense that they are as outraged as us by the action of SM.

I did get a good response form my credit card dispute division. They assure me I can get some $$ back as this was run through my card.

what a friggin mess!

can anyone post the initial contract they had us agree to? I cant locate it.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

To the last poster, feel free to email me and I'll be happy to forward you a copy of the original contract. I would also be interested in getting more information from you on how you went about filing your dispute with your credit card company.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at Acentus in Salt Lake City. When I started expressing concerns over the tactics and ethics of the company, I was fired and never given a reason why. I was a consultant for them when they handled sales for John Commuta's "Transforming Debt Into Wealth" Ask me anything and I will tell you what I know. buckita12@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

You can get a copy of your own contract by going to www.smithandmerritt.com and login.

If you do not remember your login info, it is the telephone number you signed up with, as a 10-digit number (no spaces or dashes) and the password is the 1st 2 letters of the first name, and the entire last name of the person who completed the order form, all as one word.

Anonymous said...

Does this website even exist anymore (www.smithandmerritt.com)? I am getting an error message when I try access it. It's like the whole website has been removed.

-Lisa

Einzige said...

Interesting.

Spend2Wealth.com is gone, too. Though their blogspot blog is still there (for now, anyway).

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there is a class action suit being filed against SM? I called the dept of consumer protection in SLC and they did say there was a suit pending on SM but would give no further info.

Anonymous said...

amazing what you can find online, has anyone tried to find them directly. just a thought.

Anonymous said...

are there any other smi former employees out there that will reply to their emails??, tell us what you know, pls. we are all in this together.

Anonymous said...

all of their websites, smi.com,spendtowealth and the parkermerrittfoundation have all been closed since yesterday and Kathryns video taken off of youtube.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Stop! You are all wasting your time. All the appropriate authorities know the problems. College Partnership and SMI are being investigated. There is nothing more anyone can do . . . employees or customers. Both CP and SMI will probably go bankrupt and no one will get their money back. If fraud can be proven, criminal charges will be filed on all the key players. If that is the case, then their personal assets will be used to pay back liabilities...if there are any assets. You have all done all you need to do and can do. The authorities in Utah and Colorado are all involved. Lawyers are all involved. Movement is happening.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

To the last poster: I would really like to know what your whole involvement is in this issue. Are you a victim like the rest of us? Are you an employee or maybe ex-employee of SMI, Acentus or College Partnership? Are you with the "authorities"? If you've lost thousands of dollars like most of us on this blog, how can you say that we've done "all we need to and can do". We can never do enough until we either get our money back or see that the people responsible for scamming us are put behind bars and can't do this to anyone else. Of course, there will always be other scammers out there to take their place, but every bit helps. Some of us don't feel that our investigation and communication with other victims is a "waste of time". Making some phone calls, doing some digging online and communicating with others in the same situation is not wasting our time. It's using our resources to educate ourselves and help the "authorities" to help us. Without our stories, they're not going to have a full picture of what has happened here. Yes, movement is happening - but how far would it get without the cooperation of everyone here? I know I was very grateful to find ths blog - to find that I was NOT the only one out there that fell for this scam. If this blog helps others by providing them with a sense that they also are not alone, then shame on you for telling us we're wasting our time!

Anonymous said...

If it makes you happy, and you find peace, go for it! Bottom line is: one more person contacting the authorities is like putting one more grain of sand on the beach. It's already there! They know! When this goes to trial, when fraud charges are made, you and all the other customers will be contacted. Period.

Einzige said...

The comment from 6/14 was removed at the request of the original author of the quoted email.

I may or may not write another full posting that incorporates some of the information it contained.

solution95@comcast.net said...

I just received a call from Allison at College Partnership 720-529-9372. She said that if its a smith and merritt issue I should call the 801-456-1616 number. But she did give me a number for refunds from College Partnership, so if you paid in money after Dec 16th there may be some action. 800-677-1077 x200.

Does anyone know what US Financial Services is? That the balance transfer agent on my CC??

Sorry if I am repeating something in this very long blog, but I am new to this fiasco.

Anonymous said...

US Financial Services is all part of the SMI S+M CP thing. They were trying to get it set up to recive Balance Transfers faster. Helped them get money also did kind of "help" by getting lower interest rates for some people.

Anonymous said...

True!

Anonymous said...

I was just given a number for Barbara Hugenin Vice President and Head Coach for Smith and Merritt 951-609-1421. The number was operationa. Got her voice mail I asked her to call me back and let me know what is going on. She has not called me back not sure I will hear from her but the number is legit.

Anonymous said...

We were also victims of SMI. We have e-mailed, called, sent certified letters, etc., and received the same letter that others have received from Kathryn Merritt. Still no refund! We bought the program Jan.5,2007, and returned the "product" the day after we received it.We are very interested in being part of the group effort to receive our refund.

Anonymous said...

This an email I received.
I am so very sorry, and I wish we could be of more assistance, but we have
no connection with Smith & Merritt. We are not employees of Smith &
Merritt. We were contracted by Smith & Merritt to provide coaching services
for their clients. We are not part of the organization of either College
Partnership or Smith & Merritt. Due to the litigation they are involved in,
we are not contracted with them any longer. My only suggestion for you is
to contact College Partnership at 303-804-0155.

We are certainly not happy about the situation as we very much enjoy
providing financial coaching to you and all the other students, but we have
absolutely no control over this.

Wishing you the best,

Barbara


There is current litigation going on and nobody is receiving coaching now.
Keep writing to the Attorney General. I have written to the BBB, FTC, AG, Tv stations and last to ripoffreport.com and consumer affairs. Just keep Going

Einzige said...

When Barbara says "We were contracted by Smith & Merritt to provide coaching services" who is the "We" she means? Acentus, or someone else?

It almost seems like they're all trying to play "Hot Potato".

Anonymous said...

The coaches work for a separate organization. They are not part of Acentus. Their services were outsourced. They wish coaching could continue, but are no longer getting paid from S+M. They are a vendor who are also victims of this fiasco!

Einzige said...

A vendor by the name of?

Anonymous said...

Don't know. Just know they were contracted to conduct the coaching.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

I know that I was under the impression when I signed up for this program that SMI was the company providing the coaches. Of course, we never got into the coaching so it's not something we ever really followed up on. I had a long email conversation with Barbara back at the end of March when I wasn't getting any response from Holly Wood regarding my refund. Barbara told me back then, as she told someone recently, that she had nothing to do with the money aspect. At that time she referred me to CP. She referred to it as "College Partnership - Financial Education Division (formerly SMI) which again shows the partnership between the two companies at that time. Her electronic signature refers to her as Barbara Huguenin, CSA, LUTCF, LTCP; President and Chief Operating Officer; Coaching Department; and gives an address in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. It doesn't name a specific company. It's easy to infer that the Coaching Department is a part of either SMI or CP.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the coaching department is not part of SMI or College Partnership. It is a separate company hired to do the coaching. They weren't getting their money either!

Anonymous said...

How could you not refer Barbara Hugenin to be part of S&M. Her original letter to me introducing my coach "T" Cromwell is on Smith and Merritt Institute letter head. Signed vice President. Coaching Division, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I think it is very interesting that all parties now deny
their association with S&M.
Kathy

Anonymous said...

Because S+M contracted out to them for coaching. Just like most corporations that outsource services like human resources, customer service (India), recruiting.

Anonymous said...

I have spoken to Kent Nelson of Utah's Consumer Protection Department. He said that the coaches are in the same situation as we are and that he would be contacting the coaches for his investigation into Smith and Merritt.

Einzige said...

I'm curious what other scammers Barbara's company "coaches" for.

Take a look at "Integrity" Consulting's web page, for example. If you're a former SMI "client", let me know if what they offer looks at all familiar.

