Archive for July, 2008

RocketPlace Discount for IMA Members

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Well, I didn’t get the chance to share this with IMA members before the Board surprisingly terminated my IMA membership, so here it is now.

HEY IMA MEMBERS including former members, recently former members, soon-to-be former members, and you get the drift.

Our RocketPlace conference is in 2 months in Las Vegas at The Rio. We have a track for PowerSellers who want to learn the newest and best tips, advice, techniques, tools, strategies, and more to improve your eBay business. We want to help people grow with eBay’s changes.

Please use discount code IMA to get $25 off your registration. You can also get another $50 off if you pre-pay your hotel room through our registration process.

Thanks and see you there!

Post tags: IMA


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Why Keep Posting About the IMA?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Some may wonder why I even take the time to keep posting about the IMA. I think the best answer is because in this blog, we look at marketing. We look at how individuals and companies put themselves out there… what corporate image they have… and the things they do that can help or hurt their image. That’s marketing, and that’s what we do here.

I think the IMA is hurting their image more each hour. I post about it for the same reason people watch America’s Funniest Home Videos. You KNOW the guy is going to get hit in the private area with the ball his toddler kicked, and you watch it anyway, and maybe you laugh because it’s not you. But you don’t turn it off.

The IMA is like a car crash in slow motion, and those frames are still moving. Every minute, something else totally wacky pops up…

* The IMA’s law firm specialises in defending people’s First Amendment Rights. Well, maybe we should hire them.

* The IMA’s law firm specialises in class action lawsuits. Maybe the angry people leaving the IMA should hire them.

* The IMA is telling members who want a full refund to talk to their lawyers. One person posted a blog comment here saying she wanted another $50 back to that her refund would be full. The IMA wants her to deal with a lawyer who probably charges at least $250/hr to fight or accept a $50 refund?

* The IMA Prez posted a blog comment this morning, and then gave a statement to another blogger saying he doesn’t read the blogs. Huh? Then how did you post the comment?

It’s an Abbott and Costello movie. It’s The Three Stooges. I can’t believe the IMA keeps stepping in it. I keep laughing. I keep watching the slow motion car wreck, and somehow, I just can’t turn it off yet.

In reality, I’d like to stop posting about the IMA. They’re kinda boring, and I’m giving them way too much free press. But I’ve never seen one person or one organisation step in it so much and so often. It’s amazingly bad marketing, and I can’t ignore it!

Post tags: IMA


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Explaining Trade Secrets

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_secrets

Good morning, and time for another fun and informal look at the idea of trade secrets. Accrording to the wikipedia article, which sums it up nicely, trade secrets are things that aren’t known to the public, bring economic benefit to those who hold these secrets, and are trying to be kept as a secret. Trade secrets are traditionally protected by making people sign Non-Disclosure Agreements and/or Non-Compete Agreements. That way, if they find the secret out or are told it, they are not allowed to tell anybody else, nor are they allowed to use what they know to compete against the company holding the secret.

Take Best Match. I would think that the exact algorithm of how that’s done would be a trade secret. eBay wouldn’t want competitors to figure it out and use it. They wouldn’t want sellers to figure it out and try to manipulate it. And if the algorithm were 100% public, it might hurt eBay financially. So that might be a trade secret.

Sharing a trade secret you know when you are under confidentiality is a major no-no! If the company who had the secret can show that you hurt their business because you shared the secret or used it to compete against them, that is a really serious offence. So we always suggest that people keep secrets as secrets!

So evidently the IMA’s most recent announcement in their forum is that their lawyers have said that bloggers are sharing "corporate trade secrets," and the lawyers will be coming after us for that. I’m trying to break this down logically.

  1. The blogs mostly centre around some truly poor behaviour seen from the IMA President and how his pals covered it up. This behaviour was poor enough that he was allegedly suspended from the IMA forums for a few days, so evidently the President’s pals even felt that he was out of line.
  2. The blog comments centre around former and current IMA members expressing that they didn’t think their membership dollar was worth the truly negative experiences that they had. Many are very unhappy with the board’s recent actions, and their lack of forthcoming about things. Many are unhappy that the board is hiding behind confidentiality when everybody involved has publicly waived any confidentiality to which they might have had the rights.
  3. The blogs mostly centre around people telling their stories honestly. There is still a First Amendment, and we can all tell our stories.

