My name is Angelique Pierce and unfortunately I have become the victim of the shady practices of Wall & Associates, a company I hired to help me resolve some tax matters. In 2013, I had a baby girl and my family was in a very tight financial situation. When my maternity leave ended in June 2013, I came to the conclusion that I was simply not ready to put my 6-week old baby into daycare and, as a result, I made the very difficult decision to go down to one income in my household (mine) in order to keep her at home. I figured that the only way I could meet my bills and family needs was for me to stop paying taxes (state and federal taxes) for a period of time. I did this for many months and, eventually I was forced to address the issue because the 2013 tax season came around. I had to make monthly payment agreements with the state of NC (the state I live in) for $200 per month (on a balance of about $1,600) and the IRS for $220 per month (on a balance of about $12,500). I had agreements in place with both taxing authorities but nothing yet in place with SC (the state I work in).
Eventually the state of SC wanted their money too (approximately $4,500) and they wanted it by September 30, 2014 or they threatened to take action (levy, garnishment, etc.). On or about, September 24, 2014, I went to the SC Department of Revenue office to see what arrangement I could make to pay down my tax balance. The representative stated the lowest payment they would offer was $378 per month for 12 months. I couldn’t see any way that I could add that much to my monthly expenses and still care for my family. I knew I had a big problem brewing because September 30 was just days away and I had no plan. I left the office without making any payment arrangement and came with up an idea to see if I could get some quick help from a tax attorney. This is where Walls & Associates came into the scene. Unfortunately, reaching out to this company for help was a HUGE mistake!
I met with John Robeson of Walls & Associates on September 25, 2014 in Charlotte to discuss my situation. During that conversation, I was made to feel that I was speaking to a tax attorney from an experienced tax firm. John told me that the first problem is that I am being double-taxed by the NC and SC and that I should not have ever been paying taxes in SC. He also talked about his company’s high success rate of being able to cut his client’s tax debts down to about 10% of the balance and how they use a tactic called an "Offer in Compromise" to get the job done. I was really on the fence because John told me that it would cost me $4,000 to even retain his company to take on my case (again, giving the perception of hiring an attorney), and then I would have to pay $400 per month for them to continue to work the case until final resolution. That was just money I did not have. I could feel myself becoming emotional because I couldn’t pay his retainer fee (I only had about $1,000 in my bank account) but I needed immediate help, especially with SC. So John continued to pitch me – he even retrieved a company email in his computer (which he claimed was confidential) that was supposedly proof of his company’s success rate. The email contained client info - stats from the prior week - and he turned his screen toward me as a way of proving that they would surely have success in my case as well. To seal the deal, he reminded me of how urgent the timing was with SC and even did this quick calculation to prove to me how making monthly payments to the taxing authorities will never get me anywhere. He also talked about the tactics that the IRS can use to collect their money – sending an agent to your home to see what assets you have that they can seize, taking the money in your 401k, etc. Then he offered to drop the retainer to $3,000 if I signed agreement that day. So I contacted my mother to see if she could help me in any way and, as awesome mothers do, she saved the day and loaned me the additional $2,000, but I couldn’t get it from her until the next day because she had to borrow it from her credit union.
So John’s solution was for me to pay the $1,000 immediately (September 25, 2014) and that would get them working on securing the Power of Attorney with each of the three taxing authorities and then I would pay the other $2,000 the next day. The deal was sealed and the agreement was for Wall & Associates to represent me "before the taxing authorities for personal income tax for the tax years 2008 – 2014 Federal / NC DOR / SC DOR" as stated in the contract. After I paid the $2,000 on September 26, 2014, I asked John what I was supposed to do with the payment agreements I had in place with NC and the IRS. He directly and firmly told me not to make any more payments to them.
Let me now get to the crux of this situation….
A case team was assigned to me (Ashley Jarrells, Brandon Groseclose, Brittany Stanley, and Christie Craft) and I was contacted by Ashley quickly after I made my payment. That is what initially made me feel that I was in good hands. Ashley was my original point of contact who I found it very difficult to communicate with from the very beginning. I kept trying to get clarity from her about the work that was being done and going to be done. She assured me that the POAs were filed, that they have already been in contact with the department of revenue for both NC and SC, and that they were negotiating my case with them. But I soon fell out of love with the team members because, while I waited for follow-ups from them (believing that my hard-earned money was being put to good use), I learned that it wasn’t.
