Thursday, March 31, 2005

Looking for a Few Good Saps

With unemployment in the Northwest continuing to be higher than the rest of the nation, many people are becoming desperate to find a job, ANY job. Knowing this, there are businesses, far too many of a questionable nature, ready to pounce upon desperate job seekers. I've discovered one such organization -- Linda Christas (LC).

Actually, I didn't discover THEM; they discovered me. Since I'm looking to change careers, I've posted my resume on several internet job sites. While I hope this helps me land a job in the field of social services (my vocation during the 80s), I've come to realize that it also makes me a target for many dubious outfits.

Here's the initial email I received from a "Sarah DeSoleil":
One of our School's human resources volunteers (They are retired good people with HR backgrounds who donate hours of free service to the community) has referred your posted resume to our office. He believes you are a viable candidate for the Academic Advisor position we currently have open in your area.

The resume was sent to Ben Bernard, one of our General Partners.

The Academic Advisor position we are recruiting for serves the function of briefing families of middle school and high school students regarding the Linda Christas programs, either in a seminar format or one-on-one. (The method of delivery will depend on your personal preferences and style.)
I was encouraged to check out this organization's website to learn how I could become an Academic Advisor. Unfortunately for Ms. DeSoleil, she had sent her email to a person who possesses not only a degree in journalism but a person who has worked as an investigator. It took me little time to quickly realize this smelled like a scam!

For starters, the Academic Advisor (AA) turns out to be a euphemism for SALESPERSON. The AA's primary function is to sign-up families for LC tutoring and internet-based middle or high school programs. With price tags ranging from $2400-$6500, the programs offered are only manageable for families of a certain financial standing.

In order to become one of the chosen Academic Advisors, the applicant must pay $400 to enroll in an online Professional Administrative Services Credential (Tier II) course. This program is taught by independent educational consultant "Dr. Ann Voisin" who, when Googled, only returns one solitary entry...Linda Christas.

The $400 course fee is refundable (giggle, giggle) provided the applicant meets several criteria, all benefiting LC. One of these criteria is that, after completing the online course, the unwitting sap (oh I'm sorry) the applicant must complete a practicum which consists of making 7 sales (sorry, again) I mean, 7 educational consultations which result in sign ups for LC programs.

Now, once the 7 consultations plateau is reached, then LC will generate mailings to prospective families FOR the AA, PROVIDED the AA meets a monthly quota of 5. Of course, prior to becoming a full-fledged AA, the applicant must shoulder the total costs of sending out mailings themselves.

From my vantage point, this is a very clever system. LC does a great job emphasizing the perks of the position while, simultaneously, doing a splendid job of covering up and masking the inherent costs. I'm sure they pull in a good number of desperate people who only realize they've been had once it's FAR too late.

Here's what I think is a likely scenario: Desperate job seeker is contacted via email by LC "volunteer". If the job seeker bites the hook, we now have an applicant. The applicant visits the web site and is dazzled by the seemly great pay for little effort.

To wit:
[section deleted] Explanation: Linda Christas is so FEARFUL of criticism that they filed a DMCA complaint alleging a copyright violation, this DESPITE the fact I indicated I was quoting THEM. Supposedly, according to law, you can quote somebody else's work IF you are commenting about it or criticizing it.

Now I could have decided to fight their complaint, but chose not to. Why? Because I'm a poor schmuck and Linda Christas is a multi-million dollar corporation. I'm sure THEY had this fact in mind when they filed their silly complaint.

Think about this for a minute. Why should this huge corporation feel so threatened by one blogger? Could it be they don't like having their own deception thrown back in their face?
The applicant thinks, "Wow. $500 or $1000 and appointments only take about 1 hour. Sign me up". So, the applicant spends $400 to enroll in the on line course.

Once the "course" has ended and the applicant enters the practicum stage, I bet most people come to realize that this is going to cost them far more than they thought AND that making the 7 required sales will not be easy at all.

For starters, as mentioned earlier, the costs -- postage and printing -- for the initial mailings to approximately 10,000 students must be borne by the AA who, conveniently, is an Independent Contractor. As someone who has worked for many years in nonprofit fundraising, I've calculated that said costs could be upwards of $5,000!

In other words, before seeing one penny in compensation, it is quite likely that the sap, I mean, the applicant will be out $5,000 or more. If the applicant struck it rich and signed up 7 families for online courses, this would mean a pay out of $7,000.

Unfortunately, as indicated above, the AA is an Independent Contractor. Therefore, self-employment taxes would be owed on that $7,000. Using rough figures, let's say the $7,000 is subject to a 30% tax reduction. This means the $7,000 becomes only $4,900 and, instead of having a big pay day, the applicant basically breaks even. (Note: If all of the 7 sales were for turtoring or a mix between tutoring and online instruction, the applicant comes out in a hole possibly a fairly deep one!)

But this result is based on the assumption the plebe ACTUALLY makes 7 sales. Anyone who knows anything about fundraising KNOWS that "cold call" letters generate a very negligible response rate of 1%, 0.5% or less. Consequently, 10,000 letters mailed would, at best, generate 100 people who are mildly interested. Of that 100, only a fraction will become seriously interested and of that small fraction an even smaller fraction will buy the product.

An average person could easily spend 100 hours to make 1 sale. If it took an average Joe or Jane 100 hours to generate 1 sale, they would soon realize their pay rate is less than minimum wage!

It's at some point during this practicum that I believe most people will realize they've been had. So, they will drop out of the program. Because they did not successfully complete the practicum, their $400 course fee becomes nonrefundable. And, since the person is an "Independent Contractor", they are also out however much money they spent on recruiting and marketing efforts during the practicum period.

