UnhappyFranchisee.com has been covering the dispute between a group of USA Mobile Drug Testing franchise owners and the franchisor since December, 2012.
As the dispute has dragged out, the former USAMDT franchisees have continued to use social media to voice their complaints against USAMDT CEO Joe Strom and franchise broker Rhino 7, and warn prospective franchise owners about the dangers of the USAMDT franchise opportunity.
The message below was provided to us for publication by one of the former USAMDT franchisees.
June 24th, 2013
This great country was founded on 5 basic principles, among which we practice individual liberty and free enterprise. In theory, if everyone approached these 5 basic principles with honesty and integrity, this country would want for nothing, we’d be in a thriving economy, jobs a plenty and opportunity for anyone to achieve American dreams. Unfortunately, this is not the world in which we live nor do we all play nice and fair with one another in the game of business. But unfair play has its consequences and eventually, the score gets evened up for all.
This is how a group of 9 of us felt after having bought the rights to license a USA Mobile Drug Testing franchise. All 9 of us agree that we thought we’d done proper due diligence and research and felt we were making a sound business decision investing money into this franchise. As all of the other posts indicate, we were wrong and within a matter of months, knew we had to make a change and flee the franchise. This isn’t intended to rehash every little detail but to highlight the last 7 months to take us to present day.
And present day, June 24th, saw Joseph Strom’s attorney, Dan Janssen, calling our attorney to request a settlement from us.
Really? Why the change of heart is what all of us want to know? Before I surmise what could possibly have brought this on or how a moment of rationale entered Strom’s head, I’d like to summarize the events leading up to this:
December 31, 2012
- USAMDT Franchisees contact UnhappyFranchisee.com, which posts our complaints (USA MOBILE DRUG TESTING Franchise Complaints) and raises questions about the truthfulness of USAMDT’s franchise representations (USA MOBILE DRUG TESTING Franchise Questions for CEO Joe Strom, USA MOBILE DRUG TESTING Franchise Warning).
- USAMDT CEO Joseph Strom and VP Kevin Smith receive a letter from our attorney indicating that 7 franchisees have hired him and effective immediately, are no longer members of the franchise network.
January 15, 2013
- Our attorney sends a second demand letter, which also includes an 8th franchisee to join the group, stating that if USAMDT, Strom, refuses to respond and/or participate in the contractual resolution method indicated in the franchise agreement, then we will consider them as having waived their rights and we file a lawsuit in FL. They are given 10 days to respond. Word of our departure is traveling fast among FranChoice and FranNet franchise broker firms, multiple states that require FDDs to be filed are asking questions, vendors in business with USAMDT are beginning to ask more questions about the franchisor.
- Julie Bennett from the Franchise Times learns of our dispute and begins interviewing for an article on the dispute. She contacts several ex-franchisees that have left, she contacts the business development firm, Rhino 7, for an interview, she contacts Mark Kirsch, USAMDT’s attorney, for an interview, she contacts Joe Strom at USAMDT but he refuses an interview and she gets passed to David Bell, their Marketing employee.
- The Unhappy Franchisee blog continues its coverage of the USAMDT franchise dispute (USA Mobile Drug Testing Franchisees Allege Fraud)
January 25, 2013
On this Friday in January, the 10th day as indicated in our demand letter and final day for Strom’s response, we learn of a meltdown on several accounts:
- Frannet is no longer pitching the USAMDT franchise and they are out of their database.
- Julie Bennett had been denied an interview with Strom’s attorney the day before but received a phone call the next day asking her to not publish the article because it will destroy the franchisor
- We are informed that Rhino 7 and USAMDT have severed their relationship and they no longer sell the USAMDT franchise.
- And at the end of the business day, Joe Strom and USAMDT respond to our demand letter via their new attorney, Daniel Janssen with Quarles & Brady.
February 4, 2013
- Strom’s attorney says he’ll advise Strom to forgo tribunal procedure and proceed with mediation.
March 27, 2013
- After weeks of chasing and waiting, Strom’s attorney finally nails down a date for mediation between all of us for April 19th.
April 19, 2013
- Day of mediation, Strom and Smith arrive 2 hours late. They are informed of a 9th franchisee that has joined the group the day before.
- According to the mediator, Strom’s attorney was advising Strom and Smith to agree to let the 9 of us out of our contracts in exchange for confidentiality agreements and non-disparagement clause.
- Smith demands we pay a ridiculous monthly fee for 20 years in order to be let out of our contracts while Strom sputters for air because he can’t believe the 9th franchisee has left. Their attorney advises this to be a mistake.
- After 2 hours in mediation, Strom and Smith and attorney leave the premise without telling us or the mediator. No resolution was reached.
Now perhaps at the end of this Strom thought that was it and we’d go away. NO WAY! Now, more than ever, the 9 of us feel the truth must be heard and nobody else should fall victim to their lies and throw their money away. Fast forward to the end of June and suddenly Strom has his attorney contact ours about a settlement. Strom had us jumping through hoops for 5 months and refused to respond or commit to a date, and of course even when his attorney advises him to let us out so he can repair what’s left of his franchise, his sidekick, Kevin Smith puffs out his chunky stomach, beats his chest like an overweight Tarzan and boldly demands we pay them money. Ha!
So why now Strom? The original 7 of us left in December and you’ve had all this time to file for an arbitration, which is just following your own FDD process.
And why should we respond to your question of settlement now?
You’ve been content with burying your head in the sand for 6 months.
Perhaps we are content with sending out constant reminders to your prospective buyers out there that buying a USAMDT franchise will be the biggest mistake of their lives. And if we can stop one more person from making that mistake, it’s worth the effort to write.
— A former USAMDT franchisee
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