My concerns about EmPwrOnline

Last week, I attended a two hour seminar held by EmPwrOnline in Brighton called ‘The secrets of proven eBay selling success.’ If you are interested in selling on eBay or want to improve your eBay selling skills, I would strongly advise that you don’t attend these events. The event has been publicised with newspaper adverts like this one from the Brighton Argus. Isn’t it strange that an advert promoting online selling seminars doesn’t include a web address?

empwronline

Empwronline’s session is not about selling products on eBay
The session kicked off with ‘Richard Hofmann, Executive’ saying that he would not be talking about how to list on eBay. He would, however, be concentrating on how to make money from eBay. At no point were selling strategies or listing tactics substantively discussed. There was some material about drop-shipping services and sourcing product using Google and ‘online discount warehouses’ as well as a brief overview of PayPal but many details provided regarding policies, postage and eBay in general were erroneous.

The ‘giving away free websites’ scheme
The seminar concentrated on a scheme the presenter claimed would be more lucrative that selling products on eBay. The presenter claimed to make a ‘six figure income’ in this way.

This is the scheme the seminar promoted:

– First, harvest email addresses on eBay. Look for eBay sellers who will likely want a website that they can sell from off-eBay.
– Daily, email ten likely eBay sellers through eBay’s messaging system and give them a free EmPwrOnline website.
– Once your seller has set up their website, EmPwrOnline will weave their magic and when one of your recruits buys an upgraded website, you will receive £450.

To assist you, you could buy access to a ‘portal’ that has all the information and support you need. This portal wasn’t demonstrated and the contents were not explained. Access to this ‘portal’ costs £10 a month.

Who is Michael James?
To get in on this scheme, you were required to cough up £20 for a four hour seminar with Michael James. Michael James, referred to accidentally by the presenter as Michael Symes/Cymes at one point, is a millionaire desperate to share his lucrative secrets with you. Michael James is the keynote speaker at eBay’s annual convention, ‘eBay Expo’ and, such is his celebrity, tickets for that event cost $2000. We were told.

I have never heard of ‘eBay Expo’ or Michael James and a quick online search reveals little concrete information about this apparently famous man. Attendees were invited to buy his book and CD for £20. I asked to examine the book before I bought it. The request was refused.

I wouldn’t spend a penny with EmPwrOnline:
From what I saw at the seminar, this company has very little specialist knowledge regarding eBay and eBay selling. Equally, EmPwrOnline representatives (who were all American) seem ignorant about online trading in the UK.

Bottom line: EmPwrOnline is selling access to an expert whose credentials cannot be verified with an online search. They are promoting a money-making scheme that is unlikely to work. It is also categorically against eBay’s rules to do what EmPwrOnline suggests. In my opinion, the scheme (which encourages you to harvest email addresses using the eBay system) will not net you or anyone a ‘six figure income’.

Frankly, and totally subjectively, there’s something a bit shifty about these guys. I personally don’t trust them. I kept my money very firmly in my pocket and I advise everyone else to do the same.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with EmPwrOnline (good and bad), so feel free to comment below.

38 Responses to My concerns about EmPwrOnline

  1. Andrea Webber re empwronline says:

    Hi I went to the empwronline and did pay out on my credit card. I was a bit uneasy about how they were slagging ebay??
    Tonight I had a call which was obviously finding out how much “MORE” money I had to spend in order to make big money. I began to realy get worried then and did a search on the web. I came up with “rip-off-report” I will be going to my bank first thing in the morning Thanks for your info Andrea Webber
    The other thing I was worried about that all the copywrite signs are 2008 ….????

  2. Dan Wilson says:

    Andrea: thanks for the comment. Where did you see the empwronline seminar?

  3. Boardsurfer says:

    A Mike Symes was promoted as ebays #1 seller by a bunch of crooks called Clickincome who used to ( not sure if they still do) run very similar sounding seminars in the US.

    It is a total con, it sounds like a pyramid scheme but is pretty much a straight sting to simply rip you off

    Clickincome have a few “sister” companies and all of them a probably to be avoided too.

