This article from the Washington Post, February 22, 2003 by Sandra Fleishman is an interesting overview of the “business seminar” industry. It is worth reading the entire article.
Typically, the agency said, consumers are “lured to seminars by infomercials or letters promising instruction in how to operate a home-based business, how to buy and sell real estate, how to trade in securities, or invest in foreign currencies, among other things, in order to earn big income. At the seminars, however, consumers learn very little, if anything about how to run a business or make profitable investments. Instead, they are treated to slick sales pitches for schemes that are essentially worthless.”
Consumers, the FTC said, “succumb to these pitches because the seminar hucksters create the impression that anyone, regardless of experience, can buy their program and earn a lot of money.”
This sounds familiar… The hotel seminars put on my Marco Kozlowski and U.S. Property Success / At Will Events / At Will Education / U.S. Property Network use very similar tactics.
After the two-hour, uninterrupted pitch, several audience members, including Bahjat, signed up for a three-day training session. There participants were to “learn the secrets” of using discount mortgages, finding “pre-foreclosures,” avoiding taxes and earning big bucks brokering private mortgage notes and tax lien certificates.
…The training camp offer, which attendees were told would be discounted to $2,495 from $4,995 if they signed up that day, included a year’s mentoring via the Internet, curriculum and reference manuals and a guarantee that participants could get their money back if they dropped out the first day. Spouses and children were allowed to attend free. “Imagine you spend three days with us,” Medawar said. “You’ll be lethal, you’ll be dangerous.”
…David Early, director of business development for Dynetech.com, which markets the Allen materials, said in an interview this week that “we really don’t worry about complaints. We are a member of the Better Business Bureau, in good standing. We are honest with customers — we know not everyone can do this, and we tell them that.” Early added that full refunds are available.
…Atlanta-based FTC lawyer Loretta Kraus, who was involved in investigations of other “financial freedom” seminars in the mid-1990s, said “there are literally stables of people who are skilled in the seminar spiel” who tour the country. “They are very, very slick and very articulate. They speak very quickly and use visual aids very effectively. The material shown [via overhead projector or video] goes up and down real quickly” to keep seminar attendees off balance.
…Kraus added that “the whole setting is fairly claustrophobic . . . with the side doors usually blocked and people pushed to sit in the front and to fill in seats.” There are usually fewer chairs than needed, she and others said, to add to the pressure on people to take advantage of deals or lose out. The two recent local seminars followed that pattern.