What do you do when your formulation consultant takes your money and stops contacting you?

I hired a chemist the end of last year. We did a non-disclosure agreement as well as a contract. This chemist was paid half of the fee I was quoted in November and it was agreed upon that I would pay the other half within sixty days.

I was given a timeline of an estimate of about eight weeks. Thus far we have spoken three to four times via the phone. I did not contact this person during the holiday season out of respect, but in January sent two emails with no response. When I called I was told that the holidays held up the ingredients ordered. I understood, but made it clear that the lack of communication made me a bit uncomfortable. I was promised samples in January when I made the first call. I was promised follow-up emails to let me know where things stand every Friday (that was on 2/9). Since then I have not received any follow-up emails. I was promised sample again five weeks ago then an email saying they would go out early March and I would receive a tracking number. I sent an email at the end if that week requesting the tracking number. The response was one sentence saying "I have the stomach flu". Mind you when I sent an extensive email about the lack of follow-up and samples I was told that this person had the flu.

I have already paid a this chemists fee in full which is a few thousand dollars. All my attempts via email and phone calls have been ignored. Any feedback you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Comments

  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    I hate to say it, but you need to get a lawyer involved. This shouldn't cost a great deal of money, since all you'll need to start with is a consultation and then a simple letter from the lawyer asking if the consultant intends to uphold his end of the contract or not. This should be enough to scare the chemist into at least contacting you. A few thousand dollars is too small an amount to justify a lawsuit using a lawyer, though.

    The other alternatives are either filing your own lawsuit in small claims court, and/or public shaming, on this forum, LinkedIn, etc.

    For future reference, it's best (in my experience) to pay for results - i.e.,  a third of the amount initially, a third for samples, a third for the final formula, etc.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Amy BurtonAmy Burton Member, PCF student
    This is terrible! A few days ago I heard a very similar story from someone on another forum. She had someone claiming to be a cosmetic chemist steal $2500 from her last fall. I wonder if it was the same person? Her "chemist" is in the southeastern part of the US.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    This can be a very tricky situation to navigate. Reputations are involved, both yours and the consultants. Having this devolve into a public "he said/she said" argument will do damage to both sides.

    Ideally, this could be fixed without lawyers involved, but once you start talking about contracts and NDA's, your best bet will be to use a lawyer and/or an arbitrator to resolve things privately.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • If you paid with a credit card you could always file a chargeback. You will have to state that goods (formulation prototypes) were not received. Otherwise if you say it was a 'service' related dispute the credit cards won't get involved. 

    Otherwise you'll have to go to small claims court in their home state if you want a shot at recovering the money. I'd say trying to 'mediate' is just a waste of time at this point if the person isn't returning your calls. You need to shake them up and get their attention. 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Bobzchemist - I'll endeavor to moderate things so it doesn't devolve into something unhelpful but I think this is a very important question / discussion topic.

    Many people who are on this forum or visit our website are looking for consultants with which to work.  I'm happy to make connections between chemists and people looking for their help but it's highly troubling to hear that someone might be taking advantage of people.

    I have been contacted by a number of consultants who say they are available for work, but I have no way of knowing whether they are reputable or not.  I just assume everyone is until I hear otherwise.  Even then I give people the benefit of the doubt.  But I feel terrible if someone I've recommended would treat someone the way described in the starting message.

    So what can be learned from this?

    1. Buyer beware.

    2. Don't pay all the money until you get the job done.

    It would be interesting to hear from someone on the other side.  

    What would be the rationale for a contracted chemist to avoid responding to a client?
  • Inspire78,

    This same thing happened to me and I believe we have both been scammed by the same person. I have not heard from him in 6 weeks and paid the balance for my prototypes in January, at which time he said they would ship in 7-10 days. He even used the same "stomach flu" excuse with me in the beginning of March, but that is the only contact I have had with him since mid-February. He has not returned any emails or calls for six weeks.

    Would be great if we could talk. I am getting my attorney involved and am about to report him for fraud and theft.


  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    @Perry, I know that we are only getting one side of this story. Personally, I have both been burned by clients refusing to pay after work has been delivered to them, but also by consultants who refused to adequately complete the work that they had already been paid for. 

