I was intrigued by the notice... which comes in a regular envelope and appears to be addressed by hand. Inside is an article which looks like it was ripped out of a newspaper and then personalized with a sticky note... just for you. But don't be fooled, this is a mass mailer which a lot of other folks have received.
The point is to get you to come to a seminar hosted by National Grants Conferences. The newspaper ad has a lot of testimonials... including one from the former deputy administrator for the Small Business Administration, Melanie Sablehaus.
In bold letters you're told you can learn how to cash in on the trillion-dollar government bailout program. The cost for the seminar is free and you can choose from one of three dates the group will be in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. They're in town in from Saturday, October 10, 2009 through Monday, October 12th, 2009.
I tried contacting Melanie Sablehaus, but haven't been able to get ahold of her. If I do... I'll blog about it later.
What's interesting is this is the same group I did a Call For Action story on four years ago. At the time the conferences were free, but the group wanted close to $1,000 to help you try to secure a government grant.
What I'm curious about is the Sablehaus connection. When I did my story four years ago, I contacted Sablehaus' old employer, the SBA, the Small Business Administration. At the time, I was told the SBA was advising people NOT to attend the seminar. An operator told me they had received a lot of calls and their advice... don't pay a grant company... learn about grants by going online or heading to the library.
Four years ago the BBB had countless complaints about the company for its misleading sales practices. A google check turned up others who had blogged about being ripped off by the company.
When I called the company's 800 number, 800-507-1600 I couldn't get any answers. It's simply a call center that's taking reservations for the seminars. I was only told the seminars last about four hours, they're free, and they don't want you to bring young children.
Also enclosed with the mailer is a merchant redemption coupon with $500 on it. It says if you come to the meeting and bring the card... you'll receive a $500 merchant redemption voucher. We'll see.
My advice... if you have four hours to burn, go ahead and see what they're offering... but don't sign up for something you can't get out of later. And feel free to call me and share your experiences with the group.
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