Written by David Cotton on 23 June 2014
I just wanted to warn you all of a Singapore based company called UNI Strategic Pte Ltd. I was approached by them two or three years ago to undertake some training. I ran three courses for them - in Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg and Singapore. The arrangement is that they pay half the fee upfront and the other half within a month of delivery. The first payments were made on time, the second a little late, the third even later. I finally undertook a piece of training for them in Bangkok last November and the post-training payment has never been made, despite great evaluations and endless correspondence with them. I should have done the due diligence work first, because it appears that they have failed to pay an enormous number of trainers. For some of the issues related by other trainers, see the following:
I am making representations to a number of people in Singapore, including the government, to see if I can recover my money and to see if they are prepared to take some action against this company. Although the amount owed is not enormous, the principle remains - my contract has not been honoured and neither, it seems, have the contracts of many, many other trainers.
If you are approached by this company, do not under any circumstances agree to work for them.
Regards to all
UNI Strategic Pte Ltd - Trainer Not Paid
This is an email I received from one of the speakers who taught a class for UNI Strategic Pte Ltd in September 2009.
'I am a professor from the United States, and I presented an oil and gas course course for UNI last year September. Like many before me I received an invite from one of UNI Strategic's conference producer.
The email was vague and had little input on the extent of topics to be covered, the level of knowledge or experience of the intended audience. I basically had a free hand in developing the course.
After a few weeks of marketing and sales however, they told me to change the program - not after spending several hours trying to figure out what they wanted.
The workshop itself turned out to be successful and was well attended by all the major O&G operators and service providers. I have still kept in touch with most of the students and have provided further advice and gave brief reviews on some of their projects.
Unfortunately, as of May 2010 [eight months], I have still not received a single cent for my efforts. Most of the students were shocked to hear this as UNI has always pushed them to complete their payments before attending workshops.
The conference producer who I was in contact with has also left UNI Strategic, and eventhough she has tried her best to solve this, I cannot help but put some blame on her. It seems to be common knowledge amongst the producers of UNI's corrupt practices which have been on-going since their inception. I've been told payments and fees are fully handled by the 3 people who own and run the company and nobody else has any say in it.
I feel really disappointed with this treatment, and unfortunately I did not come across the blogs and websites warning vendors, speakers and attendees of them early enough. I have been educating students and professionals my whole life, and have worked with numerous continuing education providers, but this is the first time this has happened to me.
They charge attendees the equivalent of US $ 2500, and made roughly US $ 50,000 for the course I presented, but felt the need to have to lie and deceive and give so many excuses when it came to payments. First they said the person handling payments had left (not true, as no one actually handles it - its all up to 'upper management'). Then they told me they had lost the contract. When finally the contract was sent, along with the bank details, they said it was a busy month.
UNI Strategic, Chairman Wing Tan, CEO Roger Tie and Stacey Yeong, if you are reading this, you could have just told me you weren't going to pay the fees - it would have saved me so much anguish.
For the other trainers or speakers (presently engaged, have yet to present, or that received their invitation) let me warn you that you will not get paid the course fees. If you are able to live with that, with only your cheap flight tickets covered (on horrible schedules/itineraries), then by all means go ahead and present.
If you are like me, if you have given time and effort into preparing the course, travelling, and then presenting the course to the best of your abilities, then I believe you would expect to be paid your dues. The amount doesn't matter to me - its the lying and cheating when vendors have provided services in good faith that disgusts me. UNI Strategic is a fraud.'
As with the links in this earlier post, there is no disputing the fact that all parties - trainers, vendors, hotels, or employees will be victims of UNI Strategic's fraudulent activities. My advice is to get FULL payments BEFORE the course dates itself, or threaten to cancel. Anything less, and you will get burnt.
Sep 11, 2010
Events organiser under fire over late payments
Speakers complain online; firm says fees withheld due to poor showing but all will be paid
By Liew Hanqing & Carolyn Quek
A GROUP of foreign corporate speakers is crying foul over a Singapore company that they claim did not pay them for their services on time as promised.