    The closest I can come to a rationale this for situation, in my experience, is a client who determined, several months after her project had been completed, that the product I formulated was not stable enough long-term. Since long-term stability had not been specified in her project request, and since I couldn't afford to re-do the entire project (as she insisted I do), I had no choice, from a business standpoint, but to tell her that she had already paid for and received a project result that matched what she'd asked for, and that I was no longer interested in doing business with her. In this situation, I'd been paid by the hour, rather than by the project, and I had a signed statement that the end product was satisfactory, so I wasn't too worried. She didn't persist in trying to contact me, but if she had, I would have stopped communicating at some point.

    My strong suggestions, both for consultants and for customers, are to make completely sure that every  possible outcome is spelled out in an agreement between the client and the consultant, and then to make sure that work gets paid for as it is done. By breaking the payment, and the work involved, down into smaller chunks, both the client and the consultant have less at risk. I would also suggest that if a consultant is too busy to return emails or phone calls, you have probably chosen the wrong consultant, unless you have unlimited patience. The downside to choosing an always-helpful, always-responsive consultant is that they charge more, sometimes much more.

    It's a similar situation to what you would face if you were remodeling a house. Do you pay for the work upfront? Then what do you do if the work isn't up to your expectations? But then, on the other hand, what do you do if the contractor says that you are being too picky and refuses to work with you anymore? Most contractors, like most consultants, are continually juggling multiple clients and multiple projects - it's not always easy to find the right balance.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Thanks for the thorough and well-thought out response Bob.

    I agree with you that the best suggestion is to make sure everyone knows what is going to be delivered upfront so there are no surprises.  There should always be some way "out" of the deal too.  

    I tend to think that in most cases the chemist/consultant has the responsibility to make sure their customer is happy (if they can).  Putting yourself in a situation of being called a fraud and leaving a trail of unsatisfied customers in your past is a terrible way to build a business.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @Inspire78:

    Curious:  

    Did you contact client references for this consultant as part of your due diligence prior to signing a contract with him/her?

    Is the "chemist" resident in the same state in which you live or is this an interstate business transaction or even an out-of-country transaction?

    Not to pry, but is the amount of money involved greater than or less than $10,000?


    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • I'm almost certain I was defrauded by the same "cosmetic chemist".
    Picture of him in a lab coat, impressive fabricated credentials, posts regularly on numerous
    skin care formulating groups, blogs etc.  Takes your money and delivers no formulas and
    does not respond to countless emails and phone calls.  He preys on small scale formulators and skincare entrepreneurs. I would welcome an opportunity to speak with anyone who has been a victim of this fraud

  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    Sorry this has happened to you. I hope you can at least get some of your money back.
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    This is terrible. That's probably three people already just on this forum. I suggest you all compare data such as email addresses, etc. to see if you can locate this person. And I also suggest that you all contact the relevant police department because it is fraud.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • If the accused is someone who has posted on this forum it would seem appropriate to post his username. Also, one of those accusing him mentioned that he had posted elsewhere.  Those other sites should be listed along with his website or wherever he posted his photo. . 


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @perspicacious - I don't see posting the accused's username as appropriate given the limited information about the situation.  

    Also, this post isn't so much directed at a single person or situation, but is more helpful to the community and people who might face a similar problem in the future.  The original poster was looking for advice on what to do, not looking to punish someone who they think treated them poorly.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    edited April 2015
    @Perry, I agree completely about not posting usernames, either on this or on any other location. 

    This sort of dispute is best handled privately. Many of the accusations made in this discussion are very disturbing, and could be called defamatory, or even libelous, if they are the least bit exagerated. Additionally, we are only getting one side of the story, and I know that any business can have disgruntled customers.

    I will point out that, for anyone pursuing legal action, making public complaints and accusations will hurt your legal case - they can be used as evidence against you as proof that you are maliciously trying to harm the consultant's business, rather than striving for an appropriate resolution to your dispute.

