Details of Grievance against Kim and Gary Blagg,
PageFree Publishing Inc.
109 South Farmer Street, Otsego, MI 49078
Tel: 269 / 692-3926 Fax: 269 / 692-3927
Brought by Stephen T. Manning PhD
Author: Psychology, Symbolism, and the Scared
Covering the period of November 2003 - July 2008 (to date)
Reasons for Making this Complaint:
This complaint has been registered in the public forum for three main reasons:
(i) To alert the public, especially prospective authors, to the illegal and unethical activities of PageFree Press / PageFree Publishing, headed by Mrs Kim Blagg and Mr. Gary Blagg, of the above address.
(ii) To encourage other disaffected authors who have suffered similar treatment to contact me at the website address above with a view to prosecuting a class-action lawsuit for assorted civil, criminal, and personal offenses.
(iii) In the event of a continued lack of moral accountability and redress on the part of Mrs. Blagg and Co., this document and its associated links will serve as the basis for either (a) the abovementioned class action lawsuit; (b) a private lawsuit, or (c) as a combination of both.
BRIEF OUTLINE OF COMPLAINT
All of the following points can be verified by visiting http://color-of-truth.com where all relevant emails and phone conversations are documented. You will also find another link to other ex-PageFree author’s comments and complaints. I take full responsibility for the facts reported here, and am willing to testify to their truth and accuracy in a court of law. S.T. Manning PhD. April 2005.
General Points of Grievance: (More details by number below)
2. Multiple delays.
3. False contracts.
4. Lies and deception.
5. Gross incompetence.
6. Multiple errors on proofs.
7. Non-payment of royalties.
8. Rudeness and arrogance.
9. Chronic unprofessionalism
10. Last-minute price changes.
11. Fraud and misrepresentation.
12. Non-delivery of paid services.
13. Non-delivery of ordered books.
14. Incorrect information on websites.
15. Failure to honor contractual obligations
16. Chronic lateness on all tasks undertaken
17. Refusal to surrender author-publisher files
18. Refusal to respond to specific author queries
19. Misleading statements on website and in contract.
20. Intransigence when dealing with customer complaints.
21. Obfuscation and obstruction in responding to author requests
This, I am sorry to say has been my unfortunate experience with PageFree Publishing; a 16-month frustrating and costly debacle to date, as I simply try to get what I get paid for. The original terms were “the production of a book within 8 weeks”. Mine took well over a year, and after multiple inexcusable delays, incompetence, unprofessionalism, and lies, it still hasn’t been done right.
After many months of sincere attempts to receive a professional service whilst PageFree basically held me to ransom over my book, I have now despaired of being able to trust or rely upon them. My book is not up to quality standards as per the proof I signed, and they stubbornly refuse to address the matter. Nor will Kim or Gary Blagg answer any other reasonable requests in anything but an offhand and dismissive manner – now that they have my money in the bank.
Furthermore, I have never received any apology; only one excuse after another, then lies and evasion, followed by rudeness and dismissive condescension. Now this is being further compounded by even more uncooperativeness, ineptitude, obfuscation, and arrogance on the part of Mrs. Blagg, who it seems, is now intent on ‘punishing’ me for having the audacity to bring up these issues and expect a professional service from her. My crime? Simply expecting what I paid for, and now actually insisting upon it. In return they are being downright malicious and obstructive. The latest is a pernicious and spiteful demand that I need to send ‘cahiers checks’ for the release of any more books. This, knowing I am currently abroad, and despite having used my credit card in the past without any problems.
Authors beware! PageFree Publishing is an underhanded and fraudulent operation that has little respect for authors. You are advised to stay away; unless that is (metaphorically speaking), you enjoy ‘getting shafted’, ‘being stiffed’, ‘being taken for a fool’, or otherwise being manipulated, deceived, or treated with contempt… and then, paying royally for the privilege into the bargain!
Please see details below.