Not only that, but take a look at the testimonials on the Come Work for Acentus page and compare them to the Meet Some of Our Family page for Integrity.

Jeff Nielson is on both of those pages!

Anonymous said...

Jeff Nielson was the sales person I spoke to at Smith and Merritt!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what is happening with the litigation? We were told that something is happening in Colorado courts since College Partnership is in Colorado.

Einzige said...

Jeff Nielson was the sales person I spoke to at Smith and Merritt!

Anyone recognize any of the other people on that page? Jeff Pippin... Amanda Wilson... Tony Pomikala...?

Einzige said...

If there is an actual court case in Colorado, then a case number would definitely be helpful. Colorado court records are available online for $6 per search at CoCourts.com.

Anonymous said...

Looks like College Partnership, who owns Smith and Merritt, is still going strong!

SOURCE: College Partnership
Jun 14, 2007 08:15 ET
College Partnership, Inc. Names Fred B. Kush Chief Marketing Officer

LAKEWOOD, CO--(Marketwire - June 14, 2007) - College Partnership, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: CGPA) announced today the appointment of Fred B. Kush as Chief Marketing Officer.

John Grace, Chairman and Co-Founder of College Partnership, Inc., commented, "Fred brings an extensive background in key areas of opportunity for College Partnership. Specifically his knowledge of the software and education industries, as well as the services business will allow College Partnership to aggressively expand product offerings and distribution channels. These areas are critical to future value creation we seek, and we look forward to leveraging Fred's expertise."

Mr. Kush brings significant experience in marketing and education. He has served as interim senior executive with the International Division of Follett Corporation, the world's largest provider (with over $2 billion in gross revenues) to the library and education market with books and school management software. Among multiple entrepreneurial and next level growth endeavors, Fred also worked for NCR/Teradata, which provides high performance parallel database and other technologies. Mr. Kush holds a Business Degree from the University of Illinois, and also a BS in Education.

College Partnership, Inc. is a full-service college planning company. The Company offers students and their family integrated resources and services to guide them through the college preparation process. College Partnership's suite of products and services integrates career planning, college major/field of study selection, college selection, preparation for college entrance tests, aids for improving study skills, searches for other financial aid products, and other educational products. The products consist of printed materials, videocassettes, college major/field of study software, career assessment software, databases accessible through CD-ROM and one-to-one counseling. The Company provides these educational resources to assist families with the college preparation, application, financial assistance and entrance criteria to save time, develop a plan, decrease stress, and reduce college costs. Additional detailed product information can be found at the Company's websites of www.yourcollegepartner.com, www.cbsa.com, and www.tcpworkshop.com.

This communication does not constitute an offer of securities to the public in the United States within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933. No prospectus has been or will be registered or published in the United States in respect of the securities. It is not intended that the Contents of this section contain forward-looking statements. If statements contained anywhere in the Contents, including statements regarding events and financial trends that may affect future operating results, financial position and cash flows, may be found to constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States federal or other securities laws, all such statements are based on assumptions and estimates by CMHC and are subject to risks and uncertainties. You can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of words like "strategy," "expects," "plans," "believes," "will," "estimates," "intends," "projects," "goals," "targets" and other words of similar meaning. You can also identify them by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts.

AcentusAngel said...

It sounds as if there are many people who are upset and waiting for some sort of resolution. I wanted to say something as a former employee of Acentus/SMI. I know they have hurt many, many students-even those who canceled within their contractual rights therefore were never actual students. As you have read Acentus/SMI has stopped paying the Coaching Department, who is IN FACT a third party provider. They have NOTHING to do with the business dealings of Acentus/SMI and are as they have always been proud to boast UNBIASED Coaches!!! They are there to help guide and inspire their students to achieve financial freedom. There are MANY Financial Education Companies/Organizations and they do provide an extremely valuable service: an option to learn in a unbiased manner about debt elimination/wealth building. I want to point out one VERY important thing…..all of you were looking for some sort of direction in regards to your current financial situation! Acentus/SMI also hurt their own employees. I am sure none of you have any sympathy for them but please understand the ONLY people who are to blame are Dan Smith and Kathryn Merritt!!!!! The individuals who have gone on to work for other companies within the overall industry ARE NOT TO BLAME! Just because they took you through the sales process DOES NOT mean they made decisions in regards to how the money was processed, invested, spent, lost, stole, whatever you want to call it, that honor belongs to Dan and Kathryn.

I no longer work for Acentus/SMI and I haven’t for quite a while now. I have been in touch with Kent Nelson. He has taken my recorded statement of my experiences while employed by Acentus/SMI. I intend to help in any way I can and he knows that. My goal here is not to anger anyone. More to help clarify some truths and help ease the minds of some of you who are waiting for something, anything…..

The coaches are innocent, the former employees are innocent, all of you are innocent as well. The guilty parties are Dan and Kathryn.

AcentusAngel

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

I looked at the Integrity Consulting webpage, and yes, a lot of it looks like what we were promised when we signed up for the SMI program. Both programs were by "invitation only" (hmmmm...I wonder how many people they ever turned down?) Both companies located in Salt Lake City. Also seems ironic that the name at the bottom of the page is DAN Hollister just like one of the creators of the "Abundance" lifestyle was DAN Smith. Maybe I'm reading too much into it....but, I do remember there were testamonials on the SMI page, too - I just can't remember exactly what they said - would be awfully easy to shut down the Abundance website, and start over with a new name. I have a picture of Dan Smith - now if we could find one of Dan Hollister, we could compare. By the way, I couldn't find this Integrity company on the BBB website. Maybe they're so new they haven't registered yet?

Einzige said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The coaches weren't making 6 figures. That's the sales people at SMI they're referring to!

Einzige said...

Which was Jeff Nielson?

Anonymous said...

You are confusing sales people with coaches. The financial advisors you are referring to might get paid for products sold or paid per hour for their advice. In either situation, there are pros and cons to each. Before you go speaking about the financial world, what are YOUR qualifications to give advice at all? It's quite evident that you have lots to learn yourself. If financial planning was not that hard, why is consumer debt out of control? Why is consumer savings almost non existent? So glad you have all your financial planning apparently taken care of, but that is not the situation for most consumers. The bad apples in the financial world does not mean that everyone in the financial world is bad. Just look around and see how many Internet scams there are. Car scams. Insurance scams. Health food scams. On and on and on. There are lots of good people out there that want to help. Just because Dan and Kathryn have given a bad taste in people's mouth, does not mean all people in the financial world are bad. Your comments in this area are unacceptable! S+Ms customers are definitely getting hurt by all of this. But millions of people need help by the people who care. You are not helping at all by your comments.

Einzige said...

And, by the way, I recently spoke on the phone with Jeff Pippin, and he described himself as a "senior financial consultant".

My point still stands.

Anonymous said...

Jeff is in sales. All the people you see on the website are in sales.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Pippen can call himself whatever he wants. He's in sales.

Anonymous said...

The senior management is the problem. Not the sales people. Management encourages whatever it takes to sell.

Einzige said...

You anonymous commenters are making my point! "Integrity" consulting is not a trustworthy source of financial "coaching". Therefore, the problem was not restricted to Dan and Kathryn.

Einzige said...

You are confusing sales people with coaches.

com·plic·i·ty, n. Involvement as an accomplice in a questionable act or a crime.

The financial advisors you are referring to might get paid for products sold or paid per hour for their advice.

The relevant distinction is that Pleasanton Financial is up front about their fees. You can find them right on their web page.

Before you go speaking about the financial world, what are YOUR qualifications to give advice at all?

Again you're missing the key distinction: I'm not charging for my "advice", am I? I give it away for free. Hell, I don't even have advertising on my blog!

It's quite evident that you have lots to learn yourself.

No disagreement there!

If financial planning was not that hard, why is consumer debt out of control?