On or about November 4, 2014 I received a notice via mail from the state of SC which clearly showed they were going to garnish my wages for 25% of every paycheck until they received their full balance. How in the world could that be when I paid Wall & Associates to avoid this very thing and they claimed they were in contact with them??? I immediately contacted my case team via phone and spoke to Ashley. I was furious and wanted a clear explanation of how this could be allowed to happen to me when I hired them to help me avoid these very issues. She did not do a great job at explaining the situation which caused me to ask more questions. I was so frustrated that I wanted exact details of when SC was called and when the SC POA was put in place. Ashley looked in her system and, to my surprise and great dismay I learned that, although I signed my agreement with Walls & Associates on September 25, 2014, my case team member (Brandon) did not make contact with the SC until around October 10, 2014. That, in and of itself, lets me know that my case was being mishandled from the very beginning. I told Ashley that I no longer wanted to speak with her and I wanted to speak directly to Brandon.
When Brandon called me, he tried to make me feel that he was doing everything he could to help. I asked Brandon who his contacts were at the SC DOR. I was appalled when I learned that all Wall & Associates does is call the same 800 number I could call and wait on hold like the rest of us and hope that they can get someone to listen to him about my case. So I told him that he was doing nothing more than I would do. He combated that by stating that they know certain tactics and how to work around the laws... blah, blah, blah. Brandon requested that I send him copies of the SC garnishment notice. At the time, I was traveling for work and had just arrived in my destination city, and I wasn’t able to get to a fax machine or a scanner. So I took pictures of the individual pages using my cell phone and emailed them to him on November 5, 2014. I didn’t get any response from Brandon about the images, but I received the following email from him on November 6, 2014:
On Nov 6, 2014, at 1:12 PM, Brandon Groseclose wrote:Ms. Pierce,
Please find the attached 433-A financial information statement. This is the document we spent some time going over during our call. I (like you) am concerned about the taxation issue with S. Carolina and N. Carolina. I do feel we might have something to argue with regards to the liability. Our sister company ATLAS is a tax preparation company and I am getting some of them to take a look at your returns just to make sure everything is correct.
If you have questions or concerns you know my number. Please give me a call.
Brandon GrosecloseBGroseclose@ekwinc.net58 N. Washington Ave., Suite 100Pulaski VA, 24301Phone: 888-680-3211Fax: 888-280-3356
**IMPORTANT NOTE**I was never provided with anything that proves the 433-A financial statement was submitted by Wall & Associates on my behalf to the IRS, and, to this day, I never received any formal follow-up or documentation from Wall & Associates or from ATLAS as proof that my tax returns from any of the years in the contract (2008 – 2014) were actually reviewed/analyzed.
That same day, I wrote back the following:On Nov 6, 2014, at 1:58 PM, Angelique Pierce wrote:
Thanks for this follow-up!
But I didn't realize you had a concern about NC as well. Please let me know what you mean by that.
I assume you received the images of the SC garnishment docs I sent yesterday. Please confirm, and let me know if you have already contacted SC since the letter is dated with a date that clearly shows they lied about planning to garnish me.
Also, regarding your attachment, I see quite a few lines that reference an attached document that is supposed to provide details of the expense. I don't see the attachments.
Lastly, I realized I didn't include the expenses for our dog (Pit Bull). Food, vet visits, medicine, and boarding (for when we travel). I would guess that's about $70/month on average.
Sent from my iPhone
I did not hear anything back from Brandon or anyone else on the case team with the request in my email for them to please let me know what was meant by Brandon being "concerned" about the state of NC – a concern that was never expressed to me until that email.
While this was all going on, I called Wall & Associates again and expressed my frustration and dissatisfaction with the fact that SC was planning to garnish my wages. I received a call from Sidney Hollingsworth, the Client Services Manager. We talked for a long time about my situation and she realized the trouble I was facing and also verbally acknowledged to me that things were not going as Wall & Associates had planned. I told her that there is no way that I can pay the $400 per month service fee to Wall & Associates when SC is going to garnish my pay 25%. That is a HUGE amount!! Let me put this in perspective… If I had just gone ahead and signed the agreement with SC the day I went to the revenue office and not listened to the hype that John Robeson sold me, I would have been paying $378 per month. Now, I am going to pay well more than double that and I can’t do anything about it??? Or should I say, Wall & Associates didn’t and can’t do anything about it??? So, I’m now a person who just paid $3,000 to retain a tax company to do what? – NOTHING but put me in a worse situation that I was in before I signed the agreement. I told her that her company does nothing but wait around and react to letters that come to me in the mail (at that point, it's too late), and they clearly have no upfront strategy for handling tax situations or any leverage with the states.
Sidney came across as understanding, apologetic and she openly stated "this is not how things typically go with our new clients" clearly acknowledging to me that I was not getting the intended result. Thus, she decided that I would not have to pay the monthly service fee for November 2014 or December 2014. That was definitely a relief to me.
