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Friends In Business
& Scams 101

Association of Certified Liquidators

My Experience.
Mitch Klass (President of ACL) Presiding.

Before we begin, the good news is:
Final Cease & Desist Order

I'm keeping this article up because it is a CLASSIC example of a Business Opportunity Scam, and I believe you can learn a lot from it.

BIG GIANT DISCLAIMER: . . .  My commentary on the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) has found its way to my "Scams 101" class as part of the process of educating you, the reader, on the POSSIBLE risks of dealing with CERTAIN companies (a generic term) that charge you for "the opportunity," "the training," and various other "options," especially when your success or failure depends, in large part, upon that company (any company) holding up its end of the bargain. 

I wrote that "Big Giant Disclaimer" after receiving an email from Mitch Klass, owner of the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL), and now I would like to correct a boo-boo in the numbers on the original version of this page:  We did NOT pay $300 to become certified (you'll read about this in a minute).  We paid $70.  I looked back in my records, and he's right (ouch!).  It was a long time ago, and I paid $300 for so many things -- it's a nice round number, and it stuck in my brain.  Sorry, Mitch!

And I wrote My Brand New Motto the day I got that email too.

MY BRAND NEW MOTTO:.... "A home on this page does not a scam make."

In fact, I rewrote ALL of my comments on the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL), as ordered by Mitch, because Mitch is right.... I can't prove specific reasons WHY they would not buy any of the items we located, and I have no desire to meet Mitch or anyone "in Federal Court."  My only interest is in preventing other people from making the same mistakes I did.... and I personally believe that for my husband and I (although possibly not for you), the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) was a just that.... A BIG MISTAKE.

[Boy, I'll bet you're getting sick of reading "the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL)," aren't you?  Sorry.  It's not that I think you're stupid, but I want so much to do this right.  Lots of companies have "ACL" as their initials, and one person hauling me into Federal Court is more than enough thank you!  I wouldn't want to besmirch my good name over any silly little misunderstanding.  You do understand my position, don't you?]

Well, now it's tomorrow.... and I have received another email from Mitch.

I made another boo-boo.  Once again, I stand corrected.  Below you will see that I say my husband and I signed on to be "locators".... an option for people who do not wish to handle the buying and selling themselves.  Well slap me silly!!  It seems handling the buying and selling on your own is the "option."  The right to be a "Locator" is something you automatically get with the purchase of the manual (for $149 at the time of this writing).  I don't entirely understand why this makes a difference, and I don't have the time or ambition to rewrite the original paragraph.... but I am more than happy to clarify it for Mitch.

Oooops!.... One more possible misunderstanding to be addressed.  I will be telling you that I lost "in the neighborhood of $400" with this company.  This is a round figure, plucked from memory.  I did not check my records.  It could have been more.  It could have been less.  I thought everyone understood what "in the neighborhood" meant.  I'm glad I had a chance to clear that all up.

Another ooops!.... I am NOT claiming that this $400 was spent on "required" purchases.  Certainly not!  If there were options that I chose to purchase from the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL), that was my own tough luck.  Yes it was. 

Mitch, I'll go to bed tonight secure in the knowledge that you will surely let me know if this doesn't cover everything.  Tomorrow's another day!

(One more time for anyone who got here late:.... What follows is based on my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, the conclusions are based on ONE PERSON'S OPINION, and I am NOT.... I repeat, NOT.... implying that the Association of Certified Liquidators [ACL] is a scam by making these statements in my "Scams 101" class.  Is that perfectly clear to everyone?)

Having said that, I would now like to begin:


I.... (or my husband, if you want to get technical, since we signed up in his name).... let's make it "we".... Whew!....

One more time.

"We" (my spouse and I) lost in the neighborhood of $400 to this company.... which is pretty small as far as My Stupid Ventures go.

There are lots of scary stories floating around out here, so I would suggest that you post on various bulletin boards before you make any decisions.  And I would further suggest that you don't cough up a dime 'til you find SOMEBODY who is consistently making money as a locator, with the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) closing all the deals and paying them 50% of the profit.  (That may take a while.)

And never forget.... what follows is my PERSONAL experience only.

Ooops, wait!

A new day dawns....

Email Number Three arrives, right on schedule!

Mitch says the next paragraph is confusing and I should rewrite it.  I STILL don't quite understand the seriousness of this particular boo-boo, so instead of rewriting the whole paragraph, I'll just remind everyone that the "locator" doohinky comes with the manual. . . it wasn't the option.... handling the whole deal is the option.... but only if you want to.... you don't have to.... which we didn't.... want to, I mean.... we only wanted to be locators.... and that's okay.