Is it? How do you define "out of control"? What is your source for this claim?

I'll make a comparison:

Arguably there is an "obesity epidemic" in the United States at present (definitional issues aside, for now). Is this a problem because nutrition is a "difficult" subject to master? Should all obese people pay exhorbitant fees to "nutritional coaches" to tell them to eat less and exercise more?

Sure, there's lots of stuff that one can learn about dietetics and nutrition. You can even get Ph.D.'s in those topics, no doubt - as you can for finance. However, none of that precludes one from figuring out that if you eat more calories than you burn you'll get fat, in much the same way as if you spend more money than you earn you'll go into debt.

Please note that I'm not claiming either topic is quite so simple as that. I'm merely being brief.

So glad you have all your financial planning apparently taken care of, but that is not the situation for most consumers.

All the more reason that people should be steered away from the scams!

The bad apples in the financial world does not mean that everyone in the financial world is bad.

I didn't claim that. I apologize for giving the impression that I believe all financial advisors are scam artists. That was certainly not my intent!

Pleasanton Financial is probably a reputable source for financial advice.

Let me take a step back from what I said earlier. Maybe $300/hour isn't too expensive. If you're in dire straights today and you need sound financial advice now and you don't have the time to research it all yourself then Pleasanton would probably be the right step. Integrity Consulting, on the other hand... not so much.

Anonymous said...

FYI everyone...Dan Hollister was a victim of Acentus/SMI as well. He left when he saw the 'writing on the wall' at SMI and started his own company. Thats why he named it 'Integrity'. Dan Hollister and Dan Smith are VERY different people.

Another FYI...financial advisors tell you what to do with your finances. Coaches present all of the available options and let you choose.

http://www.nefe.org is a non-profit, unbiased source for financial education. Just in case anyone wants to investigate. I, too, worked with SMI. Its upsetting to me to hear that Dan and Kathryn were able to victimize so many people that would have been, otherwise, greatly helped.

I want to see Dan and Kathryn punished for what they did. I see them as the Enron of financial education. I don't want them to be able to hurt more people. They are scam artists and very good at their jobs. They manipulated their employees as well as their clients. Alot of employees were convinced to invest in SMI and we are out that money.

Thankfully, I have fallen back on my financial education as I was/am a student of a very similiar company (not Integrity) that gave me the knowledge and motivation to get through the tough times.

AcentusAngel,

I would be more than happy to help you help the victims of Dan and Kathryn if I can. Is there a way I can contact you?

Anonymous said...

I continue to pursue a refund by disputing via my credit card. Since I purchased it with the Chase Visa evidently there are securites in place.

I will be happy to let the credit card's lawyers take care of S+M. I am now in debt (and I wasn't before I bought this stupid, high priced scam.) I cannot afford to pursue them legally. Chase may do so.

I am told that the Utah Division of Consumer Protection will also pursue criminal charges against those responsible for the scam. Both S and M deserve nothing less than to lose everything they own...plus have some prison time to make the message stick.

It is difficult to believe that thieves of this order can escape justice. But look who is in the White House, running the country...so all bets are off.

Last thing for now: If you are reading this and are an Ex-employee of S+M or an ex coach it is up to you to help prove the guilt of S + M. Contact the authorities and make a statement.

Anonymous said...

Ex-employees and the current coaching department are already in touch with the authorities.

Anonymous said...

I just spoke to Barbara Hugenin last night, head coach for S&M. She was very candid and forthright. She told me that S&M contracted out to her Co. Coach America to teach the S&M curriculum. Around Dec. S&M ran out of money and could not pay the coaches any longer. About that same time College Partnerships acquired S&M and they decided to cut the financial coaching. S&M and the coaches were up in arms about leaving the students in the lurch so it was agreed upon that College Partnerships would continue coaching with those coaches that wanted to stay on (Many had left)as long as they were paid a week in advance.

Now CP and S&M are in litigation about who is in control and all money is frozen and coaching has stopped. It seems that CP is complicit in all this mess but does not want to take on the responsibility of the financial coaching. Everytime I call CP they deny being associated with S&M yet the proof is there that they did merge with S&M. It stands to reason that if CP acquired S&M they also acquired their liabilities.

I plan to file a report with consumer protection division of Colorado, that is where CP operates out of.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of ppl are confused about what CP and SMI do. CP is a company alone who helps hs students with the transition into college. SMI handles the "financial coaching" and that is what they sell on their own along with Acentus. CP has nothing to do with the dealings or scamming that SMI has done to all of these ppl. they are very un ethical and refused to admit what they have done. Kathryn and Dan are scammers and I dont know how they sleep at night. Much less Kathryn putting her sons name out there and using that to get other ppls money as well and employees, thats just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to understand that "College Partnership, Inc. (Pink Sheets:CGPA) announced today that it has completed the Equity Exchange transaction with Acentus Consulting Group, LLC., and Smith & Merritt Institute, LLC. ("collectively Acentus"). College Partnership, Inc. acquired all of the issued and outstanding membership interests of Acentus in exchange for the issuance of 9,757,946 shares of Convertible Preferred stock of College Partnership, Inc. This acquisition will add approximately $16,000,000 in gross revenues (unaudited) to College Partnership's fiscal year end (7/31/06) gross revenues for a total of approximately $20,000,000 (unaudited). There will be over 180 employees with the combined companies."

Read the press release that is in this blog or find it on the Internet. CP is responsible for SMI. It doesn't matter that the two of them specialize in different services. CP legally is responsible for SMI.

Anonymous said...

Not all true...smith and merritt are their own company and have their own products to sell. yes cp did merge with them to form a company called EduSource!! to sell products to families with high schools students to assist with the high school to college transition process. BUT SMI never changed their name to that, they cont. to bad mouth the name of CP everywhere online and stealing their money. And selling their product to unknowing people, taking their money and running as far away as they can. Get the facts from someone who knows what is going on.

Anonymous said...

anyone that wants to file a complaint with CO about CP, should not, they are not the ones stealing your money. you should file a complaint with UT where SMI are based out of.

Anonymous said...

Then why is CP in court with SMI trying to separate from SMI "in Colorado"?

Anonymous said...

I find your post very interesting. How did you get the information that S&M and CP formed a new Co. by the name of Edusource? To me if CP acquired S&M they took on their liabilities. Many people on this blog are definately in the dark and if those that have insider info. or new info should enlighten us how they came about this info or how they are connected. Most people on these posts have been bilked out of a lot of money and are trying to understand what has happened. Please don't be so cryptic and come forward with how you know this info.

Anonymous said...

More proof that CP and SMI are together. This is from the press release which was posted on this blog.

Mr. John J. Grace, Chairman of College Partnership, Inc. stated, "This acquisition provides a platform to expand our educational products and services. We can now create a more comprehensive program for families seeking college and financial planning. We have also acquired strong operating and marketing talent from the Acentus team. We have started to monetize College Partnership, Inc.'s extensive data base with Acentus' state-of-the-art call center as well as their experienced inbound and outbound call center staff."

Einzige said...

A number of press releases floating around the net corroborate the "Edusource" thing.

More interesting than that, however, is this page, which reveals yet another smarmy "debt elimination" and "financial consulting" company!

Here is the relevant quote from the page:

In early 2005, Clark joined Acentus Consulting Group where he was quickly promoted to the position of Executive Vice President. He led the company through rapid growth, helping gross revenue to quadruple. Through a multi-company merger, Acentus became part of EduSource, a publicly traded company, and Clark was named Chief Operating Officer and CIO over 120+ employees in five states where he directed the successful launch of a new nationwide marketing campaign.

The B.S. just gets deeper and deeper!

Anonymous said...

Be extremely wary of any company that Clark Dowding is involved with!!!!

