Experiences with Diego Norte

I think I can credit about 80% of what I’ve learned about online business to James Brausch and his more recent Diego Norte incarnation. It was his blog that finally convinced me to shift my focus from copywriting to product creation.

These have been my experiences so far:

  • I’ve followed his blog(s) for approaching 2 years.
  • I proofread his first two books and was one of only two people who actually proofed all of the first book. I opted not to do the third because I got tired of correcting the same grammar mistakes over and over AND I’d already read all those blog posts AND I’d finally created a solid product at that point.
  • I’ve purchased most of his products.
  • I’d considered going to Costa Rica to model him (his personal blog said he’s moving so I doubt that’s a possibility).
  • I’d participated in his intern/contractor program on 3 different occasions. The first time, I did every task for about five weeks and then the autoresponder ran out of emails/I quit doing them because there weren’t any new tasks. My two ghost written blog articles were published on his blog.

The thing that gets me about James’ business is that he refuses to communicate with his customers. I can appreciate his motivation to do the most immediately profitable thing. But as one of his most loyal customers I’m really frustrated with my experience.

Some grievances I have (only because I have no other way to contact his business):

  • On two occasions, I wasn’t paid for my contractor work.
  • His Life Management 101 product was an absolute waste of money. I don’t need to pay for a half hour audio telling me not to watch TV.
  • His DVD creation product was mostly a waste of money too. It’s a video version of the instructions you can get for free from Kunaki. Robert Phillips has a more thorough video for half the price if you want help via video. I’d pass on his cover creation product though. If you want to learn to do covers, get my graphic design product coming out soon. The rest of the info is available via Kunaki.
  • James has been fairly incindiary to his customers and even peers online. He had a couple of posts back in the day accusing one of his students of lying and stealing one of his products. If you went and read the accused person’s blog it seemed like the story didn’t line up as he’d actually purchased the product in question and had gotten permission IN PERSON to do what he did. It seems like if James hadn’t sequestered himself and refused to communicate with anyone, that could have been avoided.
  • I personally got flamed by James’ blog once too for saying something regarding TV. When I read the post response to my comment I thought who in the world would have said watching TV was okay. I went back to the comments they referenced and realized they must have meant me even though I said nothing of the sort. I realized it wasn’t James that wrote that so I wrote a tongue in cheek response saying his contractor in India was overreacting to what my contractor in India said.
  • His business’ posts have become 80% junk since diegonorte.com started. They’re obviously written as filler. Most aren’t even worth the time it takes to scan and figure out they’re junk. The fact that he obviously isn’t concerned his business is cranking out junk concerns me as a business practice.
  • A couple of times, his franchise system didn’t give me another viable task. I clicked through to the next task and it wanted me to critique and article for example. But there was no article. Another time, it wanted me to comment on something like 20 blogs. I combed through the list of 100+ urls given and found that most of them either 1) weren’t blogs, 2) weren’t in English or 3) hadn’t been posted to in several months. There was literally no way for me to complete the task or to tell them I couldn’t.
  • I purchased MuVar 2009 but it didn’t include complete directions. Some features mentioned in the sales letter I got via email weren’t even mentioned. I really don’t like learning from video for most things but what I’ve heard is those videos are the exact same ones as for the prior version of MuVar. I think the software must work, I just don’t know how to do it. I did spend 2 full days trying to set up one page. After the video instructions way didn’t work, I tried everything else I could imagine with nothing to show for it.
  • I must have subscribed to a trial version of James’ newsletter last year. I recall receiving a couple of issues and thinking they weren’t worth $25. It was mostly his MuVar testing results which I’d already seen elsewhere. I only received a couple of issues so I forgot about it. Turns out that right around Thanksgiving I get an unexpected $300 charge for subscribing to his newsletter. I might be mistaken but it seems that I subscribed to a one year trial but only got 2-3 months of it. I sent an email to get a refund but never heard back. No doubt they don’t offer refunds and I don’t want to argue with PayPal at this point. I just got the first issue in the mail so I’ll check that out before I do anything else.
  • His business offered a Christmas special. I missed it last year so I made sure to check it out this year. It was supposed to be most of his products on sale plus a free trial of his Ranking Factors software. I plugged my url into Ranking Factors and it didn’t work. Great. Thanks. I checked out the rest and the only actual discount was on his email customer service – did I mention that? If you want customer service, you have to pay for it. I was intending to wait until Jan to start working on MuVar again and pay the $25 for them to help me work my $50 MuVar product. Hopefully I don’t have to explain the ethical problem I have with that but it’d still be worth it monetarily to get MuVar working. The customer service option was only $1 so I figured why not. The form only allowed something like 62 characters so I did my best to explain my MuVar delimma. Here’s the response I got back yesterday:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