From the way this operation has been cleverly put together, I believe that LC hopes that the vast majority of saps DO, in fact, drop out. It's an incredibly easy way to pocket hundreds (if not thousands) of $400 payments. Not only that, but LC most likely gets thousands of dollars of free advertising from applicants mailing out prospectus letters at the applicant's expense!

It would seem that ALL the benefits of this program favor Linda Christas and all the liabilities fall on the potential Academic Advisor.

To read more of the continuing saga, go here.

[If anyone reading this has had any dealings with the many faces of the Linda Christas programs, I'd be very interested in hearing what you think about them.]

42 comments:

  1. Thanks for the information. I too have been approached by this company. I wasn't impressed and thanks to people like you on the internet was not suckered in to wasting my time and money. Here is my response to that Sarah

    Dear Sarah,
    with a five second google search on your company and the word scam I was able to ascertain that I do not want this job. Unfortunately, after posting my resume online I have been plagued by this sort of "employment offer" The idea of paying $400 for "training" in order to work is ridiculous. Good luck in finding other poor saps to rip off.

    Yours sincerely, Matt

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  2. I also like your blog and am myself a frequent reader of many of your links such as truthout etc. nice one! Matt

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  3. If you will actually read the articles about Linda Christas that have the word SCAM in the titles, you will see that they are from parents and students and are very positive. They are attempting a bit of humor that you folks don't seem to get.

    That's the problem with bloggers, they know nothing, research nothing and express it beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've done a Google search of Linda Christas too. The point made by the last person to comment is both accurate and inaccurate.

    Parents and educators have IN FACT written good things about Linda Christas.

    However, potential employees have not and this is where the word "scam" appears.

    While the end product -- tutoring -- may prove beneficial, my problem is with the manner salespeople are recruited to SELL the product.

    It seems to me that the recruitment process brings in a great deal of profit to the organization at the expense of applicants duped into believing they have a chance to get a job and a comfortable life.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am an Advisor with Linda Christas.

    Like any other academic position, professional certifications are required in order to work with Linda Christas.

    I didn't have a Tier II certification when they recruited me, but they gave me a choice for the cert, either get one at our local university, or take a substitute course that was designed by a person under contract to them, Linda Christas.

    I chose the university route because I wanted the credits.

    Linda Christas accepted that, and even reimbursed up to their maximum of $400 for instruction and $50 for books.

    Don't look now, but my math tells me that Linda Christas paid ME $450 to get the cert.

    I am now an Advisor and doing well. The income is better than anything else I have been offered, and the kids I've enrolled are having the time of their lives. They seem to actually enjoy the process of learning.

    I am not a sales person by nature. I am quiet, which seems to be just perfect for what families need. They need someone who will listen to them and offer something better.

    Wendell

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  6. I cannot speak to the training for Advisors. Our daughter is doing very well as a Linda Christas student though.

    My wife and I requested the appointment with the Advisor, and I do not recall any time when we were being sold in any way.

    I can comment, however, and speak with some authority regarding Mr. Smith's use of the designation "Taoist" on this web site.

    I am a professor of Oriental Studies at a well known university.

    Mr. Smith requires a few of our courses. He may say he is a Taoist, but the attitudes expressed by Mr. Smith are much more consistent with our Baptist civil rights activists.

    We love our Baptist civil rights activists. But, we need to understand the differences between Taoism and other kinds of positions and methods. That is the purpose of education.

    If Mr. Smith truly understood Taoism, he would know that on this site, he is attacking himself.

    Best to all -

    Nguyen

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  7. To Wendall: I'm glad you've had a good experience with Linda Christas. That said, it still doesn't change my overall assessment. It just appears that the terms of employment favor the organization far more than the potential employee.

    To Nguyen: I don't know how in the world you could read the posts on this site and equate my beliefs as "Baptist". I earned my first college degree at Ouachita Baptist University and I can tell you that my beliefs were far out of line with almost every Baptist student.

    I have written in FAVOR of allowing Terri Schiavo to die with dignity, gender equity, living wages and equal justice for all -- I know of few Baptists that would support most of these things.

    Finally, one of the great lessons of Taoist thought is to learn from experience and not from books. I can't imagine Lao Tsu suggesting that a person would learn more by taking a few college courses as opposed to meditating in the natural world.

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  8. There has been nothing in my experience with Linda Christas that favors the School over its personnel or students.

    Most students are on scholarship, and we Community Academic Advisors are paid a full 20% above industry standard for our work.

    What is needed here is a little more research, Mr. Smith.

    My wager is that you never spoke with an Advisor before writing these opinions. If I am correct, and, I think I am, this site is simply a reflection of what is wrong with America, and what Linda Christas is trying to combat, i.e. the unthinking insensitivity which is tearing our nation (and the world at large) apart.

    Wendell
    Community Academic Advisor
    Linda Christas

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  9. Dear Mr. Smith,

    My point is that in order to honor the Tao, we must unite not divide.

    For example, it is one thing for a Taoist to question the thought process of someone. It is quite another to use terms such as "sap"
    which harkens back to the school ground.

    The Community Advisor our family worked with was very kind, intelligent, and would, in my opinion, not work with an organization that was anything like your characterization.

    Our personal experience has only strengthened this impression.

    If you have a student with Linda Christas, or you have worked with the School that is one thing. My impression is that you did none of these things, and that it is then irresponsible to publish anything for all to see.

    In this way, I am shamed for us both because we are united in Tao.

