Is Quality First Home Improvement Following in Pacesetter's Footsteps?
I updated the HTML and CSS for the site, getting rid of the old table-layout method and making it a little bit more modern. Pages should even load a bit quicker as a lot of HTML markup has been removed.
I finally got around to putting the message board forum back up. Back in December we experienced a major server crash which completely trashed the database, and thus all forum posts and user accounts were lost. Rather than immediately reinstalling the forum I decided to hold off until we could search for backups on all of our various hard drives.
The most recent backup we could locate was about a year old. As I prepared to install the forum and import this back I learned that a new major version of the forum software phpBB was currently in beta testing and due to be released soon. I considered waiting, but then I had the thought that phpBB is really a bit much for a small site such as this and so I went searching for a simpler forum.
Once I found and installed a forum that I felt would work well, I went through and manually reposted all of the posts from the backup, one-by-one. Yes, it was a pain, and all the dates and times show the date I posted them instead of when they were originally posted, which isn't ideal. Perhaps I'll go through them later on at some point and change the dates to their original post dates, but for right now I'm just happy to have a forum up and running again.
Added a little update to the Quality First Home Improvements page, including some links to reviews about the company.
Looks like Larry Krempasky is seeking out new blood for US Remodlers, a company that sounds very similar to what Pacesetter used to be. Just doing a quick web search on the company brings up a bunch of familiar stories. Check out the job listing. All you need is a great attitude, the ability to work weekends, and no ethics.
After our visit from the door-to-door salesmen last weekend, I decided to check up on MyContractor.com and Quality First Home Improvements to see how they were doing, and it turns out that MyContractor.com is GONE! Yep, out of business!! Their offices are closed, their phones disconnected, and their website is history. Certainly good news, but Quality First Home Improvements is still hanging on somehow.
This weekend my wife and I were chilling in the house, relaxing after our cruise to Alaska, when the doorbell rang. As soon as the words "Quality First Home Improvements" came out of the guy's mouth I gestured for him to stop talking and immediately, but politely, said we were not interested. Low and behold, only a few hours later we were visited by another door-to-door Quality First Home Improvements guy. This guy did not want to take no thank you for an answer, but I didn't feel like explaining how he was working for a horrible, sleazy company, so I just shut the door instead. But now I am curious as to how these guys are still in business. Are they trying to do what Pacesetter did, and squeeze as much money out of people as they can before declaring bankruptcy and making their warranties worthless?
Updated our MyContractor.com page to discuss the apparent ongoing downfall of the company.
Despite the evidence pointing towards MyContractor.com's upcoming downfall, Quality First Home Improvement, Inc. is still putting on a happy face, trying to sell whatever they can, while they can. Last night we got a call, which my wife answered, asking if we were interested in new windows. She told them we weren't, then it sounded like they were asking if we were interested in other stuff, since I kept hearing her say that we're weren't and had no plans for home improvement.
Today the phone rings again, caller ID showing what looks to be a Sacramento number, and saying it's associated to a one White Rhett. I don't know any White Rhett, but seeing as how my wife has family in Sacramento, I answer it anyway. Turns out it's Quality First Home Improvement, Inc. again. He asks about windows. I say no. He asks how are heating and cooling is working. I say they're just fine. He asks if there are any other home improvements we were thinking about doing. Although there are, I still said nope. Desperation, anyone?
Quick update: The day after posting this, I received yet another call from White Rhett. He asked for me or my wife, and I responsed with "Didn't you call yesterday?" to which he responded "I very well may have" followed by a curtesy farewell. Perhaps this wasn't a case of desperation after all... could be he just forgets to cross out names on his call list.
We learned towards the beginning of July that MyContractor.com has recently closed its Southern California marketing office in Lake Forest, CA, and that all of the people from that office, including Mr. Ladendorf, are no longer affiliated with MyContractor.com. I'm curious as to what precisely this means... is MyContractor.com failing already? It'll be interesting to see what happens with the company in the near future.
We also recently came into possession of several MyContractor.com related documents. One was a service agreement that held a signature space with none other than Gary Iskra's name right underneath the line representing MyContractor.com. Another was an Offer of Employment letter inside which is mentioned that Gary has discussed the job with the prospective employee. My favorite, however, was a fairly complete Business Bio, which I have posted over on the The MyContractor.com Company page.
You may have noticed that we made a slight change to the website's design, specifically it is no longer a fixed width. Hopefully this will make it look better on monitors with higher resolutions. We also got the Message Board Forums updated to the latest revision.