  4. Geoff Smith says:

    Dan, If you had signed up for what was said to be the seminar with Michal James [ AKA Michael Symes, you will have also signed a contract costing you £10-00 a month. Then try looking at the Empwronline.co.uk website returns and cancelation policy, http://empwronline.co.uk/pop_return_policy.php

    You can not return/cancel without ‘phoning them first. The telephone number on the website is a private number, nothing to do with Empweronline.

    Try “Clickincome” in Google, same people.

    Both companies apear to be in the business of selling websites, only £4,500 each. The role of the seminar attendees is to do the selling for them, only having bought their own website first.

  5. Dan Wilson says:

    Geoff: Well, a £4500 ecommerce website suitable for even a very big eBay seller would have to be seriously good. Stratospherically brilliant and from a really great company.

    It’s a huge expense and I personally believe that most people could sort themselves out with a very whizzy website for a fraction of that. I understand that frooition charge somewhere in the region of £1200.

  6. Geoff Smith says:

    Sorry, the “only” should have been italics. Apparantly, you then get sucked into their “merchant payment” scheme and other bolt-ons, all at an upgrade cost for each one.

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  8. Agree with previous comments. I think ebay would love to sue them for printing their logo (i assume) without permission.

  9. I would pass these details to ebay’s corporate team to deal with…I am sure they will be impress with all their association (NOT) with the company!

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  11. Jolanta says:

    I have just returned from one of those Empwronline seminars in London. And As I had a bad feeling, I checked about the company online. But it was too late… I did not pay huge sums for their products, but as I attended a seminar, I was also automatically signed for monthly fee to access member’s area. I have asked to cancel this fee. And here they started the circus: one guy said he cannot do this, the other claimed he has nothing to do with Empwronline, he is just using their system… Then I questioned whether all this was legal. That was a real warning: the guy just said he had no problems so far, and just walked away stating that he needs to spend time with those who really want to do business…

  12. Dan Wilson says:

    Jolanta,

    The triplicate form you provided your card details on has the information for ending the £10 monthly payment.

    You have to do it by letter and provide some details Not by phone or email. But the instructions are on the reciept.

  13. sue says:

    I think Jolanta also needs to call her bank and let them know what’s going on. The problem with recurring card transactions (assuming that’s what it is) is that misuse isn’t underwritten by the banks as direct debits are.

  14. Kev says:

    I went to Empwronline seminar yesterday 23/11/2008 have a very GOOD
    LOOK AT EVERY ONE OF THEM (I mean the Americans)if you look carefully you will see that they are all website designer they are trying to get as much people to buy their website.

    1. did you notice that almost all use glasses
    2. did you notice that almost all have pot belly or overweight(seating by the computer eating a lot to keep the mind going)
    3. did you notice that they were poorly dress for a prof. sale person or a prof. spoke man (just look at those moustache)
    4. Did you notice that there were not very well spoken

    well think twice!

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  16. vanessa says:

    Dear All

    Also went to the information session at the hilton in London – also got a gut feeling all was not well for someone who is purportedly such a successful businessman he was not suited appropriately.

    Have reported it to the general manager of Hilton and the Hilton Sales team and have sent your website to their sales manager so they are aware. Also picked up the fact he used two names and also everyone who went yesterday there is UK law to protect you that is you have the right to cancel in the first 7 days and no payment is necessary not sure if they are quite as clued up about UK law as US law seems very lax.

    Best regards

    Vanessa

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  18. liam mater says:

    i went to one of these seminars and in ours the guy was offering £950 pounds for every upgrade to one of the paid websites. I rang the office to discover it is a rented office you know one of those companies you rent the secretary so they don’t actually have their own office at all here is the number for anyone who wishes to ring 01474874888 they were to ring me on friday for a paymeny but did not and when i rang on monday the lady in charge of this had a day of . Thats a Friday and a Monday off. i will be checking my cards in the morning luckily i gave them some wrong details with a maxed out credit card anyway

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  20. Eddie Hampton says:

    Are these the same people?
    I am in Florida on holiday and have been invited to attend a Michael J. Syme seminar on how to make money on eBay. Paid $20 for 2 tickets to attend this seminar. Had a preview seminar given by Richard Hofman, Chief Exec. of T. Thrive Learning Inst. He outlined the biz. project which consisted of giving free e.commerce web sites. The company then would induce the recipiant to upgrade. The giver of the free web site would then receive a commission of $450. He went on then to describe how you could earn large sums by sending 10 emails per day to a list built by dubious ways of obtaining email details from ebay auctions. The main seminar is Fri.6th. (we are 5hrs behind UK) Would I be wasting my time & cash?