But Sidney’s statement "this is not how things typically go with our new clients" became even more clear to me on the morning of Saturday, November 8, 2014, just days later. I got up early to catch my flight back to NC. I checked my bank account because I knew my payroll check should have been direct deposited into my bank account. I logged in to my account only to find that ALL OF MY MONEY WAS TAKEN and all four (4) of my Bank of America Accounts showed a negative balance. I was completely stressed out, crying and worried because I had no idea what happened. I called my bank only to learn that now the state of NC levied my bank accounts. I owed NC about $1,600 and their method of getting their money is to apply -$1,600 to each of my bank accounts to ensure that they received their money if deposits/credits came into any one of my accounts. The most terrible part about this is that because I got paid, NC actually got all of their money from the account that my payroll deposit went into, but the little bit of money I had available in my other accounts to pay bills, feed my family, and buy simply things like diapers and wipes for my 1-year old was taken as well. I literally had no money to care for my family and I couldn’t get the bank to release my other accounts until NC told them to. The situation was so very bad! I sent the following email to my case team and copied John Robeson – the person who sold me on all the things Wall & Associates could do for me:
Sent: Saturday, November 8, 2014 8:58 AMSubject: ***IMMEDIATE RESPONSE NEEDED*** - Wall & Associates, Inc.
To all of the people on this email...
I am completely dissatisfied with the work you've done for me. Or maybe I should say the work you have NOT done for me.
I asked some specific questions below and got no response from any of you. Now I know why. I checked my bank accounts this morning and they are all negative by a total of almost $5k!! Can anybody guess why??? Sure you can. I have been fully garnished by the state of NC!!! No surprise to you right. You purposefully did not respond to my question below about NC. I am pissed!!!! So not only did you not successfully keep me from being garnished by SC, now NC has just taken all of my money and you didn't even warn me!!! Your company has done nothing to help me, you've only made my situation worse. I was doing better when I was just paying monthly amounts to NC and the IRS.
What is your explanation for this? And I don't want fluff. What is going on here???? And no more just ignoring emails. One or more of you better respond to me. I don't care that it's Saturday morning. I have to deal with this on a Saturday morning, so you are going to.
I have absolutely no money now! I cannot live or support my family. I want this business relationship to end immediately. I want every single penny of my money back and I want it now! I've been wasting it on you so now I'm going to put it to good use by making sure my family has food and a place to live.
You guys have been keeping me on the hook and dragging this thing out but yet you've made NO PROGRESS. I hired you to do a job and not one part of this was done right. Based on all of the things that have happened with SC and NC, I now know you haven't even been telling me everything, and you clearly don't have the leverage with the taxing authorities that you claim to have.
I am done with this process.
John Robeson and Brandon Groseclose I especially expect a response from each of you!
Sent from my iPhone
So here I am again (just days after the wage garnishment letter from SC) in a worse situation that I was in before I came to Walls & Associates. Before coming to Wall & Associates, I had an agreement in place with NC for $200 per month. I would have been better off just continuing to make the $200 per month payment. This was greater proof to me that Wall & Associates has no idea what they’re doing and that this so-called leverage and extensive experience they have with resolving tax issues on behalf of their clients does not exist! They claimed they were in conversation with the States, yet they have nothing in writing from either NC or SC that was proof that I would not be garnished or levied.
The situation with the NC levy on my bank accounts dragged on for about two weeks. During that time, I called John Robeson and left a voice message, emailed him (as stated above) and even sent him a text. I got no response from the guy who repeatedly told me I could call him if I needed anything. Yeah right. John Robeson is living proof of the problem that occurs when the person who "closed the sale" is not also involved in the customer service process so that person feels no and shows no real accountability to the client. I also told Walls & Associates that I never wanted to speak to Brandon or Ashley again – I wanted to speak to a more senior associate – someone who was experienced and knew what they were doing. As a result of that, I was contacted by Brittany Stanley who was apparently the manager of my case team. She stepped in and put a lot of effort in to combat the problems with SC and NC. In a short period of time, Brittany was able to do two things: 1) work with a tax payer advocacy group to force NC’s hand to remove the levy, refund my money and get me back into a payment agreement. I was thankful but my gratefulness could only go so far when a payment agreement is exactly what I already had before I hired Wall & Associates. However, Brittany was able to get my monthly payment down to $150. 2) She was able to get my SC garnishment percentage down to 12.5%, half of the original garnishment amount. But the point is that I should never have been garnished in the first place and I’m still paying more than I would have if I just set up the payment agreement with SC. Here is my summary of what happened to me me... I was given the "kids" on the team to work with in the beginning (Ashley and Brandon) who caused all of the problems and screwed up my case, and then "mommy" (Brittany) had to step in to clean up all of the mess they made for me and my family. But, no matter what Brittany did, this is not acceptable results from a company who boasts about the work they can do, took my money, and created nothing but problems for me. This company should not be in business!