You asked the following question:

I can’t get MuVar 2009 to work. Not enough space to explain.

It wasn’t presented in the form of a question or it wasn’t gramatically
correct so we first had our team reword your request into a gramatically
correct question format.  Here is what we were able to reword it to:

How can I get MuVar 2009 to work without enough space on my server?

Here is our response:

MuVar 2009 doesn’t take very much space at all on your server.  The script
files are less than 100K.

MuVar does store data about all of your visitors and sales but even the
most modest hosting plan should be able to handle tens of thousands of
visitors and hundreds of sales.

With hundreds of sales, you can easily upgrade to a most robust hosting plan.

MuVar 2009 is extremely simple to use.  It is sold on a CD with all of the
script files and step-by-step videos showing every step of installation
and setup.  Most people are able to install MuVar 2009 in less than an
hour the first time.  After the first time, 10 or 15 minutes is much more
typical.  There is nothing complicated at all about installation or
configuration.

It’s really that simple.

We also offer an email consultation service and a monthly coaching service
if you ever have any specific questions.  Training is never an issue with
any Diego Norte product including MuVar 2009.

I hope this answer helps.  Please contact us at this URL if you have any
other questions:

http://www.DiegoNorte.com/prd/1002/

Sarina Hendrickson
Nashville, Tenessee, USA Office
http://www.DiegoNorte.com

If you missed that, they not only didn’t answer my question, but reworded my question into a ridiculous question and answered that instead. All I can say is I’m really glad I didn’t shell out $25 for that.

I’d wanted to invest in James’ franchise system now that I’ve gotten a grip on how to create some unique products. I’m not going to though because my experience with it as a user has been so poor. Even so, I’m still interested in seeing how his latest experiment with homepages goes. And even after all that, I still took advantage of his 24 hour special yesterday to add another 10K publishers to my article marketing database.

I have really mixed feelings about Diego Norte. On the one hand, I really admire the hands-off systems style business James has built. I gather he’s now a multi-millionaire because of it.  On the other hand, I think half of what his business is churning out is junk and damaging to the relationship his business should be trying to cultivate with its customers. I agree it’s good to be profitable but not at the cost of cheating people out of money and spreading ill will. That doesn’t seem like it’d be profitable long term.

I’d normally avoid saying anything negative about anyone in particular. James just doesn’t have any other way to give feedback except product purchase. I guess the only feedback he wants is product purchases through MuVar. I’m pretty sure the flaw in that thinking though is that MuVar doesn’t measure repeat purchases and lifetime customer value.

Any comments? I don’t want this to be a rail against James post but I’d like to hear any thoughts regarding business systems, product creation, profitability, longevity, etc.

13 Responses

  1. You are a little bit out of the loop. James sold diegonorte.com in February 2008 and had a retirement party in Costa Rica in October 2008. The last I heard, he was in Greece for Christmas. I haven’t heard anything related to IM from him since he sold diegonorte.com. I assumed he signed a non-compete agreement.

    MuVar 2009 wasn’t released until long after James was no longer involved with the company. The same goes for the franchise system. He would never have franchised anything. It was discussed many times on his blog.

    I don’t know what to think about customer service. I want to have good customer service in my own business, but I get the same kind of questions you didn’t ask. I don’t know what to do about them. Do I just ignore them? Do I spend dozens of emails trying to get the customer to actually ask me a question? What about when I outsource? There is no way to create a support decision tree for outsourced CS reps that handles emails like the one you claim you sent him.