    Unfortunately, we don't have a reputation recording system in the cosmetic industry the way that Ebay does. Come to think of it, it might be wise for low-dollar contracts like these to go through Ebay, which already has guarantees and an official dispute resolution process.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Hi

    I can assure you as far as my case is concerned nothing is exaggerated or false and I would welcome an opportunity to meet this person in a court of law if he were ever to accuse me of libel or slander. I have the NDA, contract, emails, and cashed check  to verify my story.  I also contacted two professional organization to see if he was a member as he claimed to be.  They both confirmed he was not a member or associated with them.  I have those emails as well.  And of course I have no formulas.  Every effort was made to find an appropriate resolution short of legal action. As I live in another state and the sum of money is less than 5K a lawsuit and recovering a judgement would likely be in vain.  It is very difficult to find a resolution when the individual does not return phone calls and emails. This individual on preys on small scale formulators and skin care entrepreneurs and uses sites like this to legitimize themselves.  My intention in posting this is save other people from being defrauded like I was.  

    Lily88
  • Lily88...although I started this thread of discussion everything you said I agree with as that is where I am. At this point I have found a few other complaints outside of this site regarding this person that existed way before my interaction with said person. It may be hearsay to others, but when several people have been treated in the same manner with no resolution there is a problem that exists.
  • I contacted certain individuals privately about his person and my experience many months ago.  And frankly I'm distressed that there are people who continue to try to dismiss, minimize or explain away these allegations.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    @Lily88, I am not trying to "dismiss, minimize or explain away these allegations". I am trying to make this a general discussion, as @Perry requested.

    While I sympathize with people's feelings of being misled and ripped-off, as a general issue, I don't think it's fair to make accusations when the other party is not presenting their side.

    I do think that both sides of these kind of issues are potentially able to harm the other, reputationally speaking. That is why I think it's best to conduct dispute resolution privately. Otherwise, this could easily degenerate into the type of ugly argument that I believe has no place on this board.

    Personally, I'm not thrilled that we have moved so far from a mutually-supporting  group that was primarily for cosmetic chemists and aspiring cosmetic chemists. I am distressed to hear that someone believes that it is possible to use this site to legitimize less than scrupulous behavior - that's the sort of thing that makes me wish that we could restrict this group more strictly to professionals (and students).

    In the interests of harmony here in the Forum, I'm going to make both of you an offer, @inspire78 and @Lily88. Post your project briefs (in a separate discussion, please) or you can even send them to me privately, and I'll take a look and report back to you on what I think it will take to come up with a formula for you. If it's not too much work, I'll try to put something together for each of you without charge.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @inspire78 and @Lily88:

    Have you communicated with one another to confirm that it is the same Chemist you are dealing with?
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • Bozchemist  I agree that conflicts should be resolved privately and numerous attempts were made to do this all to no avail. This was not a disagreement over formulas, samples, ingredients, cost, timelines  etc. this was fraud.  This individual was paid in full and delivered no samples or formulas. He took the money and disappeared.  

    While I appreciate your offer to evaluate a product brief, after this experience I'm now only working with people I know personally or are recommended by trustworthy sources. 

    I won't post further on this but having the information out there so other people can avoid this fraud is a measure of justice.

    Lily88
  • perspicaciousperspicacious Member
    edited April 2015
    So, Perry, based on what you are saying, the culprit's forum identity shall remain unknown except to those who have been defrauded.  That's perplexing because it tends to make any of those offering their formulating services on this and other forums suspect.  Now I do agree with you that just calling out someone as a crook without supporting evidence isn't something your site would want to do from a moral position or could afford to do from a legal standpoint.

