For all the ex-AP’s who are facing court battles fighting Travelhost Magazine and Jim Buerger & John Price and their efforts to put innocent entrepreneurs out of business, I have been asked to summarize my thoughts about your valid complaints with Travelhost…my thoughts on your behalf are as follows:
To Whom It May Concern:
I was a defrauded Travelhost Magazine Associate Publisher (AP) that closed my business in 2010 after basically working for free for Travelhost (TH) for the better part of 5 years. Yes, I eked a small wage, but would have done as well with less stress at my local McDonald’s…and would not have been out of pocket $65,000 for the “privilege” of doing so. However, I was a lucky one, as I got out only losing: my initial investment of $65K, 5 years of actual profitability, and the value of my business when I was ready to sell it.
So lets say I was only out about $350K or so…to start.
AP’s were all originally sold by TH, through express promises an “independent business” with “major marketing support at any time,” and up-to-date (namely, not straight out of the 1950’s) magazine format, a high-end quality of print and publication in a “national network of 135+ markets, including the majority of the large US cities.” We were promised that this national footprint would lend itself to highly profitable regional and national ad sales that would be a major cornerstone of success.
None of this was true, in fact, things turned out to be just the opposite.
Travelhost also promised “wholesale pricing” if an AP would pay $30,000 extra to become an “Associate Publisher” instead of a mere “distributor.” This and the (so-called) highly valuable rights to sell regional and national ads are expressly stated in writing in the Associate Publisher agreement Travelhost Magazine and Mr John Price created.
I never sold one regional or national ad in 5 years, because there was no significant regional or national penetration of Travelhost Magazine to speak of in the New York Metro Area.
These were all blatant lies by Travelhost. Perhaps the most blatant lie was the fact that TH charged 2.5 times retail for printing as opposed to “wholesale,” resulting in a $50,000 per year overcharge (franchise fee?) on my business that barely grossed $100,000 per year before all expenses. Also, through breaching all these promises to other APs who quickly failed, (repeatedly in each city) there was a much smaller geographical publication footprint than repeatedly promised…not “135 large markets and growing to 300+ with a state of the art web channel.” Rather a 90 market publication that was rapidly contracting because Travelhost Magazine was in breach of all the above promises to all AP’s at the time of the sales pitch and thereafter.
Currently, Travelhost is in less than 50 markets and very few are large cities. Everyone has gone broke repeatedly in these markets. The website is a total joke that has less hits than this blog by new queries.
I and the AP’s repeatedly asked Travelhost to live up to its end of the deal…to no avail. Travelhost promised: “wholesale pricing,” a marketing plan, including ongoing support that was not forthcoming, and an up-to-date magazine that was competitive in the market place. (orally they promised this, and if they said they were not going to provide any marketing support as the contracts so state…why is Travelhost so intent on dictating the form and content of the magazine, including paper quality and layout?)
Having discovered that Travelhost Magazine was not in as many markets as they repeatedly claimed in all its sales materials, the sale of “national” or “regional” ads was and is totally impossible. This “benefit” given to AP’s to induce the sale, valued at $70,000 by TH (at the time I was sold the region) was completely worthless, crippling the value of my (and each investor’s) business.
(Of course, Travelhost never tells prospects that selling regional or national ads virtually never happens and is more or less impossible)
The combination of all these TH lies led me to a $65,000 purchase of a business in a franchise sytem where 95% of the investors fail and were burdened with: no support, marketing or otherwise, no capability of selling important regional or national ads, and a cost to put magazines out that is about $50.000 per year higher than retail printing cost by any other vendor, let alone promised “wholesale” pricing. I and 90% of those defrauded by Travelhost were forced to work for free for Travelhost. Many unfortunates have had it worse, much worse…continuing to go out of pocket each month after years building up the business that was handicapped by all of TH’s breached promises. In many cases people have lost everything: 401K’s, life savings and their homes.
There are many others, some who have told their story on my blog (www.publishersadvocate.wordpress.com)
Having been repeatedly stalled by Travelhost after many complaints on all these extremely pressing issues, the APs, including me, were faced with two extremely difficult choices: 1) They could let their business fail because TH refused to rectify these false promises, or 2) they could seek another printer and stay alive in business in order to continue to feed their families.
In my case, I simply let my business fail out of fear that Travelhost Magazine would wrongfully sue me like it has done many times before to other entreprenuers. However, I have spent hundreds of hours operating a blog that tells investors the truth about this scam. I’m hopefully saving a few people from suffering this same tragedy.
Others have taken a rightful path of getting the printing done elsewhere to survive. The costs are vastly reduced, the magazines are much higher quality and they survived…only to be sued…wrongfully by Travelhost Magazine and James Buerger via John Price, Jim’s staff council.
These entrepreneurs should be allowed to continue publishing.
Since Travelhost claims it’s nothing but a “printer” and “publisher,” how can it be irreparably harmed pending trial for damages? What a judge ought to be thinking about in these cases, rather than shutting down these surviving entrepreneurs, is how to refer the matter to the prosecuting attorney and how to shut the 43 year old TH scam down for good.
*The Publisher’s Advocate will not stop warning unsuspecting investors and collecting evidence on the Travelhost Magazine Business Opportunity SCAM until this has been accomplished.*
THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE
I’d be glad to testify about this at any time, in any state, by phone or otherwise…and also put this in affidavit form upon request.
***PPS>*** Looks like Travelhost Magazine has a new Vice President of Marketing…***