Management Recruiters International - Coercion


Read about the unreasonable coercion that was applied to me by Steve Mills, the managing director of MRI Network WorldWide (MRIWW) franchise.

Management Recruiters International franchisees are trained and actively encourage to inter work with other Management Recruiter franchisees. The process is called inter-office-referral or IOR. When I did as trained and encouraged by MRI Network Corporate office, I lost substantial sums of money. That is because the person that they chose to portray as regular fellow franchisee (Mr JW) was nothing of the sort. His franchise agreement had expired years earlier, he was not paying his royalty fees to MRI Network and he was growing uncontrolled debts to them for years of around $300,000 USD (£170,477.60 UK Pounds). For years Management Recruiters chose to maintain and reinforce this deception and fooled both MRI Network franchisees and clients alike.

When I lost money by inter working with Mr JW, Steve Mills attempted to coerce me into signing a get-out clause for MRI Network negligence. Read the facts and form your own opinion on the ethics and business practices of MRI Network franchise and their owners CDI Corporation.

----- Start of the 10th mail to Roger H Ballou about MRI Network franchise ethics and coercion -----

23rd February 2009

Mr Roger H Ballou
CEO CDI Corporation

Mr Roger Ballou

Management Recruiters International Problems

I will now continue with what Steve Mills did next. You will recall Mr Roger H Ballou that in my last letter to you about Steve Mills of MRI Network Franchise I detailed how he:

  • Side stepped responsibility for the years of Management Recruiters International franchise misrepresentation.
  • Encouraging all real MRI Network franchisees to inter-work with Mr JW.

Those years of franchise misrepresentation fooled both clients of Management Recruiters International franchise, as well as real franchisees into believing that Mr JW was just a regular MRI Network franchisee.

As you know Mr Roger H Ballou, Mr JW was the person that:

  • Management Recruiters International had misrepresented for years as a regular MRI Network franchisee.
  • Had no current franchise agreement as it had expired years earlier.
  • Was not been paying franchise royalties fees for years and owed you around $300,000 USD (170,477.60 UK Pounds) to Management Recruiters International and to CDI Corporation, the owners of MRI Network.
  • Steve Mills of MRINetwork encouraged all real MRI Network franchisees to inter-work with, even though he was a known liability by Management Recruiters International and some senior managers of CDI Corporation.
  • Steve Mills actually congratulated me for inter-working with and winning a substantial contract, whilst maintaining and reinforcing your years of deception to MRI Network franchisees.
  • Management Recruiters International represented to the outside world as just a regular MRINetwork franchisee, fooling all clients and potential clients.

Management Recruiters International Negligence / Coercion - Background

I will now detail how Steve Mils, your then Managing Director of Management Recruiters International World Wide (MRIWW) attempted to coerce me into signing a get out clause for your negligence.

At this time my focus was naturally on attempting to get the money owed to me from Mr JW i.e. the person that you had misrepresented for years, as a regular MRI Network franchisee. I was not fully aware of the scale of your years of franchise deception, as Steve Mills of Management Recruiters International had only just told me that Mr JW owed you money. Steve Mills did not clarify the full magnitude of the debt in unpaid royalties, nor the fact that it had been growing for years, nor the fact that his franchise contract had expired years earlier.

Instead of Steve Mills focusing on solving the problem of Mr JW?s retention of my money, Steve Mills focused on attempting to coerce me into signing a get-out clause for Management Recruiters International negligence.

Management Recruiters International Negligence

Now just look at the facts Mr Roger H Ballou:

  • Management Recruiters International represented Mr JW to me, a real MRINetwork franchisee, and to all other real MRI Network franchisees as just another regular franchisee.
  • MRI Network trained me and all other real franchisees to inter-work with other real MRINetwork franchisees.
  • Management Recruiters International actively encouraged me and other real MRINetwork franchisees to inter-work with Mr JW.
  • Steve Mills, Managing Director of MRI WorldWide, had actual personal knowledge that I as a real MRI Network franchisee was inter-working with Mr JW, whilst your years of franchise deception was still intact.
  • Steve Mills actually congratulated me in writing on inter-working with Mr JW and winning a substantial contract for ongoing work. This effectively reinforced your years of franchise deception and misrepresentation by MRI Network.

