Topic

small business

120 petitions

Started 3 weeks ago

Petition to Missouri Attorney Genneral Josh Hawley

Investigate Amazing Pet Expos/Pet Event Professionals treatment by the BBB St. Louis

Recently, the Better Business Bureau of St. Louis announced that they received a $10,000 award from the International Council of Better Business Bureaus. This award was given, in part, for an advertising review regarding the St. Charles Family Arena and the St. Louis Pet Expo.  The release they issued regarding the award can be viewed here.  The alert they issued, and posted on their website and distributed to media, states:   "In October 2018, Better Business Bureau challenged Amazing Pet Expo's website. The website stated, “9th Annual St. Louis Pet Expo – Saturday, November 10th, 2018 – 10AM to 5PM – Sunday, November 11th, 2018 – 11AM to 4PM – The Family Arena St. Charles – Free Parking & Admission – Bring your pet!” Better Business Bureau confirmed with the venue the event was not being held at their venue.   According to BBB Code of Advertising, “The primary responsibility for truthful and non-deceptive advertising rests with the advertiser. Advertisers should be prepared to substantiate any objective claims or offers made before publication or broadcast. Upon request, they should present such substantiation promptly to the advertising medium or BBB. Advertisements which are untrue, misleading, deceptive, fraudulent, falsely disparaging of competitors, or insincere offers to sell, shall not be used. An advertisement as a whole may be misleading by implication, although every sentence separately considered may be literally true. Misrepresentation may result not only from direct statements, but by omitting or obscuring a material fact. In addition, according to the Missouri state statute 15 CSR 60-7.020 (1): “A seller shall not make a representation or statement of fact in an advertisement that is false or has the capacity to mislead prospective purchasers.”   In October 2018, BBB asked the business if they were going to discontinue advertising the event but Amazing Pet Expo's did not respond. Once Better Business Bureau issued a press release, October 22nd, the business discontinued advertising the event at Family Arena St. Charles." This is entirely false.    At no time was the event advertised improperly. What the BBB failed to verify was the lawsuit filed in April against the Family Arena and associated individuals. The contract was never cancelled, and was intact and binding at the time the BBB contacted the Arena, apparently as part of the random inference calls made to multiple venues. The person that confirmed the event was "not being held" at the venue was named personally in the suit, which included counts of civil conspiracy. Not the most reliable of statements, under those circumstances.  At no time was any attempt made to contact the Pet Expo regarding this matter. No challenge, no questions, etc.  Due to the nature of the suit, and the risk that the Family Arena could potentially win, as in any legal case, the Pet Expo had already contracted with a venue that would host the event if that were to occur. This contract was executed prior to any alerts or releases sent by the BBB and was done as part of due diligence and anticipation of all potential outcomes.  Vendors had been notified of the suit and potential move far in advance, hence the lack of outrage the BBB clearly attempted to create. The event was free, so no ticket holders would have been influenced. Only a few local media outlets took the bait and reprinted the release or portions of it without attempting to substantiate any of the facts, which is what actually created the most damage.  At no time was advertising ceased due to BBB involvement. The Pet Expo was unaware of thier involvement, so it would not be possible to make that claim. The BBB did accomplish a few things, although they may not be worth $10,000 awards. They hurt attendance, which hurt adoptions. They gave the Family Arena a win by blowing the lawsuit to bits. That is about it. They protected no consumers, businesses, etc, have continue to leave the alert online despite ample evidence that it is untrue, and collected $10,000 for it.            What the BBB St. Louis has done to us. And you.   I will not go into the same story that everyone already knows. Yes, we had a mentally unhinged bookkeeper. Yes, she had religious delusions. Yes, she tried to kill me and believed that I was the antichrist for having employees with alternative lifestyles. Yes she did get one of our events cancelled in 2017, which in turn, spiraled into other cancellations, negative press, the loss of my remaining hair, etc... . All of that is easy to find out and substantiate if you know where to look.  