Monday, November 25, 2013



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Anglen, Robert  
Date: Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 9:40 AM
Subject: Story on camelback consign
To: Glenn Michaels 

Story is in today's paper. Your blog is mentioned prominently in the story. Thanks for all of your help. Here is a link:

CAMELBACK CONSIGN & DESIGN IS  picking consignors’pockets in Downtown Central Phoenix

Published 11/25/13
Updated on 3/31/14

For more details, see the blog posts listed at the bottom of the page 

Contact: Glenn S. Michaels

Phoenix, AZ. February 20, 2014. Camelback Consign & Design president, Mike Burns, is as handsome as Dickens' Fagin (in Oliver Twist) is "grotesque." He's a personable man: a friendly man, a man you want to trust.

There are other differences. Fagin trained his foster children to chase and pick the pockets of the well-to-do. Burns bypasses the kids and personally picks the pockets of the consignors that line up to take advantage of his services.

It couldn’t be easier. There’s a short contract to sign. It includes a promise of monthly payments based on sales. Burns sends some guys with a truck – including a son or two - to pick up consignors’ items right from their homes. It’s fast and simple.

Some items sell. Some don’t. And some are never seen again.

There's another important difference between Dickens' Fagin and Phoenix’ Burns. Fagin, at the end of Dickens' novel, is hanged. Burns, on the other hand, gets away with it every time.

When the consignor comes to collect payment – that’s right, Burns won’t put a check in the mail; each consignor must come to him to collect – he hands out a sales report and a check.

Burns is so good that if checks were basketballs, he could be a Harlem Globe Trotter auxiliary. He bounces checks right and left. It’s amazing: the less publicity he gets, the higher his bounce.

My check bounced for $2194 in September. The BBB website lists a 12/11/13 complaint that mentions two bounced checks totaling $30,000.00.

The check looked like paper... but it was really made of rubber.

Thanks to Call 12 for Action, last December, Burns eventually felt compelled to make good on the NSF check I received in September. But that was for sales dating back to July 2013. Apparently nothing and no one can induce him to pay for the items sold in August, September and October, when our contract expired.

Because a contract was signed, from a legal standpoint, the issue isn’t “theft.” It’s civil breach, a matter for the courts. Which is to say, there is no legal recourse, since going to Superior or Justice Court can cost – according to attorney Phillip Visnansky – upwards of $30,000.00. That’s enough to preclude all but the patient rich from taking their campaigns to a good lawyer. And how many of them need to consign their antiques, to begin with?

The Attorney General’s office only prosecutes when a sufficient number of complaints have been received. However, the magic algorithm used to calculate sufficiency is an in-house secret.

Conveniently enough for all of the Burnses of greater Phoenix, the Maricopa County Attorney offer to enforce payment of bounced checks and collect fines for the practice doesn’t apply to those who signed contracts, either.

The Camelback Consign & Design contract I signed guaranteed me 65% of the proceeds from each sale; the sales commission was thus 35%. At the time, Burns assured me that he was doing me a kindness, as his normal commission is 50%.

Total sales for the three month period of the contract amounted to $15,966.10. My 65% amounted to $10,377.96. Subtract the $2200 Burns eventually paid in December and it seems Burns has pocketed an extra $8.117.96. Do you think he claims the extra profit on his tax return?

Four months later, Burns still has my money, but all he can talk about is how much he lost on the deal! The cost of moving the items! The space they took up in his store and storage facility. The losses sustained because I insisted on making life difficult for him. Poor man!

And he must be poor, because upon investigation, it appears that Mike Burns doesn’t own a single piece of real property in Arizona in his own name. Not even his car.

The story behind the story is a byzantine treat that’s only hard to swallow for those forced to eat it raw. The perfect song to accompany this portion of the updated musical sequel to Oliver, is” Promises, Promises.

On 9/28, Burns told me that his check had bounced because a client’s check for $87,000. had bounced on him. However, he assured me that I would be paid in full the following Monday, as he had the client’s assurance that the issue was simply a bank error.