Today I found valtor.tv's MyContractor.com company profile which lists Gary Iskra's position with MyContractor.com as Consulting CEO. Now, I'm not exactly sure what that position title means, but it sure sounds like a step-up from his previous title of spokesman. I'm also curious if this means he is an actual CEO of some other company. I have email from people which indicate he is with Quality First Home Improvement, Inc., but last time I checked their CEO was Gerald Anderson (who was Pacesetter's Assistant General Manager, by the way).
On Monday, November 5, 2007 we received a letter (view the scanned copy or web-formatted copy) from Robert T. Moore, II, a lawyer from the Moore, Sorensen & Horner legal firm who is representing MyContractor.com. I wonder what happened to their previous lawyer, Charles C. Mason, Jr? Anyway, in the letter he basically tells me that I am posting lies about MyContractor.com and if I don't stop he is going to take action. Kinda what their first letter to me said. And similiar to what the lawyer for Pacesetter sent me back when they were still around.
Boo-hoo, I'm so scarred! Please Mr. Lawyer, don't hurt me! Seriously, how do they expect me to react to this? I've spent more cumulative time working on this site than I spend on a typical project for work. How much time do you think he spent investigating his client's claim of defamation before writing this letter? If it was any at all, it should have been apparent that I do not intentionally make or imply false claims, and I take offence that he accuses me of doing so.
But on the positive side, it did give me an excuse to go back over the MyContractor.com page and fix some spelling and grammar issues I noticed, update a few of the sections, add some new stuff, and remove some other stuff that was redundant. I even added a paragraph to the first section which summarizes the people who we know used to work for Pacesetter and how we know they moved on to MyContractor.com. Oh yeah, and one other change I made to the site was to put dashed lines underneath the URLs which lead to external websites.
I received an email from an ex-employee last week describing in some nice detail some of the horrid events that have gone on within MyContractor.com recently, and with their permission I have posted this e-mail on our My Contractor.com Information Page. Check it out, as it's a good read.
I also have been working on the site's layout. I changed the logo from text to a nice anti-aliased image, and I've been making use of the wonderful PHP scripting language to output much of the HTML. You shouldn't notice much of a difference right now, but it should make it easier for me when I finally get around to updating the look of the site.
I've also noticed that phpBB3 is almost out of beta, so I'm hoping to get a full-fledged forum up and running once that happens.
I have been alerted to a new website, http://www.tritiumpress.com/, which is featuring a book on the web called Home Improvement Fraud, Don't Get Caught! The book is a great read which explains the process Pacesetter and other scumbucket companies use to rob you of your money. I would highly recommend that everybody read this to help protect yourself from being scammed.
Now, please allow me to reiterate... Read This Book Now so these slimy bastards won't be able to smooth-talk you out of all your hard-earned money!!
More evidence linking Pacesetter Corp to MyContractor.com was discovered at none other than the Better Business Bureau of Pittsburgh. If you check out MyContractor.com's page on that site, you will see the following under the section about Company Management:
Fred Redeker, listed in BBB files as the Vice President of Operations of Mycontractor.com, previously was listed in BBB files as the Operations Manager for Pacesetter Corporation of America which had an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to 2 or more unanswered complaints. The Bureau has a separate report on Pacesetter Corporation of America.
And under the "Additional File Information", you'll find this gem:
On January 26, 2006 the Bureau sent certified mail to the company asking for a complete list of the officers of the company and their background information for their past 3 years, the name and addresses of the organizations or companies providing certification for their contractors and a copy of their exclusive money back guarantee but this and other information was not provided by the company.
firstname.lastname@example.org and her husband received their suit papers on July 26th, and invites anyone who wants to join them to fax a notarized statement to 209-723-9411, saying that they have to respond to the summons in 30 days.
I received an e-mail today from someone who just quit their job at MyContractor.com, and attached to this e-mail was another e-mail, which contained three separate messages. The first message was just a note from an employee directing readers to read the below two messages... and those where from Gary Iskra! Finally, some proof that Gary Iskra is part of MyContractor.com! But that's not all! In the final message, Gary mentions others who are currently working for MyContractor.com: Mike Madden (VP of Sales), Fred Redeker (VP of Operations), and Larry Krempasky (VP of Lead Generation).
Techdirt has an interesting article about how courts recognize that website owners aren't responsible for the content posted by others on their website, even if the website is moderated. On this issue, I couldn't agree more with the courts.