MRI Network breached my franchise contract by failing in their duty to maintain the network integrity. This breach of contract could allow many current franchises to terminate their current franchise agreements. A very dangerous position in view of the current dissatisfaction exposed in the survey conducted by MRIFA showing that only 20% of MRI Network franchisees would renew their current franchise agreements today if asked to do so.

So tell me Mr Roger H Ballou, do you think that MRI Network were negligent and failed in their duty if care towards their franchisees? This is not a rhetoric question Mr Roger H Ballou, what do you think?

Unethical Franchisor

I can tell you that I think that this is disgraceful behaviour of a franchisor. I think it is unethical behaviour and unprofessional behaviour for a franchisor. I believe that Management Recruiters International were wholly negligent and failed totally in their duty of care towards all MRI Network franchisees. In my opinion it demonstrates a complete lack of any management acumen and an inability to see the long-term damage that this inadequate management competence will cause both Management Recruiters International franchise and CDI Corporation stock and profits. Your continued stance of doing nothing i.e. "head in the sand approach", and failing to address these problems, exacerbates and perpetuates the problems.

Management Recruiters International Coercion

Steve Mills, Managing Director of Management Recruiters International World Wide (MRIWW) first attempt to coerce me into signing a get-out clause for your negligence came in a letter he wrote to me on 31st Jan 2003. In that letter he wrote:

"However, if we are going to work together, I do require you to withdraw unconditionally, and in writing, any suggestion that we have been negligent or in breach of any duty towards you."

So here Mr Roger H Ballou, you see Steve Mills of MRI Network first attempts to coerce me into signing a get-out clause for Management Recruiters International negligence and he made it conditional on working together. How unethical is that? You created the problem by:

  • Failing in your duty of care towards your franchisees - Breach of franchise contract.
  • Creating and maintain years of deception that Mr JW was a regular MRI Network franchisee.
  • Encouraging and congratulating real MRI Network franchisees to inter-work with Mr JW. A known problem to you for years that you chose to conceal, whilst maintaining the years of misrepresentation by Management Recruiters International.

Management Recruiters International created the franchise problem

In short, Management Recruiters International created this franchise problem, created and maintained the deception for years, drove real franchisees towards this known peril for years and then tried to insist that if you were going to help me out of this problem, that I must write a get-out clause for your negligence. Do you think that that is ethical franchising Mr Roger H Ballou? Again that is not a rhetoric question Mr Ballou, what do you think? Many people would be interested in your view on this.

Look at this from my perspective Mr Roger H Ballou, if you were not negligent, why would Steve Mills be raising this issue? If you are negligent, why should I sign such a get-out clause? It is interesting that Steve Mills continued to attempt to coerce me to sign such a get-out clause for your negligence. Do you think that his conscience was beginning to trouble him?

Management Recruiters International Continues Coercion

In some of the numerous telephone calls from Steve Mills, instead of focusing on solving the problem of Mr JW and the fact that he withheld my money, Steve Mills simply focused on coercing me to sign this get out clause for Management Recruiters International negligence.

Some of the actual phrases Steve Mills of MRI Network said included:

"I need a categorical assurance from you that I have not been negligent towards you in any shape or form before I can do anything."


"I've asked you to say that you don't believe we have not been negligent with you over the JW issue."


"I need that statement from you before we can move forward."


"I need that taken away before I'm really prepared to move forward."


"I'd like you to take that away"


"I need a sentence from you. A very simple paragraph, however you choose to phrase it, in relationship to our relationship with Mr JW you are happy that we have not been negligent towards you."


"I'm afraid that if you can't do that at this stage I really can't do anything else. I can't involve you in this process."


"The last thing I want is a claim on my desk for negligence that I waist 6 months fighting when a simple note from you now saying you accept that there was nothing we could have told you about Mr JW that would have told you that would have changed that position takes that risk away and I'm prepared to help you."