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

If SMI and CP are not related, then why did the effusive apology letter from Kathryn Merritt (which is posted on this blog website) come on CP letterhead with the SMI logo attached, and why is Kathryn Merritt - one of the founders of SMI - identified as "Chief Marketing Officer, College Partnership, Inc."? I was solicited by CP for the SMI product after the supposed merger in December 2006. If, as a previous post indicates, they ran out of money and wanted to cut off coaching back in December, then when I was solicited in February, it was done fraudulently and they were making promises they wouldn't have been able to keep even if I had made the decision to stay in the program. By the way, I tried to call the number that was posted on 06-15-2007 to see about a refund and had to leave a voice mail. That was 4 days ago - I wonder how long it will take for them to call me back?

Anonymous said...

I too want a full refund which I tried to get after their fiasco in March. We need to get all these people together and file a lawsuit.

cjsode said...

We need to get a list of people that want refunds (don't hold your breath though) Lawsuit time.

Anonymous said...

SMI has no money. CP is not much better. A law suit will just make the attorneys rich and we will not get our refunds. Can't get water from a rock. SMI is being investigated for fraud. We need to make sure that the investigation continues until the facts are out.

Anonymous said...

xIt makes me sick that people can steal my money , then somehow declare that they are out of bussiness and meanwhile get involved in another scammey scene (Acentus) and get away with it all. You say we can't get water from a rock, but c'mon SMI STOLE OUR MONEY! Where is it now? I will not give up so easily. I will do everything I can including alerting the media, consumer protection groups and everyone everywhere that Smith and Merritt are thieves and deserve punishment. They will have to give us refunds if they wish to retain any dignity and standing in the consulting world. If you are reading this S + M (and I bet you are) we will prevail over you, we know where you live and you will not get away with this piracy of our hard earned money.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Acentus came first and then SMI...

Anonymous said...

who has info about clark? what has done?

Anonymous said...

FYI the letter that was on CP letterhead was just way to shift the blame quickly, steal materials and trademarked logos from CP. they have stolen money from CP, SMI clients and defensless people. they are bashing CP's name. they figured hey since we joined CP what the H*** just put the blame on them. hasnt anyone caught on that SMI is the one that took your money and ran???? they are the ones, NOT taking your calls, changing their numbers and not refunding your money.**these people are very good at what they do and know how to try to get away with stealing money and have probably done this before.

Anonymous said...

Why are you defending CP they are both comlicit in this scam. CP denies its association with SMI even though they acquired SMI.
It's hard to figure. CP acts like they wish the SMI students would just go away.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

Bottomline - regardless of how hard CP tries to deny association with SMI - I was solicited by CP. I received a call from a Justin Hill of CP and we were solicited because of our previous participation in one of their college planning seminars when our daughter was entering high school. The program was introduced to us as the "financial planning arm" of CP.

Anonymous said...

Correct!!

Anonymous said...

Clark ran the floor for Kathryn and Dan--he probably has made at least a million dollars off of their scam.

Anonymous said...

What would make you think Clark made a Million Dollars? From what I know he was a victim of the whole thing as well. Big promises and no follow through.

Anonymous said...

CLARK made a killing!!!! I worked with him....He IS a good person though...I know that..but once he got wrapped up in this so deep he changed....I saw it...he had a different look in his eyes and a different tone to his voice to the point where I couldn't believe a word he said...

Anonymous said...

Can we get back to working on how we all will get our money back??? I don't think this Clark guy has anything to do with the executives of SMI or CP.

Anonymous said...

I think we have established that they are crooks...also that there is lots of finger pointing going on. But, if anyone has any new info on recovering lost funds I want to know...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone spoken to the Division of Consumer Protection for Utah to find out what's going on?

Anonymous said...

Yes.

Here is what one of the coaches received, after calling the Consumer Board of Protection of Utah:

College Partnership has no assistance to offer. Moreover, there is no point in directing students to the Better Business Bureau or the District attorney's office, because the matter is already under investigation. Any complaints will sit in a pile until the investigation reaches certain conclusions. The conclusions to be drawn or "under investigation" means that if and when there is a determination that there is criminal fault, and that there is capital available to draw upon, the District Attorney's office will obtain a list of students and let the students know of any steps they should take. The investigation will take 6 months to a year to make this recommendation. They are working as hard as possible on it and it is doubtful that there will be much capital, or much hope for students. Filing complaints does not get a student's name on a "list", or speed up the process.

This information is provided of my own volition; I am not a spokesperson for the Coaching Department, nor do I have any recommendations or suggestions on what you should do with this information. It gave me peace of mind, as my one of my own steps for due diligence, to understand in no uncertain terms what recourse is open to the students and the manner in which it could be provided.

Of course, if you would like to take the matter further, that is up to each individual - this is informational only.

Anonymous said...

funniest part about ALL of this is that the same amount of time and energy put into refunds and crying and pointing fingers and playing the victims of circumstance you could have all joined forces and made these losses back ten fold...JUST LET GO...wow...serious, this is ridiculous...the truth always works itself out and people get what's coming to them...what goes around comes around...pick yourself up and go make something else work...OR, hold onto this for all it's worth (which is NOTHING) and watch as your life flatlines and when you look in the mirror in the morning and see the tragic full circle your life has become, maybe THEN and only maybe will you MOVE ON! I wonder how many people here want to say, "you must work for them!" "That's the same kind of psychological mind $&*@ they sold at that company" but the bottom line fact of the matter is...it's true...drop the baggage and watch how much easier it becomes to walk through this life...No baggage also makes it real easy to get on the plane out of this sad town...think about it

Anonymous said...

You sound like one of the coaches!

Lynne Walls said...

I don't let thoughts of Smith and Merritt stealing 10K from me consume my every waking moment and I've accepted the possibility that I may not get any of my money back, but I am interested in joining any kind of class action suit because the people who stole the money from me are very wealthy at my expense and I want to see them loose every cent they stole from trusting individuals. I would also like to see them serve maximum jail time.

gthomp62@yahoo.com said...

My gut reaction to the last anonymous post was to fire off another post blasting the "anonymous" posters - those who don't seem to understand that we're not "playing" victim and our losses are real. But, I've decided it's not really worth my effort because I have better things to do with my time. Lynne, please email me for more information.

Anonymous said...

I am literally sick to my stomach about what Smith and Merritt has done to my family. I can't believe how many others this has happened to. My husband and I are obviously very naive and just started to realize something was fishy when we started getting the run around. We had maybe 5 sessions of crap to be honest. All about telling ourselves how awesome we are, blah, blah, but no real sound financial advice. Now we are stuck with these credit card bills for nothing. I don't know how people can do this stuff and not hate themselves each day!

Anonymous said...