    Nguyen

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  10. Wendall wrote, "My wager is that you never spoke with an Advisor before writing these opinions. If I am correct, and, I think I am, this site is simply a reflection of what is wrong with America, and what Linda Christas is trying to combat, i.e. the unthinking insensitivity which is tearing our nation (and the world at large) apart."

    I have not spoken in voice with a representative of Linda Christas, BUT I had a drawn out email correspondence with the woman who intially aprroached me via email. So Wendall, I think that means you lost your bet.

    I find it interesting that you & Nguyen seem to be commenting in tandem (both times in the same order on the same day within 2 hours of each other). It makes me question if either of you is who you purport to be.

    I grant it could be nothing more than coincidence. Then again, it could be indicative of "planted" comments by a Linda Christas staff member.

    Nguyen wrote, "My point is that in order to honor the Tao, we must unite not divide."

    I'm all for finding consensus and common ground, but if a person sees something they think is terribly wrong and says nothing, this represents FALSE unity.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, and Jesus wouldn't have been very effective role models if each had decided that, in the interest of unity, they should not rail against the inequities of the world.

    I still stand by what I've written. If either of you would like to look at my rationale which I laid out step-by-step and point out incongruencies or misguided analysis, then I will be far more open to rethinking my position.

    Neither of you have disputed any of the SPECIFIC points I raised. You both have spoken only in vague generalities.

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  11. Let me add a P.S.

    The initial email I received from Linda Christas read "One of our School's human resources volunteers (They are retired good people with HR backgrounds who donate hours of free service to the community) has referred your posted resume to our office. He believes you are a viable candidate for the Academic Advisor position we currently have open in your area."

    "Retired good people" is not a grammatically correct phrase and seems odd coming from an "educational" institution.

    More importantly, I have NO background whatsoever in sales nor education. So, what would lead a person to believe I would be a "viable" candidate?

    Since receiving the email from Linda Christas, I have received two others that also are for sales positions. Both were poorly written and neither matches up with my past work experiences.

    I see a pattern here. It appears there are several outfits who send job invitations to anyone who posts a resume on line. My guess is that they all are of a dubious nature.

    I would guess that most, if not all, are like the ads we all see in local newspapers -- No Experience Necessary. Earn $500 Working from Home on your Computer.

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  12. Wendall wrote, "What is needed here is a little more research, Mr. Smith."

    Unfortunately, for you "Wendall", I AM a reasearch-oriented fellow. Do you know what I just discovered?

    I just discovered that, at the times when you and Nguyen posted your comments, there are some STRIKING similarities. To wit, you both hailed from the SAME IP address, using the SAME operating system, the SAME browser, the SAME referring URL, and originating in the SAME time zone.

    This would STRONGLY suggest that you're writing your comments on the SAME computer or, at least, from the SAME building. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all if you both are the SAME person who probably isn't named Wendall nor Nguyen.

    Whoever you are, I have a word of advice for you -- Be careful who you challenge because that person might rise to the challenge and expose you for what you truly are.

    If such comments are being made by a Linda Christas staff person or "volunteer", then it underscores the very point of the original post.

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  13. Dear Mr. Smith,

    I can see now that this discussion is nearly hopeless.

    Mr. Smith, you are seemingly going to pursue negative thought, and conspiratorial rhetoric no matter what is said or who says it. (You seem to have the habit of condemning everything in your path. I look at your other posts, anti-Pope, anti- water supply, anti-education. Is this what you learned at the Baptist college? My goodness! I can't imagine any professor teaching such thinking.

    This is sadly the kind of thought that results in both intellectual and physical terrorism, and it has nothing to do with the Tao. It has everything to do, however, with the need to crusade in the name of self worth.

    I suspect that you view yourself as a small person inside,Mr. Smith, and for this I feel badly for you, and those who will suffer in life because of that reality.

    It is a very sorry thing that a person with this kind of darkness is using the word Taoist and shaming us all who have been raised in the tradition. That is, you have not done any research, are using surface logic to condemn all of your world, and broadcasting this ignorance in the name of my beloved Taoist tradition.

    I am ashamed.

    I can only encourage you again, if you are going to use the term Tao, do not shame it in this way. Attempt to unite, not divide, and, if there are isolated areas that need improvement, study them thoroughly before committing suicide under the law of karma.

    Nguyen

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  14. P.S. All Linda Christas families and staff log in directly to the school's central computer.

    This is the way of unity. It is the way of the Tao.

    Again, research is important, Mr. Smith before leaping to conclusions. But, this does not seem to be the way you were taught. That seems to be a sad reality at this phase of your development.

    I wish you well.

    Nguyen

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  15. Still NO specifics. One thing that I've learned in life is that, if someone disagrees with another and yet can't seem to come up with any specifics and instead makes sweeping generalizations, that person almost always has no factual leg to stand on.

    Sort of reminds me of the way the Bush Administration trys to quell any criticism. Attack the person lodging the criticism by use of emotional buzz words! If you can't support your position/opinion with facts, then simply attack the person. (Not very Taoist of you.)

    And please, what a lame explanation for the discovery of the exact same IP addresses for "you" & "Wendall".

    You really think people are going to believe that everyone connected with Linda Christas can ONLY access the internet THROUGH Linda Christas? That none of these families has their own internet account? Sure, whatever you say.

    So Sherlock, explain why both "you" & "Wendell" can only seem to find my blog each time by entering the exact same search criteria in Google? Don't either of "you" know how to create a favorite or use the browser's history function?

    I'm surprised that whoever is pretending to be these "real" people even knows how to spell T-A-O.

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  16. Yo Mr. Smith or whoever, the way our connection works is very easy to understand.

