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Consumer alert from the BBB


Preferred Client Services, Global Vacation Network, Dudley Media Group

From the Better Business Bureau

BBB Serving Western Michigan is alerting consumers about the business practices of Preferred Client Services and associated companies. All have F-ratings with the Better Business Bureau.

Thousands of consumers report they are receiving offers in the mail for a free Android tablet if they participate in a marketing study.

In the past 12 months, 28,000 consumers have inquired about Preferred Client Services on the local BBB website, and some have filed complaints. Preferred Client Services lists their address as being located on Sparks Drive in Southeast Grand Rapids.

In this case, the consumer complaints listed on the BBB site for Preferred Client Services, Global Vacation Network, and Dudley Media Group help paint a more complete picture of these organizations. Read several complaint excerpts below:

Preferred Client Services:

“I received a letter promising an android tablet if I participated in a market study/promotion. When I called there is no android but avacation ad received a letter promising an android tablet if I participated in a market study/promotion. When I called their is no android but vacation ad. This is false advertising, bait and switch. F Rating by BBB and prior news casts supporting. Very immoral, dishonest company and all that work for it represent this behavior.”

Global Vacation Travel:

“Received deceptive, official-looking letter offering a free Android tablet computer, when in fact, it is an attempt to lure me into purchasing a vacation package. The letter Reads: “Once you have received and tested your Android tablet, we ask that you compete the brief survey that we have enclosed and return it to us. Whether you complete the survey or not, the Android tablet is yours to keep.” Letter signed by Stephanie ******* coordinator of Product Research of Preferred Access Network. The survey sheet is included in the letter; the tablet isn’t. A toll-free number must be called and the code# is given.”

Dudley Media Group:

“Misleading advertising being sent through the US Postal System.

I have copies of the advertisements that were mailed on two separate occasions. The company is the front man for a Vacation company operating in Florida. The first advertisement was made to look like a survey that all you needed to do was review a Tablet that they would ship to you for free and you get to keep the tablet for participating in the survey. The second one I received was made to look like a US Postal Parcel Pick Up notice. When you call the number it’s a Vacations company that gives you a 10 minute pitch and then asks your household income. If you are under 40K you aren’t qualified and they tell you another number to call to schedule a pickup of an Android Tablet a month away in Palm Harbor which is over an hour away from where I live. The first advertisement I received that was made to look like a survey said they would ship the tablet to me. After multiple phone calls and emails to the company they insisted I could only pick up the tablet and they no longer shipped them. I have saved both mailings and would like to provide a copy of them.”

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Ask Score: Business operations


Follow these simple guidelines when hiring a consultant

From time to time, as a small business owner, you’re likely to bump up against a problem you can’t solve yourself. That may be because you don’t have the right experience or knowledge to correct it. Or it may be because you are perfectly capable of meeting the challenge but can’t justify the time it will require of you, given your many other responsibilities.

Solving that problem or challenge at a quieter time may not be an option if the goal is to move the company forward. So how do you know when it’s time to hire a consultant to find the solution, to remove a major distraction from your business day, and perhaps to avoid a costly mistake?

Much like an independent contractor, consultants come in on a short-term or project basis. For an agreed-upon fee, they will agree to

  • analyze or solve a problem
  • set up a new procedure or system
  • conduct research
  • advise on a one-time activity, such as setting up a corporation

The general advantage of using a consultant is that you pay only for the information and guidance you need. An example of a situation where a consultant might make sense is when you need to create a marketing and advertising program. A consultant can develop your advertising plan and then leave it to you to implement. However, the same consultant may undertake certain tasks within the plan- perhaps having to do with creating ad messages or finding the right graphic designer.

Some day-to-day activities and situations may require short-term consulting help, such as making a fix in a proprietary software program. When identifying, purchasing, and implementing  a comprehensive computer system, by way of contrast, would require a software consultant on a longer term basis.

For better cost control and a more reliable estimate, have a completion date in mind for the project. An open-ended consulting relationship may create dependency while becoming a financial drain. In addition, use caution when considering a more generic management consultant, who may not be able or willing to specify the work he or she is prepared to do to focus on a problem area.

To begin the search for a consultant, tap into your own network for recommendations, then check references. You’ll want to know what problem the consultant was engaged to solve, whether the work was completed on time and within budget, and whether the consultant produced a quality product.

And for other perspectives on your involving outside experts in your business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” The SCORE Grand Rapids office has 35 local volunteer business counselors who provide free and confidential business counseling to small business owners.

Call SCORE at 1-616-771-0305 to talk to a counselor, or e-mail us at score@grandrapids.org  or online at   http://www.scoregr.org./


Free and Confidential Counseling

SCORE, 111 Pearl Street NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 771-0305   wwwscoregr.org

E-mail:  score@grandrapids.org

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Cedar Springs Brewing Company 

Post photo by  J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photos by J. Reed.

