May 6, 2010

James Arthur Ray: The Check is Not in the Mail

Fresh from the front page of his website, James Arthur Ray wants to thank people for their patience over the "postponed events." What he has graciously avoided mentioning is that many people aren't feeling so patient. In fact, they filed suit over a month ago.

A lawsuit filed late Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court contends James Arthur Ray and his Carlsbad, Calif.-based company, James Ray International, misled plaintiffs during sales pitches for the events and haven't responded to calls or letters requesting refunds.

. . .

The lawsuit accuses Ray of breach of contract, consumer fraud and unjust enrichment. It names three plaintiffs but estimates up to 1,000 people are similarly situated.

Susan Smyser of Las Vegas, paid nearly $8,000 for two events; Patricia Franklin of Mesa paid almost $3,350 for two events; and Kim Wilson of Los Angeles paid more than $12,500 for four events, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs contend Ray used prepaid fees to cover past events or fund his own wealth. They also say he lacked the assets or capital to conduct events or refund advanced fees without continued sales and collection of those fees.

So Ray's comments are less than timely. He is also conspicuously not promising recompense.  Nor has he ever. His refund policy does not even address the issue of cancellations by JRI. Common sense and decency would dictate that if James Arthur Ray canceled (or indefinitely postponed) events, the prepayments should be promptly refunded.

The larger problem for these plaintiffs is that Ray has made himself judgment proof. He's already proved in a court of law that he's broke enough to have his bail substantially reduced.

What sort of person takes money from people, spends it before the services are rendered, and tries to finesse his way out of repaying them when he fails to render those services? Legal ramifications aside, it's completely devoid of integrity. Is James Arthur Ray a spiritual teacher or a grifter? Sadly, the "new age" has given rise to its own iteration of the tent revival preacher, faith healer stereotype. Ray is charismatic, smooove, and can spin a vapid, spiritual platitude with the best of them. At the end of the day, he's a garden variety con man. He and Goldman Sachs have the same publicist. What does that tell you?

John Belushi as Ron Decline in
The Rutles - All You Need Is Cash

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