    As a student, I send my assignments to the LC Central Help Desk. They make a copy and send it out.

    This is the only way that the School has of checking up on us.

    In one of my lessons, I read that the musician Billy Rose once said, "I'd rather have this publicity than be ignored."

    You seem not to understand too much about LC, Trey. What got you going? I read some of your other stuff too. Do you hate the world or what?? Have you had a hard life?

    Tell me more! I really would like to know about you. You seem interesting.

    Go LC! Go Trey!

    Brandon

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  17. Linda Christas Help Desk4/11/2005 12:39:00 AM

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    This is the Evening Linda Christas Help Desk.

    We have reviewed the correspondence that was initially sent to you by Sarah DeSoleil.

    We find that that correspondence is substantial.

    If you need further specifics, we would encourage you to re-read that correspondence first and then request more information from us. That's what we are here to do for the public.

    In Ms. DeSoleil's correspondence, for example, she mentioned that new Advisors spend almost nothing to begin their enterprises in their communities. Most less than $25. But evidently you misread the material or just didn't see the information. The mailing program to families is entirely paid for by the School. We spend on average $3,000 per month for mailers for each of our Advisors. (Postage, appropriate mailing lists, etc.) They pay nothing. Initially they do a small mailing, usually less than fifty pieces to businesses.

    Advisors are asked to have or obtain a Tier II certification. They can do that at a university and Linda Christas will reimburse up to $400 plus $50 for books.

    We also have a private consultant who has summarized much of the Tier II material, and the Advisors have that option as well.

    But, this was all explained to you, Mr. Smith.

    If you have more specific questions, please ask them of us at the Help Desk.

    But, if you ask, please be prepared to read and understand what is said.

    That is the only way that communication works.

    We are here for you. You can reach us at obench@lindas.com

    If any member of the public has questions about what Mr. Smith has written, please contact us for accurate information.

    We would be delighted to hear from you.

    Evening Help Desk
    Linda Christas
    Dennis for OB

    P.S. Again, we are an intermediary service for our students, parents and the public. Messages do not go directly from one party to the other. Of course, our students do have toggles if they wish to use their own IP.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Brandon wrote, "As a student, I send my assignments to the LC Central Help Desk. They make a copy and send it out."

    Gee Brandon, I suppose that's interesting, but it has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion. Nguyen was providing an explanation that all email originating from people connected to LC supposedly must go THROUGH LC. The fact that you send your assignments to the school is not connected to this.

    Do I hate the world? No. I do, however, dislike injustice, discrimination, bigotry and violence. This are the kinds of things I speak out against.

    The Help Desk (not a person, just a desk) wrote, "In Ms. DeSoleil's correspondence, for example, she mentioned that new Advisors spend almost nothing to begin their enterprises in their communities. Most less than $25."

    I just reviewed the emails sent to me by "Sarah". There is no mention of a meager $25 expense.

    The Desk also wrote, "We spend on average $3,000 per month for mailers for each of our Advisors."

    As your web site indicates, LC ONLY pays for this $3000 monthly expenditure once a plebe amasses their 7 sale minimum during practicum AND ONLY if the Advisor meets a monthly quota of 5 sales. Consequently, to suggest you pick up such an expense carte blanche is not true, if the information on YOUR OWN web site is to be believed.

    Finally, the Desk stated, "Initially they do a small mailing, usually less than fifty pieces to businesses."

    As I mentioned in the original post, I've spent the past decade as a fundraiser for several nonprofits. With a typical response rate of 1% or less, mailing 50 pieces, on AVERAGE, would net AT MOST less than 1 semi-interested response.

    It defies logic to think that a person could make several sales of between $2400-$6500 to less than 1 person or 1 business.

    As the 1% response rate is a figure accepted in the field of fundraising, to have a chance to secure 7 sales a person would need to mail out about 10,000 pieces.

    If the LC Desk maintains that the organization spends about $3,000 per month on lists, materials and postage (after practicum completion), it figures that LC is mailing to at least 7,500 per month.

    A person might well be able to meet the 5 sale quota with 7,500 contacts per month. But to suggest that a new person to the job could secure 7 sales with only 50 pieces going out is downright silly.

    I mean, if this could actually be accomplished, why on earth would LC WASTE so much money per month on mass mailings if they could expect the same result from a cheap mailing of 50?

    You see, it simply doesn't add up.

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  19. Judge for yourself. Here's a whole slew of info pulled from the Linda Christas Tutoring Services Careers page as of a few minutes ago. I'm not going to paste the whole page simply because it would be way too long.

    Community Academic Advisor: A minimum of a Professional Administrative Services Credential (Tier II) OR a combination of appropriate alternative academic and/or professional experience combined with a certificate specific to and designed for functionality as a Community Academic Advisor.

    In lieu of the Professional Administrative Services Credential (Tier II), Linda Christas has commissioned an independent educational consultant, Dr. Ann Voisin, to present a college level curriculum specific to the current educational environment in the United States.

    There are BBB listings for Linda Christas in both Northern and Southern California. In addition, Linda Christas is a member of several chambers of commerce throughout the United States. This is the result of independent registration by Linda Christas administrators and Advisors who believe that such registrations enhance the profile of the School in the eyes of the public. Note that traditional schools do not qualify to be listed with these kinds of review agencies. For example, BBB Online will not list a report regarding a school, but rather indicates to parents that they should determine whether or not the school is properly credentialed.

    Note: The above assertion doesn't appear to be true. I went to the BBB listings and found over 50 schools listed for Sacramento, where LC is headquartered.