I hope that clears it up.  So here's my original paragraph containing the original boo-boo:

"My husband and I (in my husband's name, you understand) signed on to be 'locators.'  This is one of the options the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) offers for those who prefer NOT to deal with buyers and handle the entire deal themselves.  We located lots of merchandise, but the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) was never interested in any of it.  The reasons they gave were different every time.  The manual provides clear guidelines as to what they will and will not accept, but no matter how closely we believed we were following these guidelines, nothing we found was of interest to them."

(I hope you didn't forget to correct that as you went along. . . if you did, go back and read it again, the right way this time.)

Okay, now where was I?

Oh yes.... I was at the part where the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) was never interested in buying any of the stuff we located, no matter how closely we thought we were following the guidelines.


Not a nibble.

And the reasons they gave were different every time.  And after a while, we started to think things like, "Wow, this is really strange."  It may not have been strange at all, but WE thought it was strange. 

So anyway, we decided (we felt) (we believed) (possibly erroneously) that our only choice was to bite the bullet and find buyers ourselves.... even though we had never wanted to do that.... and before the little light came on, we were gullible enough to pay another $70 to take an "exam" (which we had to have notarized) so my husband could become a "Certified Liquidator."  We found the exam to be incredibly easy, and that seemed a little fishy -- but we went through with it because the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) said some.... (or many or most, I'm sorry, my memory fails me here).... people would not deal with us until we were "certified."

We thought it was a licensing requirement or something.  (No, ACL never claimed it was.  I said WE THOUGHT it was.  Our mistake.  Just chalk it up to being stupid.... this was one of our early experiences.)  Imagine how silly we felt when we realized that this "certification" was essentially a "product" the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) offered its members.... (Call it an "option" if you prefer, but because we paid $70 for it, I choose to call it a "product."  In fact, right there in his first letter to me, Mitch says, and I quote, "You didn't have to purchase the exam.") 

I haven't the slightest idea why we didn't put two and two together BEFORE we paid to get certified, but hey.... it was only an extra $70 out of our pockets and into theirs (and of course the notary made her ten bucks).  (Do you have any idea how STUPID I feel as I tell this tale??)

Following is our PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with being "certified":....

Not one manufacturer or potential buyer WE ever spoke with asked (or cared) if we were certified.  (Maybe somebody out there does care; WE just didn't happen to find anyone who did.)  In fact, it seemed that nobody WE personally contacted even knew what a "Certified Liquidator" was.  One rather worldly dude positively guffawed (a very loud laugh, sometimes followed by an involuntary snort).

I have been told by various people on my Friends In Business Bulletin Board that you can learn everything you need to know about "buying and selling distressed merchandise" right here on the internet or at your friendly (and free) public library.  I don't know if this is true.  I have never tried.  Mitch Klass claims it is NOT possible to soak up the information his manual provides anywhere else but in his manual.  That may be true.  Far be it for me to quibble.  But if I (personally) had it to do over again, I would surely try.  And if I DID luck out and find the information I needed (if indeed it were possible, which Mitch says it is not), I wouldn't be an official "Certified Liquidator".... but golly whiz, I guess I would just have to learn to live with that.

You are the only one who can decide if you believe this company is making its money from the opportunity itself (the manual, the exam, etc.).... or from buying and selling distressed merchandise.  Maybe the only way for you to do that is to buy the manual, learn the rules, find some stuff, and see what happens.  I have nothing to lose if you do and nothing to gain if you don't.  You have my blessing.

There may actually be some Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) members making the kind of money they claim in their advertising.... and I have never made any statement to the contrary.... but I would highly recommend that you track these people down (without any help from ACL) and talk to them personally, which is what I recommend for ALL "opportunities" that come with a price tag.

Mitch brought up the pesky "COURT" word again and said I should tell you that I know for a fact there are people who are making this kind of money with "the ACL opportunity" as verified by the Columbus BBB.... but I can't do that, because I did NOT verify it with the Columbus BBB.  I suspect it is true or Mitch wouldn't be getting so feisty about it, but you see....


I don't care. 

And here's why:....

I have another PERSONAL OPINION that may be all wet, but I would like to take the risk of sharing it with you anyway.... (I'll double check with Internic, but as far as I know, this is still MY web site).