The thing I find interesting is that a lawyer somewhere is charging the IMA an hourly rate to suggest that the public discussion of the poor behaviour of the IMA President and the allegedly unethical behaviour of the IMA Board are trade secrets. A lawyer somewhere is being paid to say that the communication of former and current IMA members disliking their IMA experience is a trade secret.

By definition, trade secrets are the proprietary ways a business gets things done. And if you are saying we’re sharing a trade secret, then you are saying that we’re sharing information about processes the IMA uses to get business done their way. So by this definition and by syllogism :), the IMA gets things done through the unethical behaviour and manipulation that we have been describing in some blog posts and comments here and on other blogs around the blogosphere. I think I have a pretty good syllogism working for me here. :)

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? It’s just too bizarre!

Post tags: IMA


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My Weekend Staycation

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Image_138I recently got my AAA magazine, Highways, and they were going on about "staycations," the new "thing" in travel. I hadn’t heard of it. Basically, it’s where you stay mostly local but go somewhere nice to have that resort, camping, or other experience as if you went further away. So for example, rather than going and staying in a resort in California, I might stay here in Tucson or Phoenix.

So I thought that would be a great idea for the 4th of July weekend. I started fishing around for ideas, and pretty much most of Tucson and Phoenix are on sale right now. It’s summer, which often means temps over 105 by late in the day, and for Tucson, our monsoon season of usually-daily thunderstorms. So think over 105 and somewhat humid, and maybe stormy. Everything was on sale! :)

Miraval and The Phonecian were not on sale. :( But everything else was. I ended up stumbling on a place when poking around SpaFinder.com, yet that hotel didn’t seem to show up in SideStep.com. Hmmmm. It was the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass outside of Phoenix in Chandler. It was on 2 zillion acres of Native American land, so it was near the local casino in case we wanted to get smoke-filled and not play roulette. :( The Sheraton had a 2.5-mile man-made lake, pools, golf, tennis, a 5 Diamond restaurant, other eateries, and the Aji Spa. They only wanted $138/night after tax, so we went for it! Just one night, this past Saturday.

I was trying to think of when was the last time I went somewhere (stayed in a hotel) and didn’t turn on my laptop. Didn’t do work. Didn’t call people. Didn’t check voice mails. Didn’t write emails. OK, I did Twitter the above picture (click to enlarge) from the pool lounge chair, but that was it! I even forgot my cell phone charger in my car, and it kept dying. So when is the last time I had a day or two like this weekend with truly no work and not even THINKING about work? I realised it was never. I kept going back in my mind… every trip I could think of was attached to at least some business. I eventually landed on my trip to New Zealand in 1994, but that was before As Was really got cooking.

So basically, it was never. I’ve never given myself some time away from work. This weekend was really nice.

The propertly was lovely. Bed very comfy. All very clean. Great food. Friendly staff. Nice pools. Spa was excellent. Thanks to my husband for choosing to not get a service and insisting that I spend a little more on mine. What a guy! I think he narrowly escaped being called Mr. Levitt a few times. :)

And most of the people I met or overheard were also on staycation, or fake-ation as I’ve been calling it. Lots of people from Phoenix… this was probably 10-30 miles away for these people, but was 90 miles away for us. The woman in the spa said she had JUST done her staycation down in Tucson at our Westin La Paloma. I looked at that one, and decided to not do my weekend in my town. But we swapped stories, and it was funny how many people were doing these local resort getaway things.

I have to recommend doing this! All in all, it was very affordable. Sure, the Best Western would be cheaper, but the idea is to do the resort thing so that you can feel you’re on vacation and relaxing.