After the last situation with NC, I decided that hiring Walls & Associates has added nothing but more problems to my life, and to cancel the agreement. I contacted Sidney on the morning of Monday, December 15, 2014 to let her know this and she tried to convince me otherwise. I stood my ground and let her know I wanted to cancel the agreement and I wanted a refund. She told me that she needed to review my case and that, she couldn’t promise me that she would finish the review that day but that she would review it. I called her toward the end of the next day (Tuesday) because I hadn’t heard from her and suddenly she stated that she had no idea when she would get to my case, and that she had other clients ahead of me – none of which she stated to me when we spoke about it just the day before. With such a vague and open-ended answer I pushed Sidney for a more concrete answer on the timing of the decision. She continuously avoided giving me an answer until I basically forced it out of her. Finally, she told me that she would have an answer for me by Tuesday, December 23, 2014. I hit the roof! I repeatedly questioned the fact that she was fully aware of the problems with my case all along the way yet now she wanted to act like it was going to take all of this additional time to review it. She continued to push me off trying to make me feel like she was doing me a favor by even giving me a date because she claimed she never gives clients a firm date on decisions. She absolutely promised that she would have an answer for me by December 23 and that she promised to call me with the update. I told her I needed to speak to someone above her because that timing was not acceptable to me; that I had already been through so much that I was not willing to wait another week for an answer to something as obvious as this. She claimed that there was no one else who does her job; that she is the only person who does the reviews and makes the decisions. So there was no one else for me to speak to and that was also why it was going to take her a week to give me an answer. I got tired of arguing with her about it and decided to wait the week for her to call.
I bet you could guess what happened on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 – my phone never rang. Sidney never called me. I tried to reach her and left two messages on December 24, 2014 but got no response. The first time I heard back from Sidney was Friday, December 26, 2014 at about 3:30 pm EST. I missed her call so I called her back within about 30 minutes. I bet you can also guess what her response was about my refund. Yup… she decided that I didn’t deserve any of my money back – not one penny. You can imagine how angry I was about this grave injustice. She made me wait almost two weeks for what I believe to be a decision she already knew she was going to make because of the shady practices of Wall & Associates. She never planned on refunding my money. Of all the people I thought understood the severity of my situation, it was Brittany and Sidney. But by that decision, Sidney was basically telling me that it didn’t matter to Walls & Associates that they had not performed the services I contracted them to do, that it didn’t matter what mistakes/oversights were made by Wall & Associates along the way, it didn’t matter what was stated/promised to me in the beginning about the capabilities of Wall & Associates, and it is of no concern that Wall & Associates only heightened my financial struggle. It is incomprehensible, unprofessional and offensive that Sidney was ultimately saying to me that they earned my $3,000 when all they did was put me back into a payment agreement with NC which I was in before I hired them or that I am now in a worse situation that I was in with SC before I hired them. Sidney had the nerve to try to convince me that the $400 service fee I did not pay for two months and the work Wall & Associates had done on my case to resolve the problems that arose (the problems they caused for me!!) were worth the $3,000, so I was not due any money. Let’s be clear, the $400 per month she "forgave" had nothing to do with the retainer fee – those are two separate issues and costs. And, how dare she now use something that she did in good faith against me? She also told me that I am the one who chose to cancel the agreement and not let them continue to work on my case so that they could accomplish what was in the contract. So, Sidney was basically telling me to continue to put my family in jeopardy for some unnamed number of months while Wall & Associates continues to use my life as a training course for the "kids" and continue to collect $400 a month from me. That was NOT going to happen. I told her that this situation is like scheduling an appointment for a massage and I showed up for the appointment but never received the massage. But somehow the masseuse is telling me that I still have to pay for the massage just because I laid on the massage bed and waited for the masseuse to show up. This is absolutely unheard of and has definitely put Wall & Associates in the "scam" category. So I was furious and constantly asked Sidney to let me speak to a superior; that I wanted to speak to someone in that building who has earned the title of Director or VP or President. She just continued to deny that to me stating that there is no one above her. I called her on the carpet and said I have a masters’ degree, so I’m no ***, and that she doesn’t sign her own pay checks so there are lots of people above her. She continued to deny me the right to speak to someone else. So she has left me no other choice but to take this to the next level.
Wall & Associates mishandled my case and did not perform the services I contracted them for. The only thing they did was somewhat clean up the mess they made for me with NC & SC. How is that worth my $3,000? It’s not!!!
In the beginning of this, I stated that I borrowed that money from my mother so I still have to pay her back. I want my money back. If there ever was a case for a refund it’s this one.
Product or Service Mentioned: Wall And Associates Customer Care.
Reason of review: Services contracted not delivered and more problems were created for me!.
Monetary Loss: $3000.
Preferred solution: Full refund.