Post photos by J. Reed.

The Cedar Springs Brewing Company, 95, North Main, officially opened its doors to the public last week Friday, November 13, with a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. Eager patrons lined up around the building, and waited for a chance to get in and sample not only what was on tap, but also the various German and American dishes on the menu. Patrons filled the establishment all weekend long.

“We were excited at the enthusiastic response for our opening week and weekend and did our best to stay on top of everything,” said owner David Ringler. “While we were disappointed to run short in the kitchen on Sunday, we’re back to work getting better and preparing for this weekend as we’re planning live music on Saturday and getting ready for our Community Pub Crawl next Saturday.”

Ringler said their hours would be flexible as they build up their supplies, but they intend to re-open to regular hours on Thursday through next week. They will be closed Thanksgiving, but should be otherwise be open through their pub crawl next Saturday, November 28 (barring any supplies shortages).

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Red Flannel Festival earns first place at MFEA convention

Red Flannel board members at MFEA convention. Left to right: Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Michele Tracy, Rick Knapp and Steve McBride.

Red Flannel board members at MFEA convention. Left to right: Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Michele Tracy, Rick Knapp and Steve McBride.

Michigan Festivals & Events Association (MFEA) announces Red Flannel Festival of Cedar Springs, as the first place winner in the MIFun Awards Promotional Budget $20,000 – $50,000 category. “It’s such an honor to win such a prestigious award at a State level for Red Flannel Town,” said Festival President Michele Tracy. “The Board works very hard to have an outstanding, professional marketing portfolio. We’re proud of our track record of consistent wins!”

The Red Flannel Festival competed against three other entries in their category.

The MFEA MIFun Award winners were recently honored at an awards ceremony and luncheon held November 6 during the 23rd Annual Michigan Festivals and Events Association Convention at the Boyne Mountain Lodge in Boyne Falls, MI. Red Flannel Festival Board members Michele Tracy, Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Rick Knapp, Jr. and Steve McBride all attended the conference.

The MFEA MIFun Awards competition draws entries from festivals and events throughout all of Michigan. Entries are divided into three budget levels; Promotional Budget under $20,000, Promotional Budget between $20,000 & $50,000 and Promotional Budget over $50,000. The prestigious “Peoples’ Choice Award” goes to the entry deemed the favorite of all MFEA Convention Attendees.  There were 10 entries representing proud communities that celebrate and promote Michigan’s heritage, agriculture, talents, four seasons, history, products, sports, foods and magnificent waterways.

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Ask Score: Business start-up


Ask the right questions before you open a small business


If your goal is to open a small business, chances are you have many questions. And that’s a good thing. For example, if you haven’t already, sooner or later you may be wondering:

How do I get a business loan?

Where are good places to advertise?

What workplace safety laws govern my business?

Should I be a sole proprietor or form a corporation?

What should my pricing formula be?

Can my community support another business like mine?

How do I interpret an advertising rate card?

Should I run the business from home or rent space?

Where will I find suppliers?

Should I trademark my business name?

Is my product marketable online?

What goes into preparing an employee handbook?

Should I have an attorney review all my documentation?

One proven resource for getting the right answers to all of these questions is SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit association that aids the formation, growth and success of America’s small businesses. SCORE Grand Rapids has 35 volunteer business experts who donate their skills, experience and insights through free, confidential counseling.

SCORE’s business counselors have worked for successful small businesses as well as companies known worldwide  such as Hewlett Packard, IBM, Xerox, Steelcase, Herman Miller and Fifth-Third Bank. You can be mentored by bankers, accountants, marketing experts, computer programmers, line managers, human resources professionals or CEOs. SCORE brings expertise that encompasses both the general issues every business must face and such specialized areas as contracting, marketing, design and manufacturing.

 To learn more about SCORE, visit our national website at www.score.org  or the local SCORE website at www.scoregr.org.These Internet resources provide information on starting, financing and expanding your business. In addition, SCORE’s Web site offers how-to information.

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Crackdown on debt collectors using illegal tactics

*BUS-Crackdown on debt collectors

Do you get harassment calls from debt collectors? Do they threaten to take you to court, have you arrested, or garnish your wages?

The Better Business Bureau gets calls every day from consumers who are dealing with questionable collection agencies.  This week the Federal Trade Commission announced the first coordinated federal-state enforcement initiative targeting deceptive and abusive debt collection practices. This is a crackdown against collectors who use illegal tactics such as harassing phone calls and false threats of litigation, arrest, and wage garnishment. The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission offer the following information on fair collection practices:

Debt collectors may not contact you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., unless you agree to alternative times. They may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax; however, they may NOT contact you by postcard.