    My suggestion is that you approach the ladies who have described their experiences with this person and if you find their assertions credible then remove the accused from any services offering listings. I like your website and I am impressed by the work you do.  In this situation I just think you need to be a bit more paternal than is usually called for.
  • perspicaciousperspicacious Member
    edited April 2015
    Edited previous post to correct a typo.
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    I seriously hope that the person concerned is not a current member of this site.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • Bob, I want to thank you for the offer you made in the interest of the Forum. While I'm only a bystander reading this thread, I just wanted to say that it really was above and beyond generous, and a wonderful gesture to make. I do hope all this is worked out in a just and speedy manner.
  • MakingSkincareMakingSkincare Member, Professional formulator
    Maybe it could be worth considering some way for people to give testimonials/ feedback on their experiences with formulation consultants?
    Jane Barber
    www.makingskincare.com
    www.learncosmeticformulation.com (free online course)
    Formulation discussion forum (18,000 members): www.facebook.com/groups/makingskincare/
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @MakingSkincare:

    There are a couple of ways to give testimonials/feedback ... Post on the consultant's Linkedin Page, Google+, Facebook, etc. regarding your positive or negative experiences.  You could also easily create a post on this forum giving feedback on your experience.

    What this all boils down to is doing your proper due diligence in selecting a consultant by reference checking with their clients.  Any reputable consultant will give you a reference list if you ask.

    It also boils down to contract negotiation.  It is standard in any industry that you perhaps make a 50% up front payment for the consultant to begin work and then a final payment once the work product has been delivered or at agreed upon milestones.  I never would have made a final payment without having some work product from the consultant in hand.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • Amy BurtonAmy Burton Member, PCF student

    These unfortunate circumstances have put everyone in a very uncomfortable position. I truly hope the individuals involved can settle their differences and resolve these issues in a timely manner.

    It is evident the consultants/chemists who have posted on this thread are caring individuals with some great advice. Thank you for offering guidance. If the person in question is a member of this forum, @Perry is undoubtedly upset by this entire mess too.

    @MarkBroussard, I totally agree with doing your proper due diligence. However, there may be people on this forum who are new to this industry, and perhaps even new to being in business for themselves. That being said - they participate in these forums, build relationships and based on what they read, they trust the people who are advertising their services to be reputable. If those advertising individuals are also actively participating on numerous forums, that would add more credibility too. Even the moderators of various social media groups may have been misled if they don't personally know these consultants/chemists.

    I have been in business for many years, but I'm new to this part of the beauty industry. I'm looking for a consultant/chemist too. Based on past experiences I'm very particular about who I work with. I probably do a lot more digging than the average person before I enter into a contract with someone. Several weeks ago I contacted one of the consultant/chemists listed on this forum. I assumed he was reputable based on what I read in his profile and on his website. Everything looked professional and appeared to be in order. He would NOT provide any references. That, among other things, was why I did not hire him.

    In searching for a consultant/chemist are these expectations unreasonable? I certainly wouldn't want to insult anyone by requesting these things. I would like the following:

    References that I can personally call

    Samples of the chemists work

    A tour of their facility/lab

    Payment in the form of credit card with terms specifying 3-4 payments (deposit, mid-production with samples, final payment upon full delivery of product).

    Do many people work this way or am I asking too much? Thanks in advance.







  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @Amy Burton:

    (1) It is perfectly reasonable to request references that you can speak with regarding their experience with the chemist.  Now, it may well be that the client(s) and chemist(s) have entered into a confidentiality agreement.  Not all clients want it to be known that they work with a consulting chemist, nor which consulting chemist(s) they work with.  So, that may be an issue that limits the references any particular chemist may provide.

    (2)  Sample of the chemists work?  That would fall into (1) above.  If the product has been commercialized and is on the store shelf, probably best that you just purchase a product the chemist has developed.  We don't have samples just laying around for you to touch and feel ... I don't know what that would tell you exactly.

    (3)  A tour of their lab/facilities ... same thing ... if you are willing to spend the money for a field trip, generally not a problem.  But, some manufacturing facilities may have restrictions, again due to client and/or process confidentiality.

    (4)  Credit Card payment ... probably not an issue for some consulting chemists.  But, not all are going to have CC processing.  It's not that type of business where CC are often used.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • Amy BurtonAmy Burton Member, PCF student
    edited April 2015

    @MarkBroussard:

    Thanks for your reply.

    (1) I do understand about NDA's. If client references couldn't be provided, at the very least I would expect some professional references could be. I want to know my consultant/chemist is well respected amongst his/her colleagues, is affiliated with professional organizations, is gaining continuing education through seminars or trade shows and is in good standing with suppliers & creditors. Maybe I'm asking too much? I know if someone wanted to check me out those things wouldn't be an issue. 