A few have even gone as far as hiring debt collectors to obtain tardy payments, after coordinating strategies with others who posted their complaints on blogs, websites and online forums.
The company, UNI Strategic, an organiser of corporate events, told The Straits Times that it had no choice but to withhold payment from certain speakers because of what it considered poor performance, which it said was detrimental to its reputation. It later said, however, that its speakers would all be paid eventually.
At least 20 overseas professionals engaged by it to speak at a number of conferences posted complaints on various websites after allegedly not being paid according to their contracts' timelines, which range between 30 and 60 days after an event.
Speakers contacted said their appearance fees typically ranged from $4, 000 to $8, 000 each. One of them, Mr Paul Cherry, 48, president of a company providing sales training and leadership development, detailed on his website the difficulties he had in getting paid his fees of US$4, 000 (S$5, 370) after giving a talk on strategic sales leadership here in 2008.
He has since been contacted by other speakers with similar experiences. His online post received more than 50 comments, mostly from other speakers.
Mr Cherry, an American, said: 'UNI Strategic was great to work with up until the programme. As soon as I left Singapore, very few of my e-mail requests for payment were responded to.'
He was eventually paid, three months late, after threatening to go to the Singapore and the United States authorities for redress.
Another speaker, Mr Peter van Veen, 40, from boutique strategy consulting firm De Ruijter Strategy in London, said he had difficulty getting paid US$3, 000 for a course he ran in Singapore last November.
He said the course had been well received by its 25 participants, who gave it an average rating of 7.84 out of 10 on feedback forms.
'UNI Strategic has never disputed the amount in question. They just don't respond to e-mail and if we do speak to someone, they apologise and tell us they will look into it, never to be heard from again, ' he said.
UNI Strategic paid Mr van Veen on Monday - about 10 months after the event.
Another US-based speaker, who declined to be named, said he had to engage a debt collection agency to obtain his fees of US$6, 500. He paid the agency about a quarter of what he was owed.
UNI Strategic was also sued twice over the past year - by Amara Hotel and Air Services International - for $4, 066 and $12, 332 respectively. It later paid up the amounts and the cases did not go to court.
Mr Roger Tie, chief executive of UNI Strategic, said that while the company paid most of its speakers on time, it had no choice but to withhold payment from those who he claimed had not delivered what they promised.
He said the company, formed nine years ago, encounters 'one or two' speakers a month - out of about 200 a year - who deliver sub-standard programmes that receive poor ratings from participants.
Its benchmark: fewer than half of participants giving speakers an 'acceptable' rating - or 5/10.
Asked if speakers' contracts contained clauses indicating payment would be withheld if they performed poorly, Mr Tie said there were no such clauses, but added that the speakers would be offered the chance to make good - for example, by providing proper course materials later.
'In some cases, our clients complain and demand refunds. Even though the fees are non-refundable, we sometimes have to bite the bullet and give refunds as a form of goodwill, ' he said.
Every year, the company writes off an average of $100, 000 in bad debt, due to non-paying clients or refunds issued to clients who were not happy with the programmes, said Mr Tie. The most common complaints were that speakers' course materials were different from what was agreed on, and that course content was irrelevant or inadequate.
Mr Tie later said the company eventually 'always paid' its speakers, whether or not they met expectations.
It costs each participant between $2, 500 and $3, 500 to attend a programme.
At least one speaker, however, has had a good experience with UNI Strategic.
Mr Monty Sacher, 52, from Melbourne, Australia, who has conducted workshops for the company, said: 'I've not had a payment problem with them.'
Other industry players said it was not standard practice to withhold payment from invited speakers.
Ms May Koh, a training and resource manager with Avantus Training, a company that organises training programmes, said her company usually paid its speakers whether or not they met expectations.
'It's not possible to withhold the entire amount owed - after all, the speaker has already rendered a service, ' she said.
Ms Stacey Yeong, UNI Strategic's conference director, said the company sources its speakers online. Before hiring one, it would typically request a copy of the prospective speaker's resume.
'If they fit the events we are organising, we will engage them, ' she said.