One more thing: I have received even more emails telling me that the Pacesetter Corp. guys are definitely working at MyContractor.com. Proof or no proof, I don't know about you, but that many reports is enough to convince me to never, ever use or recommend MyContractor.com.
Pacesetter Lawsuit, and More MyContractor.com
It appears as if someone is trying to step up and take Pacesetter to court! They ask that anyone who wants to get involved please contact them at email@example.com. They say that they have already gotten a lawyer, so anyone who's interested may very well want to contact this couple.
On another note, I have received many more e-mails from people stating that they know for a fact that the Pacesetter big wigs like Gary and Mickey are involved with MyContractor.com, even if they don't have their names on any official documents. Again, I must state that I have no proof to offer, but to us it definitely does sound within the realm of possibilities.
Is MyContractor.com Okay After All?
I received a letter today which gives a strong indication that in fact MyContractor.com is NOT associated with Mr. Iskra, Mr. Kluck, or Mr. Madden. Thus, I have created a separate page entitled Information About the Assumed MyContractor.com Connection which presents this letter and my take on the whole situation. I recommend reading it before jumping to conlusions based on other people's claims (as well statments I made in the section directly below this one).
On another unrelated note, I discovered today that the website at which Pacesetter Corps set up camp, www.home-improvement-remodel.com/index.html, no longer has any mention of the Pacesetter Corp name. Instead, it now calls itself the Better Homes Corporation. The page looks pretty much identical to what was up before, aside from the name, and even the contact page is still out-of-order.
These people just don't stop! It looks like the big wigs from Pacesetter Corp, CEO Gary Iskra, Vice President Gary Kluck, and Mickey Madden are back in business with a new website, MyContractor.com. I guess they just haven't taken enough money from innocent, unsuspecting people yet.
So what happened to the whole WeatherMaster thing? Did Gary Iskra realize it wasn't so bright to register www.WeatherMasterSucks.com under his name and just decide to try it again with MyContractor.com, this time leaving his name off of all the online documentation?
Come to think of it, shouldn't you guys be in prison for screwing all of your loyal employees? How many people out there didn't get their paychecks? How many customers did you take money from and not finish the job? How in the world are you able to start a new company?! Maybe the government doesn't know... hey, does anybody out there have proof that I can post on the site?
It seems that The Pacesetter Corporation of America filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of PA (Case Number 05-50204) on November 17th, 2005. Does this really and truly mean the end of this despicable company? Somehow, I doubt it, 'cause if so then how come they now have their website posted at www.home-improvement-remodel.com/index.html?
Same People, New Company: WeatherMaster!!
I recently got word that a new company was started by the big-wigs of the Pacesetter Corporation (Gary Iskra, Mark Aloe, Gary Kluck, Mickey Madden), called WeatherMaster. I have confirmed at least part of this by checking out the domain www.WeatherMasterSucks.com, which is registered to "WeatherMaster Home Improvements LLC", and lists the Administrative Contact and Technical Contact to be none other than Gary Iskra. You can check the WHOIS Search Results for: WEATHERMASTERSUCKS.COM for yourself. Oh, and I'm told the phone number for the company is (412) 586-1150.
Well, they can register as many WeatherMaster domains as they want, but they don't seem to understand that it's not going to help them because there's no way they can take every single possible combination. I could always register WeatherMasterSucksToo.com or WeatherMasterSucksMore.com, and it doesn't have to be just words appended on to the end either, as I could just as easily register SuckyWeatherMaster.com or IHateWeatherMaster.com. You can believe I'm not going to just stand idly by and let them use another company to screw people over.
Yes, Pacesetter seems to be pretty much dead, and I know my site helped it to happen, but believe it or not that is not what I wanted or intended. What I wanted was for the big-wigs to take notice of what was going on in their company, and enact changes for the better. I was excited when they wanted to negotiate with me, because I thought we might be able to get some useful policies in place, like perhaps manditory drug testing or product cost sheets. But alas, they would only negotiate face-to-face, and anyone who has read through our nightmare should know that we've been lied to too many times to do anything with them that's not in writing. So why wouldn't they negotiate through written means such as e-mail?