    (2) Being new to this industry I guess I'm clueless. Maybe it works differently than other industries. I would think a formulator would have some prototypes and/or samples of some kind on hand. I spent several years working in R&D. We had archives and shelves full of everything we had ever worked on. Labels were coded so only the R&D staff knew what was contained in our sample jars. If shelf life were an issue, there would be documentation, photos, etc.. Anyone interested in working with us could see we were legit. 

    (3) I'm not a wealthy person by any means, but a field trip would be worth every penny. If it were so far away to be cost prohibitive, a tour via Skype or FaceTime would suffice. Even if a chemist is working in a home-based lab, he/she should still be set up in an environment suitable for formulating, testing, etc. If they don't have the proper equipment, I wouldn't want to work with them. 

    (4) Anyone in business today who isn't accepting credit cards is missing a huge opportunity to grow their business. There's much more buying power with plastic. In this day and age, even small part-time vendors at local farmer's markets process credit cards using mag-readers attached to their smart phones. 

  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @AmyBurton:

    I think you are perhaps missing the main point:  

    Does the chemist you choose have the skills and experience to deliver on the formula you developed or are paying the chemist to develop and can he deliver that to you in a reasonable time frame?  

    Everything else is incidental to that objective.  

    And, the only thing that will prove that to you is a track record with clients (which you may be able to reference) and/or products that the chemist has brought to market on his own account.

    As a contract chemist, once you have turned over the work product to the client, unless you are conducting stability testing for them, there is no need for you to maintain samples.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • Amy BurtonAmy Burton Member, PCF student

    @MarkBroussard:

    Thanks for all your help! :-)

  • I hate to jump in halfway with a tangent from the discussion but I may have a resolution. 

    Those that have paid this "so-called chemist", how did you make the payment? If it was with a cheque or bank deposit, you can easily track that, if the offender is anywhere in North America or Europe you can try revoking the payment or at least find information on the address of this person. The banks will be quite supportive of these actions. 

    If the payment was through other portals, such as Paypal, make sure you go through their resolution center. They can also be helpful. 
  • Unknown Member, PCF student
    This is pretty rough going and I hope you get a resolution.  As a consultant myself I know how easy it is for expectations not to be met on either side.  It has taken me a good amount of time to work out the best way to handle clients and for me to work out the best way to handle myself in terms of client expectations.  It isn't easy and I don't take on every client that comes to me. 

    As I don't know both sides of your story I thought it might be useful to share what I do to give you another perspective in case you do need legal help.

    Looking at this practically I would say that it is only reasonable that after paying someone you should be able to make contact with them within a practical and business-like time-frame whether that is 1 day, 1 week, 1 month or longer is dependent on your 'rules of engagement'.  For me I generally try to give clients something tangible within 4-6 weeks of receiving their payment.  I don't necessarily take every call or answer every email as there is only one of me and I have to focus on doing the job and some clients can call every 5 minutes.  I try not to take those on......

    In terms of when to pay and how much to pay that also varies between consultants. I ask for formulation IP up front so clients have always paid me a couple of thousand dollars plus before I start work.  Why?  Because I've found that is what works best for a business like mine and for the way I like to work as it allows me to be completely transparent with what I'm creating from the outset.  

    As far as 'how long does a project take to complete' goes that is where we start getting into tricky grounds.  I've had projects run for 4 weeks from start to finish and others go for 2 years, especially when things are complex.  However, contact lines must be kept open and honest on both sides so that expectations are met.  I've let things slip before but then again so have my clients.  We are all only human. 

    In terms of the consultants obligations to your project this is also tricky.  As a consultant I have taken on jobs before that I end up not being able to complete for one reason or another. Generally it is because the client hasn't liked what I've produced or has changed their mind or their goal posts.  In these situations rather than run and hide I've found it best to talk it through with the client and work on a plan B.  If the client feels ripped off and I've taken on something that I really couldn't do (happened once) then I offer to create something different or give money back. Most of the time if the relationship is good a client is happy to put the money towards a different formula.  Communication is key though whatever happens and lawyers usually spell the end of civil conversation. 