  21. board_surfer says:

    yes

  22. Mike says:

    Hello,

    I just atteneded one of those seminars in Nanaimo, BC, Canada. the guy was calling himself as Richard Hofmann. He talked about 2 hours but I felt that he is so good in saying nothing in such along time. They sold everyone a $20 CD from “best selling author”!!!! Michael J.Syme’s book called “Simple steps to Make Money with Online Auctions” and asked all to sign a paper and get a ticket for two for $20 for Michael’s session on Thursday. every thing seemed fishy to me and what added to t was when at the end of the session Richard said that he isgoing to say how he can have 10,000 email addresses ( to send an email to themto sell his products to them in a second) and he will say the answer only to the ones who have signed that paper when they come around his table! This was really rude! It made me to google their names,… there was nothing about that best selling book!!! Thisis a fraud. they also collected everybody’s email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses as well. Thanks god! I gave all the info. wrong!

  23. Mike says:

    Just to add to my post! they say that they are with a comapny called Thrive.

  24. Bonnie Rich says:

    From London to Florida to Nanaimo, BC Canada yesterday to Bend, Oregon USA today. These guys get around! Just got back from Michael J. Syme’s “E-bay” seminar. They must be hooking enough over-eager E-bay wanna-be’s to pay the plane tickets and hotel bills. I was reminded of a band of Time-Share salesmen with their “do it now, today to get all these free goodies and discounts, or miss your last chance forever” tactics.
    What a smarmy bunch!

  25. Rolande Kimmons says:

    My friend and I went to the meeting at the Empress Hotel yesturday afternoon, they were selling a CD for 20.00 to show us how to do a listing and what products sell the best etc.. Which eBay has all these information for free? They were also selling ticket for 20.00 to go to a seminar with Micheal Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel and Marina, 146 Kingston Street, Victoria BC. February the 27th. from 9 to 1 pm.
    Thank you for confirming my suspicions.
    Ro…Victoria BC Canada.

  26. Dan Wilson says:

    The traffic that this post continues to get, and the fact that folk are still attending these events stirs a serious concern.

    Surely there needs to be a more concerted attempt to tackle these people and bring them to account? Isn’t eBay interested in people using their brand as cover?

    Does anyone know if they’re coming back to Britain?

    dw

  27. hossain A. says:

    Today I screwd and paid $20 for CD $ 20 for seminar with Michael J. Syme on Mar.07/09 at Wyndham garden hotel, Toronto, Ont. Canada. Almost same exp. likes Vancouver, BC. When I asked for website address they refused to provide. Now, I’m worried because they have my personal address, phone numbers etc.
    What can i suppose to do don’t know.

  28. Dan Wilson says:

    Hossain,

    Take control. Be assertve. You are the customer. They are very talented showmen.

    dw

  29. Yasir Majid says:

    I just came back from this presentation given by Richard Hofmann. My experience indeed in not different from other mentioned above. Although I paid $20 to attend the next session, but I am curious if need to attend this. As I have feeling, if I attend, they will caught me somehow in one year contract thingy, typically sales person.. They also offered CD for $20, but I was curious why they have to paid in Cash.. Seems they wanted to save government taxes, and for any company doing this stuff can not be high profile as they shown during presentation.. Ebay should do something on this, as they use Ebay logo in local newspaper (where they advertised) and also during their presentation.

  30. Zarak Khan says:

    I have attended tonite a workshop by same name person Richard Hoffmann and he was saying the same thing described above. cost of every thing was in Canadian Dollar but same amount. He was praising this great guru with all the above detail and now the company is Thrive Learning which privde that so called service.

    WHAT THE WAY TO STOP THEM IN TORONTO, HE HAS SERIES OF WORKSHOP IN TORONTO, ONTARIO, PLEASE LET ME WHOM TO CONTACT TO SAVE SO MANY WHO IS COMMING ON SATURDAY 07 MARCH 2009. LOCATION

    WYNDHAM HOTEL and RESORT.
    185 Yorkland Boulevard | Formerly Ramada Hotel & Conference Centre Don Valle, Toronto, Ontario M2J 4R2, CANADA.