We were in this kind of snowballing spiral, going from 35 Pet Expos a year and 25 employees, to a handul of events, and at one point, only three of us. Then I got a call from the Better Business Bureau of St. Louis. A woman named Rebecca Phoenix spoke to me, and stated that she wanted to help. We were getting complaints, people were upset, and she had ways to assist. Before my wife, Sheila, had to leave the business due to a serious illness, we talked a lot about what to do. Do we close up, walk away, sell the assetts and leave some vendors in the lurch? Or do we find some way to push through...  ...and almost like a sign from above came this call from Ms. Phoenix. She told me the BBB was there to help. That she knew how to get Diane Taylor, the president of the St. Louis BBB, to understand what had happened and that would help our grade, etc... . Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity. Ms. Phoenix and I traded emails for some time. I would also talk to her on the phone, and sometimes I would just break into tears. Ms. Phoenix was very supportive and encouraging.  Then one fateful day, a Fox2 reporter went to an old office building we had moved out of seven months prior, and reported on air that we had abandoned our office that DAY in some kind of mad rush, while filming through the window of a vacant building for added effect. It was at that point that I may have hit bottom. Not one reporter took any of what we were saying seriously. For ratings and readers, they zeroed in on rescue groups that we had harmed. Much better story I suppose. But a hard one for us. At that point, we had held the St. Louis Pet Expo for 8 years, and nationally we had held over 100 Pet Expos. Our emphasis was always RESCUE FIRST, and my wife had been a lobbyist for animal welfare. She was a big part of getting laws passed to ban cockfighting, bear wrestling and bestiality in Missouri. Here is an article from happier days. Now most of what happened has been documented on a website I created called www.PetExpoFacts.com It's not a super fun site to look at, but I had to find some way to control all the misinformation out there. And it has a lot to do with the BBB and Rebecca Phoenix.  Now one thing that a lot of people do not know, and I was once one of those people, is that the Better Business Bureau is a non-profit, with no actual authority. They are not a part of any level of gvernment, and they cannot take any action against a business aside from their grading system and media alerts. They are essentially Yelp, but malicious. And I say that because not only have I witnessed it and lived it, but because so many others have as well. See The Shocking Truth about the BBB.  CNN did a series on the flawed rating system. You can read that here. Many former employees talk about the 'boiler room' sales culture. See, the BBB brings in somewhere between seven and 12 MILLION a year in memberships. A lot of these are secured by cold-calling. You can look through Indeed and Glassdoor and read for yourself, but one good example is this former employee:  Of course, I did not know this when I first spoke to Rebecca. I had no reason to think she was not trying to help. So she and I go back and forth, and she states that Diane Taylor needs a statement from me explaining what happened. You may have noticed that I can go on a bit, so I wrote it all out. Every detail. And I sent it to Rebecca. She would come back and say, "Diane wants it more consice, and you should removed this and this this. " So I would. And then that happens again. And again. And in retrospect, the items I was being told to remove were fairly important to the whole situation. But I kept doing it. Finally, Rebecca suggested that SHE write it, as she knows what Diane is looking for, and I would just need to sign it and send from my email. Now I get that in retrospect that was pretty dumb, but I was pretty desperate for an ally, so I did it. A few days pass, Rebecca sends me an email. Good news! Diane Taylor accepted your statement. Oh, and we are putting out a consumer warning about you today. And that was it. She never responded again, and when the "warning" ran, it was filled with inaccuracies. When I confronted Rebecca, she passed me off to someone else, who told me to submit the disputed facts in writing. Well, nothing ever changed. And the statement "I" wrote was used for the central point of the press release, which was picked up by almost all the local news, and included nothing about our accountant stealing our money, getting events cancelled, etc. Rebecca had removed all of that. So as the news picked it up, the crux of what happened was ignored. I was hurt, humiliated and furious. So when I created www.PetExpoFacts.com I just published the whole chain of emails with Rebecca. And she was not pleased. It makes her look bad, which it should, and she has been doing things to hurt us ever since. Here are those emails:  Those are the highlights. But you get the general idea. So