Consumers can communicate with collectors via their personal email if they so choose. This may help to reduce the number of phone calls and allow consumers to maintain better records of their interactions with debt collectors. If a consumer wants email communication, they must put it in writing to the debt collection agency.

You may stop a collections agency from contacting you at work by sending a registered or certified letter with the request. Once the agency receives your letter, it may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact, or to notify you if they intend to take a specific action.

Collectors must send a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe and the name of the creditor that you owe the money to. If you believe the company contacted you in error, you must write within 30 days after the initial contact; upon receipt of your letter, the company must cease collection activities. If the company can provide proof of the debt such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed, the company may renew collection proceedings.

Prohibited Practices 

Debt collectors may not:

1. Use threats of violence or harm against the person, property, or reputation

2. Publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau)

3. Use obscene or profane language

4. Use phone calls to repeatedly harass you

5. Fail to identify themselves on the telephone as a debt collector

6. Advertise the debt

7. Indicate that actions such as a lawsuit will be taken against you, which legally may not be taken, or which they do not intend to take

8. Collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law

9. Take a payment arrangement prematurely

10. Use false, deceptive or misleading statements when collecting a debt.

For more information go to bbb.org or ftc.gov.

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The Rustic Roof


Are you looking for that special something to make a room feel comfortable and homey? How about some vintage and rustic décor? Look no further than the Rustic Roof, 6 S. Main, in Cedar Springs. They may have exactly what you are looking for.

The shop, opened by Dawn Reyburn, specializes in floral design, rustic wedding décor, wooden signs, antiques, candles and more.

Dawn feels that the different talents of the artists, builders, and wedding planners they use make their business unique, and their prices give them an edge over the competition.

“We hope to grow into a prosperous business for people to come to for all their decorative needs,” said Dawn.

The business is open 9 to 4 Monday and Tuesday, 9-7 Wednesday, 9-3 Thursday, Friday 9-4, and Saturday 9-2. For more information call (616) 696-2516.

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Advance Auto now open

On September 24th Advance Auto held a ribbon cutting ceremony

On September 25th Advance Auto held a ribbon cutting ceremony

Advance Auto, the largest automotive aftermarket parts provider in the United States, opened a new store at 4177 17 Mile Road, on September 24, and held a ribbon cutting September 25.

Company officials said they chose this location for the store because it’s convenient to where their customers live and shop, as well as the garages where they take their vehicles for repair.

Advance Auto bought CarQuest in 2014, and employees of the local CarQuest, 70 N. Main Street, are now all working at Advance Auto. “CarQuest has been a legacy in this town,” said Scott Horn, manager at Advance Auto. “They have been filling the need for auto parts for many years, and that’s our goal, too. We are happy to have been able to bring them over and have added jobs, too. We have combined our expertise, and are really excited to be here.”

The new store offers customers a wide range of parts and recognized national brands as well as several free services. Store team members will provide free installation for your new windshield wipers and also offer a complimentary check of the vehicle’s electrical system and old battery, as well as provide free installation of a new battery with purchase on most vehicles. They also provide free checks on alternators and starters.  The store also services local commercial customers, and offers fast parts delivery to local commercial customers, such as professional mechanics and garages.

The store is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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Rotarian receives award from Lions

Rotarian Aaron Gauger (left) receives the 2015 outstanding service award from Lions Club member Art Probst (right).

Rotarian Aaron Gauger (left) receives the 2015 outstanding service award from Lions Club member Art Probst (right).

The Cedar Springs Lions and Rotarians recently shared an evening of fellowship, food, and service opportunities at their annual picnic. The Lions and Rotary clubs are the two largest service organizations in the world.

Rotarian Aaron Gauger, of White Creek Lumber, was awarded the 2015 outstanding service award by Lion Art Probst. The decorated door has become a traditional award the clubs share.

Most all of the 36 club members and their spouses were in attendance.

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New building at Montcalm fairgrounds


There is a brand new addition to the Montcalm County Fairgrounds. This new building was the result of a generous anonymous donation and the hard work done by members of Montcalm County Horse Leaders. The structures main purpose will be to serve as an escape from the weather, as well as hosting events. The pavilion is handicap accessible and provides electrical outlets to fairground patrons. Along with these features, the pavilion will also provide a shaded area to view events, as well as tables for eating. It is expected to be a highly beneficial addition to the fairgrounds.

“This is just one example of what has been achieved on the fairgrounds through volunteer efforts. The Montcalm County Horse Leaders should be commended for the dedication and pride they have displayed through their efforts on the fairgrounds,” said a spokesperson for the Montcalm County Fair Association.

For more information, please visit www.montcalmcountyfairgrounds.com.

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