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Broadsword Student Advantage Sells People Student Loan Help They Could Get for Free

Written by Steve Rhode

A reader wanted to know more about a radio commercial they heard in California that was promising a student loan assistance or consolidation program. The reader said the telephone number in the radio advertisement was 800-514-9773 and they thought the company was Student Advantage.

So I called to find out what the service was all about. The telephone was answered by a very nice sales representative, Tim. Tim tells me their program allows them to consolidate federal student loan debt.

The Broadsword Student Advantage website says their services are geared towards people that need to improve their financial situation. “We have options and expertise to get you through these uncertain times and provide you with a solution to help you meet your loan obligations while you improve your financial situation.” – Source

Tim says they can consolidate my government student loans and my payment for the consolidated student loan standard program payment is $282.95. What comes to light later is that that payment includes a monthly fee of $49.95 that is not paid towards the student loan but instead paid to some financial planning product Broadsword Student Advantage is delivering or promoting.

Tim later sends me a breakdown of the available payments that shows the standard program payment to be $233.41. But what is very interesting is that the payment breakdown he emails me looks exactly like results from the payment calculator available for free on the Department of Education website. You can click here for the free government student loan consolidation calculator.

Payment Estimates

Broadsword payment estimateDept of ed payment estimate

Broadsword Sales Staff Commission Compensated

From an employment advertisement online it appears Broadsword Student Advantage is looking for sales staff that “puts our customers first and can sympathize with their situation.” That quote will become more interesting as you read on. And it is quite possible that Tim is a commission compensated sales consultant.

The employment advertisement offers “a $250,000 per year potential and a career path at our sister company!”

And that sister company apparently leads to someone becoming a financial advisor.

Sales consultants are compensated with a base pay plus commission. – Source

The fact the sales staff is commission compensated is important for consumers to know because they may be pushed a product that is more in the interest of the sales person earning the commission than as a sound financial decision.

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Program Costs

Despite repeated requests for Tim to send me an agreement for their services, which I do not get by the time of this publication, Tim does clearly say in the secret shopper call the $49.95 fee is a monthly fee.

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His program estimate says the standard program is for 240 months. The total fee paid would then be a commitment for $11,988. I would be interested to know if the client agreement put the consumer on the hook for the entire amount up front.

The $49.95 a month fee is supposed to be for an added financial planning resource for all sorts of advice, who can also assist with debt settlement.

But let’s look at the true program cost.

If the consumer went directly to the government and consolidated their loans for free they would not have to pay the extra $49.95 monthly fee. Instead, that fee could be applied to their student loans.

If the full $282.95 monthly payment Broadsword Student Advantage asked for was instead paid towards the loan, the 20 year student loan would be repaid in 14 years, saving the consumer 6 years of payments. If those six years of payments were then invested after the loan was paid off early it would be worth $24,932.

Considering the lost rate of return at 6.625% if the $49.95 per month was paid into something with that rate of return, over 20 years it would be worth $24,867.

The loss of that return for the consumer seems to be horrible financial planning advice and how does that put “our customers first and can sympathize with their situation” as they represent in their employment advertisement?

Affordable Life Plans, LLC

An email from Tim tells me the financial planning company is Affordable Life Plans that happens to be located at the exact same address and suite as Broadsword Student Advantage.

7668 Warren Parkway
Suite 375
Frisco, Texas 75034

Interestingly, Affordable Life Plans makes available a document on their website that appears to have been filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission that says they do not pay any compensation for client referrals.

Screen Shot 2013-02-01 at 11.25.17 AM

Yet part of the $49.95 monthly fee charged by the student loan company is for the Affordable Life Plans service. So does the disclosure indicate that Broadsword Student Advantage is selling the Affordable Life Plans service and receiving no compensation at all?

Affordable Life Plans says “management persons/executive officers; Robert W. Boyd III and Kenneth Leroy Talbert.” – Source

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But what is interesting is that public records with the State of Texas reflect the management of the company is Matthew L. Winebrenner and Robert W. Boyd III. State records though say that Kenneth L. Talbert is the organizer of the company. – Source

The website for Affordable Life Plans is also on the same server with the following domains, including the Broadsword Student Advantage sites:

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affordablelifeplans.com
broadswordadvantage.com
broadswordsa.com
broadswordstudentadvantage.com
debtreliefoptions.com
officeofstudentloan.org
officeofstudentloans.org
xwarenet.net

The administrative contact for the Debt Relief Options website is a Bob Boyd. Is it possible that is the same as Robert Boyd with Affordable Life Plans?

Screen Shot 2013-02-01 at 11.37.03 AM

The website officeofstudentloans.org sure makes it sound like some special program that is affiliated with the U.S. government but it’s not till the very last line they disclose they are not a government agency. The website seems to just be a sales page and consumers are told to call 800-374-0668, the number for Broadsword Student Advantage. The advertisement appears to indicate there is an advance fee for the service as well.

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Broadsword Student Advantage, LLC

State of Texas records state that Kenneth L. Talbert is the registered agent for Broadsword Student Advantage and he is the sole member. – Source

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An Issue With Broadsword Student Advantage

Broadsword Student Advantage appears to be marketing and selling a service that the consumer can do for no additional charge directly through their current federal student loan servicer or the Department of Education website.

Other than the upsell or inclusion of an affiliated financial planning product, which most will probably never take advantage of, there appears to be no reason for any consumer to pay for the additional services or fee.

If Broadsword Student Advantage informed clients and potential clients they could consolidate their loans for free, consumers could then make an informed and better educated decision about if participating in the program was in their best interest.

