Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Well it's been a long time since I last updated the Blog.  Many thanks to all those who have been in touch asking how things are going and asking for updates and for the blog to be continued. You have no idea how much I appreciate it and I continue to be amazed how many people still get in touch, so many years down the line.  People whose lives have been profoundly affected for the worse by Darragh MacAnthony and his company MRI.  The Blog would turn blue if I wrote down all the comments about Darragh MacAnthony that I'd been sent!!

Like all working parents, my time is stretched and I've just not had the time to write any updates.  Instead, I've decided to record my experiences as I can say everything I wanted to, in a fraction of the time.  It will be 10 years since I resigned from MRI in October of this year.  10 years!  I really cannot believe how those years have flown by.  Some might say it's time to move on and forget about it.  I have indeed moved on and it's years since I've felt any resentment or hatred towards Darragh MacAnthony.  They are a waste of emotion.  However I don't want people to forget how Darragh ripped people off.  How he didn't pay his staff and how his clients were affected.  And as written in this article, it looks like Darragh has set up shop again in the form of International Homes Group.  I certainly do not want history repeating itself and more people getting ripped off.  I have a feeling that Darragh isn't the kind of man to learn from his mistakes - to do that you have to accept that you made mistakes in the first place.

Please find the videos below.  As you'll see I'm not a natural on camera (understatement!!) and it's not something I enjoy doing, but I'd be grateful if you'd share the videos on your social media so that as many people get to see what kind of man he is.  I'm aiming to add a new video each week.

Take care and thanks again for all your support.  Keep the emails coming please.  I read and reply to every single one of them.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Support from a Peterborough Fan

I was over the moon to receive the below email of support from a Peterborough fan.  Sadly in the past I have faced abused and hostility from Peterborough fans, refusing to hear the truth about their Chairman.  Luckily it seems as though the tide is turning.  That karma is going to come and bite you on the bum sooner or later Darragh....

(to the lovely guy who sent me the letter of support - I recently emailed you to ask if it was OK for me to publish the letter on my Blog.  I've not had a reply as yet, so maybe you never received the email?  If you want me to remove the letter, I will do so straight away.  Simply email me your name and the email address you sent it from and I'll take it down straight away).


I'm a Peterborough United fan and have been reading some stuff on your blog. I've always been skeptical of Darragh MacAnothony, yet every other fan of the club seems to adore him (probably because of all the money he put into the club that didn't actually belong to him).

Recently however, a few more fans are starting to turn on him for numerous reasons and I can tell it's getting to him, which led me to finding this blog.

I am not enjoying the corruption surrounding the modern game of football. The fact that someone like Darragh MacAnthony has walked into a club I love, bought the fans' affection using money he's robbed from people makes me sick. I would rather our club lose all of their players and relegated a few leagues than human beings have their lives ruined because of someone we worship.

I wanted to let you know, you have my support, and that I am taking a stand against my own football club. I refuse to give that man a single penny out of my pocket.

I hope all is well with you and your son and that you've made progress with the money he owes you.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Quick Update

This is just a quick update for all the people who have been contacting me asking if I'm OK/been threatened/paid.  The answers are yes, fine thanks, not yet, no chance!

I'm just extremely busy at the moment (who isn't with a 1 year old?!) but don't worry, the next installment is coming soon.  And welcome to all the visitors from so many different countries and to all those who have found my blog after searching for terms such as "Darragh MacAnthony fraud".  I hope that you too will one day get justice if he has wronged you too.

Take care all and updates soon.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Message for Darragh MacAnthony

Message to Darragh MacAnthony

Dear Darragh,

In 2006 I left the UK and my friends and family to work for MRI.  Your company.  So proud of it you put your name over the door.  My partner of 6 years resigned from his incredibly secure and well paid job in Education to join me.  We thought we were doing the right thing.  We thought that I would be working for a reputable company.  Although the decision we made to leave the UK was a difficult one, we never for a moment thought we were doing anything risky.  Why would we?  MacAnthony Realty was a reputable company wasn't it?