It looks like unfortuetly most of you only have a small part of the story. Hang on this is a long one but after reading everyone elses comments I can't stay silent any more. We are only a few of the many people that have been hurt by the real criminals John Grace and Janice Jones owners of College Partnership. If you look through the public records and evidence you will begin to understand the real story. When College Partnership aquired Smith and Merritt and the other related companies the owners of College Partnership John (Jack)Grace and Janice Jones (J&J) took full control of all monies in those companies. There were no client issues and coaching was in full force until that time. The true scam here is that of the owners of College Partnership who have acquired companies before taking whatever they wanted from those companies until they were forced to shut down or try to unravel the deals by sueing or bleeding the acquired company dry. Jack and Janice have frauded clients and creditors for years. If you have not recieved a refund for months in their College Partnership business they haven't paid some clients for YEARS!!! They have been able to continue to do this with thier most popular scam. it looks like they set up a private company they own called Kingsly Capital. They then take all the money out of the companies into thier private company then claim to everyone they have no money. Smith and Merritt refunds were not paid because Jack and Janice took control of the monies of Smith and Merritt and refused to pay refunds. Smith and Merritt coaching stopped because the controlling officers Jack and Janice refused to pay for it. If you have not been paid money owed or have not recieved the services you purchased you belong to a group of many many other people Jack and Janice owe money to totalling over 7 million dollars!!!
The recent law suit in colorado was actually started because share holders tried to protect clients and employees by trying to remove Jack and Janice from the combined companies and create a real company. Jack and Janice knowing that if that happened all of their years of embezzling would come to light. Having been sued for many years by many people they have wronged they knew how to throw up the legal problems that would stop the take over also shutting Smith and Merritt and all related companies down.
If you really knew Dan and Kathryn you would know that they have lost everything because of this. They have sacrificed greathly and did everyting possible to take care of thier employees and clients. They have taken no compensation for many many months and sold all possible personal assets trying to make sure people were taken care as best they could but the reality is they do not control the company or its revenues and could not stop the damage Jack and Janice have caused.
Remember Smith and Merrit did not purchase College Partnership. College Partnership purchase Smith and Merritt and its related companies. If you were damaged from this make sure you are directing your anger and claims to the responsible parties that really harmed you.
Dan and Kathryn and Abundance spend your way to wealth has helped many many people improve thier financial situation.
On the other hand if you look up all the law suits over the years you will see Jack and Janice have only been helping themselves and have made a career of lying, stealing and destroying people. If you feel you are owed money you need to go to those who really took it John Grace and Janice Jones founders of College Scamship.

Einzige said...

As an anonymous poster who flatly contradicts much of what has already been said here, I hope you realize your credibility is near zero.

Smith and Merritt coaching stopped because the controlling officers Jack and Janice refused to pay for it.

How did you come by such knowledge? Care to provide some means of independent verification?

If you have not been paid money owed or have not recieved the services you purchased you belong to a group of many many other people Jack and Janice owe money to totalling over 7 million dollars!!!

And your source for this claim is? Note that the truth of a claim is not measured by how many exclamation points follow it.

The recent law suit in colorado...

Case Number? Name of the Court? Judge name? Attorney firms? Anything that might provide some shred of evidence for your allegations?

If you really knew Dan and Kathryn you would know that they have lost everything because of this.

And what has stopped them from blowing the whistle on this? I know that if I found my company gutted and my reputation being falsely dragged through the mud I wouldn't just stand idly by. Why aren't we hearing from them, then?

Hell, at the very least you'd think they'd update their friggin' blog with something!

They have sacrificed greathly and did everyting possible to take care of thier employees and clients.

I don't buy it, and you have, frustratingly (but perhaps not surprisingly), provided no supporting evidence whatsoever for this claim.

They have taken no compensation for many many months and sold all possible personal assets trying to make sure people were taken care as best they could but the reality is they do not control the company or its revenues and could not stop the damage Jack and Janice have caused.

You mean you're actually making the claim that they sold their interest in a supposedly profitable company for less than it was worth?

Then you're claiming that J&J took the goose that laid the golden egg and killed it? Why would someone buy a profitable company and then destroy its profitability?

These are claims that require corroboration. Please provide such, or forgive those of us who don't believe them.

Dan and Kathryn and Abundance spend your way to wealth has helped many many people improve thier financial situation.

Oh, really? And you know this how, exactly?

Anonymous said...

This is not the same "anonymous".

Trust me. There is more to this story. There are many people involved in this mess: Jack, Janice, Dan, Kathryn. SMI sold nearly 1,000 "Spend your way to Wealth" programs. Until SMI stopped completely, VERY few customers were upset. Yes, some have not received their refunds, and deserve them, but that was before CP acquired SMI. VERY few complaints had happened prior to CP acquiring SMI. VERY few. This entire mess got worse AFTER the acquisition. The litigation has everything to do with the leadership of CP and SMI. It has NOTHING to do about the customers getting their refunds back. NOTHING. If the customers are going to get any refunds (which I doubt since there is no money), it would be in the hands of Kent Nelson of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. He has an open fraud investigation going against Dan and Kathryn. If proven, and if Dan and Kathryn have any assets, then that is how the customers would get their refunds back. The litigation in Colorado has nothing to do about the refunds.

Einzige said...

Okay, let me get this all straight...

Dan and Kathryn owned SMI prior to its purchase by CP. The vast majority of customers loved the coaching they got from SMI.

After the acquisition, complaints spiked.

Maybe I could be convinced of that. After all, it wasn't until after the merger that unhappy people started commenting here, really.

This does, however, have an odd implication: CP had something to do with changing the coaching or something, and making it go bad? What changed?

And yet, it's not CP who Kent Nelson is after for fraud, but Dan and Kathryn? Why is that? Things were going along great for almost a year, weren't they? Dan and Kathryn only decided to get fraudulent after December 2006?

Can someone explain that, please? What am I missing, here?

Anonymous said...

Yes.

Yes.

CP leadership was in charge of the funding. Not SMI leadership. The coaching was outsourced to a vendor. No funding. No coaching.

Won't know what Dan and Kathryn did until after Kent's investigation is completed.

Things were tough before CP/SMI acquisition. Just got worse AFTER acquisition.

CP may be currently investigated also, but that would be in Colorado. Have no idea if customers have complained to Colorado Consumer Protection. CP has their own separate "college planning" customers. Those customers have not received refunds either. Whether they have complained to their authorities, is not known. Could possibly be. It's just that this blog has to do with the original SMI customers. Not the CP customers. Different customers. Different services.

Anonymous said...

Coaching was not the only service that stopped. Some customers also purchased living trust preparation services and tax hot line services. All from outsourced vendors. All services stopped. The customers are not just missing out on coaching. They are missing out on the other services as well.

CP is headquartered in Colorado. SMI is headquartered in Utah. Kent Nelson is in Utah. He would never investigate CP as it is not in his state.

Jim Lippard said...

None of these companies pass the smell test--they all look like a bunch of scammers to me, including these completely unqualified coaches.

The fact that all of these people are pointing fingers at each other and none are stepping up and taking any responsibility furthers my extremely low opinion of all involved.

Einzige said...

Indeed, Jim.

Indeed.

Anonymous said...

Are you really expecting someone to come to this blog and say "this is all our fault and we will make it right!"? Be real! Many of the people on this blog are trying to assist you and guide you to the proper authorities. This constant negativism to the people trying to assist the customers is awful. Stop being a victim and try to make things right. Some of these blogs are from former employees trying to help. They cannot make the situation go away. They cannot give you back your refunds. They can only provide information that will help you contact the proper authorities. These former employees have been in touch with the authorities in the hope of helping the customers. Give them a break for heavens sake! They are trying to help you and all you are doing is bashing them. Most of the former employees are good people. They didn't have the ability to fraud you. They are trying to help!! They are proactively contacting the authorities on your behalf.

Einzige said...

So we shouldn't be negative about a company that, at best, gave expensive financial advice of dubious value and, at worst, was defrauding its financially strapped clients of thousands of dollars they didn't actually have?

We shouldn't be incredulous and ask for clarification and corroborating evidence when it comes to unsupported claims made anonymously by persons who may or may not have been former employees, and therefore were either complicit in the fraud or else too stupid to realize what was going on (or they left as soon as they realized)?

Anonymous said...

Life is good to be negative! Keep it up. It is so refreshing that you are not being supportive of people trying to help. That is what life is all about. Being negative. It's very productive! Instead, those of us who would like to help the customers will continue to do so because it is the right thing to do. You should be supportive of the people on this blog trying to help, rather than trying to bring them down.

Einzige said...

I see.

So I and all the other "negative" commenters should just be credulous fools and take everything the anonymous posters are saying at face value?

That's gonna "help"?

It's idiots like you - dumbasses who conflate critical thinking and "negativity" - who allow scammers like Smith & Merritt, et al., to continue their scams.

Anonymous said...