    As far as formula expectations go these should be covered in the initial contract - is stability testing included,  what about PET, efficacy testing,  consumer trials, fragrance variants, scale-up support?   If an experienced consultant is taking on newbie clients it is part of their role to set expectations and cover all of this.  If the consultant doesn't understand the above then there will be problems.

    Anyone can set up as a consultant in this industry and with many small brand owners and start-ups some can last a fairly long time before being rustled.  I think that sometimes people are just out to rip people off but mainly in my experience some of these consultants just don't know what they don't know and aren't adequately qualified.  There are so many nuances within the industry and only time and hands-on experience will 'qualify' a consultant, not just reading every forum, being a great 'researcher' or just being passionate. 

    If I was to hire a consultant chemist I'd make sure they had worked in manufacturing (and not just for 5 minutes with one company),  be adequately qualified academically,  be personable and work in a similar style to you (very important),  have a reputation that can be validated (especially if you are paying them thousands) and also have a good working knowledge of the practical aspects of brand development such as costings, ingredient supply chain and marketing.  It is also key that a consultant understand the regulatory aspect of what you are trying to achieve.

    Sorry for the long post but I hope it helps. 



  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    I tend to think that part of the problem is clients trying to get work done very cheaply.

    For example, I would expect a consulting firm that meets @AmyBurton's requirements to start charges at around $10,000 for a fully tested and qualified simple cosmetic formula, twice that for a complicated formula, and three or four times that for an OTC drug formula. I would also expect them to charge extra each and every time the formula target is changed.

    Trying to get a formulation for $2,500 may well be asking for trouble - someone who can work that cheaply is most likely someone who has taken on many more projects than he or she can handle, just to be able to pay their bills.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • In the case here where several of us have had similar experiences, we all specifically KNOW who this individual is who is defrauding people. He is still active on the forum. This really bothers me since I am sure he is continuing to defraud other clients and prey upon other start-ups. I don't think I can revoke payments to him at this point, they were bank transfers.

    In my case, this individual has positive LinkedIn reviews and comments from legitimate companies (which I looked into before hiring him), and he is highly regarded as an experienced expert in the field. He is very active on this forum. As this was my first project in cosmetics, I did think his rates were low, but as a start-up, that was a relief. I spoke to two other chemists and selected this one because he was so helpful. I began to trust this person, and for a while he gave me great information. We had a great working relationship. I also started out by only working on one product with him before hiring him to do three additional products - I wanted to make sure I could work with him and he would deliver a good prototype. He delivered one prototype last fall which wasn't the final version, but a good start. For that product I had paid 100% up front. I then engaged him to made three more prototypes. I agreed to pay 50% upfront and 50% when the prototypes were completed. Unfortunately I trusted him when he said they were going to be mailed in 7-10 days and paid the balance. I never received them - neither the three new prototypes nor the revised first prototype.

    That was in January. This person cut off all contact with me in February. I am out $6000 and do not have any formulations. This is not a dispute or misunderstanding of what each party was expecting. This is fraud and theft, and I am pursuing it as such.

    People who are trying to protect this individual and his identity here are only complicit in the fraud he is committing. If there were only one of us, that would be one thing. But there are at least three. I would love to hear this person's side of the story, but since he hasn't communicated with me in three months, I can't do anything about that. Since I trusted him, I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a long time thinking he was just busy, overwhelmed or dealing with a personal issue. It took me a while to realize what was actually happening. It is very baffling given his prior references.

    I have also tried to resolve this issue privately but have had no success. I have always been professional and courteous to him. I have contacted the FBI and the state consumer protection agency to report the fraud.

    By the way, individuals control their LinkedIn page and Facebook pages. They can delete negative comments and feedback, and block people from posting on their pages. So those are not effective ways to truly evaluate a person's abilities and references.
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    @Perry I suppose the best way would be to block the person (username more specifically) here and we can then know who is missing, this way you won't feel guilty of shaming anyone and people would be smart enough to notice that user name missing for long time in discussions. At least this can serve as redressal for those who have suffered and a caution for those who might be future victims. 
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @emilyinaustin:

    Your best course of action would be to coordinate with the other clients who have similar issues with said "chemist" and each of you contact the District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Office in the county/state in which the "chemist" resides and each of you file complaints making sure you reference one another's complaint.  If the DA see's a pattern of behaviour, he will most likely look into it.