Fast forward 18 months to October 2008.  I'm homeless, owed a large sum of money, being lied to by the company I work for as to when I'll ever get paid and wondering how on earth I got into this predicament.  I know I'm owed around €150k but I've just been paid €826 for the month.  Eight hundred and twenty six Euros.  Now that really was taking the piss.  It doesn't even cover the rent.

I worked my arse off for you, Darragh.  I was loyal, believed in what I was doing and didn't bullshit.  I sold MRI's own developments above and beyond any others because I believed in you and absolutely thought that they would be 5 star developments.  I unknowingly missold Aspen Golf and Suites apartments that came back on the market as front line apartments as why would I not believe you? A member of my own family bought in Aspen Golf. In your interview with John Stapleton you said that Aspen Golf was "on the golf course",  as did your sister Wendy MacAnthony in the Bulgaria section of your MRI promotional video.

You lied Darragh.  You lied about Aspen Golf.  You lied about paying your staff.  You lied in your video that you'd still be around in 10 years and you lied about doing the best for your customers.  You lied that your company and staff were "like family".  Well, only if you fuck your family over and treat them as shit to be disposed of.  You're a liar Darragh MacAnthony.

Eight months after starting to work for you, I was awarded Outstanding Sales Person of the Year.  When you presented the cheque at the Christmas party with MJ, you said "I can't believe I'm paying €25k to someone I've never heard of."  Why had you not heard of your best sales person? 

And when I resigned your response to MJ was "who is she.  And this is important, why?"

MJ replied " She was our no 1 sales person who got the sales person award last Christmas.  MM recons that she was actually doing a takeaway on us thinking that we are holding back on coms.  She has been read the riot act but there is a slim chance she will be back"
Your reply "Fuck her.  Stupid ungrateful bitch."

"Fuck her.  Stupid ungrateful bitch."  That just about sums you up doesn't it, Darragh.  I resigned because I was owed €150k and I'd just been paid €826.  And you think I should be grateful?  What an arsehole you are.

You weren't even aware of the competition that was running in Bankso that whoever sold the most MRI apartments would win €10k.  I won that too of course.  Not because I suddenly started selling them, but because I always had been.  Because I was loyal to you.  When the other sales staff starting taking backhanders from other developers I didn't join in because I'm loyal to my employers.  I continued selling Aspens.  How stupid was I?

I went to the Christmas party because I was told that I would receive the €10k there and intended to kick up a major fuss if I didn't.  The Sales Person of the Year was a complete surprise.  Thank god for that money I won, otherwise I'd have been paid almost nothing for the 18 months I worked for MRI.

After I resigned and word got out amongst ex employees that I intended taking MRI to court, so many of them contacted me with their stories.  All the same.  The only difference being the amounts you owed to those people and how badly their lives had been damaged by working for you.  Many of them wanted to join me in the court case, but sadly few had kept records or kept in touch with their clients.

And so in the end it was just me vs MRI in court.  A small court room in Marbella with just the judge, my solicitor, interpreter, my court official, MRI's court official and my partner.  That was it.  Your own solicitor didn't even show up.  We were told by the court official that the reason he failed to appear was because he hadn't been paid.  Wow did that make us laugh.  You probably didn't care anyway, did you.  So what if I won?  You knew that all the money had been taken out of MRI anyway.  You're a multi millionaire but you made sure your company had zero money.  Did you even know that the case was coming to court?  I find it hard to imagine that you'd want to lose.

It's nearly 4 years since the judge ruled in my favour.  You owe me money Darragh.  I know it's officially MRI that owes me, but we all know where the MRI money went.  And I'm not giving up.  My beautiful, amazing, innocent gift of a son is turning 1 in a few weeks and the money you owe me is for his future.  I have more reason than ever to keep pursuing this.  And I will.

Another court case is far, far away on the distant horizon, but it's getting closer and this time I'm pretty certain your solicitor will turn up.  In the meantime I'm going to ensure that as many people as possible know the truth about you.  Shut my blog down again if you want.  It will be back.  Again.  And again.  And again.  Plus my very own www.darraghmacanthony.co.uk site is in the pipeline.  Stay tuned for that one, you're going to love it.