to get even, Rebecca started calling our show venues. In OTHER states. She got at least two shows cancelled, influenced others to almost cancel, and no one questioned why someone who protects consumers would perform an action that would leave vendors with no show to attend. We found out she had been doing it for some time and causing a lot of concern. Like a lot of you, they think the BBB is some entity of power, and to get a call trashing us is taken seriously. So we were making progress before she started this phone attack, but losing venues hurts, and we stayed in business to make right what went wrong, even if we did not cause it directly. Our vendors are our vendors. We did not produce hundreds of shows just to cancel and walk away. The irony is that I have been called a scam artist more times than I can count, but whatever my scam was, it was a bust. I assume making money is the core tenet of a scam. We lost thousands and thousands of dollars, plus our reputations. So we just fought back and fought back. But when Rebecca Phoenix cost us an ENTIRE event, we had to act. We lost our full deposit, all our paid expenses, and all vendors were left with no show. WE do not run and hide, but we do know when things had gone too far. So we intended to sue the BBB. We had a mountain of evidence, emails, voicemails, etc. So finally, their lawyer agreed that Rebecca would stop. And he put it in writing on their behalf. Here it is:So we dropped our intent to sue them, and we have chosen to not recognize them as a mediator at all. If anyone files a complaint with the BBB, we contact that person and explain that we are happy to resolve any issue, but we do not recognize the BBB in any way. One of the things they talk about at the BBB is the integrity of their reporting system. Now they have been told this, but as a test of that system, I submitted two complaints about myself. Fake name, fake circumstances, no way to reach me, etc. Those two are still published. A year or so later, they are there. Who checked them? Validated them? It's really a bit scary. If you ever go to Linkedin, check out the bios of the leadership staff at the St. Louis BBB. These people hold businesses in the palm or their hand, but no one there appears to have ever owned, managed or ran a businesses in any capacity. That is also a bit scary.  So ALL of that brings us to the latest. We have had some odd situations start cropping up again, and lo and behold, we learned the Rebecca Phoenix is on the phones again. But in order to adhere to the agreement from their attorney, she is calling AFTER the show. Which still makes any venue uncomfortable and could possibly jeopardize the next year's event, And she has been calling sponsors. And more venues. After the show. So I furiously called Michelle Corey, who is the director or some such thing, and she ignored me, called once from Springfield and left no message, and then has REBECCA send me this gem:So yes, Rebecca found a harassment loophole. Calling AFTER the event. Here is an experiment you can try at home. Google Denver Pet Expo. Denver was one of the countless places she has been calling. Take a look at the Facebook page. Or the Instagram page. Or the comments made by VENDORS and ATTENDEES at the show. We did live streams all weekend. Is it difficult to determine that the event occurred? It seems like it is fairly obvious. So why call? Why would the St. Louis BBB call the DENVER venue, full of mostly Denver vendors, and ask anything? What purpose? I am sure you figured it out by now, but it did take me a minute to kind of fathom it - Rebecca has a vendetta, and she is going to act on it, even at the expense of the consumers she is supposed to assist. When the Convention Center abruptly cancelled our event in 2018, they cited the negative alert from the BBB as partial justification. And they got to keep, per the contract. about 30,000 dollars that we had paid for the event with. I have demanded that our profile and F rating be deleted, as we do not acknowledge this organization, and two of the complaints they have published I invented. Since the 2018 St. Louis incident, we have held three more St. Louis events.  The BBB has a purview. It is the set of by-laws they follow as an organization, created by them, but still meant to be followed. Here is a link to complaints and actions that this tax-exempt, multi-million dollar sales machine are supposed to stay away from. These are BEYOND their purview:   Click here to read them. Our profile is bogus. It is based on a statement I did not write. It contains fake complaints. And we refuse to use them to resolve any conflicts, so they just keep adding up grades. Maybe I should have never put her emails on the PetExpoFacts.com site, but somehow, some way, someone needed to see how they operate. If it embarrassed her, well I did not do it. She did.  William Rilenge   