Disclosure

The publication of this article is entirely coincidental to another article that was published yesterday by a former partner of Ken Talbert’s. See Former Dextral Managing Director Shares His Bold Story About Ken Talbert. I had no idea when I started this story that it would lead to some of the same individuals. I just want to make it perfectly clear there was no organization or plan to publish coordinated stories which might appear to be critical of Ken Talbert.

Additionally, it turns out that again, entirely coincidentally, this story also mentions Debt Relief Options. A video I once published about a Debt Relief Options story I wrote was the apparent basis of my YouTube account being suspended because of a complaint about the video. See YouTube Account Terminated – What In The World is Going On?

Sincerly,
Steve

You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.





About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

86 Comments

  • Steve,
    I’ve seen a lot of these you have covered, and I’m trying to figure out if Student Loan Repair Group is among the scams. I was told by their representative that they work with the department of education. Just trying to figure out if I’ve been scammed…

    • Yes, it is a scam…i was denied a refund. They accepted my phone call requests, and soon stopped accepting my calls.

  • I responded to a job posting online, and was contacted and
    interviewed with Shaun Knapp the recruiter at the company. Shaun told me
    all this good stuff about the position he said they had all these
    inbound calls and fresh leads. Said I would make big commissions and
    become a series 65 licensed financial advisor on the other side of the
    wall. I attended training with a completely incompetent trainer whole
    also happens to be the President of this company (Shawn Burdick) many of
    us wondered what the heck was going on but okay. The building is a
    converted warehouse with cheap cubicles and bathrooms. Once we got on
    the phones after training the truth began coming out. The calls were
    hardly there and they forced everyone to become outbound telemarketers.
    The people calling in from the radio ads are driving, you can’t hear
    them because they are distracted and they are hardly interested in a
    financial advisor because they are poor as crap and too dumb to know
    better. Then the so called commission which becomes nothing are based on
    you cost per enrollment (this is confusing but okay). Knapp told me
    that we could work as much overtime as possible but what he didn’t say
    was if you work overtime you forfeit your commission. The pay plan is
    very complex, I asked Tim Amerson the sales director to explain the pay
    plan to me more in detail and he was confused. Pay is 11.08hr or not
    $14hr but is if you don’t get 20 sales per month then your cost
    enrolments is higher and they will fire you immediately, write you up
    over and over. Then on top of this if the customer service department
    pisses the customer off and they cancel then you are held liable for
    those sales being lost. If customer service fails to contact the
    customer and lose the sale then it’s still your fault. They send out
    these cancellation emails showing countless account cancellations daily.
    The bottom line is you will never make commissions just your hourly and
    they will pocket your commissions for themselves. Now, let’s talk about
    the schedule they don’t care if you have other arrangements they mix up
    your schedule on a rotation system. They told me I was going to become a
    financial advisor and I don’t see that happening. The meetings are
    negative they have this guy Bob- Robert Boyd iii the COO who everyone
    hates and I see why, he’s nothing but a car salesman who need to go back
    and sell cars. I heard he couldn’t pass the series 65 or the insurance
    test why is he telling us what to do and how to sell this is not a car
    lot. Everyone is leaving and walking out. The people running this place
    must be the dumbest people on earth. To show how dumb they are they have
    an in house attorney here muscle poor little helpless and powerless
    employees out of their commission money. I quit my job to start working
    here and now I am out of luck and regret it! I will be walking out soon.
    They lied to us and now they are angry because we are intelligent
    enough through the bs. It’s not our fault they don’t have the know how
    to manage this company. They are so caught up in their unprofessional
    pettiness and egotism that there company is going sour. Can anyone
    direct me to a real company with real leaders? Out of all the people
    working for them they only have a few who has been there from the start
    maybe three, ebveryone else are new. Big red flag!

    Sales Consultant Carrollton Prior Frisco, TX

  • This comment is from a former customer, this is the pure facts on how the debt consolidation works from this company. They sell the high pitch, but a lot of red flags go on thrughout the process. Basically you get charged $49 a month for the next 10 years for supposed great service for the loan relief and helping you with your loan. This company gets you by remarking that you are able to be out of debt with their program, but you really don’t need them, you need Direct Loans who own your loan and they can only make determinations about your loan. But this company is not going to tell you that. If you have a loan you are already having to budget or bad things happen to your credit score, so you have to pay either way. But all they do is file the loan consolidation application for you. Who provides the actual loan consolidation is Direct Loans who actually owns all your school loans from companies like American Education Services, etc. One you can call Direct Loan Consolidation Center by calling (800) 557-7392 and file the application yourself. When you think about it this is what you are looking at for the filing of your application one time with direct loans, this had my head spinning for awhile. Remember your application with Direct Loans gets filed only ONCE and Direct Loans doesn’t charge anything for the filing. This company is a third party and when I asked Direct Loans, they said that they had nothing to do with them and that they only get the applications to be processed but, have no idea how much we pay or what those third companies continue to charge or how those third companies exist or how many. $49 x 52 wks a year = $2,548 x 10 yrs = $25,480 for ten years!!! – nice scheme if you ask me. I did loose money because the first month they charge you $499 out of your account, but I am glad to be done with them and be able to share my experience with others. I am upset for that type of money to be lost, my family doesn’t have that type of money to loose, but it’s a lesson well learned.

  • Spoke with rep to help with loan payments and possibly forgiveness. He was very complimentary and understanding of my situation, then started asking me for my personal access information onto the loan.gov site, even asking me to answer the hint question for my pin as he was accessing my account. I did not give him permission to do this, I was even giving him my SS# and birthdate but stopped after he asked for the hint question. He assured me Broadsword was approved by the Better Business Bureau. I went to the BBB site and checked, they are not a member of the BBB. Be careful people, these guys are smooth.

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