A Fraud from Beginning to End

June 14, 2016 by demtillidie


Trump University uses the same high powered sales tactics as for-profit universities. It outdoes them though by fraudulently calling itself a university despite no accreditation, and using bait and switch tactics.

Why Trump University is Even Worse Than you Thought

DAILY KOS, By bcaterinoThursday Jun 09, 2016 · 7:33 PM PDT 

Donald Trump is a smart man, just ask him. He will tell you he went to the best schools and has the best education around. He knows what you don’t. You would think he would be concerned about the quality of education. At the very least he would want to make sure that smart people like himself get exposed to the best ideas around. Maybe he would even show a little interest in the education of those with less privilege and opportunity than himself.

Unfortunately, you would be wrong. In the event he gets elected Trump would never be called an education president. Trump has the same cavalier attitude toward education that he has toward almost every important problem in America. Just take a look at the inner workings of Trump “University” that has been in the news of late. The attorney general of New York called Trump U “a fraud from beginning to end” and a bait and switch scheme. While Trump supporters tend to minimize these charges as either politically motivated and a simple private matter, even a brief consideration of the facts shows that it is a much bigger problem.

The first thing to keep in mind is that Trump University isn’t a University. It is not accredited. It does not offer any degree nor is it accredited as an institution of higher education. It doesn’t have a faculty trained in the area or qualified to teach courses. You don’t get college credit you could transfer from another university or college or use to get a degree.  To advertise Trump’s programs as a university is a fraud. When Trump U opened in 2005 it received a letter from the New York Attorney general’s office that it was operating without an NYSED license. The individual who thinks they are getting the world class education that Trump claims to offer would be sadly disappointed. Would you go the Trump dental clinic if you knew that is was actually staffed by a bunch of a barbers or the Trump pharmacy if it is was run by the local drug dealer? You can’t simply advertise yourself as a professional institution without some accreditation. It’s a bit like the claims of the old medicine men of the 19th century. They have the remedy to cure all your ills. It’s a fraud

What Trump actually offered under the guise of a university is really a set of seminars. Now there is no law against running a seminar where people can brush up on skills or learn new ones. If Trump would have advertised his “university” as a training session it might have been okay, however, even here Trump U turns out to be a fraud. Trump U advertised the courses/seminars as a free real estate seminar that provided a chance to learn Trumps real estate strategies from his staff of hand-picked instructors In fact, the content of Trump seminars were written by a third party company that creates materials for motivational speakers and sales men, In short it was a prewritten sales pitch. Trump instructors often seemed to have little connection to the area in which they were supposed to give instruction. While promising that the seminars would allow the average person to make a fortune in real estate, the seminar’s main purpose was to get attendees into paying programs. Attendees were promised the best real estate education that money could buy.

To the extent that Trump’s University followed any model of education it most closely follows the for profit model. Education is not primarily something that helps people to understand their own lives but a commodity to be exchanged. The aim of the for-profit school is to make a surplus for its owners. Like any business, the desire for profit is more important than any social or educational benefit. In many cases for profit universities have been found guilty of using high pressure tactics to get students to enroll, and to take out large students’ loans to cover tuition with no attention paid to the qualifications of the students to undertake college level education. Since they were accredited institutions which largely ran online, the for-profit colleges qualify for Pell grants as well as student loans. The colleges got Pell grants and loan money and students often got the shaft. Graduation rates were very low. the course work often inferior and most students ended up with huge student loans and no degrees.

Trump U took the predatory strategies of the for profit colleges and added bait and switch tactics. At the frees seminar attendees were urged to enroll in the three-day seminar for $1495. The free seminars contained little information or access to Trump secrets. Rather they were largely testimonials and inspirational stories of the pitchman’s business success. Enrolling in the seminar was the step to getting access to the keys to success.

But the $1495 three-day seminar proved to be little more than another pitch to enroll in a much more expensive program. To learn the true secrets of Trump real estate success the attendee would have to enroll in additional mentoring workshops. These could cost up to 35,000

Students at these seminars were urged to call their credit companies to request an increase in their credit lines. These increases were ostensibly meant to make sure that attendees would have money to invest in real estate. In fact, these credit line increases went mostly to cover the cost of the expensive workshops. Think about it: the average person is only going to be able to get the 25 to 35 thousand dollars the top of the line Trump courses would cost. At the high rates credit card companies charge, the payments would be onerous. Where would the new real estate mogul get the additional capital to invest in real estate after the course.

One attendee who only had $25,000 in credit reported that his “instruction” consisted of a 2-day trip to Philadelphia where he and his mentor did walk throughs of 20 properties. He received no classroom instruction of any kind.

Sales playbooks and documents released as part of court cases illustrate how trump seminar leaders and salesman were encouraged to pressure attendees into taking expensive courses. The playbooks instruct the salesmen to always be on the offensive. They should take the lead in discussion and guide attendees toward taking more courses. They were never to be put on the defensive. Salesman were given directions on how to handle reluctant spouses who did not want their significant others to spend money for expensive seminars and to maneuver around the fears that prospective students lack money for the courses. Salesmen were told never to take lack of funds as an excuse for not enrolling. They should tell the prospective clients that where there is a will there is a way, and encourage them to use their credit cards. The emphasis in theses playbooks is in closing the deal. There is little with the quality of the instruction or the benefits to students.

Several former employees have testified about their dissatisfaction with the high power sales tactics. One sales manager claimed that he was reprimanded for failing to sell a $35,000 package to a couple in financial difficulties. He came to feel that Trump U preyed on vulnerable older people and the uneducated. The playbooks counselled salesman to take advantage of people’s anxieties. One set of instructions told salesman to let prospective students know we have the answer to their problems. Other employees were dissatisfied with the content of Trump U. One called it a total lie.

It is really hard to fathom what benefit people really got out of these expensive seminars. Perhaps they felt a kind of confidence that comes from identifying with a powerful figure.  Based on the testimony and information presented in public accounts, it doesn’t seem like much knowledge was imparted. There’s certainly not anything that represents Trump’s “secrets” or his own philosophy

Trump U began in a time of economic downturn. It preyed on the fears and insecurities of middle class Americans who saw their incomes decline, their pensions shrinking and the value of their houses shrinking. Instead of providing solutions, Trump U was little more than another get rich quick scheme. He seems to be using the same bait and switch tactics, and the same inflated promises of a quick fix on the American electorate.


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