I PERSONALLY believe.... (this is not a statement of fact, but a personal opinion).... that the BBB is NOT the best source of information on such matters.  You see, it is POSSIBLE.... (these are not statistics; these are numbers fished out of my own personal imagination).... that for every person who is making his fortune with an opportunity (ANY opportunity), there might be 100 (or 1,000) (or 5,000) who lost their shirt. 

So how do I recommend checking out every opportunity? .... (Remember, I come from the trenches.)

I stay clear of the BBB, the FTC, the IRS, the FBI, the CIA, and KFC.  I get on the internet, and I track down at least fifty people who have been involved in the opportunity.... (this isn't hard if you just post on a few bulletin boards and run a search for the company and contact every dealer you find).... and THEN I decide if the people who have achieved greatness are the exception or the rule.

Well, I don't know about you, but I am ABSOLUTELY EXHAUSTED.

I have never worked so hard to say so little.... but nobody gets away with accusing me of "writing sensationalism" and "hiding from the truth."  No sir.  Not me.  I'll truth-you to death!  (I understand this is not unlike being pecked to death by a duck.)

If you're not exactly sure who the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) is, they're the ones whose mailers included (at one time, maybe not now?) a non-negotiable facsimile of a check for $95,000+ to entice people into their company.  (Ooops!  Mitch says "entice" is the wrong word.  He says I didn't read the copy.  This was actually the amount they made when they started in the business.  So I guess it really doesn't have anything to do with "enticing" people after all.)

Anyhoo, there was a story in the news a while back about one enterprising soul who actually deposited this non-negotiable check, and his friendly (blind?) bank accepted it without batting an eye.  What a hoot!!  (Ooops!  Mitch says that by using the word "enterprising," I am condoning his actions.  This is not true, Mitch.  If I were condoning his actions, I would have called this class "Bank Fraud 101" instead of "Scams 101."  But thank you for giving me a chance to clarify that.)

Oh geez.  I don't mind telling you... I am absolutely devastated.  I used to provide a "From the Horse's Mouth" link right here so you could read the whole story yourself (and interesting reading it was, too!).  Woe is me.  While doing a routine "link check" on my site, I found that page had disappeared. :o(

Well, if Mitch has any more objections, I'll have to move the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) to a site all its own!

Oh, before I go, I forgot to mention one very important thing:....

It is absolutely CRUCIAL that you thoroughly dissect every guarantee.  (This would be an excellent time to review The Anatomy of a Worthless Guarantee).  (Like most of our links, this one will open a second browser window, so you can look around all you like without getting lost; just close the window when you're ready to come back here.)

(No, I am NOT implying that ACL's guarantee is worthless.  And frankly, I am both shocked and hurt that you don't know me better than that by now.)

The following tiny snippet was from ACL's guarantee in October of 1998.  It may be different now, but it was accurate at the time of this writing.  It used to be a much bigger snippet, but Mitch threatened me with "copyright violation," so now it's just a little wee snippet.

"After you've located some excess merchandise AND WE'VE SOLD IT FOR YOU.... I'll.... send you $300 just for trying."

Did you notice the RED phrase?  I don't know why I made that RED.... for the life of me, I can't imagine what I could have been thinking....

Oh well, I guess it doesn't matter.

So anyway, what if you locate the merchandise.... (remember, this is just a "What If?" kind of question and a darn big one at that)....

What if you locate the merchandise and the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) won't sell it for you?

Well then, I guess you're S. Outta Luck.

With other companies I have come to know and love.... (I said "other" companies; this has NOTHING to do with the Association of Certified Liquidators, and I want to make that perfectly clear).... I have learned to tremble in my boots when I see this little legal loophole.  Some dishonest people actually put this in on PURPOSE.... just to confuse you!  Who would do a thing like that??  I'm sure Mitch would be as shocked by those people as I am; in fact, when he sees this, I'm willing to bet he'll change it, what do you think?

Now I'd like to share an e-mail from a lady who went into this business with her mom.  She wrote this before she discovered my own ACL saga and was appealing to me to include ACL here at Scams 101.  Here is her story, unedited, reprinted with permission, and on file in case His Honor the Federal Court Judge should ask.  Isn't it strange how similar it is to my own story?

