I haven’t seen this many Bs swirling about since my youngest was mainlining Sesame Street. I’m personally over attacking Donald Trump’s business success by pointing out his Better Business Bureau ratings. That being said, challenging Donald Trump’s constant self-congratulatory references about his business successes remains a good idea. If he is seen to be not as successful as he asserts, then one of the fundamental justifications of his campaign falls away.
Everything related to Trump University neatly fits into that narrative. It was a total scam, designed to separate naïve and hopeful real estate investors from their money, which in some cases was more than $35,000.
I owned a mortgage company in the late 1990s and issued loans for real estate investors. None of them became successful in real estate via a high-dollar “How To Earn Big Money In Real Estate” seminar. They became successful simply by buying low and selling high.
There is no secret magic or special knowledge needed. Buying low involves readily available financing or cash, combined with an incredible amount of time spent at auctions, foreclosure offices at banks, trustees sales at the courthouse steps, and lots of low-ball offers. Selling high involves a little bit of luck, an eye for what improvements are needed to make a property attractive and quick to sell, and an extremely good (and inexpensive contractor). That’s it.
Nevertheless, from sworn depositions that Trump gave in response to the pending fraud cases against him, there are more things we now know:
- Trump wasn’t involved in choosing any of the trainers, despite advertising that they were handpicked.
- Some of the trainers had no real estate experience whatsoever and were told exactly what to say.
- All of the knowledge obtained via the courses was already available in his previously published books.
The lesson: it’s much easier to sell how-to books and seminars, for big profit, than it is to actually buy and sell real estate for big profit.
But, if Trump’s rivals want to criticize Trump’s business record, they should stop talking about the Better Business Bureau. Whether or not Trump U had a D- or an A+ rating is unimportant, and anyone who has some knowledge about the BBB knows this.
Here’s the most up-to-date posting from BBB:
First of all, the organization itself doesn’t have a sterling reputation. A few minutes of Google search reveals articles like “Is the Better Business Bureau a Protection Racket” or “Why the Better Business Bureau Should Give Itself a Bad Grade.” 20/20 did an entire show about the company.
Anyone who has actually done business with them knows the inside scoop as well. For years my contracting company paid the annual fee to be a member, anticipating that being in good standing would be a positive. When I refused to pay one year, deciding that my A rating didn’t require annual dues, a representative told me a secret.
Businesses that pay the annual fee can keep an A rating, provided they file a timely written response to a complaint. No corrective action was required and no complaint, however significant, would affect a rating as long as a response was given within 30 days. The BBB, just like Trump U, is a total scam and, as interesting as the sound bites have been over the last few weeks, it’s a pointless conversation.
This process can be seen on the Trump University BBB site itself. In April 2013 a complaint was filed and a response was immediately given. Although the site shows no rating because the business was reported as no longer active, this exchange would have yielded an A rating. Maintaining the rating has nothing to do with the nature of the complaint nor the way in which it was treated. This is why it’s a total waste of time to discuss it.
A more lucrative avenue for Trump’s opponents to pursue may be the utter lack of success of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts. Everyone is aware that his hotels and casinos repeatedly filed bankruptcy and ultimately closed. What is less known is how other gaming companies did during that same time.
Take a look at this simple graphic:
While Trump and his investors were taking a bath, everyone else was making money.
Of course, every successful individual has a long list of failures to their name. It’s been long said that success is merely getting back up one more time after failing yet again. So the fact that there have been failures certainly shouldn’t disqualify him. Furthermore, some of Trump’s supporters are so passionate and loyal – something he himself has crowed about on multiple occasions – that nothing could sway them.
On the other hand, for the person who is on the fence about whether or not they should cast their vote for this bombastic narcissistic flip-flopping self-promoter, these few facts just might make a difference in helping them choose to support an actual conservative when they cast their vote.
This was originally published at Independent Journal Review
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