I wrote this letter to the President of New Horizons Worldwide, Mr Thomas J. Bresnan, requesting his comments on this web site and the matter which prompted its creation. As of this writing, I have received no response from New Horizons Worldwide.
A man named Sixtus (who never offered his last name) called, not from New Horizons Worldwide, but rather from the local franchise, New Horizons of Milwaukee. This was somewhat surprising, since my last communication with New Horizons of Milwaukee was a phone call with their Marketing Director, Alozie Aguwa, who instructed me not to bother them again. I would have to guess that while New Horizons Worldwide didn't contact me, they did contact New Horizons of Milwaukee.
Sixtus wanted to set up a meeting at which we could discuss the web site. Having a rather full schedule, and not wanting to set foot in New Horizons of Milwaukee's offices again, I suggested that we meet for lunch the following day. Sixtus wouldn't meet me unless I came to New Horizons offices. Certainly not very accommodating of him, since he's the one who wants to have a meeting. I passed. But before the call was completed he did manage to say to me that it "is not healthy for you" to keep the web site in operation. I'm hoping that was just a poor choice of words on his part.
Sixtus left another message asking me to call him back and set up a meeting.
Sixtus called again, leaving another message requesting the same.
I called Sixtus back. He still wanted to have a meeting, but I didn't really need a meeting, and told him we could discuss it over the phone.
I told him that I'm quite satisfied with my new role as consumer advocate and have no need of further dealings with New Horizons, but he wanted to talk about what it would take to make me take down this site. I had thought about that after his first call asking me to meet with him. I reviewed the entire situation, and thought about all of the chances that New Horizons had been given to make things right. I also took into consideration that New Horizons had cost my wife the opportunity to become an MCSE this year.
I also reviewed their actions which sparked this site, whereby New Horizons decided that rather than abide by their agreements, they would prefer to ignore what they had proposed themselves, and what my wife had accepted, in order to give themselves a 25% discount.
Taking just the above into account, not even considering the lengths one has to go to in order to get New Horizons to even talk to you (much less live up to their obligations), I decided that I would begin negotiations about taking down this site only after they had refunded the balance of what my wife had paid them for the training, $5265.00 ($11,410.00 paid less $6145.00 refunded.)
This is what I told Sixtus. He told me that he would go as high as the original amount that Alozie Aguwa had promised, and would not go any higher. I told him I was sorry to hear that, and hung up.
| You see, Microsoft is withdrawing the certification tests for NT 4.0 at the end of 2000. My wife had one season, summer, when things at her job were slow enough to take vacation time and unpaid days off, and work her schedule to attend the weeks of classes required to obtain an MCSE. Now, thanks to New Horizons failing to deliver on its promise of quality instruction, my wife wasted weeks of her time, the opportunity to take a real vacation this year, the opportunity to make more money on her job by working the hours she took off to attend classes, and all of the time she invested in all of the NT 4.0 courses is an utter waste, because by the time she is next able to devote the time and resources to obtaining her MCSE, it will be a Windows 2000 ONLY test.|
I received a telephone call in the afternoon while setting up a new system. It was from Jerry Wright, the Vice President of North American Field Support for New Horizons Worldwide.
I wish to make clear from the outset that in this and subsequent calls to or from Mr. Wright, he presented himself in an utterly professional and courteous manner, and was quite sympathetic with my wife's situation and apologetic for the manner in which the matter had been handled to date. For what it's worth to New Horizons and to Mr. Wright, I find that he, at least, doesn't suck. Even if he was making faces on the other end of the line and wishing he was talking to anyone else in the world about anything but the subject at hand, he had the class not to let me know, and the customer relations skill to avoid further confrontation.
Now, on with the show... The meat of his offer was as follows: New Horizons would refund to my wife the entire balance that she paid for all courses (good so far). In return for that, I would cease activities related to newhorizonssucks.net, turn the domain name over to them, and go on my merry way (not so good).