My mom and I decided to try a business that I found on the internet locating liquidation merchandise for a company called ACL (Association of Certified Liquidators).  We read OVER and OVER all the instructions and began searching for potential "sellers".  The ACL company is not what it claims to be.  We are not sure "exactly" what they are yet (deleting some bad words here!!) but with all the "guarantees" and stories from people that had made this WORK--it had to be good, right??  My mom fronted the money for the cost of the manuals, phone service to get "live" help from an ACL employee, and she had to buy a PC and I had to teach her to use it and to get online.  (Not to mention costs of stationery, envelopes, stamps, and business cards!)  I had to drive to her house (approx. 50 miles) every weekend or every other weekend to help her, as she had no clue how to send e-mail, download files or look things up on the internet.  We followed directions, set up a company name, and began to find prospects.  We actually had many, many replies and she received lots of samples of things that manufacturers or buy-outs wanted to get rid of.  The trick was being able to offer the seller a reasonable price, and ACL had a special technique used for us to calculate our bids.  We could NOT offer more than they were willing to pay--let's face it!  It was not OUR money we were making bids with!  We were under sold on EVERY venture, or told that ACL could not get buyers for the merchandise, or that the merchandise was considered a "specialty" item that they could not use.  We spent hours on the internet researching data to try and find addresses of manufacturers, and time on the phone talking to them, plus time and effort to calculate pages and pages of merchandise (some in the hundreds of thousands!)  She had to get her own "fax" number, and all bids and samples had to be shipped to ACL for approval.  Many times we waited days to hear from them, putting off potential clients, calling the "help" line to get one excuse after the other about why they did not have an answer or approval for us.  The waiting was the hardest!  We had our hopes so high, to only have them dashed EVERY single time!!  The guarantee was that you had to be 100% satisfied with the company, or they would return $300 to you in the first year, even if you had made $100,000!!  The catch was this....somewhere in all the pages of fine print--and I am talking about a whole manual here, you had to have SOLD at least ONE deal!  My mom wrote and requested her money back and they refused.  She sent the manual and everything back to them and they sent it back unopened and "refused".  She wrote and called the BBB and several others complaining about them.  They said they had only 33 inquiries about the company but no complaints had been filed..... ACL acted like my mom was a "nut" and did not know what she was doing.  She thinks they make their money NOT on buying and reselling merchandise, but by selling this opportunity, along with stationery, business cards, letterheads, phone service and directories of manufacturers, and much, much MORE.  I sure would like to find someone that made this "work" and find out if in fact they really ARE liquidators, and that they do BUY merchandise!  If you have any information about them, I would really appreciate it!  Thanks for giving us "little" guys hope!  F.P.

Oh, one more thing.

I recently received a phone call from a man who was considering signing up.  He had talked ad nauseam with Mitch himself, and I think he had already decided to go through with it before he called me.  He had a lot of questions in his mind -- he kept saying, "This sounded a little odd," "I thought that was a little strange" -- but it was a classic case of WANTING to believe.

Sorry.  That's more than enough amateur psychobabble.... but I do happen to have an article on the subject called The Want-To-Believe Syndrome, if you'd like to read it.

One of the things he thought was "odd" was that (he claims) Mitch told him (so he says) that he should NOT get on the internet.  Well I don't know if Mitch really said that or not (I am the first to admit it's pure hearsay).... but I do know I've heard it before.  I heard it from Summit Photographix, the personal trading card company that stole $8,000 from me and was later taken to trial by the FTC.  Now this guy could have been lying to me.  (Other people have told me it's actually IN the latest edition of the course, but I have no idea if that's true or not.) 

What's that you say?  Why would any biz-op company advise you to stay off the internet?  Well here's my theory:  When dealers for a company (any company) or members of an association (ditto) are NOT happy, it's bad for business when they put their heads together.  Sometimes it even leads to the downfall of the "opportunity."  The internet makes it easy to find other justifiably-disgruntled dealers, and I'm sure you've heard the old phrase, "There's power in numbers."

And strangely enough -- (but only strange IF that guy's claim was true) -- the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) has its own web site to bring in new dealers.  I'll give you a link to it when I stop talking.  (I hope Mitch appreciates all the traffic I'm sending him!)

Did I say ONE more thing?  Sorry, I meant four.

You'll probably want to take a gander at this Postal Service Decision.  I'm no lawyer, but it sure caught my eye.

The Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) claims to be endorsed by the president of "Entrepreneur Magazine" (or did at the time of this writing), and maybe they are.  Who am I to quibble??  But I want to share this e-mail I received from a lady named Ginger:....