I hope that my December vacation/honeymoon can be my first real vacation, really away, where I’m not engulfed with work and on the laptop all the time. I’m guessing my husband hopes so too. That’s usually what I’m doing on all trips… I’m going to be on the east coast this coming week, and I’m mostly talking about staying in the hotel room and working from each stop around the tri-state area. So I could use a real vacation, and I hope December will be that first one since 1994. :)


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IMA Plans to Shut Down Bloggers

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Just letting my readers know that the IMA has announced to their membership that they hired a powerful law firm, spending the IMA’s money, to take down blogs. Evidently, they want AuctionBytes to stay up, but want to take down the blogs that have told the full truth. So in case I have to take down certain posts relating to what has gone on, just know this. The truth won’t go away. Sometimes, you can wield power and money, and threaten people, and make some things go away.

Someone in the IMA thinks I have an agenda, and he’s right. My agenda is for the truth to be out there when the Board tries so hard to hide it, hush things up, and remove people who disagree. I want the membership to know what is really going on behind the scenes. If you know the whole story and you still want to stay, good for you. But as Steve keeps telling the membership, they don’t know the whole story.

My agenda are the dozens of people who have commented in blogs, called me, and written to me privately who said that Steve or the IMA hurt them or their businesses. I want to make things right for those people. Nobody asked me to. I just think it’s the right thing to do. Steve, Ben, and the IMA should have to answer for how they have hurt people. People feel defrauded right now, and I didn’t do that to them. Their leadership did that to them. I was emailing Steve and Ben to tell them to stop before they go so far that they can’t undo it. I think that line was crossed the day the Board overruled the Ethics Committee, which I didn’t do and can’t be blamed for!

The members should know that that is how the IMA is now going to spend its money: getting high-powered lawyers to take down the blogs of IMA members they kicked out who just want the whole truth out there. IMA members should look at how hard the Board is trying to quiet me and others. We must really be on to something for them to want to spend the IMA money on big lawyers to scare us. We wanted and want transparency. The IMA doesn’t, and is willing to spend your money to try to shut us up.

If the IMA truly has nothing to hide, as it has stated, then it should just come out with the entire story and clear the air. If the IMA has done nothing wrong, as it maintains, then surely telling the whole story with nothing changed or left out would be easy. So let’s hear it already. Where is that public statement explaining what’s been going on? You have everybody’s attention… this is your big chance to tell the truth. I still suggest the truth. Give it a try!

I am not the IMA’s biggest problem.

I am a girl with a microphone and a few people standing around to see what I say next. If the IMA is as strong as Steve claims, then a little nobody like me, a little punk who got kicked out, shouldn’t have the power to do any damage. I am not the IMA’s biggest problem. The truth and reality of what has gone on the last two weeks is their biggest problem. I just happen to be the girl who doesn’t mind standing up and speaking into the microphone. I may not always get it right, but I sometimes think that somewhere out there, someone is glad I’m doing it.

The IMA can pretend I’m their biggest problem, but I’m just the scapegoat. I’m the closest distraction they can try pointing at, but it’s not working. The IMA is never going to really be able to hide the truth or sweep it all under the rug. And where am I getting these truths? From members who email me, comment here, and post in other blogs. Members want the word OUT, and they are coming here for the freedom of speech they can’t get on the IMA forum right now. This is the IMA speaking out, and I want the IMA to hear these people. Like me, they wanted change and a better experience, and I want that for them in the IMA. I think a new Board with new direction can provide that; that would be an org I could get behind (again).

As my husband just reminded me, this is a fart in a windstorm. How many people care about this right now? How many are affected by this? Dozens? It doesn’t deserve the time any of us are spending on it. Good night, and may the IMA do the right thing for the membership. They put that money in your bank account. How would they want it spent?

:)

Post tags: IMA


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Counting IMA Members

Monday, July 7th, 2008

http://imamerchant.org/index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=usersList&Itemid=33

Steve gave an interview to AuctionBytes where he claimed that the IMA has more members now than last week. I saw 225 last week when I happened to post that number, and the membership page now says 230. But there are some major flaws to the IMA’s ability to count.

Here is a screen shot from part of the first page (companies are alphabetically arranged). You’ll find that:

  • Amazing Keys and Amazon are listed twice.
  • As Was (that’s me) is still in there when I’m no longer a member.
  • Auctiva is listed three times.