Keep it up. Great comments. Certainly very productive to go forward!

Einzige said...

I have just disallowed anonymous comments on Die Eigenheit.

The sufficiently industrious will undoubtedly simply create multiple blogger accounts to get around this, but I'm hoping at least that the cost of taking the time to do that will prevent all but the most interesting (or at least entertaining) comments from getting posted.

Gudrun Thompson said...

You know, it’s very interesting to log onto this page every day and see what new things people are coming up with about this whole situation. I do appreciate those who are trying to help, but a few things do frustrate me.

First of all, why do you constantly post as “anonymous”? Is it because you’re afraid to identify yourselves; maybe you don’t know how to post other than anonymous; or maybe you really don’t have your facts straight and just want to appear as if you know something about this whole situation?

And then there’s the information in your posts: Where does it come from? How do you know these things? You have to understand that those of us who are truly victims need cold, hard facts if we’re going to help ourselves out of this situation.

And then some of the comments make it appear as if you really haven’t read everything on this blog – all the comments. For example: “Yes, some have not received their refunds, and deserve them, but that was before CP acquired SMI” and “It's just that this blog has to do with the original SMI customers. Not the CP customers. Different customers. Different services”. I beg to differ with this comment. According to the press release posted on this blog, CP acquired SMI back in December 2006. I was solicited and charged for the Abundance program in February 2007 – well after CP acquired SMI. That makes me a CP customer and one of their liabilities. I’ve been in contact with 19 other victims and while I haven’t polled all of them to find out when they were solicited, at least one other person posted on this blog that the balance transfer was charged to their account in January 007 – again, after the acquisition.

Yes, our comments on this blog will probably tend towards the negative. I think that’s to be understood when people have lost thousands of dollars.

CustomerHelper said...

Just because people do not leave their name does not mean the information is not true. You need to check with the authorities who have been previously mentioned in this blog to confirm the facts. SMI had customers who deserved refunds prior to December 2006. When CP acquired SMI, the requests for refunds surged. Even if you purchased the program through CP, the financial transaction was done through SMI. CP executives are certainly responsible for this mess, along with the executives at SMI. The only reason that CP keeps saying that they are not responsible for SMI is because they do not WANT to be responsible. They must not have done a good job of doing research before they acquired SMI. Both SMI and CP has been having cash flow problems and CP thought the acquisition would help CP (re-read the press release and quote from Jack Grace). Yes, you are a customer of CP. CP-Financial Education Division which was another name for the SMI portion of CP. You are correct! CP is responsible for your refund. So is SMI. The litigation in Colorado will determine who is ultimately responsible. Obviously people are going to be negative on this blog. What I was getting at is that the negative comments should not be toward the former employees who are trying to help you get your money back and work with the authorities. I'm not referring to the sales people who lied. I'm not referring to the executives who seem to have frauded lots of people. I'm referring to the former employees who are trying to help you!

Jim Lippard said...

"Are you really expecting someone to come to this blog and say "this is all our fault and we will make it right!"?"

My *expectation* is that the lying scammers will either ignore this blog completely (if intelligent) or come here and post lies and excuses (if stupid). If there were anyone involved running a legitimate business, I would expect them to respond to people who have been ripped off by stepping up and taking responsibility and trying to make appropriate remedies, posting a full explanation somewhere, and demonstrating integrity by being completely transparent about what's going on--but I don't see any evidence that anyone is doing that or that any of these are legitimate businesses.

"Both SMI and CP has been having cash flow problems and CP thought the acquisition would help CP (re-read the press release and quote from Jack Grace)." If CP was duped, then CP is run by idiots. Since Acentus previous ran similar programs for John Commuta, I'd say they're a bunch of scammers. Either SMI and Acentus sold to dumb money or CP is in on it...

Einzige said...

Just because people do not leave their name does not mean the information is not true.

What makes you think that anyone would think that?

Obviously preventing anonymous comments doesn't reveal everyone's identity or ensure only the truth gets told. What it does help do, however, is keep the noise level down. It will also hopefully make it clearer when person A is making a comment, as opposed to person B. Lastly, it reveals who the "sniper" commenters are, such as yourself, customerhelper. It's clear you just created your account to write that comment. That can be useful information with respect to your credibility.

You need to check with the authorities who have been previously mentioned in this blog to confirm the facts.

I "need" to do no such thing.

If someone makes a comment on this blog then it's my or anyone else's prerogative to express disbelief and ask for clarification or corroboration - particularly when the statements made seem to contradict other things, are unclear, or amount to simple hearsay. If the commenter is interested in having his/her comments taken seriously then they "need" to back up their claims with convincing evidence, not tell us the equivalent of "look into it".

This is basic stuff, customerhelper, and I'm dismayed that any of it even requires discussion. Furthermore, to state that an inquiring, skeptical attitude is "negative" or "unhelpful" is to engage in blatant non sequitur - something that is, frankly, unwelcome here. Complete disregard for logical discourse will be met with genuine "constant negativity", up to and including lewd derision and, if necessary, comment deletion.

What I was getting at is that the negative comments should not be toward the former employees who are trying to help you get your money back and work with the authorities.

What I was getting at was that asking people questions designed to get a clearer picture of what is going on should not ever be seen as "negative". In fact, I would think that you'd agree with me that the solicitation of further information qualifies as "helpful". Would you not?

Trish Stroope said...

I cannot believe i too fell for this from SMI! I was robbed of 10K and the money they stole from me came from damages paid to me for a medication i took that caused me a chronic illness. Now not only do i have a sick body but my heart and mind are sickened! If it sounds too good to be true, you better believe it is! Do we have any recourse??? I have already left a message with the chief investigator in Utah so am i to sit and wait? Meanwhile, im broke and even more hopeless than before! This is not poor pitiful me! This is pissed off ex hippie, peace and love gal who will NEVER trust another stranger again!!!! THANKS Dan and Kathryn!

Laurel said...

The Division of Consumer Protection in Utah has a hearing scheduled for the end of August regarding the already approved refunds that did not get sent to the SMI students.

It seems the trial in Colorado, which is an entirely different legal matter, has been postponed. That litigation has nothing to do with the refunds, but has everything to do with the leadership and future of College Partnership and SMI.

mandmrob said...

I am new to this site--just found out about this blogsite today--thanks to a tip from my "ex"-coach, who is still getting email apparently. I joined Aug 06--have no acomplaints about coaches; in those 4 months before everything went south I had help and advise in making a couple of important financial decisions and was beginning to see some direction for the future (My original coach quit after the merger but I spoke with her after that.) I certainly wouldn't call it $10,000 worth by any stretch of imagination.

J&J said...

I just became aware of this site and I'm thankful for all the information - since our last coach left us the email saying coaching was discontinued we have been looking for others. We also tried in vain to quit but were always told there was no way. I guess we'll just contact Kent Nelson as suggested and add our names to the list! If anyone has further advice I'd be happy to hear it!

johnee said...

has anyone tried to contact the media about this thievery? I'd imagine that 60 Minutes or some such program may be interested. I'm not sure of the best way to go about doing this, but would love to see CP and SM publically blasted. It'd be even better if this led to all of us getting our funds back. The overall tone of this blog has gone very negative and hopeless. I wont give up hope and think we can all get justice if we appeal to forces greater than ourselves (like the giant media for instance). Let's try this approach...anyone want to help out?

theguitarbeast said...

Hi, I'm also a victim of the Smith & Meritt scam. I was fresh out of college, good job, looking to reinforce my financial future. Now I have a $10K credit card debt for a service that was absolutely useless. If anyone could give me information on contacting Kent Nelson? If so, please e-mail them to me. I would also appreciate any information regarding a class action lawsuit. Thanks a lot.