    The role of a Linda Christas Community Academic Advisor, generally referred to as "Advisor" within the Linda Christas organization, is to meet with families who have requested appointments, typically expressing dissatisfaction with their student's current educational experiences. (As a rule, these meetings are generated by the Linda Christas mailing program, which is provided to the Advisor's community at no cost. Linda Christas arranges for and pays for the monthly family mailings. There is no cost to the Advisor.)

    Advisors are Independent Contractors that Linda Christas supports with free area mailings each month. Advisors schedule appointments or group presentations in a way that is congruous with their professional and personal styles.

    At the conclusion of the practicum...Linda Christas will begin investing in a FREE mailing program for the Advisor. These mailings normally reach 2500 families in the Advisor's area each month, at a cost to Linda Christas of approximately $3000.

    Note: I don't know how in the world it could cost LC $3000 to mail to 2500 families. That's more than $1 per household! Bulk mail rates allow nonprofits and businesses to mail at LESS THAN the going rate. Yet, LC wants us to believe THEIR costs are far higher than standard mail.

    These mailings normally result in approximately twenty to forty family appointments, although this number fluctuates depending on the zip codes chosen. (Linda Christas does one first-class mailing per month for each Advisor FREE OF CHARGE once the practicum is completed. Five enrollments during a month's time are requested in order for Linda Christas to automatically continue the uninterrupted targeted, first-class mailings for the next consecutive month. This is not a quota, but rather a conservative goal.)

    It's a quota nonetheless.

    The majority of independent reviews on the net regarding Linda Christas and its services have been extremely positive. To our knowledge, 100% of the opinions expressed by our students and their families have been very kind.

    Unfortunately, it has come to the Webmaster's attention that personnel employed by other schools, as well as members of the general public, who, in order to obtain a competitive advantage or to facilitate a personal sense of worth, have begun writing reviews regarding Linda Christas that are perilously close to supporting racial and/or religious bigotry.

    This last paragraph offered seems to be aimed at me. How LC could consider my complaints with the way THEY say they operate as being "perilously close to supporting racial and/or religious bigotry" is beyond me.

    In terms of LC, I've written absolutely nothing that speaks to nor infers anything about race or religion. It has nothing whatsoever to do with my critique.

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  20. Linda Christas Help Desk4/11/2005 03:20:00 AM

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    We are talking about two different kinds of mailings.

    When a Community Academic Advisor is invited into a business, he or she is addressing an audience. It is not uncommon for an Advisor to enroll several people at such a conference. (Some Advisors prefer not to do business seminars. There are many ways to practice which we share with an Advisor once he or she is Tier II certified. All methods are inexpensive.)

    We actively discourage new Advisors from spending any of their money on family mailings. It is costly, and they are not truly ready until they have had some time to listen to the real needs of real people in their communities.)

    All of these alternative formats (Active Senior Centers, Dean's column advertising given without charge to the Advisor for local paper runs, etc) simply serve for practice in preparation for one on one academic counseling sessions with individual families.

    As we have pointed out, we are more interested in taking care of the individual needs of students and their families than in mass marketing in seminar formats.

    Community Academic Advisors are not only representing our services, but are there to refer people to appropriate other services if that is in the best interest of the individuals involved. (Advisors are specifically counseled to avoid using any kind of sales or closing technique in an interview with a family. That is not the purpose of the sessions.)

    Advisors cannot serve the intimate academic needs of families in business seminars, but we use that format and others to allow for initial practice and understanding as mentioned.

    Human Resource Managers and Benefits Officers in medium to small companies are always looking for inexpensive ways to demonstrate to personnel that they do care for them. It's what they do.

    The Linda Christas seminar which costs the inviting company nothing is a natural for them.

    But, to repeat, this is not the prime focus of Linda Christas which is to serve the intimate educational needs of families.

    We can only do that by contacting families directly. Thus the mailing program.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that all Linda Christas administrators are volunteers. They are not salaried. This is as opposed to the sometimes heavy administrative costs of the public system which occasionally uses as much as 75% of the education dollar for supervisory or general administrative personnel.

    Linda Christas' position is that such high powered people could be used much more effectively than the current system of mass education allows. (We are not talking about these people losing their jobs.)

    We would recommend that you purchase a book entitled A Different Kind of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto. This book, more than any other, serves to highlight the kinds of things Linda Christas is attempting to address.

    Who knows, with your ability to write, perhaps you could help us with our Political Action Committee.

    Also, understand that for one on one credentialed attention, the prices charged by Linda Christas are the least expensive in the United States.

    We can provide for one dollar per day what many credentialed private tutors are charging $300 per hour (New York - Source: Christian Science Monitor).

    And, good private secondary schools without the one on one format Linda Christas provides are currently charging in excess of $15,000 per academic year.

    On average, public schools bill the tax payer approximately $8,000 per student for a classroom of thirty students per academic year, making it the most expensive public system in the world. (Rounding: A quarter of a million dollars per classroom.)

    We are here for you, Mr. Smith, and, for any others who wish to contact us at the Help Desk: obench@lindas.com.

    Linda Christas Help Desk
    Dennis for OB

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  21. Linda Chrustas Help Desk4/11/2005 03:50:00 AM

    Dear Mr. Smith, we are trying to keep up with you here.

    -Please call any major list house and ask the price for twenty five hundred names with appropriate demographic information. Add to that a first class mailing and handling, and you will surely understand how expensive mailings are.

    Linda Christas is a 501c4. Please check the codes. What you are saying has really nothing to do with a PAC.

    The BBB on several occasions refused to register the School. But, our Dean insisted. If they have now begun listing schools, wonderful. (Please don't imply that we are liars, Mr. Smith.)