    Please help STOP this bully.

  31. Zak says:

    Can any tell me how to STOP this scam as this is very important to stop this person from using Ebay patent name and tripping all arround the world like this, He is still on the hunt to do rest of the seminar in Toronto on address:

    Wyndham garden hotel
    185 Yorkland Boulevard | Formerly Ramada Hotel & Conference Centre Don Valle, Toronto, Ontario M2J 4R2

    Please let me know how to stop this as some one sugested that we can.

  32. Hossain says:

    Recently, I have been joined a so-called money making seminar using e-bay. I ended up giving $ 20 dollars for DVD and $20 for meeting with MILLIONARE Michael J. Syme which will be held on Sat. March 07 at Wyndham Garden Hotel, Toronto.
    After reading all scam message about Michael J. syme I decided not to attend. However, I’m worried about my Visa card and about my name with address and phone number which I gave them during registration. Any suggessions……

    Hossain
    Toronto, Ontario

  33. M says:

    I attended the Toronto seminar on March 3rd at the Wyndham Garden Hotel. I don’t think there is much one can do to stop this scam in Toronto. However, you can make a big stink at the Saturday 4 hr session asking for your 20 dollars back if you paid in cash like me. I am thinking of causing a scene and bringing a few hundred print-outs with the names of former companies that Richard Hofmann and Michael Syme have used such as: Empwronline and Clickincome and now Thrive Learning Institute. This may nullify there chances on obtaining more monetary committments from the crowd. I anticipate it will be a large crowd too. Although, I was swayed into paying the 20 dollars to attend this 4 hr session, I don’t want to continue listening to false promises. I knew something was up when Richard Hofmann said he invested $200k of his own money to build a Ultimate Fighting website and then reportedly sold it for 7 figures after 4 months of negotiation. If that’s the case, how come you are doing slimy presentations in mediocre hotel conference rooms???!!! This was mentioned after the 2hr session when he said he would divulge how he obtains email addresses for free. I say we all go to the Wyndham hotel in Toronto on Saturday, March 7th at 9am and 3pm sessions and torch these American Con-Artists!!!

  34. Dan Wilson says:

    It might be worth contacting the local media and also the hotel to let them know.

  35. Sam says:

    Hi there,

    Thank you all for your great comments.

    I attended the same initial “free” seminar in Toronto, Canada on March 3, 2009 at the Wyndham Garden Hotel. Goof me I bought the material for $20 CAD and paid another $20 for the so called “Michael J. Syme” seminar. Yeah, the gone money is aching me, but my main concern is that I foolishly provided my address and contact info to them.

    I agree to the suggestion that we go to the seminar on Saturday and ask our money back. and if we can we may ask the signed papers to remove our contact info.

    Thanks everyone,
    Sam
    Toronto

  36. Hossain says:

    After reading all these scams alert I did not attend so called exclusively meeting with Michael J. syme resulting few days after I received a called (unknown/blocked) call from “Nick” and who repeatedly with his loud anger voice asked me “Do U want making money or not?”, “why you did not come?”..bla..bla.. He was so rude and angry that at one stage I asked him to return my $20.00 for meeting and $ 20.00 for fake CD. He replied with word f**K and hang up the phone.
    This is Michael J. syme and his people who grabed money from poor people using his convincing technique and so called Thrive learning institute. He is everywhere USA, UK , Canada and most probably other countries as well.
    Its time to stop him!!!

  37. Sue says:

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2009/03/ca_scam_net.html

    California has taken action against a similar scheme: the company concerned is having to pay restitution to people it scammed.

    (Be interesting to see if/how this continued if Meg were governor.)

  38. Rick says:

    Today in Austin Texas 3-24-09 Richard Hoffman Chief Executive had the same deal going at a downtown hotel.. same as everyone reported..$20 for this DVD (only a few people, better get them now?) and $20 for tickets the very next day for Michael J Syme training session. My take it was to pitch saying nothing of real value, all directed back to get you to attend the next session, I guess to finally pitch you to the main rip off. They are now operating under a NEW NAME called “Lightwave”

    thanks for posting this……it saved me 4 hrs of wasted time and maybe money

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