What would you have done if you were in my position Darragh?  If you'd been selling timeshare for Club Costa, helped to make the owner a millionaire and then hadn't been paid yourself.  Would you slope off with your tail between your legs.  No, of course you wouldn't.  You'd fight tooth and nail until you'd been paid what was owed to you.   So why on earth do you think I'm going to give up?  Do you think you're some kind of superior being?  It certainly appears that way.

What would you do if one of your children, or sister, or dad, or mum when she was alive worked for a millionaire who then didn't pay them? What would you tell them to do?  Walk away?  No, I don't think so.  We both know what you'd tell them to do.

I used to lead adventure tours Darragh.  I was looking after 18 tourists in Tajikistan when civil war broke out and all the borders closed.  I had to persuade guards to open the border into Uzbekistan for us so that my group could fly home.  In Indonesia our bus was attacked during election riots and I had to keep 16 people calm and get them to safety.  I've been chased by the KGB in Uzbekistan (yes, really) after 2 of my group missed an internal flight and we had to get a taxi through a forbidden to tourist zone.  I've had to write gazov nyet (no gas) in stones on a mountainside in Kazakhstan after discovering that one of our gas canisters for cooking was leaking and we would soon run out.  I had 18 tourists to look after and feed, we were 10 days trek away from the nearest village, way above the tree line so no wood to fuel a fire and our route out was via helicopter which wasn't due to arrive for another 2 days.  I've had to make a life and death decision about whether one of my group was suffering from life threatening altitude sickness or not and whether emergency evac was needed.  I could carry on.  Taking you on is a walk in the park in comparison Darragh.

And I'm not giving up.  I don't care how long it takes.  I have absolutely nothing to lose.
When my son grows up I'll be able to tell him that I stood up to the bad guy. I'll be able to teach him that just because somebody is wealthy, don't be afraid to stand up against them for what is right and true.  What lessons are you teaching your children Darragh?  That's it's OK to steal from your staff?  That shafting the people who helped you make your millions is absolutely fine?  Well your children are going to learn the truth about you.  But then maybe you're raising them with the same dubious moral compass that you have yourself and they'll still be proud of their dad because he's told them as long as you believe that you're right, then you are.

I'll be teaching my son that making mistakes is fine and normal and that only by making mistakes can you learn and grow.  However, I'll also be drumming into him that if you make a mistake, you hold your hands up and own up to it.  You never, ever try and bullshit your way out of it and even worse you never lie to yourself about the mistakes you make.  Only strong people are able to be completely honest with themselves, recognise their mistakes and put them right.  I think you're a coward Darragh MacAnthony.

I know that you're never willingly going to pay me what you owe (especially now that I've dared call the mighty Darragh MacAnthony a coward, an arsehole and a liar) so I'll see you in court Darragh.  It won't be soon.  When I do see you in court it will be with certainty that I'm going to win (again) and there's a whole load of records for the forensic accountant to go through.  But that day will come.  And maybe you kids will be old enough to understand exactly what their dad is doing in court.  I hope so.

In the meantime I'll be proud of the fact that I won a court case against MRI and have the inner warmth from the knowledge that I'm going to beat Darragh MacAnthony in court.  And while I'm waiting for that day as many people as possible are going to learn the truth about Darragh MacAnthony.

The woman who helped you make your fortune, Diane

PS It looks like I'm not the only one to not give up or forget Darragh.  Search terms that people have used to find my blog include "macanthony realty fraudster", "mri bansko" and "darragh macanthony court case".  

Friday, 25 April 2014

Complaints About Darragh MacAnthony's MRI

Complaints About Darragh MacAnthony's MRI and Reputation Management

Feel free to skip through the below explanation and go straight to all of Darragh's sites (11 that I've found) and videos and the complaints that were ranking high on Google when you searched for "Darragh MacAnthony" before all the other sites were added/his football news started to dominate the search results.

Apologies if any of the below links don't work.  I'm expecting some sites/videos/posts to be removed.  I have screen shots and cached pages of everything however, so please get in touch if you find anything not working.

Type "Darragh MacAnthony" into Google and you'll be shown pages of football related results.  However, it's only in the last few years that this has been the case.  Prior to that when you searched for "Darragh MacAnthony" the results returned would have been complaints.  These complaints are still there as can be seen by the below links - they are simply further down the rankings now. As Darragh becomes known for his work in football, his MRI reputation (I'm sure he hopes) fades into history and goes further and further down the search engine rankings.