    Evidently one of our parents interpreted your Judeo-Christian reference as indicating that you believe the entire Christian community is misled. In addition, there was some negative mention regarding the saintly Pope??? You are not happy with the mourning of that great man??? And, you don't think that people are going to interpret that in terms of religious bigotry considering the introduction to your site. How is this possible for an intelligent man?

    We believe that you are not aware of the kind of negative reaction you are having with those who read your prose, Mr. Smith.

    Very challenging personality.

    We will be happy to respond to any further specific questions you or anyone else may have. Please write to us at obench@lindas.com

    At this point, we are beginning to understand that we are not going to be able to reach closure with you in this public format. The more we say, the more you refer to us as either dishonest or unethical. There really is no help for a conversation of that kind.

    So rather than encourage this, we are asking if you have specific questions that don't contain implied or explicit aspersions, we would ask you politely to write those to us at obench@lindas.com

    We don't believe there will be an end to a conversation which begins with one party purposely goading the other. That is not Christian and it is not Taoist, but most of all, IT IS NOT USEFUL.

    Evening Help Desk
    Dennis for OB

    ReplyDelete
  22. The Desk (Dennis?) writes, "When a Community Academic Advisor is invited into a business, he or she is addressing an audience. It is not uncommon for an Advisor to enroll several people at such a conference. (Some Advisors prefer not to do business seminars. There are many ways to practice which we share with an Advisor once he or she is Tier II certified. All methods are inexpensive.)

    We actively discourage new Advisors from spending any of their money on family mailings. It is costly, and they are not truly ready until they have had some time to listen to the real needs of real people in their communities.)"


    This STILL makes no sense. You say you discourage family interviews until the Advisor is ready, YET you expect them to be ready enough to lead seminars?

    This is bass ackwards. In order for most any person to feel comfortable educating and addressing a crowd, they would need to feel confident in their ability to work with the individual families.

    All of these alternative formats (Active Senior Centers...

    Senior Centers? Ooh, I bet one can find a whole bunch of middle and school students there?!

    Please call any major list house and ask the price for twenty five hundred names with appropriate demographic information. Add to that a first class mailing and handling, and you will surely understand how expensive mailings are.

    Linda Christas is a 501c4. Please check the codes. What you are saying has really nothing to do with a PAC.


    Lists with demographics are rented in bulk. For an organization that supposedly is mailing tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of pieces per month, the per unit cost should not be that high.

    In addition, a 501c4 is eligible for BUSINESS bulk rates. Such rates are not as low as nonprofit rates, but they are lower than standard rates.

    I've conducted nonprofit mailings to 10,000 households (4 times what LC claims) and it has NEVER cost as much as $3000, it's generally in the $1500-$2000 range. So, I find it difficult to fathom how any organization that turns a good profit (and my research indicates LC turns a handsome profit) could do so while maintaining the kinds of mailing costs you present.

    The BBB on several occasions refused to register the School. But, our Dean insisted. If they have now begun listing schools, wonderful. (Please don't imply that we are liars, Mr. Smith.)

    I was making an observation that seemed to contradict info supplied by LC. Several of the school entries I looked at indicated they had been listed on the registry for SEVERAL years.

    Evidently one of our parents interpreted your Judeo-Christian reference as indicating that you believe the entire Christian community is misled. In addition, there was some negative mention regarding the saintly Pope??? You are not happy with the mourning of that great man??? And, you don't think that people are going to interpret that in terms of religious bigotry considering the introduction to your site. How is this possible for an intelligent man?

    For starters, what I have written in other posts has no relation to the specific entry about LC. So, to infer that what I have written about LC borders on racial or religious bigotry is disingenous.

    As to the Pope, the issue is not whether or not people should mourn his passing. No, the issue centers on the Christian belief that it is the soul, not the body, that makes the person. If one believes the soul of the Pope lives on, why gnash teeth over a vacated vessel?

    We believe that you are not aware of the kind of negative reaction you are having with those who read your prose, Mr. Smith.

    Finally, the above paragraph blows me away. There are literally millions of blogs and billions of web pages. If LC is as successful as you claim, why are you so worried about 1 solitary blog?

    For the sake of discussion, let's say I'm a total crackpot. Why would a successful multi-million dollar enterprise worry about what 1 crackpot had to say?

    Only 900 or so people have visited this blog (many are returning visitors) since Feb. 1. Of that number, I would guess only a small percentage have read this particular post.

    Yet, despite the fact that MAYBE 100 people tops in a world of several billion have read a negative critique of LC's Advisor program, you folks seem completely preoccupied by this. You keep visiting my blog and posting comments.

    Don't you folks have better things to do, like administering the thousands students and families using your services.

    There are thousands of sites and blogs that criticize Walmart. If they spent a fraction of the time dealing with all their critics as you do dealing with me, they'd go out of business.

    Unless you respond outrageously or with some new fantastic information, this will be my last comment on this entry. I've got many more things to do with my life.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sorry. My last 2 paragraphs got cut off.

    You folks are unwittingly creating a worse problem for yourselves by making all these comments. Google ranks web sites and web pages by the number of visits. Because you keep returning to this blog, you are driving up the number of visits and so, when a person googles "Linda Christas", my site is high in the rank of links.

    If you keep this up, I might be listed on the Google results page HIGHER than Linda Christas itself. So, if you truly want to minimize my impact on others, it would behoove you to quit driving up my visitor count. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Linda Christas Help Desk4/11/2005 01:47:00 PM

    Life is indeed charming sometimes, and interesting always. I say this with a genuinely warm heart.

    Mr. Smith has given our Help Desk a much sought after compliment, and we thank him for that.