    There is no question mark even. There is no who, what, how, when, where, do, did, does or any other question word even in your request. What were they supposed to do? They rewrote it the best they could as far as I can see.

    I’m curious. How would you have handled a “question” like that? It’s not a question. It’s a statement. It’s also a false statement. Muvar does work. I use it and the videos are very complete and concise. With all due respect, it takes a real idiot not to be able to follow them. You can hit the pause button any time they go too fast for you. They show every single step. It’s just dumb to complain that a product doesn’t work when it comes with videos that show it working and thousands of people actively use it every day. Do you think Microsoft Word doesn’t work too?

    Do you have any products? How would you handle a question like “Burns Copywriting Software doesn’t work. Not enough space to explain.”

    Would you just reply and say “it does so work nah nah nah”? Would you reply and tell them to follow the videos which prove that it works? What exactly would you do?

    Why do you expect differently from diegonorte.com?

    Any why do you expect freebies all the time? No major company offers free email support. Microsoft charges way way more than $1. They can’t answer questions like yours either. Nobody can answer a question that you refuse to ask.

    You have this bully pulpit called a blog. If you had a problem with Muvar, why didn’t you just ask your readers? I bet a lot of them use Muvar and know it works so you wouldn’t be able to tell them it doesn’t work and you don’t have space to explain.

    I hope you weren’t expected a lot of loving and “you poor thing… you’ve been so mistreated” from such an ignoramus post.

  2. Hehehhe…I’m not surprised honestly…I gave up on him many months ago after he went the route of creating a new website for the “diego norte” alias.

    He did have some interesting stuff to say at first but it rapidly went downhill.

    I think I stopped reading his blog (the james brausch one) after he went off on a tangent and started blogging about the mormon thing in texas.

    To sum it up, I would say “I hear you talking but all I hear is – blah blah blah blah”

    G-Man

  3. For what it’s worth, the first commenter didn’t list a working email address or website. It could really be anyone. I debated on whether to approve the comment or not. I think it adds more than it detracts so I allowed it. This is my response to “Rick”:

    Rick,

    I appreciate your feedback.

    I assumed James had sold the business based on things he’d said previously on his prior blogs and because of the significant drop in quality. I didn’t know for sure. Thanks for letting me know.

    If I got a “question” like the one I sent them, I’d reply and ask them to elaborate. That’s what I was hoping for. I don’t think that’s unreasonable given that I was paying to ask them a question and the form didn’t have enough space to say what I needed.

    If you’d read any of my blog, you’d see that I have mentioned MuVar before. Another reader and I were trying to figure out how to make it work and/or contact James to let him know he put the old video on the new product. I realize other people are using MuVar. I haven’t been able to figure it out given the amount of effort I’ve put in. It’s just not the top priority in my business at this point.

    What clued me in to the MuVar discrepancies were that some features listed in their emailed sales letter weren’t even mentioned in the video instructions. And then the main menu was different from the video to what I saw when I installed it. If James sold the business a while back, they should have recorded a new updated video that included the features they were selling.

    The main feature I’m referring to is validating using anything but Click Bank (including offline actions). I didn’t get to that though because when I was entering variables, they wouldn’t render on the web page I was doing. I watched the video 3 times, paused it and took notes the first time and double and triple checked the notes to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. It still didn’t work for me. I’m sure it does because other people use it. But I’m a reasonably intelligent person so it should.

    If a company states up front that they don’t give refunds and don’t offer any kind of support, I can take that into consideration. If they make pretenses about offering support and then don’t… well that just doesn’t seem like a good business practice. It’s definitely not an effective way to build good will with your most loyal customers.

    If you’d looked at my website at all before commenting, you’d see that I already have two products out. I’ve also posted a few times on upcoming products I have in various stages.

    And you’re correct. I wasn’t looking for sympathy… just looking to start a discussion which is what I did. If it has a secondary benefit of influencing something at diegonorte.com too, that would be great.

