NewsChannel 5 Investigates goes undercover and exposes the connections between Transforming America and other similar career placement companies that promised clients they would get them jobs.more>>
A Brentwood-based company is under fire because its clients claim they were promised jobs and never got them.
Transforming America promotes itself as a career advancement service and charges close to four-thousand dollars for its services. But what exactly do you get for your money?
NewsChannel 5 Investigates went undercover. Consumer Investigator Jennifer Kraus exposes what clients are led to believe they're paying for.
Try finding a job these days and you'll find it's pretty tough. In fact, job seekers say the openings they're looking for just aren't out there.
So Lyle Seavers was thrilled when a company calling itself Transition America claimed to have the contacts he needed to get a job in sales.
Kraus asks Seavers, "And they told you they would help you find a job?"
Seavers emphatically replies, "Absolutely."
Seavers continues, "I'm thinking this is the help I needed."
But after Seavers gave the company several thousand dollars, he never got the job he says the company promised to help him find.
He tells Kraus with some sarcasm, "So I paid $3400 dollars for this lovely binder and this fancy pen that they gave me."
Ed Wozniak owns the company which recently changed its name to Transforming America and he insists the company never promises anyone a job.
Yet, when we went in undercover, the Transforming America employee who met with us, Gary Sebold, told us we'd have no trouble finding a job with all of the company's many contacts, adding, "That's where our contacts...We're heavily connected. See, that's where contacts come in."
Sebold then went on to tell us, "We're so good at what we do that we guarantee in writing that (you) will accept a position (you) want, period."
And if we weren't sold on the idea yet, Sebold went on to say, "There's not a position you can think of we haven't helped somebody get because they wanted it."
And just like Lyle Seavers, the unhappy former client, we too were repeatedly told Transforming America would make sure we got interviews at companies we wanted to work for.
Again, while we were in the office undercover as prospective clients, we asked the same Transforming America employee Gary Sebold how we would get these job interviews.
Sebold told us, "We'll call them if we have to. If that's what it takes, we'll do that. We'll set it up. If that's what it's going to take to get the job done."
The company even claimed to have 'in's' at some of the top businesses in town, like Nissan.
Sebold casually mentioned to our undercover crew, "We've got people who play golf with the President of Nissan."
The same thing happened to Lyle Seavers when he first spoke with the company. Seavers tells NewsChannel 5, "They went on to name Tractor Supply Company, Dollar General." He adds that the company went on to tell him, "We are very tight with these people."
Seavers says he was also told the company's exclusive database would alert him about unadvertised job openings that matched his skills and experience.
We, too heard the same pitch.
Transforming America's Gary Sebold told us, "We have databases we put together where a targeted company's posted position inside their company will pop up in your email."
But Lyle Seavers says the database wasn't all it was cracked up to be. While he was looking for a job in sales, "I was getting leads for accounting. I was getting leads for nurse. I was getting leads for things I wasn't qualified for."
And those so-called secret openings, he adds, weren't at all secret. He found that most, if not all of them, were also posted on popular job sites on the Internet as well as in the newspaper.
Seavers explains why he's now speaking out, saying, "I want the consumer to know what these people do."
And Seavers isn't the only one upset with the company.
The Better Business Bureau has a stack of complaints about Transforming America from others who say they too were promised jobs and never got them.
The BBB's Kathleen Calligan says, "Obviously when you have a pattern of complaints, someone in the company is overstepping, misleading and giving clients indications that we're going to get you a job."
But those who have complained about Transforming America say it wasn't just one employee who talked up the idea of getting them hired.
And we discovered that Gary Sebold, the man who spent more than an hour and a half with our undercover crew explaining how Transforming America works, is no rookie employee. According to this business card, he's the Executive Vice President of Transforming America.
And he told us when we met with him, "I ran the Madison/Milwaukee, Wisconsin office for 12 years."
We tried to talk with Ed Wozniak, the owner of Transforming America, about what we'd found and what we'd been told by Sebold when he thought we were a prospective client of the company.
But, Wozniak told us to shut off our camera and leave the property, that he was not interested in talking with us or answering our questions.
But, former client Lyle Seavers is talking. And, he's talking for one reason. He explains, "I just don't want anybody else to be taken. I just really don't. Wrong is wrong. I teach my children to stand up when it's wrong. This is wrong."
So what exactly are you paying for at Transforming America? The head of the company tells NewsChannel 5 that they help clients improve their resumes and interviewing skills. But, again, he says they do not find people jobs. Unhappy customers like Lyle Seavers have tried to get their money back...but have had no success.
And as far as those 'ins' with companies like Nissan, Nissan, at least, tells NewsChannel 5 that they have no idea who Transforming America employees are playing golf with because Nissan does not have a President here in Middle Tennessee. A spokesman went onto say that they were unaware of any of their other top executives playing with anyone from the company.
And tomorrow night at 10, we'll see why some believe Transforming America is just the latest name for a company that's run into trouble before. We'll also hear from a former employee who shares inside information about what she says really went on inside that company.
If you were a client of either Transforming America or JL Kirk, you can file a complaint by calling the Tennessee Consumer Affairs office at 615-741-4737 and the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee at 615-250-4222. You can also file a complaint online with the BBB or with the state Consumer Affairs.