    To be chastised in good humor for being overly responsive to public inquiry is indeed a rare treat.

    Linda Christas Help Desk is here as always to respond to any questions.

    It is Linda Christas' sincere hope that all who view Mr. Smith's site will come away with a clearer picture of the Linda Christas mission and choose to assist the cause of children and their families by joining us as a volunteer or paid teacher, counselor or community academic advisor.

    In addition, Linda Christas Quill and Vision provides professional reviews of the works of unpublished writers. LCQV is especially interested in 2005 in works of nonfiction.

    Please contact us at obench@lindas.com at any time. We have volunteers on duty 24 hours.

    In the meantime, our good will goes with Mr. Smith and all others who have a genuine interest in improving the social condition of this great Country, especially through education reform.


    Otto Benchley, Coordinator
    Messaging Center Help Desk
    Linda Christas

    P.S. My personal thanks to Dennis for hanging in there in the wee hours.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Linda Christas Help Desk4/13/2005 02:40:00 AM

    Fortunately, The Rambling Taoist is mistaken.

    Linda Christas School, as with any public school, requires that personnel be credentialed before instructing or counseling children.

    Linda Christas Community Academic Advisors (CAA) are instructed to avoid any and all behaviors that might be construed as salesmanship.

    CAA duties are comparable to those of social workers placed in an academic setting.

    Example: Tuition for the Tier II certificate is reimbursable whether the cert is taken at an accredited university or through an approved private contractor.

    For full disclosure and accurate information, please contact Linda Christas at obench@lindas.com

    OR, visit our web sites at www.lindachristas.org, www.lindachristas.com, www.lindas.com

    Linda Christas Evening Help Desk
    Dennis

    ReplyDelete
  26. I had thought that Otto's comments would mark the end of this discussion. Unfortunately, Dennis couldn't resist making one last misleading statement.

    To wit, Linda Christas Community Academic Advisors (CAA) are instructed to avoid any and all behaviors that might be construed as salesmanship.

    How can a Advisor avoid engaging in salesmanship when this represents the ONLY way they get paid? Remember, Advisors are not paid "employees" of Linda Christas. They don't draw salaries and they aren't paid by the hour.

    The only way an Advisor can make a "comfortable living" is by selling the product -- educational services. If the Advisor doesn't make sales, they become nothing more than a hard working VOLUNTEER.

    Now, maybe the point Dennis is trying to convey is that Advisors are advised to be stealthy. Come across as a neutral person just trying to help a family do the best they can do for their children while applying sublimal pressure to purchase LC services.

    In the end, LC can't move away from the sales model simply because their Advisors only get paid if they sign people up.

    ReplyDelete
  27. For someone claiming to be a Taoist, Mr. Smith, you use an awful lot of traditional western style slice and dice logic. You yourself set up a dualism between yourself and the cheats, scammers and evil-doers out there duping the rest of us.

    I must confess that I haven't looked at the rest of your blog site, so I apologize if I've misjudged you based on this one example. I did appreciate your review of Linda Christas. My only regret is that it didn't appear sooner, last fall, when I was contacted by Linda Christas. I too was skeptical of the opportunity at first--it did look quite a bit like a scam. The information on your blog, especially your extremely bitter and cynical responses, has convinced me that I did, in fact, make the right decision in trying out Academic Advising with Linda Christas. I am just now completing the $400 course--which was largely a satisfying experience. If you want, I will be happy to let you know how my "sales" career goes from here.

    I also want to say that I appreciated the comments from Wendall/Ngyuen. Even if these two individuals are the same person, that only makes the exchange the more humorous and enjoyable and--dare I say--Taoist!!

    And thatnks to Otto and Dennis for the information!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Gosh. I've never had so many comments for any one singular post.

    Ray, I would be happy if you would report to us here how things go with your "sales" career with LC.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Mr. Smith, it seems like your criticisms are mostly focused on the Linda Christas business model. I am curious if you have any commentary to offer on the organization from an educational point of view. I didn't notice any education/school related posts on your site, but I also didn't look too long.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Ray,
    You are right. My criticism is focused on LC's business model. My wife & I do not have children (by choice), so I would have no reason to explore the educational side of LC.

    Besides, as indicated in the original post, LC contacted ME, not the other way around. They contacted me re the business side, not the educational side.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Somebody from LC said:
    "It is Linda Christas' sincere hope that all who view Mr. Smith's site will come away with a clearer picture of the Linda Christas mission. . ."

    I sure did. Thanks Trey Smith.

    --another Trey in PA

    ReplyDelete
  32. Mr. Trey Smith what is your experience with the school other than having your resume reviewed by Linda Christas? You are very harsh with Linda Christas how many dissatisfied volunteers, academic advisors, students and staff have you spoke with? All the teachers and counselors, at Linda Christas are 100% credentialed, the program appears to fill an educational gap. I am curious to know if you have come across relevant information related to the educational service this organization provides.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Dear Anonymous (7:32 pm),
    I certainly hope you are NOT the poster child for Linda Christas' educational program. In addition, I certainly hope that you are not one of their current or former students.

    Why do I say this? Well, your message contained several grammatical errors and mispellings! To wit:

    Mr. Trey Smith (There should be a comma AFTER my name) what is your experience with the school other than having your resume reviewed by Linda Christas? You are very harsh with Linda Christas(There is no period at the end of the last sentence AND you started the next sentence WITHOUT capitalizing the first word) how many dissatisfied volunteers, academic advisors, students and staff have you spoke with?(That should be "spoken", not spoke.) All the teachers and counselors, at Linda Christas are 100% credentialed, the program appears to fill an educational gap.(There is no need whatsoever for a comma after the word "counselors") I am curious to know if you have come across relevant information related to the educational service this organization provides.(Yes, I have. Your message itself.)