Condensed Explanation of General Points
1. Duplicity. There are many instances where Kim Blagg attempts to mislead the prospective customer / author, including (a) concerning the general professionalism of PageFree operations, (b) the attention and respect given to author’s work, (c) the quality of her own expertise and (d) the resultant shoddy service she offers. She also misleads prospective authors to believe that the ‘Authors Room’ on her website is in fact real. I have visited it several times in an attempt to discern whether or not my case was unusual. But NEVER was anybody in the chat rooms, nor were any comments posted. It is obviously just another part of the ‘false front’ she uses to instill confidence in prospective authors…
2. Multiple delays. Too numerous to list here, the reader is cordially invited to follow the links and read the hundreds of emails – many unanswered – that were met with indifference, incompetence, or lies.
3. False contracts. This one will probably have to be sorted out in the courts, but in my experience, when an individual resorts to vague legalese in order to avoid fulfilling the obvious spirit of the agreed endeavor, then something is seriously amiss. Considering the fact that I only contracted PageFree on the understanding they would produce a color insert in the book, and then, after paying all the fees, to be told they couldn’t do it after all, (unless the price went way up of course) this, after many months of frustration and false promises…
4. Lies and deception. I have documented at least two specific examples where I was deliberately and calculatedly lied to about the status of my manuscript and what was and was not being done. These lies were accompanied complete with rustling papers over the phone, in a pretense that my file was actually being looked at. When I later discovered the deception and (politely) called Kim Blagg to get an explanation, the phone was actually put down on me…
5. Gross incompetence. Well, the fact that they promised a finished book in 8 weeks; and the fact that my first copy from PageFree wasn’t in my hand until 13 months later should be warning enough…. In fact, when the first batch were printed (incorrectly), they told me one copy had been sent to me. Despite several reminders that it hadn’t arrived (see emails) the Blaggs didn’t even bother to dispatch another copy until over a month later. This book in turn was sent via snail mail and took a further six weeks to arrive… etc.. etc..
6. Multiple errors on proofs. No matter how meticulous I was, or how clear my instructions were (even color coded etc) Kim Blagg still managed to bungle proof after proof – 5 or 6 in a row I believe, and then had the audacity to try to charge me extra for HER mistakes…
7. Non-payment of royalties. At the time of writing my book has been in print for five and a half months. Royalty payments are supposed to be sent quarterly. I have received no notifications or payments…
8. Rudeness and arrogance. First example was when I called Kim after catching Gary in a premeditated deception. He had assured me that Kim was working personally on my file, even going so far as to rustle papers as he ‘read’ the details to me. Later the same day, Kim defended the lack of activity on my book by stating “I haven’t even seen your file for three months” (because she was so busy dealing with ‘more important’ customers apparently). Politely drawing her attention to Gary’s lies as well as the fact that she needed to honor her promises to produce the book, she rudely put the phone down on me, and then emailed to tell me she wasn’t going to answer any other calls. I was stupefied.. and deeply offended, but I had already invested so much time and energy into the project.. still believing Kim’s lie of course that “PageFree was the only one who could supply my color pages”. In recent months she has even dropped the charming pretence as I have become increasingly more insistent that she provides the minimal service according to our contract. Unfortunately, her response to any criticism at all, no matter how reserved or polite, is to be arrogant, defensive, and condescending. (See emails)
9. Chronic unprofessionalism. Many, many instances, including posting incorrect book information and author’s bio on websites, posting the wrong cover images or no images at all, not having the book available for supply, not explaining any of the above… and then there is her personal rudeness and lack of attention to detail, which is NOT a useful trait in a book printer..
10. Last-minute price changes. After having committed many months and hundreds of dollars to getting the book we agreed upon, Kim Blagg informs me of an increase in price of over 30%. I decide at this point that even a black-and-white version is better than nothing, seeing as several professional contacts have been waiting for a review copy for several months… so I reluctantly give the go-ahead for a B&W version..