I realize that in situations such as these, there cannot and will not be a straight out offer of money for the expressed purpose of silencing the complaining party and purchasing his vehicle for expressing his opinions. To make such an offer may inflame the situation further, by giving the complainer the opportunity to shout "look, they're trying to buy me off" or somesuch, and might tend to look crass.
However, the fact of the matter is that what was proposed was a simple purchase with a few special terms. If Mr. Wright and New Horizons wished merely to refund my wife's money in the hope that the gesture would generate enough goodwill that I would voluntarily take down this web site, then my wife's refund would not be contingent upon my acceptance of their requirement of the transfer of the domain name and the cessation of newhorizonssucks-related activities. A voluntary refund with voluntary dismantling of newhorizonssucks.net was not what was proposed, and no inquiry was made by New Horizons as to whether I would consider voluntarily mothballing the site if my wife received a full refund. Further, many opportunities to avoid the creation of the site had already been refused by the Milwaukee franchise, and New Horizons Worldwide was not interested in contacting me directly until after the Milwaukee franchise failed to resolve the matter yet again (30 days after I mailed to them the letter notifying them of the situation.) If this was a simple refund, and not an outright offer to purchase, one wonders why it was offered so very late in the game?
At any rate, I told Mr. Wright that I would ask my wife when she returned from her business travels on Friday, September 29, 2000. I did so, and her opinion was that she would rather the site remain up than accept an offer to purchase under the terms proposed by Mr. Wright. After further discussion, I outlined the basic conditions under which I would sell the name and agree to stop my activities as webmaster of newhorizonssucks.net. I spent some spare moments during the next several days putting finger to keyboard typing out my terms and, presumably, theirs.
I still didn't have the final draft of my proposal ready, but since Mr. Wright had now patiently waited nearly a week to hear from me, I called him up and got his fax number. I made sure that the important terms were complete, and faxed the draft proposal to Mr. Wright so that he could take a look at it, get their legal department to add any language that they deemed necessary, and everybody would know where the negotiations stood.
This is the draft that I faxed to them (Adobe Acrobat required to view.) A bit of personal information has been obscured in the interest of my wife's privacy. Otherwise, it is verbatim.
Anyway, it's just a draft proposal. The lease terms allow me to recoup my costs associated with obtaining the domain name, the creation of the site, and the cost of hosting services, legal expenditures, and continued maintenance of the site through the year during which they would be leasing. The purchase price is identical to the price paid during an arms-length sale of a personal domain name by an acquaintance of mine to an interested party who was the only interested party.
The other terms guarantee that, at least for a year, if someone else has as bad an experience with New Horizons as my wife did, AND they're ticked enough to look around, AND smart enough to find the site without help from a search engine or other referring link, that they will at least be able to email somebody at New Horizons Worldwide who MIGHT be able to smooth things over. Considering the number of times I have been told, by various employees of New Horizons corporate and franchise offices, that New Horizons' goal is to assure that each of their students receives the best education possible, and that each student be satisfied with their experience with New Horizons, I would think that this site would fit neatly into a strategy designed to achieve those objectives.
I thought it would be, when finished, a reasonable counter offer. They did not.
Maintaining his professionalism and courtesy, Mr. Wright called back to inform me of that, and that the position of New Horizons Worldwide is as stated in their original offer, and if that offer was not accepted, then it would be New Horizons' contention that I was infringing on their trade name. We talked about that a bit, and of the law as it pertains to obtaining a domain name for the sole purpose of selling it to a company who would otherwise have the right to it, which was another of New Horizons' contentions.
I have only this to say in with regards to the above contentions:
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The name "New Horizons" is a registered trademark of New Horizons Worldwide, Inc. The name "New Horizons Computer Learning Centers" also belongs to New Horizons Worldwide, Inc. All other copyrighted or trademarked names contained herein belong to their respective owners.
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