I had thought about this for a while, and the first idea I came up with was that perhaps they didn't want to corresspond through e-mail because they thought I would post the e-mails on my website. But e-mails are automatically copyrighted, so I couldn't do that. And besides, it would be easy enough to make a written agreement beforehand to prevent it. And then I realized, it has to be because they're all salesmen. They know how to talk, they know how to act and speak and inflect and convince and manipulate, basically, in person they know how to get what they want. I'm sure that's why they wouldn't do anything in writing. And it's also another good reason not to meet face-to-face.
Anyway, somebody named Greg Gerlach wanted me to post the following, so here ya go:
Know any creditors that would like to mount an involuntary bankruptcy case against Pacesetter? I represent a client owed a substantial amount of money, and when I try to collect, they seem to have transferred all their assets into other companies, and are apparently judgment-proof.
Gregory D. Gerlach, Esquire
Brennan, Robins & Daley, P.C.
445 Fort Pitt Boulevard, Suite 500
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Who Wants To Contact The Pacesetter Corporation?
Howard Hanna Real Estate issued a June 13th press release about how they have "represented Pacesetter Corporation in a major deal that will bring the home improvement giant's corporate headquarters to Pittsburgh in July". So if anyone knows how to get a hold of Pacesetter folk, these guys should! And Pacesetter should be in Pittsburgh by now, located in the USX Tower on Grant Street downtown, so if anyone's in the area you might want to drop by and say hi.
Be Careful! Don't Pay What You Don't Owe!
From a lot of messages on the More Visitor Feedback and Visitor Feedback Book 3, it sounds as if Pacesetter Corp., besides not paying their workers, is actually trying to make some ex-employees fork over some cash. One individual suggested that everyone in this situation should check out the following website: www.creditinfocenter.com/rebuild/debt_validation.shtml. You should also check out Visitor Feedback Book 3: Post #16 for more on this situation.
There is also a rumor that Pacesetter Corp. will be changing their name to Ultima or Altima or something like that. If this turns out to be true, we will be sure to make that fact clearly known across this site, but so far we've heard nothing that would confirm the rumor. We did hear about another online news article dealing with the Pacesetter Corporation titled "Target 11 Questions Corporation's Business Practices" which provides a little bit more insight than previous articles, so you might want to check that out.
Finally, for all you looking for phone numbers, see Visitor Feedback Book 3: Post #28, Visitor Feedback Book 3: Post #36, and Visitor Feedback Book 3: Post #92. The number for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
Where's the website?
It appears Pacesetter Corps. website is no more, as all that comes up when attempting to view their site is the message "No web site is configured at this address." That's strange, since according to an article posted yesterday titled Pacesetter may add local manufacturing facility, Pacesetter is relocating from Omaha, Nebraska to the great city of Pittsburgh. If they're relocating, that implies that their still in business... so why take down the website completely? For that matter, if they're not dead, then how come they aren't they paying all the money they owe to their employees?
The article also states that Pacesetter Corp. "has a manufacturing facility in Omaha"... but didn't they sell that? I could have sworn that they sold that and started buying their products from Republic Windows. Am I wrong on this? Anyway, while looking for more info about what the Pacesetter Corporation of America was up to, I stumbled across their BBB Nebraska report, which, besides confirming that Pacesetter has moved to Philadelphia, states that "this company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to unanswered complaints". I'm sure a lot of us customers can understand that one.
Closed offices, bounced checks, and yet they keep on selling!!
The horror!! Pacesetter Corp. has closed offices and laid off staff, many of whom are still owed thousands of dollars in back pay. Wanna take bets as to whether they'll ever see that money? Then lets not forget about all those customers who suckered into dealing out their thousands of hard earned dollars only to receive absolutely nothing in return. And can you believe that their still peddling their goods and services even after they closed their doors? I can. Of course, go to the Pacesetter Corporation's website and everything still looks peachy.
This is definitely a dark time for those poor souls still involved with this diabolical company. Hopefully the government will step up and help out. At the very least, the Pacesetter Corp. is finally getting the media attention that they deserve. Too bad it didn't happen earlier, before the situation got so bad. Sorry people, I did try, but none of the media seemed interested. It's probably my fault too, as I had no idea how to go about it other than writing e-mails.
News10 Article: Layoffs and Bounced Paychecks Greet Employees of Telemarketing Firm (6/2/05)
News10 Video: Layoffs and Bounced Paychecks Greet Employees of Telemarketing Firm (6/2/05)
MySanAntonio.com Video: Authorities now investigating Pacesetter (5/30/05)
MySanAntonio.com Video: Complaints made over Pacesetter (5/24/05)
Score one for freedom!