Max PM
16 supporters
Update posted 1 month ago

Petition to Square, Square Up

Make it right, Square! Small Business Owners taken advantage of by price hike!

On September 24th, 2019 Square Up (also known simply as Square) sent out emails to small business owners informing them that their payment processing costs were going from 2.75% flat fee to a rate of 2.6% + $.10 per transaction. This increase may not seem like much but to small businesses all over the country, this will be devastating costing close to 50% more for credit card processing than has been the case. If you didn't receive the email yet, you may still end up being effected. You can see here that they are starting out all new accounts on this pricing and they have reached out to numerous businesses about this as well. https://squareup.com/us/en/pricing?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI49SN_Znt5AIVrSCtBh0qFQErEAAYASABEgKNvfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&pcrid=251532411012&pdv=c&pkw=square+pricing&pmt=e&solution=pricing-in-person-paymentsThis impacts small business owners disproportionately as we are seen as having less bargaining capacity than larger companies. This eats into our already small margins and takes advantage of small, community minded business owners all over the country. Together, we can make a difference and keep these small businesses in a healthier place. Square has done some great things for our businesses and we recognize what it takes to run a business. They may even need to raise their rates. We understand these things. What isn't fair is how much they've raised their prices while building their systems to increase our reliance on them. Our credit card sales have increased to around 80% of our transactions. This is exacerbated by their loyalty program pushing customers to use cards for convenience and tracking. Each time, they sip a little off the top of our already tight margins. Here, we are asking for them to either stay their pricing or at the very least, meet us in the middle with some more reasonable rates. Perhaps raising the cost to 3% flat fee. Now, this petition is not intended to simply be a complaint forum. We plan to work together with other organizations to create a solution that will give small businesses a fighting chance at competing with larger businesses by collectively working together to negotiate a deal that represents all of us together. By signing this petition, you are throwing weight behind our bargaining power. You're throwing weight behind our call to Square - that if there isn't something meaningful achieved, they'll be losing the backbone of what made their business successful in the first place: independent coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, boutiques, and retailers all over the country. Please share this with your friends. Sign the petition. Make sure that Square knows that while we may be small individually, collectively we are the bulk of their business. 

Maxwell Mooney
8,272 supporters
Update posted 2 months ago

Petition to Greg Slater, Pete Rahn, Marc Elrich, Nancy Navarro, Tom Hucker, Casey Anderson

Fund Design & Construction of SHA MD 97 Georgia Ave Montgomery Hills

We support the ongoing progress of the MD 97 Montgomery Hills Project and urge SHA to fund the construction so that work can proceed on this overdue and important improvement plan for the Georgia Avenue corridor.  We are eager to see the Georgia Avenue Corridor improved.  Simply stated, the corridor is unsafe for all users: vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.  Commuters and residents alike cannot travel through the area easily, and the existing conditions create an automobile-dominated environment that is unattractive and economically untenable to most community-oriented businesses.  In fact, the study area roadway and sidewalk conditions are one significant factor in the area's inability to attract a better mix of retail stores and businesses.  Furthermore, the study’s extended planning phase (the original planning effort for this corridor started seventeen years ago), has chilled any private sector improvements that may have been undertaken by the adjacent property owners. We request that Montgomery County prioritize the MD 97 (Georgia Ave) Safety and Complete Street Improvements in its 2019 Transportation Priorities letter, and that Maryland State fully fund the design and construction of the Georgia Ave improvements without delay in their FY 2020 budget.   

Friends of Forest Glen and Montgomery Hills
1,158 supporters