  4. I too am a little surprised that you allowed that previous comment from “Rick.” It was very condescending. In fact, it had all the hallmarks of a James Brausch comment.

    I believe that post from “Rick” was in some way connected to James Brausch. I also DO NOT believe that Brausch really “sold” his “Diego Norte” site as stated above. You have to ask yourself, “This Rick sure does know a lot about Brausch that nobody else seems to know. How is that?”

    And also, why would someone from out of nowhere come to your blog to defend another person in such detail?

    I’ll not pretend why I am here: I was a former James Brausch customer who feels VERY slighted, and I am not alone.

    Before anyone does business with James Brausch, they should read what they find at the following links, then decide.

    http://entrepreneurs.about.com/b/2008/06/25/james-d-brausch-glyphius-and-shilling.htm

    http://www.crunchgear.com/2008/12/10/douche-of-the-day-diego-nortejames-brausch/

    http://rayedwards.com/james-brausch-thinks-i-hate-him/

    http://www.cybercashology.com/the-internets-big-bully/

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/360/RipOff0360502.htm

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/371/RipOff0371537.htm

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/343/RipOff0343401.htm

    http://www.complaintsboard.com/suspicious-companies/james-brausch-aka-diego-norte-a69538.html

    http://www.complaintsboard.com/suspicious-companies/james-brausch-diego-norte-james-brausch-diego-norte-a59688.html

  5. Wow, that first commenter should extract the pole from his rear end. When you dont have any form of support available for your products, you open yourself up to being raked over the coals by customers. This blog post is not a ‘bully pulpit’ – in fact, its the opposite. It’s a chronicle of somebody who continued to buy crappy products over and over again despite consistent evidence that he was never going to get what he paid for. And I have to add…James Rausch, or Diego Norte, or Prince, or whatever the hell his name is…should NOT be admired for “the hands-off systems style business” he has built. There are a thousand ways to automate without alienating, which is exactly what this guy does. Build a customer knowledge base, hire a customer service rep, give documentation, whatever….
    There are dozens of internet marketers with great business systems that you can model yourself after…I couldn’t imagine having the kinds of difficulties you describe with any Mike Filsaime product, much less having the same kinds of problems over and over again.

    Muvar’s instructions are an absolute joke. Just looking at the files I can tell that there are several features that aren’t covered in the videos or in any documentation. I looked so long for a way to get an answer to a simple support question, that I just gave up and left a question through his testimonial form.
    The Muvar videos show a menu link to the batch processing function – that link does not exist in the copy that I bought. I’ve tried to work around the missing link problem but as yet have not had any sales recorded through the software – making it incapable of compiling any test results – making the software a complete waste of time.

  6. Louis – I, too, followed James for a while. Read his blog posts. Bought his products. I actually liked Glyphius pretty well. Had trouble getting MuVar to work though.

    Anyway, I had the EXACT same experience with the newsletter. Paid for a year, got 3 or 4 months, then it stopped. When I paid $2K for email coaching, I got some fairly condescending responses, especially about the newsletter.

    I asked why I wasn’t getting the newsletter anymore and James basically said, “We agreed to send the newsletter to the address on file. That’s it.” Well, my mailing address was correct in PayPal. Anyway, that was the end for me. Canceled my subscription, chalked it up to a learning experience, and moved on.

    Sounds like you would do well to move on, too.

    Ryan

  7. I purchased Muvar 2009 and it’s worthless. The install videos are old and there is no support.

    I too… posted a TERRIBLE testimonial calling them out… but I am sure they will just delete it if any real person actually even touches it.

    If you are considering buying anything from this site… DONT…

    He is a scam artist and nothing else.

  8. OMG!

    Now I’ve realized why after my last $10 payment was not yet processed up to now after accomplishing the task. But thanks God that I did not yet purchase anything from him.

  9. Kristi Brausch writes about life in Nicaragua on her blog. She cooks chicken casseroles because turkey is too expensive and longs for a washing machine. The money doesn’t seem to have gone very far. I wouldn’t leave my family that far behind me. Or washing machines.

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