So right there on the first page, that’s four that I’m showing you that can be removed as duplicates or no longer members. Outside of my screen shot, 1 Choice 4 Your Store was listed twice. That’s 5 we can remove, so that’s 225.

I think the reality is that it’s just another manipulation of a pile of wangled information or facts.

We really don’t know how many members the IMA had last week. We don’t know if they took down people who left. We don’t know if they added people who joined. We don’t know if they count ChannelAdvisor 5 times. They’re listed 5 times, but if you ask me, that’s one membership. As vendor members, we get to pay once, but bring in multiple people from our staff. But maybe they’ll call that 5 members to make their numbers sound higher.

It would be like me working with a husband and wife who paid me once and signed up as one company, but me treating it like I have 2 clients to make my numbers sound higher. So I don’t do that. :)

So who can really say. All I know is that duplicates look suspicious, and people who I know are no longer in the org are still listed. Again, I’d like to see how the IMA page looks in say late September. Surely, I won’t be listed anymore, and everybody who was forced out or left would be taken off the page.

I’d also like to know how PESA has seen their membership grow during oh the last week or so. :)

Post tags: IMA


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IMA Prez Makes Statement to Membership

Monday, July 7th, 2008

IMA President Steve Grossberg posted this to the IMA forums today:

I know I have thought long and hard
about this. The conclusion I reached is I have nothing to be ashamed of,
nothing to run and hide from and I was elected to my position. During times of
crisis strong leadership is what is needed. I think my past track record shows
I can walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I feel the same holds true for
Ben and Cathy.

So we intend to provide that strong leadership as this is
our duty. I do not think it is fair to call for anyone’s resignation without
knowing the facts. Some has chosen to resign for various reasons, and it is my
opinions leaders should not resign from a leadership role while the going gets
tough unless they did wrong as to me it is an admission of guilt.

You see the lynch mob mentality and media frenzy, crazy far
fetched accounts of things from hobbyist blogs etc has started already days ago
without knowing the facts, could you imagine how it would appear if we
resigned.

Make no mistakes, this is a crisis, but also make no
mistakes strong leadership will pull us out and emerge us as a stronger organization.

Thanks to all of you who have expressed your trust and
support in us

Oh, mind if I comment? :)

  1. If you don’t think resignations should be called for without facts, then give people the facts already.
  2. Leaders resigning is an admission of guilt? I think some of us need to learn humility. When you are guilty, you should admit it. People who are resigning because they don’t want to deal/work with the President or Board are not admitting guilt. Maybe just defeat after thinking they could change things.
  3. I love the way he goes for the emotional stuff… lynch mob, media frenzy, and my personal favourite, "far fetched accounts from hobbyist bloggers." Who would that be? I get my information from ME because I lived this. Other bloggers are getting their info from me and other former IMA members. There is not a bad, disrespectful, known liar in the bunch of us who are finally coming out and telling our stories.
  4. You can say that you did "NOT have sexual relations with that woman" all you want, but when a whole bunch of us are holding stained dresses :), someone isn’t telling the truth. So either the Prez isn’t telling the truth, or there is a giant conspiracy of a bunch of people who otherwise have nothing to do with each other, and we’re all speaking out just to mess with Steve. Which is more likely?

My hopes is that leadership isn’t just strong. We saw strong leadership today in the form of heavy-handedness. The IMA threw out some of the best people it had, and why? No reason. Well there has to be a reason. The only possible reasons can be to remove the well-liked and powerful people so that the Board can be in control OR to remove members who might vote the Board out. What other reason do you kick people out?

I can imagine how it would appear if the Board resigned. It would be great. Two IMA members I can think of would be devastated. I imagine they will be crying, so I won’t name them. But everybody else? I think it would be the right thing to do. I don’t think an org can go on with leadership known for alienating people, lying, libelling, and being a dictatorship that kills any dissent. I just think that can’t go on, and I don’t think eBay would want to be close to that organisation.

Post tags: IMA


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Statement from Former IMA Board Member Larry

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Larry Phillips, former IMA Board member, has given me written permission to release his statement as follows. I have not edited or changed it.

