Although I reached out to Tradebank prior to publication of my recent article about alleged problems at Tradebank, I didn’t receive any kind of reply until this morning, and not from them directly, but from their lawyers.
It seems my sources were wrong about some of the problems Tradebank may or may not be experiencing. I reproduce the letter for your perusal below:
Dear Mr. Seamons:
I represent Tradebank International, Inc. and Tradebank International Franchising Corporation. Tradebank recently became aware of a blog post that you authored on the website Barter News Weekly dated March 14, 2104 entitled “Reports of Problems at Tradebank International.” The blog post is based upon false information and the alleged “credible source” for the article appears to be a disgruntled employee, franchisee or competitor of Tradebank’s, as opposed to someone with actual knowledge regarding the business of Tradebank International.
Among other things, and as you would know had you bothered to conduct simple diligence in connection with your article, your claim that “Tradebank lost a significant lawsuit in Georgia court against a former franchisee, a franchisee who had left and started their own barter exchange” is absolutely false. Tradebank has not lost a suit to enforce its non-competes to date, including the suit that is currently pending against its former Atlanta franchisees. Moreover, even if the court in that action ultimately refuses to enforce one of Tradebank’s non-competes, that would have no bearing on the majority of Tradebank’s non-competes, which are governed by Georgia’s new restrictive covenants law.
Other factual claims in your article likewise lack any factual basis. Contrary to the claims in your post, Tradebank has not “lost 10,000 members” or anything close to that number. Nor have “most of [Tradebank’s] franchisees left and set up shop for themselves.” Indeed, only a handful of disgruntled Tradebank franchisees have left and tried to set up their own barter exchanges, and in each of those instances Tradebank has successfully replaced those franchisees with others in the regions and has taken steps to vigorously enforce its rights under the franchise agreements. Moreover, several state and federal courts have already enforced Tradebank’s non-competes in connection with litigation against former franchisees.
Finally, your assertion that “Tradebank is under investigation by the SEC, IRS, and Attorney General of Georgia for the use of the word ‘bank’ in their name” lacks any factual support. Quite to the contrary, Tradebank long ago obtained specific written permission from the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance to us the word “bank” in its name, and the name Tradebank is a federally registered trademark. Instead, these appear to be fabrications long stated by disgruntled former franchisees and competitors of Tradebank, which have no basis in fact.
Your reckless and irresponsible reporting in an industry publication to which many of Tradebank’s members and franchisees subscribe is damaging to Tradebank’s reputation in the barter industry and may lead to significant damages. Given the blatant falsehood over matters that are easily verifiable, Tradebank can only conclude that your statements were published maliciously in order to damage Tradebank’s reputation in the business community, or to further the interest of Tradebank’s competitors.
In light of the numerous false statements throughout your article, Tradebank hereby demands that you and Barter News Weekly issue a public retraction of the article. If you will not retract the article, Tradebank will have little choice but to pursue its legal remedies against Barter News Weekly and you personally. Please respond by the close of business on March 18, 2014 to let me know if you intend to issue a retraction. If you wish to discuss the matter before then, please contact me directly.
W. Bradley Ney
Attorney at Law
You read it. In those points that the letter outlines, I had it wrong. I publicly apologize to Tradebank and its current franchisees and customers for any information that I published that was not factually correct. I failed at my part-time, passion-driven, non-paid work as a news reporter for the barter industry, and I’m sorry. This isn’t the first time I have gotten a story wrong and it won’t be the last. I’m glad to admit my mistakes when I make them, and this was one of them.
You can now go about your business.