But what could he have done before that happened to stop people reading all the bad reviews about him?  It's called Reputation Management.  Basically you pay a company to set up websites and post positive stories online for you, so that any bad press (in theory) slowly starts to drop down Google's rankings.  Only a small percentage of people look past page 1 of Google, so if the bad press falls to pages 2, 3, 4 and beyond, then the theory is that nobody will read them.

How is this done?  Google's algorithms use a number of factors to decide which search results to show in which order.  One of these is the domain name (the .com etc).   So if for example I wanted to sell exotic fish, I would try and buy the domain names www.exoticfish.com, www.exoticfish.co.uk etc.  A lot of other work to the website would have to be done to get to page 1 of Google, but the domain name would be a huge advantage.

How to Hide Bad Press Online

So let's imagine my name is Johnny Arsehole and I used to own a company called CAT.  There is bad press about me online that I want to hide.  I might buy the domain names www.johnnyarsehole.com, .net, .info etc.  I could then set up some basic websites in the hope that they would get to page 1 and push the bad press down the rankings.  The websites wouldn't really have much info in them.  However, what the site will contain is the information required to get a good Google ranking.
Let's also imagine that I'm a multimillionaire.  I don't pay my staff but I give money to charity and "good causes" which I think will compensate for any wrong doings (although I'm a stubborn type and I've convinced myself and those around me that I have done absolutely nothing wrong, even if, hypothetically, a court had decided otherwise).

So as well as the websites that I've set up that are just my name, I might also set up websites such as www. johnnyarseholehelpschools.com, www. johnnyarseholegivesscholarships.com, www.johnnyarseholecollegebooks.com and www.johnnyarseholesportsfunds.com.  Plus just for good measure I'm going to start funding other businesses (well I might, I might not, but let's do a website anyway).  Let's call this one www.johnnyarseholeinvesting.com.

Now, in the real world of web design, if I wasn't just setting up these sites to draw attention away from bad publicity, all the above sites wouldn't exist.  Instead all the information would be on my main website of course which would be www.johnnyarsehole.com.  However, the purpose of these sites is to try and push the sites I don't want people to find further down the rankings - that's why the info isn't on my main site

I should definitely buy the .co.uk also as they are very easy to rank highly and it also protects my name.  However you can't hide your identity when you buy a .co.uk (whereas you can with a .com, .info, .biz, .org and .net).  Johnny Arsehole is a shady character, so he doesn't buy the co.uk.  A very stupid error.

Optimising a Website for Google

OK, so I've bought the domain names and set up the websites.  I'm a millionaire and have the money to pay someone to do this for me and some of the sites are looking pretty good (others not), although the content of some of the pages is pretty much identical - just a different layout and design.

Now the next stage is to optimise the websites to ensure that they do well in the Google rankings.  When people search for my name, Johnny Arsehole, I want them to find the new sites and not all the bad press, so all the sites have to be optimised for the words "Johnny Arsehole".  There are several steps to this process which I won't bore you with here.

So what's the outcome?  Well, now when you Google Johnny Arsehole, instead of my bad press appearing on page 1 of Google, my shiny new websites are there instead.

Oh yes and one final thing I might do, just to really bombard the internet is to put my name to lots of videos that are completely unrelated to anything I do.  For example, an anti violence news clip (search engines love news clips) that states "Johnny Arsehole is a pacifist".  These may appear very odd when people click to them, but hey it's better than people reading all the bad press about the naughty things that I did, isn't it.

Post Videos Online

Oh and one last thing I'm going to do.  I've done a pretty good job of getting my sites to the first few pages of Google if people search "Johnny Arsehole".   However, when people Google "Johnny Arsehole CAT" (my company name is CAT remember) the old bad results may still appear.  Luckily for me CAT is also a type of scan, so I'm going to call these videos things like "Johnny Arsehole believes CAT scan results tell no lie" and "why is this CAT scan a fraud?  Johnny Arsehole investigates".  What this also does is when people Google my name with "lies" and "fraud" is show the videos and hopefully push any bad press which contains the words "lies" and "fraud" further down the rankings.