I wanted to send you an interesting response from Entrepreneur Magazine to my inquiry about the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) using them as a reference in their advertising, but somehow I got your E-mail address wrong.  Entrepreneur said they had got their lawyers to ask them to stop using Entrepreneur's name and that the organization was not endorsed by Entrepreneur's founder, whoever that is.  Now, the letter I tried to send you forwarding the E-mail response of Entrepreneur has been 'disappeared' by AOL. (I don't know where it goes after about a week).

I have NO personal knowledge of this.... zippo.... but it may be worth your time to check it out.

Last thing:....

As you peruse ACL's web site, please read their testimonials carefully.  Do any of them say that the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) arranged the deals for them?  I didn't think so.  BUT WHAT IF THEY DID?  What if the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) actually "did the deal" for these people -- does that mean they'll "do the deal" for you? 

Ummmm.... No. 

It doesn't. 

It's not uncommon for "biz ops".... (and let me make it PERFECTLY clear that I am NOT talking about the Association of Certified Liquidators [ACL] but about some of the more shady biz ops out here, and believe me, there are a bunch!).... as I was saying, it's not at all uncommon for these not-so-honest companies to follow through in isolated cases just to stay one step ahead of the law.  I seriously doubt that Mitch would ever do such a nasty thing, but it's something to keep in mind as you continue your search for the perfect opportunity.

Forgive me for repeating myself, but this is VERY important stuff:....

They ALL make it sound like "you can't fail," but for every success story, it shouldn't be too hard to dig up 100 or 1,000 or even 5,000 very unhappy people.  When you call them on it, they'll claim these lazy bums didn't follow instructions, or they weren't willing to work, or they expected the Bluebird of Happiness to poop money on them.... but it ain't necessarily so. 

If a company doesn't hold up its end of the bargain, even the most motivated sucker (uh, dealer) isn't going to be able to make it work.

But that's the hypothetical "Other Company."  Let me get back to talking about the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL).  (I do tend to stray, don't I?)


Get right on over to Ye Olde Archives at the Friends In Business Message Board and read this thread.  Marje's first message was deleted by yours truly during a bout of temporary insanity, but the rest of the thread is intact if you just scroll on down the page when you get there.  And if you feel you have been victimized, please contact Marje.  She is the lady who can hook you up with the right people, but only if you contact her (well duh).

Finally, here is the long-awaited link to ACL's Web Site.

One kind of interesting thing to think about as you go through the site.... Mitch makes a big deal about getting "Free Merchandise!" delivered right to your door.  But don't forget, if you want Mitch to arrange any deals for you.... (as in "find a buyer," which is what the Association of Certified Liquidators does for its "locators").... well, ummmmm, you've gotta send that free merchandise to Mitch.  Free.  Well, free to him anyway. Somebody (that would be you) has to pay those pesky shipping charges.  And I'm not sure how you're going to enjoy that brand new free stereo if it's at Mitchs' house instead of yours, but hey, what do I know?

In the interest of fairness, I must say that there is some decent information about locating distressed merchandise in Mitch's manual.  If you plan to go out and snag buyers on your own and DO THE WHOLE DEAL every time, then maybe you CAN make money using ACL's techniques (without getting "certified" or buying whatever else they're peddling these days).  The problem is, if you plan to be strictly "a locator" and leave it up to the Association of Certified Liquidators (ACL) to find buyers for your stuff, then as my dear daddy always says, "You're up sh** creek" (or you might be) (like we were).  I'm not saying it doesn't happen once in a great while, but Russian roulette never has been one of my favorite things.

Okay.  The end.

Take me back to the Scams 101 Index!

MaaMaw here!     

For a year and a half, I tried everything I knew to make money on the internet.  Nice store, good products, great prices!  I worked my hiney off... and I could count my sales on one set of toes.

In 1998, I stumbled on Corey Rudl's MAGNIFICENT internet marketing course, and I've made between $350 and $3,000 every single month since then.  Rich?  Nope... but I was able to dump the business that ruined my life for 25 years, and that's good enough for me.

                                                                                        Here's how I turned things around . . . . .

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PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SCAMS!  Research all business opportunities thoroughly, and never blow off other people's bad experiences.  Ask around (and listen!).  The Scams101 Message Board is a good place to start.  What's that?  You've found a Biz Op and you're wondering if it's endorsed by FIB?...  Not unless it's listed in MaaMaw's Magnificent Toolbox.

Me & Katie

  Lesley Fountain                          Click Here to Send an Email
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