Ellen Million (ellenmillion) wrote,
Ellen Million
ellenmillion

A first for Ellen

I'd like to ask you guys to boycott something. Or, more exactly, someONE.

Ken Whitman is up to his usual tricks: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=350372

He's sold RapidPOD.com (though I'm quite skeptical about the terms of the sale, and highly, HIGHLY recommend NOT doing business with this company, regardless), and is starting a new venture: http://fantasyartwear.com

DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS MAN.

Do not give him any money.

Do not negotiate any contract with him.

Do not be wowed by his lower than average pricing and promises.

Do not believe him when he says 'the (insert product) is in the mail.'

I lost a lot of my very valuable time dealing with him, received incorrect product, literally took a YEAR to extract one job out of him, he totally flaked out on the following job, and, more than that: he thinks this is okay. He thinks this is a perfectly fit business model. He has no problem with delivering books ordered to be sold at a convention on the LAST day of that convention. He is pleased to let everyone know that he was able to sell RapidPOD for 'A LOT of money' and has no scruples in sharing the fact that he doesn't care that people have a poor opinion of him as long as he had a high gross to report. He is a practiced marketer and very personable and friendly. He will make his business sound legitimate and promise a fast turnaround.

Maybe he genuinely means to do the things he promises, and sometimes, he even does. But not reliably.

He might be a great person to have a beer with, but I am not, by any means, the only person who has been raked across the coals by him, and invested time and money into his empty promises.

Please, let your friends know. Let EVERYONE know - he is not be trusted, no matter what shiny new business he waves in your face.

I've dealt with a lot of flaky companies, and many of them I won't do business with again. Ken Whitman is the only individual I'd actually ask YOU guys to actively keep other people from using. He plays on vanity, and he's a master at looking like one of the good guys. It makes me cringe to think that more people may eventually be taken in by his slick appeal and fast talk. I don't generally pass judgment, but this guy is NO GOOD.

I am happy to point you towards records of my own experiences with him, or collect others' experiences, too. I am curious as to whether or not there would be enough people to collect a class action suit against him - not because the claim would really be worth the work, but this guy thinks the things he's done is OKAY. He's going to do it again with a fresh clean business model! He doesn't see a single thing wrong with it, or with spamming indiscriminately. I think he's lacking a conscience or something.

Long story short: DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH KEN WHITMAN. And tell your friends.



Edited to add the gory details of my experience:

My initial feeling for the service was utterly glorious - his prices were good, I was communicating directly with Ken, his e-mails were coherent and friendly ... this was a goldmine, I was sure. I told him my deadlines, received assurances, uploaded files, and ... silence. I prodded. Nothing. Then he spammed me. Seriously, spam through the contact form at my Web site. I wrote back, and he finally replied. The project moved forward again. I got - weeks after they were supposed to arrive, but barely, barely in time for the deadline I'd set - 2/3 of my order: books 2, 3, and 4 of Wish3. There were a few minor problems - a few lumpy spines, and a color page that was in black and white. I wrote back to let him know that they'd arrived, and that I was anxious to get book 1. What resulted was a full year of silence. I had extreme difficulty selling the books without a first volume, and was terribly frustrated. I called, and I wrote very firm e-mails with no results. I finally went with another service, and ended up having to buy 100 volumes at once.

I saw Ken plugging his services on a Yahoo! list I belong to this spring (as printed in July of 2006), and wrote to him again, expressing my displeasure with his previous service, but extending a second chance. It was partly a test - I was sorely tempted to warn people on the list to avoid his services, and I wanted to see if he would ignore me, or try to make good. He still had great prices, and his e-mails really come across well. He offered sincere apologies and a hefty discount on my next order, so I gave him files to reprint book 4 and the files for book 5, along with a page count and my tentative estimate for the charges. Our exchange was promising - he seemed genuinely sorry about the previous mess-ups, and anxious to please. Then, an ominous silence followed my e-mails requesting information about shipping, and several days later, I got spammed by him! Utterly impersonal notice about his great services in my inbox! Do we see a pattern here? I replied, asking about my invoice. He replied the following day, claiming the books shipped the day before. I never did get an invoice, though I prompted for it several times, but I did get my books (not sent the method I'd asked for, but for more than twice the price). Or at least, I got most of my books. Book 4 looked lovely, even nicer than the first time he'd printed them (there were minor binding flaws in many of those, and the trim was crooked on several). Book 5 ... what I got was quite nice, but I only received half of the volume! Each printing was only half of what I'd uploaded, only one of the two issues that was supposed to be in it! An e-mail received a prompt, apologetic reply, and we discussed the reprints. After a few back and forths, asking where my reprints were, I received this answer:

So sorry about not getting back with you soon. We are making changes around here to make printing easier for the clients. We will print your books and ship them on Friday of this week. Sorry for the delay, won't happen again.

That was more than 18 months ago and I still have no books, despite numerous e-mails. I was never charged for the faulty order, but I think I got what I paid for. Certainly I've spent plenty of hours of my life on him that I won't be getting back.

Conclusion: Do not do business with this man. He seems sweet and well-meaning, but his follow-through is seriously lacking. You may get an order out of him. You may get two! But if you're looking for reliability, look elsewhere. The hassle is not worth the price, even when it's free.
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