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What to know before signing on the dotted line of any contract

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

What to know before signing on the dotted line of any contract

By Daniel Gutierrez. CREATED Nov 8, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A valley woman trying to make a difference says she feels wronged. It all happened when she hired a company to help her better serve her community.

"It's like we're always sitting around doing nothing. Let's do something with our spare time," said Janice Miller.
 
She said she wants to give back. So she and her sister, along with two friends, decided a few years ago, to make time to volunteer.
 
"I go to Dolittle and North Las Vegas Care Center, out there helping and volunteering," said Janice.
 
But last year they came up with the idea of creating their own group called Women Empowering Themselves.
 
"It seems like when you get to the age of 18-25, that's the ages where you start struggling to move over from being a teenager to an adult," said Janice.
 
She said the goal is to help at risk young women with their resumes and provide workshops about finding a job. But she said, she and her friends didn't know the first thing about starting a non-profit. So her brother suggested a family friend could help.
 
"He was saying he works for a company that does that, it helps non-profit organizations get started," said Janice.
 
He was talking about Small Business Advisors on Paradise, just south of Tropicana. Janice and her friends met with a contractor for the company in May 2012. They agreed to pay $1,900 for help getting their 501c3 non-profit status. But they didn't have that kind of money. So they started, by making a payment of $800, and then held fundraisers for the rest.
 
"We did a bunch of bake sales to raise this money," said Janice.
 
But while raising all that cash, she says the contractor approached her about needing to complete tax form 1023. Janice said she didn't understand why she was expected to fill out the 26 pages by herself.
   
"I want to make sure I'm in compliance with IRS because I've never done this before. So I don't want you to just hand me a paper and say bring it back. Let's do it together," said Janice.
 
It was at that point, she says she started to have doubts. She said after making the last payment, all the company had done was file the non-profit name Women Empowering Themselves with the state of Nevada. Eventually she stopped hearing from them.
 
"We called many times, and sent a few emails," said Janice.
 
So a very frustrated Janice reached out to Contact 13. We stopped by the business, but no one was there to speak with us. So we left our contact information and a short time later we heard from the company president, John Bausch. He didn't want to go on camera, but points to the contract Janice signed that reads, "Prepare and file with the Secretary of State." John said Small Business Advisors did that, fulfilling their contract. But Janice argues, that's only half the job.
 
"They had the paperwork for the taxes," said Janice.
 
She points to the part of the contract that says, "Prepare and file a 501c3 non profit corporation." She interprets that to mean they also help get the correct paperwork filed with the IRS. But John said that actually costs extra. 
 
We did some checking and found, the state and county licenses for Small Business Advisors were both revoked. Something John admitted he didn't know. Since then, he's renewed the county license, which was in revoked status for 6 months. But he still hasn't fixed the state license, which was in default for a year, before it was also revoked.
 
"We really want to get started, because we're still volunteering in the community with no money. We're still out there," said Janice.
 
As for Janice, the company said they're willing to help her with filing her tax forms, at no extra cost. She said she's not interested.
 
"I want to get my money back so I can go somewhere else," said Janice.
 
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line: When signing a contract with any company, make sure it specifically says what services they'll provide. And always do an online search to see that the company is properly licensed. We spoke with the Secretary of State's office about Small Business Advisors, and they tell us they plan to investigate. 
 
And don't forget Las Vegas, we've got your back. If you're having trouble with a business, let us know and we'll see what we can do to help. Email us at 13investigates@ktnv.com.