Now I am absolutely NOT implying that this is what Darragh MacAnthony did.  The reader can come to their own conclusion as to why the following sites exist:

http://www.darraghmacanthony.com- Darragh's official site. An official site is usually where you would provide all the info you want people to find and read.

http://www.darraghmacanthony.net - note on this site that if you click any of the links at the bottom of the page they just take you through to exactly the same info.  These are called keywords and help your rankings. 

http://www.darraghmacanthony.info/ - this states it's Darragh's Official Site!

http://www.darraghmacanthony.biz/ - I know, it looks just the same, doesn't it!

Thank you Michael for getting touch and letting me know about this site too http://www.darraghmacanthonynews.com/ - yep, just in case the .com, site.com, .org, .info, biz and .net didn't have enough info about Darragh MacAnthony, there is also a news.com with pretty much exactly the same info!

And then there are these:

Very smart sites and cleverly done.  They certainly big up Darragh.  I'd love to know how many people have benefited from these funds.....The School Tools site was updated with news that Darragh had provided some students with ipads in 2011 but no news on any of the other sites.....Maybe they'll suddenly be updated now.

And the reader can also come to their own conclusion about why all these odd videos are linked to Darragh's name:

Plus screen shots of plenty more.  If you can't see Darragh's name in some of them, his name and comment appear after you click on the video.  Please click on the image to be taken through to the Daily Motion page.  Many thanks to Daily Motion.   

 Darragh MacAnthony videos

 Darragh MacAnthony talking about MRI

 Darragh Macanthony's opinions?

Aren't they something else!  Do most of those picture look as though they have anything to do with Darragh MacAnthony.  Do they make sense to you? Again I'll let you make up your own mind about why these have been posted online and whether or not Darragh MacAnthony was using Reputation Management to hide the below bad press.

Videos of Darragh MacAnthony

And then the below videos on YouTube.  As you can see at the bottom of the page, there are 7 pages of these.  I particularly love "Darragh MacAnthony has no complaints getting some furniture tips" (http://youtu.be/cgwB0a263nU) and "Complaints of a ripped sofa get Darragh MacAnthony shopping" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDpP-fgA2_s).  Absolutely hilarious! If my make believe company CAT had received lots of online complaints about furniture packages, then I would certainly have done this myself.

To view these videos, click on the image.  Thanks to YouTube for the footage. Don't  forget there are plenty more of these on YouTube, not just the one's here.  Of course if they disappear from YouTube I'll post the screen shots of ALL the pages here for you to see.

And finally.  Perhaps these are the videos that someone was possible trying to hide.

Complaints about Darragh MacAnthony's MRI

And, as the title of this post suggests, below are just some of the search results and complaints about Darragh MacAnthony's MRI you would have found before all the above sites and videos were put online:

More to come soon!  This is just a very, very small sample

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Meeting

The First Meeting

The next morning I went down to the dining room for breakfast.  News of my arrival had clearly spread to the other staff members and I was delighted to be approached by a couple of guys eating breakfast, who asked if I wanted to join them.  I was glad of the company and to finally be able to meet some of my colleagues.  Jack and Ryan had only been out in Bansko a few weeks themselves and so were still finding their feet and we had a good chat about Bansko and the job over breakfast.  They offered me a lift to the meeting, which I gladly accepted.

At 10:15am we set off for the office.  All the staff were driving large people carriers/minibuses in various forms and I was told that this was because at weekends, they may have 3 or 4 couples to show around at the same time.  Bansko was the place to buy property is seemed, which tallied up with what we had been told during the training.

We arrived at the offices and I was introduced to some of the local admin staff, who were lovely.  We then all traipsed into the meeting room, sat down and waited for Richard, the manager.  I knew that Bansko was a busy area, so I was surprised to see that were so few of us.  Some banter flowed around the room and I was informally introduced to the rest of the team by Jack and Ryan.

The meeting was due to start at 10:30am.  At 11am there was still no sign of the manager, Richard.

"He always does this," Nigel, one of the team said.  "It's a power thing.  He's always at least 30 minutes late."