"I'm asking you to tell us that we have not been negligent with Mr JW with you."


"It's also not really my role to advise owners about what's happening with other owners unless I believe there is a real risk somewhere."

So you can see Mr Roger Ballou, from the actual words that Steve Mills used to me, that he was applying unreasonable coercion to attempt to get me to sign a get-out clause for Management Recruiters International negligence. That in my opinion is unethical and unreasonable as the problem that I faced was brought about through your management inability to manage the franchise properly in the first place and by your years of franchise misrepresentation and repeated encouragement to inter work with Mr JW. All the quotes above from Steve Mills are quite unreasonable. Take the last one as an example. Steve Mills said:

"It's also not really my role to advise owners about what's happening with other owners unless I believe there is a real risk somewhere."

Steve Mills, your then Managing Director of Management Recruiters International WorldWide (MRIWW), was asserting that he did not feel it appropriate to advise MRI Network franchise owners of other owners issues unless, as he put it, there was a real risk. How bizarre is that Mr Roger Ballou? Mr JW was a known problem to MRI Network for years! He had no valid franchise agreement as it expired years earlier, he had not been paying you royalty fees for years. He owed you around $300,000 US Dollars, and you continued to misrepresent him as a regular franchisee! He was also a known problem to CDI Corporation for years and I can show you the correspondence that substantiates this too. One is left with the obvious question, if you do not think that this situation represents a real risk, what does? What does your conscience say to you about this Mr Ballou? Where are your ethics Mr Roger H Ballou?

Management Recruiters International negligence get-out clause

Steve Mills even sent me a proposed set of words to sign as a get-out for your negligence. The follow morning he rang to see if his coercion had been successful. In that conversation I, once again, reiterating that I was not prepared to be forced into making any such declaration about Management Recruiters International negligence.

In a subsequent telephone conversation, Steve Mills referred to the proposed get-out clause that he was trying to force me to sign. Specifically, Steve Mills said:

"I have to say that unless you use this or something close to this we really can't move forward with the plan we have outlined to you."


When asked what Steve Mills stance would be if I refused to sign this proposed get-out clause for Management Recruiters International negligence his replay was:

"I can't involve you in anything we do."


In another telephone conversation, when I once again repeated that I would not be forced into signing a get-out clause for MRI Networks negligence, I asked what Steve Mills proposed action would be. He made it clear that he would be attempting to take control of the contract with the global consultancy that Mr JW and I had won and control the billing and fees. As much of the billing in the pipeline was ours, I asked if we would see that money.

My exact words to Steve Mills of Management Recruiters International were:

"So what will happen to that money?"


Mr Steve Mills of MRI Network replied:

"It's a good question. Your contract is with Mr JW for the collection of that money. I don't know I'm going to take legal advice on that, anything that we collect."


I then asked Steve Mills of MRI Network:

"So are you saying that it is quite possible that we may not see any of the money that you collect that is due to our placements?"


Steve Mills of MRINetwork replied:

"At the moment Bob I have not made up my mind on that one."


I then asked Steve Mills of MRI Network:

"But you think it is a real possibility?"


Steve Mills of MRI Network replied:

"That is a possibility."


Management Recruiters International Franchise Ethics

So Mr Roger H Ballou, you can see that Steve Mills tried in many ways to force me to sign a get-out clause for Management Recruiters International negligence. He resorted to even saying that he would not help me in dealing with the disaster that we faced by inter-working with Mr JW in the false belief, created by you, that he was just another regular MRI Network franchisee. How unethical is that Mr Roger H Ballou? You knew of the problems with Mr JW for years. His franchise agreement had expired years earlier. He was not paying you royalties. He had amassed massive debts to you in the order of $300,000 US Dollars, (170,477.60 UK Pounds). Yet you still chose to represent Mr JW as a regular MRI Network franchisee and actively encourage other franchisee to inter-work with him. You effectively drove franchisees into this know problem and Steve Mills actually congratulated me for doing so. Steve Mills then set about coercing me into signing a get-out clause for your negligence. Steve Mills even suggested that he might withhold the subsequent money that he would collect, owed to us for our placements, if I did not sign a get-out clause for your negligence!