After some period of time, Mr. Burns explained that he was waiting for receipt of a bank wire for $87,000; that the received wire hadn’t cleared but would clear soon.

Still later, Mr. Burns told me that he had arranged a substantial line of credit and would be able to pay me within a day or two.

Yet later, Mr. Burns told me that he had made an arrangement for a line of credit at 10% for over $100,000.

Great! I offered to sell him everything for $40,000 just to be done with the whole miserable consignment process. Meanwhile, I started picking up those items he was willing to release to me.

Somehow, the line of credit had become a deal to partner with an unnamed person “who wants to meet you.”

That week, Mr. Burns told me that I would receive payment on Wednesday, then Thursday and finally, on Saturday. In fact, that Thursday, he asked me to come in to the store around 8 AM to work out an arrangement.

Burns had me put the proposal on paper (See: Down the Document Trail: Second (Abortive Contract (7 Pages) Written WITH MIKE BURNS 10/24/13) and then took it to an “unnamed” investor for approval and a cash infusion he could use to pay me. “I’ll be back shortly, he said. I called him three times in the course of the day. Burns assured me each time that his meeting was imminent. I ended waiting all day.

Burns ultimately returned around 5 PM. He reported that the investor’s lawyers had insisted on reviewing the agreement and the numbers. He would have the money by Saturday.

He didn’t.

After careful examination of Burns’ sales inventories and my own inventory of items delivered and returned, I found that 80 items weren’t accounted for. I found that some items had been sold and delivered but not reported. Others, which Mr. Burns indicated that he still held – were packed away, somewhere, very hard to get to. He just didn't have time. His associates claimed never to have seen them or only to have seen them very briefly.

For example, Burns assured me that he hadn't sold the antique French china footbath and matching pitcher for which I had required a minimum of $3200. (In the 1990s, my antique dealer parents had valued the set at $6400.)

"Very rare" French foot bath and pitcher, circa 1860. Very good condition.

Despite daily and repeated requests, Mr. Burns never found the time to return it to me.

Eventually, I noticed that the September Camelback Consign & Design sales inventory included one item marked out with black magic marker. As it happens, the text was still legible: Footbath. The listed sale price appears to have been $225.00, something under 10 percent of my minimum asking price.

I asked Mr. Burns about it. Turns out that it was merely an error. Like he had said before, the item (or the set) hadn't sold.

There are errors and there are errors. Months later Burns acknowledged that the footbath had sold after all! But he claims to know exactly who bought it and he's "trying" to get it back. (Just the way he's trying to get me paid.)

Bless his heart. Burns reported that he had fired the long-time sales associate responsible or the sale, Millie, for the mistake. Bye, bye, scapegoat.

I had also given Mr. Burns an African drum to sell. It had a listed minimum price of $525. The drum was not returned to me. According to the sales inventories, my drum sold on August 5th, for $40.

Beat the drum loudly. I done been robbed!

Then, too, there were the six steel chairs priced at a minimum of $150 each. Justin reminded his father, in front of me that those chairs had sold and been delivered.  

In all, I estimate the value of the items not returned at $19,710.00.

Did I mention that I complained to the BBB?

I did. In mid-October. Mr Burns responded:

Mr. Burns on 10/21/2013 to the BBB: I don't promise to keep my promise.

In early February 2014, the BBB (finally!) updated its business review for Camelback Consign & Design. The BBB now gives it an F, its lowest possible rating. The BBB also rescinded the firm’s BBB accreditation. 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Fagin! He spends most of his time at 1030 E. Camelback Road. Look for the sign: Camelback Consign and Design.

Drop in for a plucking, anytime.

Mike Burns wasn't born yesterday. He wasn't born on the Fourth of July, either. NOPE. Mike Burns was born on 9/11 in 1952. 
He was destined. 
Don't forget to tip a hat to Ms. Indispensable, Vera Manuz, either. Where would Mike be without her?

I don't know if the truth will set you free. But fuss loud enough with a big 'nough bunch a friends and I swear folks 'll do near anything to get you to shut up. Fast as they can. 

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