I was shocked.  What kind of manager always turns up at least 30 minutes late to meetings?  Having already met Richard, I wasn't overly surprised, but still - surely he couldn't really behave this way at every meeting?  Being late is one of my pet hates.  It's rude and disrespectful to the person or people who are waiting for you and says a lot about somebody's character in my book.  I hoped that I was wrong, otherwise I wasn't going to enjoy having Richard as my manager.

You Should be Grateful

At 11:10am Richard finally arrived, with Klaus in tow.  He sauntered in, not bothering to apologise for keeping everyone waiting.  Not a good sign.  The meeting started and Richard welcomed me to the team quickly.  He then went on to talk about the last sales figures and how the team were expected to do.  He then launched into a speech about how privileged we all were to be working for MRI, but in particular to have been sent to Bansko.  He told us that if any us wanted to and were good enough we could become a Director of the company and that we should all be grateful to Darragh MacAnthony for giving us this amazing chance.  During this speech, Richard paced up and down the room like a caged tiger.

I didn't know what to think.  I had been in many sales meetings in many companies and had never experienced anything like it.  The ability to motivate a team is a great asset in a manager and is imperative in the world of sales.  However, this wasn't a motivational speech.  It was more of a "you'd better be grateful* that you're lucky enough to be working for MRI and if you're not good enough or grateful enough you'll be out on your ear" speech.  It was at this stage that I really wondered what on earth I was letting myself in for and started to doubt whether I could work in such an environment.  I looked around to try and gauge the reactions of my colleagues.  What I saw was reassuring.  They all looked slightly bored and had clearly heard the speech before and were just letting it wash over them.  Nigel was almost sniggering!  I was relieved.  If the rest of the team weren't taking his spiel seriously then there was still hope.

* as an aside, the theme of being grateful to be honoured enough to be working for MRI arose time and time again during my time there.  
Visiting Directors never failed to mention it and it was used both as a motivational tool and also as a threat.  In fact, after I resigned, Darragh MacAnthony's response was "fuck her. Stupid, ungrateful bitch".  Again, I was supposed to feel gratitude to this company for just taking me on - never mind that I was Outstanding Sales Person of the Year and had earned the company almost €4 million in profit .  I was supposed to be grateful.  Even after they stopped me the commission I was earning I was still supposed to be grateful.

After Richard had finally finished pontificating, it was down to business.  The next stage of the meeting was assigning the "files".  The file contained all the client information - names, address, what kind of property they were interested in, whether it was investment or personal use and also their budget.  Those files with the higher budget were given to the staff who had been there the longest, or Richard's favourites. 

Richard read all the files out and then gave them to each of the sales staff to whom they had been assigned.  During the reading of each file, Richard would comment and if the budget was large, would tell the person he was giving it to, how many properties he expected that couple to buy.

The information contained in the files was written by the Exhibition Staff.  For those not familiar with MRI's Modus Operandi, this is how it worked:
MRI's Modus Operandi

MRI ran overseas property exhibitions in the UK.  These were advertised in the local press and proved very popular - it seemed that everybody in the UK was overcome by property fever at the time and buying abroad was the next big thing, as property prices in the UK had increased so much.  Although MRI didn't advertise the Exhibitions under false pretences as such, neither were they completely honest.  Elsewhere in the UK Overseas Property Exhibitions were also being run.  Indeed I had attended one about France myself at Earls Court before joining MRI.  The difference is, that at other Exhibitions, there were many companies exhibiting, not just one.  So many people were surprised to find, when they arrived at the Exhibitions, that every single property on show was being sold by one company only - MRI.  Again, I reiterate that there was nothing illegal about this.  However, if you're a proud company and confident in the products that you're selling, why not be honest from the start?  Why not advertise MRI's Overseas Property Exhibition instead of enticing visitors under false pretences?  Although the majority of my clients did buy property and were happy to do so off MRI, even they felt a little as though they had been misled by the advertising in the local press.  Plus of course, there were all the people who didn't book an Inspection Trip and simply walked out of the Exhibition once they knew that it was being organised and run by just one company.