Spanky1202 said...

i used to be an employee of College Partnership aka Acentus aka Smith and Merrit Institute aka whatever other name they went by... I was fired with out explaination for questioning their system and its workings... but recently heard that it has since gone bankrupt and both Dan Smith and Katherin Merrit have or are serving jail time and have both declared backruptcy... can anyone validate this for me?

rhoklink said...

Hi all,
I have read all the blogs, got lots of good information..thanks. I would like to join the ranks of those looking to get out of debt by spending 10K on a promise of greater return. Is that greed? Anyway, I just filled out my Utah Consumer Protection form and will fax to Kent Nelson tonight. I would be open to a class action but we should wait and see what Utah does. I joined in august 06 also, had a good coach, Melinda, but didn't really gain much of sustaining value. Tax Club, incorporation, business help, estate plan, and financial library all down the flusher before I could use them.
I can understand the negativity but if I learned anything from this it is the power of visualizing the outcome you want rather than that which you don't. Dwell on the positive and in such numbers we can influence the outcome more toward our liking. Everyone using the power of your mind to create the possibilities sounds better to me than whinning and picking and snubbing. Lets get together as a team and think like a team and win like a team. Otherwise we are just losers.
rhok

jeff said...

Hi, My wife and I are also victims of the Smith & Meritt scam. We kept hoping that something would actually come of the 10K we put out refusing to believe we had been actually scammed. But as we went thru the nightmare it was obvious that the services we were promised and minimum results we expected would be completely denied. Could someone give me information on contacting Kent Nelson? If so, please e-mail them to me. I would also appreciate any information regarding a class action lawsuit. I am so glad to have found this site. Thanks a lot.

Einzige said...

As far as contacting Kent Nelson goes, your best best would be to start here. Other than that, I don't have much advice for you. Best wishes!

Ben said...

I have read all the comments and based on my personal losses as well I have been very motivated to find the truth. I have a friend who is a PI and has found out many important facts on all this which I will share with all of you what I have found. First in response to Laurels last comment the litigation in Colorado has everything to do with what happened to SMI clients and their refunds. College Partnership bought Smith and Merritt and still hold all of the controlling interest in that company. Jack and Janice are and have always been the controlling board for College Partnership and no matter what officers are hired in that company the officers will report to the board. The board controlled the money and they determine if people got refunds and if there was money for services to continue or not. How convenient is it to purchase a company take all the valuable assets and money out of it till it tanks then try to walk away with no responsibility. That is what Jack and Janice have done and continue to do. If you do any background work on them you will find law suits galore of them doing this for years. In the same respect if you look into Dan and Kathryn you will find no issues with any businesses they have been involved in until their company was purchased by Jack and Janice.

Someone anonymous on here had a long answer and must have an inside story because everything my PI friend has found checks out their story. The Colorado case number is Case Number: 07CV2010 (consolidated with Case Number 07CV2267)in DISTRICT COURT, JEFFERSON COUNTY, COLORADO.

This is public record and if you want answers not just angry claims against Dan and Kathryn because their faces are on the binder you should look into what really happened to SMI. Very interesting the counter claims made by all the parties who Jack and Janice damaged in this whole deal such as:

Breach of Contract, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Negligent Misrepresentation, Negligence, Theft of Retail Contracts, Theft of Ownership Interest, Breach of Employment Contracts, Fraudulent Conveyance, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Unjust Enrichment, Theft of Money, Violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act,
Imposition of a Constructive Trust, Declaratory Judgment, Conspiracy to commit fraud

Dan and Kathryn were the authors of Abundance product and created the coaching process but once the company was sold did not have authority over the company. After the companies were acquired they became employees of Jack and Janice and weren’t even paid anything even though they had employment contracts. In fact they were involved in the attempted take over of College Partnership and all other companies from Jack and Janice because Jack and Janice refused to service SMI clients. The only reason this take back didn’t work was because Jack and Janice never legally issued the stock to SMI and associated companies’ shareholders needed to have voting control over J &J which from my understanding is totally securities fraud.

As a result of all this my PI friend also found out that Dan and Kathryn have been completely financially ruined by all this trying to take care of SMI clients as best they could while J & J continue live in thier expensive house and to hide behind their fake Kingsley Capital company claiming they have no responsibility to the SMI clients and College Partnership has no money.

Jack and Janice have been self dealing and embezzling money from people for years. Someone else stated on here that they haven't paid College Partnership refunds either which is true. I am not sure why SMI clients are far more passionate about getting taken care of then College Partnership clients but this is a definite pattern for Jack and Janice.

Focus your time and energy on the real criminals here John Grace and Janice Jones. These are the people who have your money and could care less about you and your families. If I can help anyone or answer any questions please email me directly at ben4029@gmail.com

Einzige said...

So, let me get this straight...

Jack and Janice buy a company, gut it, and then, apparently to add insult to injury, proceed to sue the prior owners, who are entirely innocent victims in the whole affair?

That's your story???

Thanks for the case numbers, though. Very helpful!

Ben said...

Yep this hasn't been the first time. They have similar suits like this where they aquire the company don't pay or do what they are suppose to then tie everything up in litigation so that people give up fighting them because its not worth it. And if they win they have set up Kingley to hold all the money so they can Claim College Partnership has nothing. Thier intention was to take all the assets and then bankrupt the company. These guys have been doing this for years.

Einzige said...

I just put up the case summary here.

wonderful said...

If you made the balance transfer to US Financial for the cost of the S+M lameness training, you can get a refund.

I recently got a letter form my Chase credit card dispute dept. that I am credited $9995.00. I called to verify and they said that the only way US Financial (aka S+M, aka CP) could get the money back from me would be to take Chase to court. Very doubtful. And even if they did what are they going to say? They scammed us all. I also had Chase red flag any transactions with these companies in the future. A wee bit of justice!

So I am celebrating and hope you all can get your funds back soon. Send detailed emails, contracts, a letter, etc to your credit card dispute dept. I do pay $60/yr for a "signature card" which gives me airmiles and apparently more protection from fraud.

good luck....this seems to be the only way to obtain our lost money.

Tony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DugSan said...

What information did you give your credit card company inorder to get your money back? When I tried I was told they could not help me because I authorized the transfer.

lwalls54 said...

I was told the same thing by both Chase and Bank of America, since I used two cards. And I challenged both of the initial decisions, but they refuse to budge, even though the cash transfer was to US Financial.

lwalls54 said...

I just called Integrity Consulting at the phone # listed on their 1 page website and the conversation was hysterical. When the girl answered the phone, I asked if she could tell me who the principals of the company were because I wanted to check them out before I pursued this "free consultations". She started stuttering and wanted to know who I was, where did I get the website info from, why would knowing who owns the company make a difference to me? When I answered all of her questions, she said she would tranfer me to someone else who could answer my question. I spoke with "Travis", who claimed to be one of the co-owners of the company, when I asked for his last name, he started asking me how I got the website, since it isn't published yet. I told him a friend had sent me the link and he wanted to know my friends name! I asked why this would make a difference to him and he again said only handful of people know about this site because it's not posted yet. I told him if he was uncomfortable with sharing any information on who was behind the business I would just move on to a different financial advising company, all very cordial and Travis heaved a sigh of relief and wished me well in my search.

If they're not smith and merritt, they're still up to no good, I love that they chose the name Integrity for the company, someone has a twisted sense of humor!

Einzige said...

Thanks for sharing that story!

FormerEmployee said...