Republic Windows & Pacesetter
Since Pacesetter has closed their factory and are no longer manufacturing their own products, they are now selling the products manufactured by Republic Windows in Chicago. While in my opinion, Pacesetter's products were not as "top quality" as they led us to believe, I really have no idea about the quality of products made by Republic Windows.
So has anyone out there had some experience with them? Care to share? Thus far we've had one person write in and tell us that they suck big time, although no details were about why or how they suck.
Is Pacesetter in trouble?
I recently received an e-mail, allegedly from an ex-employee of Pacesetter who has remained in contact with their former co-workers. The e-mail claims that for the past 6 months, Pacesetter has been struggling to pay their bills (all coffee services, bottled water services, cleaning supply services, have been stopped in the majority of offices around the U.S.) and there have been massive amounts of terminations/cutbacks on staffing (administrative mostly, not sales of course).
I don't know if any of this is true or not, but if it is, anyone who is currently trying to get what's owed to them by Pacesetter should try to speed it up as much as possible.
Going Out Of Buisness Sale! Everything Must Go!
I just received a Pacesetter auction ad today for the auctioning off of the Pacesetter factory and everything in it. Anyone free on the 26th of October and interested in picking up some spare equipment?
Pacesetter Sold! Plant Shutting Down!
I've been informed by a couple people that apparently Pacesetter has been sold to CEO Gary Iskra, Gary Kluck, Mickey Madden, and Rick Schrager. Supposedly they are closing the plant on June 29, 2004 and will begin outsourcing the windows and other products.
Hmmm...I wonder what led to this...? What happened to all those extremely satisfied customers that spread the wonders of Pacestter via word of mouth?
Pacesetter And The New Federal Do-Not-Call List
Apparently Pacesetter, along with some other companies, decided to share it's thoughts and feelings about the new federal Do-Not-Call list. For convenience, I have converted the original Adobe PDF file into a webpage, which you can read here. The original file came from Federal Trade Commission's Do-Not-Call Comments page. Enjoy the read...especially the part about Pacesetter's practice to not call individuals who indicated that they did not want to be called again. We've received many e-mails from people which tell of Pacesetter telemarketers not following this policy.
Clarification May Be Coming
Chilling Effects Helps To Enlighten
On June 27th, Chilling Effects posted Pacesetter complains of "sucks" site, which is the Pacesetter Cease & Desist Letter that we received, but with additional information about some of the legal phrases used in the document. I also talked to our website's host about putting back up the stories, and I agreed to wait a couple more months while they finish taking care of another frivolous lawsuit.
On May 1, 2003, we received a cease and desist letter from James B. Miller, General Counsel for the Pacesetter Corporation. In the letter, Mr. Miller demands that we discontinue our web site for basically two reasons. He claims that our web site address violates trademarks held by Pacesetter, and that the stories we have posted are false and defamatory.
Then, on May 7, a voice mail and e-mail from Mr. Miller to our web site's host stated that Pacesetter intends to file a claim against both of us regarding the web site. It was this threat that led our host to ask us to temporarily remove all the posts so that they could have some time to investigate, so on May 10th we did. The claims that were made to justify the threat of a legal battle are unjust, but are a common tactic used to silence those who opinions differ from their own.
Called SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation), their sole purpose is to silence people by threatening to engage them in a long and expensive lawsuit. Fortunately, my home state of California has a very good anti-SLAPP statute. To learn more about it, head on over to the California Anti-SLAPP Project web site. Another good site to visit is the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Now I would like to just briefly cover why Pacesetter Corp.'s claims are bogus. I don't want to dive into paragraphs and paragraphs of detail, so I'm just going to cover the very basics. First is the trademark. There is no way that anyone could mistake our web site, PacesetterSucks, as being a part of the Pacesetter Corp., nor are we in any way attempting to profit off of Pacesetter's name.
Next is the claim that the stories we post are false. For all the posts, I have either gotten confirmation from the author that everything in their message is true, or I have copied it directly from a public newsgroup with a link provided back to the original article. Plus, Pacesetter has not produced one single piece of evidence to indicate even slightly that any one of the stories is false.
So that's basically how Pacesetter Corp. is squashing all of our first amendment rights to freedom of speech. Hopefully it won't last too long. Of course they're not the only company to try it. If you have the time, I'd recommend checking out these sites as well: SavinSucks.com, TaubmanSucks.com, and AmExSux.com.