    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited April 2015
    @Chemist77 - I don't have enough evidence to block anyone.  I have removed the accused from the list of people on the "Need Formulating Services" list but I am not, as of yet, going to kick him out of the forum.  My efforts to get his side of the story have been met with silence, however this does not automatically mean he is guilty.  There could be lots of reasons he doesn't wish to tell his side of the story.  Like perhaps a lawyer told him not to comment.

    If someone is convicted of fraud then I will remove them.  

    @emilyinaustin - This doesn't mean that I am complicit in allowing someone to defraud people visiting this forum.  It is also not a defense of the accused.  I encourage anyone to pursue legal action against him & let us know when there is a ruling against him.  

    This post was not meant to be a witch hunt, but rather a cautionary discussion for anyone hiring a formulator or any other consultant.  And I think there has been some excellent, general advice given on the topic.

    I'm hesitant to ban & remove anyone based on anecdotal evidence.  Anyone can write anything about anyone on the Internet.  I have no way of determining the validity of the claims. 

    Just remember anyone can accuse you of anything and the next time it could be you who is complained about.

    But this is a community not a dictatorship.  I'm happy to listen to all opinions.  What would you do?

    Perry, 44

    Note:  Since this discussion thread was started the accused has not posted on this forum.
  • Chemist77Chemist77 Member, PCF student
    edited April 2015
    @Perry Clear enough to understand.
  • @Perry Impressively fair minded and I would be grateful for the same treatment in those shoes.
  • DavidWDavidW Member, PCF student
    You are doing the right thing Perry.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    I agree with Perry's actions.

    I will also point out that this is a community designed by and for professional cosmetic chemists. We are not a group of handcrafters and hobbyists, we all have reputations and jobs that could be at risk. As a result, we have a responsibility to be careful about what we post here - this is a public forum, and it is easily searchable with Google.

    This discussion thread  was, at @Perry's request, deliberately kept to general advice and precautions to be taken when contracting with any generic consultant, and not a specific individual.

    Collectively, we've been accused of being complicit in the actions of one individual, and of minimizing and/or defending his actions. This is not the case.

    Our professional reputations and the reputations of the company we work for are on the line, each and every time we post on this forum. There is a reason my signature has the disclaimer that it does - I was threatened with legal action against both myself and Beaumont due to a post I made here.

    The only defense against a charge of libel is truth, and facts. 

    For a fact, all I can say that I truthfully know with certainty, is that there is an individual on this forum who has been accused of wrongdoing by another individual on this forum.  I can't regard any of the information posted here as credible fact - there is no proof or other substantiation, and even if there was, I couldn't trust it - it could have been photoshopped. As a result, as a professional, it would be extremely irresponsible of me to take sides in this dispute, and I won't. I suspect that the same holds true for the other professionals here.


    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Just wanted to comment that as uncomfortable/painful as this is for all parties involved, it really has served its purpose as a cautionary tale for aspiring entrepreneurs who could have easily found themselves in the same situation.

    Thank you to everyone who put themselves out there so that their experience/opinion could be heard by all of us lurkers. 
  • Amy BurtonAmy Burton Member, PCF student
    Thank you to all the chemists and cosmetic professionals who participate on this forum with honesty and integrity. The wealth of information you provide is genuinely appreciated.

    I don't know anyone on this forum. However, I believe the vast majority are good people. When it comes to questionable business practices I have learned that sometimes things are not always what they seem. The level of deception often runs deeper than one can imagine. Anyone can portray themselves as something they're not. Professional con-artists scam everyone, including colleagues. Due diligence reveals the ugly truth. Criminals can't erase public records.
  • This is so sad. We work so hard as formulation chemists and for someone to come in and do this is unaccepptable. They should be ashamed of themselves. This is such a nice website .
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