11. Fraud and misrepresentation. Several instances, including contractual issues, website information, services, pricing, and personal integrity…
12. Non-delivery of paid services. Many, many instances as recoded here..
13. Non-delivery of ordered books. Without proper explanation from the Blaggs, Amazon.com informed me (as a customer) that ordered books could not be delivered. Another book ordered direct from PageFree on Nov 4th 2004 didn’t arrive until January 30th. 3 months later! These seriously late deliveries can be attributed to PageFree’s spiteful decision to respond as slowly and as cheaply as possible to my later requests..
14. Incorrect information on websites. Despite several reminders, Kim Blagg failed to correct book details sent to Amazon etc.. Out of 14 points of information, as many as 11 were either missing or incorrect. When I pointed out these facts, her response was rude and aggressive…
15. Failure to honor contractual obligations. Again, many instances such as recorded here…
16. Chronic lateness on all tasks undertaken. An almost comical parody of how a business should be run. Too many examples to list, but please see emails.. I ended up doing several tasks myself rather than wait on them..
17. Refusal to surrender author-publisher files. When Kim Blagg sensed that I might possibly withdraw my book, she preemptively emailed me stating that I had no right to the digital files (despite the fact that I paid for them). This means that although the files would be of no use whatsoever to her any more, she would rather keep them from me than allow me to reinvest in another printer. This tells a lot about her real character. Especially after previously informing me that she was not liable for this-and-that because I in fact was the publisher (as in self-publisher).. she then reversed this statement by declaring that the publisher (meaning PageFree this time) has the right to keep the digital files. Which is it Kim… are you the publisher or am I? Because if YOU are, then please do your job properly.. but if I am, then give me the digital files that I paid for, so that I can do it myself… Funny, she refuses to answer this one..
18. Refusal to respond to specific author queries. Multiple instances.. see emails Again, I ended up going direct to sources to get some results..
19. Misleading statements on website and in contract. Again multiple instances..
20. Intransigence when dealing with customer complaints. Perhaps this was partly my own fault for trying to be a gentleman in our professional dealings. But as soon as I raised any issues concerning the months of delays.. I was treated with rudeness and contempt. Please see emails.
21. Obfuscation and obstruction in responding to author requests. This one deserves its own shortlist, because despite all the problems and frustration I encountered, I sincerely attempted to smooth things over on a number of occasions – after all, I was waiting for my first book to be published. So I was in a very understanding frame of mind for the first few dozen disappointments and delays. But eventually I became increasingly upset at what I saw as a total lack of respect or consideration either for me personally (as a customer and author) or for my book. These are just some of the issues that have gotten worse as we go along:
(i) Blatant refusal to respond to pointed questions about many issues of concern.
(ii) Sending books by the slowest and cheapest possible means despite my requests for speedy delivery.
(iii) Despite PageFree’s promise to acknowledge emails received, this was usually not done, and when it sometimes was, delays of several days or even weeks were not uncommon.
(iv) Total disregard of the fact that I had given my word to respected peers that a copy of the book would be forthcoming ‘soon’.
(v) Disregard of promotional and travel plans – this has cost me several hundred dollars in cancellations as well as compromising my professional respect amongst contacts
(vi) Juvenile withdrawal of promise to forward books to addresses supplied, as a result of me insisting on a professional service
(vii) Requiring a “cashiers check” instead of the usual credit card in order to release more books to me. This latest act of hostility is particularly pernicious inasmuch as the Blaggs know that I am currently outside of the US, and need books to be in location at a US address within a set time period. Insisting on a cashier’s check instead of the usual credit card is a blatant obfuscation that is designed to cause me maximum difficulties and frustrate my plans; once again, purely because I have warned them of exposure in this public realm..
Sadly, this does not even begin to complete the list, but must suffice for now. At very best, PageFree press is a poorly run, incompetent and unethical agency. At worst (and much more likely), a shoddy and fraudulent operation designed to scam trusting authors out of money, further compounded by the supercilious disdain and arrogance of the Blaggs.
For full details please check out the 70-plus pages of incriminating emails, which will serve the basis of the civil suit. If you are an author who has suffered similar treatment at the hands of Kim and Gary Blagg, please post your comments here as a warning to others, and / or contact me on my website http://color-of-truth.com.