    ReplyDelete
  34. I was simply looking for some answers about Linda Christas. I did not know you would be correcting my simple note. Anyway you get an "F" for failing to answer the questions.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This guy (Trey???) is a really sad moron who needs to get a life. Or maybe not.

    I guess he feels good about beating on things close to people.

    All I know is that my baby bro was turned around by that school when other places didnt give a shit.

    This guy Trey is living in danger. I have to hand it to him. Making hits on things close to people without reason is a good way to get hurt. M-R O-R-E-G-O-N.

    See ya wad

    Skipper

    ReplyDelete
  36. This is a discussion about a business or service. Why are people making personal attacks? Can we just have a civilized conversation without beating up the speakers?

    ReplyDelete
  37. I just came from the other site.

    There is sickness here.

    To discourage anyone or anything as good as Linda Christas is just criminal.

    Well, I can personally vouch for them having graduated from the Tier II program three months ago. They paid for the Tier II, even though I didn't choose to go through their contracted vendor.

    I also have a wonderful business going helping families in my community.

    All I can say is that Mr. Smith must be a bit low on self esteem.

    I have had only one encounter in my own community with a person this negative, the husband of one of my friends.

    He lost his family and the business
    that his wife had begun, and everything else because he just couldn't seem to see the positive things in life.

    He was very toxic to be around, expressing attitudes very similar to Mr. Smith's.

    The only thing I can hope is that in his heart Mr. Smith believes he is doing some good.

    If so, at least in this one case, his opinions couldn't be further from my real time, real life experience with the School.

    God Bless

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
  38. For persons interested in content regarding Linda Christas, I would encourage reading the blogs posted by Linda Christas faculty at:

    www.lindachristascf.blogspot.com

    I am a teacher with Linda Christas, and, of course, dislike seeing the net used to abuse the School, especially with so little provocation.

    We are doing our very best for children, and would hope to be supported in that effort.

    Until that day..........


    Bobby Schiller, Teacher
    www.lindachristas.org

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have recently been contacted by Linda Christas due to a resume posted on the web. I am very glad I came across this website it has highlighted several questions I would like to raise. Linda Christas writes
    "We actively discourage new Advisors from spending any of their money on family mailings. It is costly, and they are not truly ready until they have had some time to listen to the real needs of real people in their communities.)"
    I was very impressed with the compassion and committment to educational excellence expressed on the web pages of Linda Christas. The opportunity seemed to finally match with my ethical values and abilities. I have been searching for a way to bring an individualized approach to the educational system and this seemed a realistic way to improve the lives of children. If Linda Christas will simply reply in writing that there is no way that I would have to pay out of my own pocket more than the $400 for Tier II certification in order to reach the required goals to become an advisor I will apply tommorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  40. If Linda Christas will simply reply in writing that there is no way that I would have to pay out of my own pocket more than the $400 for Tier II certification in order to reach the required goals to become an advisor I will apply tommorrow.

    Hey DW,
    If the folks at Linda Christas ACTUALLY do send you such a note, please come back and post it here. I'd be interested to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi,
    Trey I am 100% on your side. And especially after reading all the comments from the "person" or "persons" posting pro-lc's bs. I have almost an identical story to yours Trey. I posted my resume on a website, and to my dismay got a few, less than credible, job offers. Mainly Linda Christas. I looked into what they had to offer. At first, it sounded like something "too good to be true". So I did a little research, and some googling of names, and came to the exact same conclusion as you. But instead of telling them folks off, or just ignoring their emails, I chose to mess with them a bit. I kept replying that I was interested, and that I needed to ask my poor grandma for the $400 to get my Tier II credentials. Not even robbing the elderly stopped them. They were happier than ever to get that money. After messing with them for some time, I quit corresponding with them. But they continually send me emails, every month or so, waiting for me to become their employee. Like you, I did not have a background that would make me the most viable candidate, but somehow they just knew (at the time), from my poorly written resume, I was a perfect fit. I hope not too many people put their hard earned money toward this. I don't know how the "front desk" gets any sleep at night. And I hope they don't need to resort to using slang, ie, "my little bro" and "Yo Tre", to come off sounding like students or siblings of students defending the program. Like you said, I also could care less about how well the educational program is. I do care though, about them ripping off misunderstood people about an advising "career". And one more thing to add. If you go to http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/default1498.htm, you will see a conversation between a Ms. Gail Lombard, who on this blog claims to be making bucko bucks as an adivsor with Lindas. But on this link that I have attached, it says she does not claim to be an employee at all with Linda Christas, just a PTA officer with the company. WOW, very Suspicious. Looks like LC's needs train their "employees" a bit better on the fundamentals of "keepin a story straight". BEWARE FOLKS.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Texan In Japan4/13/2006 08:52:00 AM

    Dear Trey,

    Thanks for your site! I got my LC letter today. I feel like I just got my honorary decoder ring or something. I know you wrote the original post over a year ago, but I couldn't help responding. There is something so cultish about the whole thing. And, those emails are downright creepy. I ended up just cutting and pasting Matt's response and sending that as my response back to Sarah. I'll be sure to post any curious responses I get.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want. We may respond...or we may not. It depends on the mood and preferences of the specific author of the post. Ta-Wan generally responds in a timely manner. Trey responds some of the time and Scott rarely replies (due to limited internet access). You can be assured that all comments are read by this blog's two administrators: Ta-Wan & Trey.