Just to shed some light on the difference between Integrity Consulting and Acentus/SMI-
I worked for Acentus and Integrity was always existing and completely seperate from Acentus. A lot of sales consultants from Acentus went to work for various financial coaching companies such as Integrity. The SLC valley has gone rampant with financial coaching companies that are basically all peddling the same thing. Different prices, different lengths of time, same basic principal.
It's sad to say that this thing is not dying down. There are several former employees of Acentus that are spawning off on their own financial coaching companies in the hopes of accomplishing what SMI couldn't.
One thought- although I completely understand where the customers are coming from (I bought the program when I first became employed with Acentus and never recieved all of my coaching either), please try to understand that the employees all got badly burned in this exchange as well. Some of us can't even collect unemployment from this fiasco because Acentus never filed their 2006 4th quarter or 1st and 2nd quarter payroll tax records from 2007. (Basically the State of Utah shows that the employees employed by Acentus at that time made $0 in that time frame) Therefore- that makes it impossible to collect unemployment. I personally know several people who are losing their houses because they are out 2 months of wages and can't collect unemployment to help them pay their bills.
I also know that Dan and Kathryn aren't in as dire straights as one commenter is so quick to point out. They are living in half million dollar homes and driving hummers and BMW's for hell's sake! Let's face it- people in dire financial straights definitely don't hold on to such expensive homes and vehicles. Personally, if I were in that situation I would be living in a tent for the summer and driving a moped everywhere but I guess that's just me...
One last thing-Please don't continue to blame ALL of the employees of Acentus. We weren't all bad people. Admitedly there were quite a few with questionable ethics and morals that were only there to sell the program and didn't care what they had to say to do it (anyone ever talk to Jeff with his fake southern accent?!), BUT, that was not everyone.
While some financial education companies are questionable at best in their ethics, there are some that are truly there to help you. Advice? Research them to the full extent possible and if they can't answer all of your questions to your satisfaction, (as apparently Integrity could not), that might be an indication to not use their services. I truly hope that everyone gets their refund and that the former employees get their money that they are owed. Everyone has a big hole to dig out of, just remember some are deeper than others. I personally get to deal with collection agenecies from the unpaid bills that came as a result of the unpaid wages and the unemployment I couldn't collect. How many of you get to deal with that situation? Yes it sucks to lose 10k but at least you still have your houses and your cars and your credit intact. Some of the rest of us aren't that fortunate...

former employee #2 said...

In reference to former employee I used to work with Acentus as well. I do know that there were good and bad people that worked there. There are good and bad in every aspect of life. Dan and Kathryn are the single best liars I have ever met. I know that there were employees there that they took for hundreds of thousands of dollars! I also know that there were a lot of clients that had their lives dramatically changed! As for your comment about (Jeff and his fake southern accent) I worked on his team and I know that he moved to Utah from Atlanta Georgia (thus the southern accent). So before you make assumptions you may want to gather the entire story. Also i still work in the coaching industry and I know the owners of Integrity Consulting and I know they left Acentus because Dan and Kathryn were liars. They do not have the same owners as SMI by any means. The owners of Integrity Consulting hate Dan and Kathryn and were also burnt by them!

Confused? said...

Holli Wood is this really you? I knew I recognized your writing style. How are you? The famous Holli Wood!!

Laurel said...

Dan and Kathryn are in business doing something else. They are using another person to set up companies because they cannot use their names. They do have money coming in. They are selling other services.

FormerEmployee said...

Former Employee #2- I apologize if that comment was taken the wrong way. I think everyone on this blog is a bit on the defensive side. I am not professing to know the entire story of Jeff and where he came from. All I know (and I'm sure you know as well) is that he certainly didn't have that thick of an accent when he spoke to coworkers daily as he did when he was trying to relate and sell to customers and I had heard him admit that AND joke about it to several co-workers.
As for Integrity Consulting, I in no way bashed them and if you read further up, I plainly stated that they had nothing to do with SMI. Seeing as how you are still in the coaching industry, you certainly can see where a consumer and a former employee would be coming from in stating that financial coaching companies are rampant in the utah valley. Every time you turn around another one is starting with a different spin on how financial coaching should be done. These companies need to recognize that although they are not connected to SMI, the stigma that has been left is bound to transfer that negative feeling to the financial coaching industry from both the employer and consumer standpoints. It should be encouraged for consumers to research the company offering the services and if the company can't deliver sufficient information to back their sales claims, one can certainly understand why a consumer should not purchase that program. In no way does that mean Integrity isn't a stand-up and straight forward company, it just means that perhaps they should have handled lwalls54's call a bit differently. Certainly they know what happened to SMI and can expect those kinds of questions by now. That is my point. In order to survive in that industry, you need to be prepared to back up what your company claims to be able to do with more than just sales pitches. There are more than a few companies that sell TDIW or any other financial guru's program, so why should a consumer pick one over another?
That's all I'm saying here...

As for Laurel's comment... So I guess I'm not the only one that has heard that...

Einzige said...

Integrity Consulting just doesn't pass the smell test. Aside from the awful name, the sordid past, the lack of transparency, and the questionable qualifications, there's the fact that it's based in Utah.

Here's what John T. Reed has to say about real estate gurus in Utah. I'm certain the same thing applies to financial coaching:

A very large number of BS gurus are located in Florida or Utah or both or are associated with businesses located in those states... Utah appears to be almost the only place where high-pressure, real estate investment telephone boiler rooms, “consultants,” and “mentors” operate. I am not sure why...

The 4/19/04 Forbes had an article called “Poison Pills” with the cover subtitle “The men and money pushing dangerous diet supplements.” I was only half surprised when I read the following sentence in the article: “Light regulation is particularly popular in Utah, where dietary supplements—at $3 billion a year—are the state’s third-largest industry.” I often refer to Utah as the Nigeria of the U.S. Nigerian Internet scams are among the top ten. You know the ones. “I am the widow of the minister of transportation who was assassinated and I need to get $10 million out of the country and need your help.” Believe it or not, that is something like the second biggest industry in Nigeria after oil in terms of revenue. I do not know where telemarketing scams rank as a source of income for Utah, but I would not be surprised if it was in the top five...

Forbes magazine published an article about the prevalence of fraud in Utah. You can see the beginning of it at this link: https://www.keepmedia.com/Auth.do?extId=10022&uri=/archive/forbes/1999/0208/6303056a.html. They charge $2 to read the whole article.

One of [Mr. Reed's] readers said in an email to [Mr. Reed], “In his book Why People Believe Wierd Things, Dr. Michael Shermer discusses the fact that statistically speaking, more fraud is perpetrated per capita in Utah than in any other state.”

An FBI report in 2006 said Florida was the leading state for mortgage fraud. Guess which state was second? Utah.

Answers said...

Laurel, you mentioned D & K are in business doing something else... any idea what or where? I noticed on the BBB there was 4 listing for The Smith and Merritt Institute.. 3 were the same, down town Salt Lake, then one was in Sandy.. any ideas??

Laurel said...

I do not know what name they are using. I'm confident it is not Smith and Merritt! The Sandy address is a mailing address. Not an office.

FormerEmployee said...

There has to be some other employees that have some information on what was really going on there..or maybe they know what Dan and Kathryn are doing now.. I know I worked with a few that had been there over a year and had talked about the earlier days when they were still doing well. Does anyone know where these employees have gone? I know Dan and Kathryn had an assistant, I think her name was Kim? Anyone in contact with her? What about Gary or Crystal? They were the ones that saw where the money went. They have to know something!! I would appreciate anyone with information helping me out here. I can't just sit by and watch them walk away while some of my friends and I are suffering because we haven't gotten our money..... Laurel, how do you know what you know??

Laurel said...

Gary is still working with Dan and Kathryn in their new business. If you go to one of the previous blogs which links you to the Colorado litigation information, you'll learn a lot.

Answers said...

Just found this article posted yesterday. So all who are trying to go through College Partnership to try and get your refunds, I wouldn't waste time doing so. It all upon Dan and Kathryn and partners of Acentus.

http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=758959

Einzige said...

Fascinating!

Yoo Hoo! Ben?!

Where are you?

Why aren't you defending Dan and Kathryn from those evil folks, Jack and Janice, any more?

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