What do you that says about the ethics of MRI Network as a franchisor? What do you think it says about the ethics of CDI Corporation?


CDI Corporation Sarbanes-Oxley concerns

As a side issue Mr Roger H Ballou, one of Steve Mills revelations to me on a telephone call was about CDI Corporations obligations under Sarbanes-Oxley rules for the size of Mr JW's debt to Management Recruiters International, owned by CDI Corporation.

Steve Mills exact words to me were:

"I had a long and very tortuous call last night with CDI. Because of the size of Mr JW's debt with us this come under the Sarbanes-Oxley quarterly reporting for a public company. I've explained the whole scenario, explained where you and I are. I've got another call with them tonight to get the OK to effectively put some deal in place that see the writing-off of a little of Mr JW's debt against some of his counter claims."


Well Mr Roger H Ballou, it seems that you not only allowed Mr JW to grow this enormous debt of around $300,000 USD whilst you continued to misrepresent him as a regular MRI Network franchisee, but that you were also going to write-off some of his debt. What do you think that all of this says about you ability to manage a franchise Mr Roger H Ballou? What do you think it says about your stewardship of CDI Corporation and one of its main revenue streams? What do you think is says about the ethics of Management Recruiters International? What do you think it says about your business acumen and your duty towards CDI Corporation shareholders?

It is interesting that Steve Mills brought CDI Corporation's Sarbanes-Oxley obligations to my notice, stating that you realised that this massive debt had to be registered in your Sarbanes-Oxley quarterly reporting responsibilities. It is also worth noting that you have still failed to clarify where and when the debt of around $300,000 USD was in fact declared and written-off under CDI Corporations Sarbanes-Oxley responsibilities. It is worth noting that the actual amount that you should have ultimately written-off was raised in a Statutory Demand to Mr JW and/or his company for 170,477.60 UK Pounds (approximately $300,000 USD). Steve Mills of Management Recruiters international stated under oath that none of this money was collected. It therefore follows that you should have declared this write-off under your Sarbanes-Oxley obligations. Why are you afraid to clarify when you wrote that sum off? Is it because there is some irregularity in CDI Corporations Sarbanes-Oxley reporting Mr Roger H Ballou?

Management Recruiters International Failure to Address Problems

Don't you think Mr Roger Ballou that it is about time that you addressed these problems instead of continually trying to avoid them? As owners of Management Recruiters International franchise and as the most senior person, you are ultimately responsible for the running of your organisation. You are responsible for the ethics and business practices of both CDI Corporation and your wholly owned subsidiary MRI Network franchise.

Roger H Ballou CEO of CDI Corporation fails to act:

But the fact of the matter is, Mr Roger H Ballou, that these things need to be addressed. Your stance of 'head in the sand' is damaging to both the health of the Management Recruiters International franchise and to CDI Corporation shareholders. Your actual demonstrable track record on a number of critical issues as a franchisor is unethical, including:

Of course, Mr Roger H Ballou, if you are quite comfortable with these problems and the actual demonstrable track record of Management Recruiters International and CDI Corporation, and the underlying ethics, then you have nothing to address.

If you continue to fail to manage, I believe that you are damaging the future of one of the main revenue streams to CDI Corporation, that is Management Recruiters International, your wholly owned subsidiary. That will impact on the long-term performance of CDI Corporation stock.

Don't you think, Mr Roger H Ballou, that it is time you started to manage this situation and address the problems that you and your management team created?

I look forward to your reply. Although I have to add, that your track record of failing to address these fundamental ethical issues is not good so far. I invite you once again to take some management action instead of continuing to fail in your management responsibilities.

As always, my door is still open to hear your answers.

I shall be placing a copy of this open letter on my web site.

Sincerely
Bob Stewart
CDI Corporation Shareholder



-------- End of the 10th mail to Roger H Ballou about MRI Network franchise ethics and coercion ---------

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