IMA Saga: July 5-6, 2008

The following are events that I do not believe have been posted anywhere, and it’s what has transpired since last Friday night.

Cathy and I came to agreement on Friday night that all four of us would resign.  She indicated to me that she was ready to go, and one of the other three had already agreed, and the third would agree when told the other two had resigned.  On Saturday afternoon, Steve and I spent about two hours on the phone.  At the end of the call, we agreed that I would stay on in an interim role to effectuate a successful transition to a new Board, but the other three would have an early transition date (their choice, not mine.  I recommended 30 days for everybody) . Steve indicated that his transition date would be dictated by how long it took to transfer his name and address off all corporate papers. 

I wrote a draft resignation, and posted it in the Board Forum.  About 3 hours later, I was called to join a conference call with the three of them, plus Eddie, who was now the Chair of the Moderation Committee.  I was basically told the deal was off, and they weren’t resigning.  After about an hour on the phone, we had come to agreement.  During that time, I asked several times "What about the membership?"  Steve and Ben were quite quick to respond "We don’t care what the members think."  Steve and I were to both write apology letters, and Eddie would post a zero tolerance policy regarding attacks in the Members Forum.  Steve and I would have the right to approve each others letters prior to them being posted.  They were sent to Eddie, and published early Sunday morning.  I agreed to this for the good of the organization, but was quite uncomfortable about it.

I started a discussion in the Board Forum indicating that there needed to be checks and balances in place, and was immediately shot down by all three remaining Board members, and that the Board needed to be ultimate authority for everything.  Steve made some very dumb statements during this period.  He tried to say that the Board is the ultimate authority in all corporations.  And I told him, yes, but the Board is not normally the officers of the Corporation also.  He said “name one corporation that does that”.  I gave him Disney, and said, if we go down the list of every Fortune 500 company, the overwhelming  majority of the Board members are not employees or officers of the corporation.  That’s the check and balance.  Because in our case the officers and the Board members were the same, we needed to either change that structure, or put in another check and balance.  He just refused to accept that.   I then decided that I should resign, because it was clear that the Board was only interested in maintaining their own power.  I carefully constructed my resignation letter to say nothing confidential, and first sent it to the mods to get their approval prior to issuing.  I waited about three hours and received no response, even though I saw Eddie on the Forum.  I then sent it to about 18 members, indicating that I was ready to post to the Forum, but was still waiting for the mods to approve.

After seeing Eddie respond to another poster, I realized that Eddie was not going to respond, so I decided to post.  My post was removed within 5 minutes.  Things totally deteriorated at that point, and most of the other events have played out on the Member Forum.


IMA – Response to BOD Resignation

Please allow me to provide some clarification, because you obviously do not
have a good understanding of the situation.  Lanae resigned in early June,
long before any of this happened.  By the way, she resigned because she was
tired of Steve’s abuse.  That left 6 members.   With Steve, Ben and Cathy
firmly partnered, the best that could ever be hoped for was a tie.  And
again, that’s before any of this happened.

The vote to change Steve and Debbie’s sanctions was only attended by Ben,
Cathy, and Cyn, because Steve was suspended, I was not permitted to go
because of Steve complaint against me, and Kim was not available.  They
presented false evidence, and Cyn went along with Ben and Cathy.  Kim
resigned out of emotion on Thursday, because she was embarrassed at what she
had been talked into by Steve, and within hours retracted her resignation.
Ben accepted her retraction, and she even made a motion that was approved.
Then Steve came in on Friday, after his suspension was over, and said it was
illegal to accept her retraction under Florida law.  However, when asked for
the specific statute, he did not provide anything.  Nonetheless, she was off
the Board.  They had a joint meeting with the Ethics Committee, attended by
Ben, Cathy and Cyn.  After that meeting Cyn resigned.  At that point it was
Steve, Ben, Cathy and me.  It was three against one, they would not agree to
any checks and balances.  They said they didn’t care what the members
thought, they were elected, and if the members wanted them out, they could
vote them out.  That’s when I said time to resign.  When we started that
process they immediately changed the bylaws to make it almost impossible to
make happen.

DO what you wish, but I just don’t see how you can continue to support that type of action.

Post tags: IMA


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Statement from Former IMA Board Member Kim

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Kim Wren, former IMA Board member, has given me written permission to release her statement as follows. I have not edited or changed it.

From here forward Board of Directors will be referred to as BOD’s.

On July 2nd I felt like being on the BOD’s was a losing battle with me in a
3 against 1 situation – please note that at that time Steve Grossberg was on
a "leave of absense" and Ben Mandell was acting president  – I was told by
several that Steve had no access to the BOD’s forum during his "vacation".
During a phone meeting with Ben, Cathy, Cyn and myself  I resigned from the
BOD’s. I then posted that information to the general forum, as well as the
BOD forum. The post to the general forum was removed quickly – but it was
moved to the private BOD’s forum – so I still had access to it as no one had
taken away my access to that forum. I was later told that someone was going
to call me to try to talk me out of quitting.

A few hours later on July 2nd – A couple of things were said to me that were
very aggravating – regarding my resignation. Since the BOD’s had not taken
away my ability to read the BOD’s forum, I rescinded my resignation, and
edited my resignation posts. Again, my access to the BOD’s forum was left in
tact.

Ben, who was acting as president of the IMA – per Steve’s request – allowed
me stay on the BOD’s forum. The entire board also proceeded to treat me as
an active board member:

  • Informing me of a couple of meetings on July 3rd.
  • Allowing my vote as a member of the BOD’s in what was going on currently
  • Allowing me to post on the BOD’s forum continually Making personal calls to
    me to discuss BOD’s and/or IMA matters
  • I was treated as a BOD’s for nearly 48 hours.

On July 4th Steve returned to the BOD’s forum and reclaimed his position as
president from Ben. Upon his return I questioned his motives on some things
and he promptly removed me from the BOD’s forum. He stated that I had indeed
resigned, and proceeded to quote FL law. He failed to mention that the
rescind was indeed accepted (by action) from the acting President – Ben
Mandell – as well as the other acting BOD’s at that time; or that the letter
of resignation I wrote could not possibly have seen by Steve since he was
"away" at the time it was posted, and later altered – before his return to
the forum.

Post tags: IMA


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It’s Crazy People Day!

Monday, July 7th, 2008

It must be crazy people day here at As Was.

A guy just called me to see if we can do a template for him. He’s listing with a system I’ve never heard of. He doesn’t know if they can take our templates.

I take the time to get into a live chat with the company because I can’t get to any of their help files. I ask my question. They treat me like I know their system and use terms I’ve never heard of relating to how their system works.

The potential client is in the chat, and the support person tells him that he should give me access to his account to I can get to know the configuration area. THAT’S A BAD IDEA! This guy hasn’t signed my contract! I think it’s unprofessional to expect him to 1) do your customer support for you, and 2) give a stranger his password to this system!

I was NOT impressed with that.

Long story short, they don’t take our templates as templates. Evidently, you can load up a bunch of HTML that gets dumped somewhere, but they don’t give us codes or tags… so picture 1 wouldn’t drop in. Description wouldn’t drop in. I guess it’s our block of HTML and the item info somehow before or after each other. I don’t think that’s the best way to go.

So they don’t work with our templates the way things should, and I’m not impressed with their customer service. I tell the guy that I’m not impressed with these people, and I don’t think we can work with them.

He starts berating me… that he’s a big seller, and this company is helping him make so much money, and how can I just shoot them down… and I must have so much business that I don’t need to take the time to get to know this system… and lots of companies can give him what he wants so why won’t we, and I must just not care about what his business needs… and makes this into an emotional issue.

I asked him why I should allow him to yell at me and berate me, and why is he making this an emotional issue. He starts yelling that he was going to spend $5,000 with my company, and now he’s not because it’s a good thing that he knows that we’re an emotional company (HUH?) and people shouldn’t just sell on eBay, they have to do multi-channel things and this company helps him with that and I just must not…….. oh the yelling just seemed to go on.

This is where I am thinking that this is not the right client for us. :) I believe that everything happens for a reason, and the right clients find us. This is NOT the right client. Good luck to whomever he hires. I warned ya! :)


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