Once at the Exhibition, it was the Exhibition staff's job to get as many people on Inspection Trips as possible.  They would receive commission based both on this and also on any properties that were sold to the client.  Inspection Trips were usually free for the client and if they could get people booked there and then at the Exhibition, all the better.  The Exhibition staff would then compile the "file", a copy of which the overseas sales staff would then receive in their respective countries.

The MRI Files

I soon learnt to take the information contained in these "files" with more than a pinch of salt.  As a new member of staff, I was always given the files with the lowest budgets initially.  This didn't bother me in the slightest, as after just a couple of files, I soon realised that the information contained in them was generally way off the mark. 

Imagine the situation.  You've attended an Overseas Property Exhibition.  You may well have travelled some distance in order to do so.  You arrive only to discover that it's only one company exhibiting.  You are approached by (sometimes very pushy) sales people and decide to attend an Inspection Trip.  You are asked about your budget.  How many people in that situation tell the truth?  From all the files/clients in the 18 months I worked for MRI, in my experience, not many.  People either completely overstated their budget (pretended they had more money they really did), or understated their budget as they didn't want to be pressurised into spending more than they wanted.  Most people fell into the latter category.  So, when I was given files that said they had a budget of €20k (on face value, not a very good file with such a low budget), I completely ignored what was written and simply looked at the names.  Only by talking to the client in person would I really be able to understand what it was the client wanted and how much they wanted to spend.

Some of the Exhibition staff were renowned for the nonsense they wrote in the files.  Most of us dreaded getting these files, as the client would often complain about the pushiness of the sales person at the Exhibition and it was necessary to start apologising right from the very start for the actions of somebody else.  Plus you knew that if what they had written in the file was nonsense, then there was a good chance that they hadn't been completely honest with the client either.  The most common lie that Exhibition staff told clients was that the transfer time from Sofia airport to Bansko was "around 1 hour".  It wasn't. This was an outright lie.  When I first moved to Bansko, the transfer time was around 3 hours - much longer if it was peak time when leaving the airport.  This did reduce dramatically to around 2 hours by the time I left Bansko, thanks to the fantastic road building and repair programme that they had in place, but it was certainly not an hour and never would be.  It drove me crazy.  It's pretty hard to build trust with a client, when the have been blatantly lied to by another member of staff, in order to get them on the plane.  The managers and Directors at Head Office were certainly aware of the transfer times, so I can only assume that it was MRI policy for Exhibition staff to give the false transfer time.

Other Exhibition staff were brilliant and were open and honest with the client.  These files were great and I loved getting files from certain Exhibition staff members, as I could see that they shared the same kind of ethos when it came to sales as I did.  This meant that the client would arrive well informed and with the correct expectations.  Not only that, but the budget was usually spot on.  This is because the client trusted the member of staff in the first place and so were happy to state the correct budget.  If only all sales people realised that behaving in a non-salesy way and actually caring about and listening to the client resulted in a better outcome for everybody, then sales wouldn't have the reputation it does....

But I digress!  Back to the meeting.  So all the files were read out and allocated accordingly and the meeting finished.
I was sent to register for a vehicle and was told that I'd be shadowing Jackie for the next few days in order to learn the ropes and find out where the developments were.  Finally, I felt as though I was going to be doing something useful.  Plus Jackie had been incredibly friendly and I was looking forward to heading out and about with her.

Hello Bansko

Bansko in Daylight

I woke up and immediately looked out the window.  I had arrived in pitch darkness and had no idea what my surroundings looked like.  It was beautiful!  A spectacular mountain range was within touching distance, with snow still on the peaks.  The sky was crystal blue without a cloud in the sky and lifted my heart.  I couldn't believe that I was going to be paid for living in such a beautiful location.

I quickly got ready and went downstairs and grabbed some breakfast.  I asked the receptionist where the Kempinski Hotel was and set off with some vague directions.  The minute I stepped out of the door I started shivering.  It was freezing!  All I had with me were light summer clothes as I'd expected to be posted in a hot country.  Despite the fact that I was paying for the cost of the flights, I hadn't been allowed to stop off in the UK en route to pick up some extra clothing.  I set off at a brisk rate, in an attempt to warm up. 

I walked along the main road, hoping that I was heading in the right direction.  A river rang alongside the road and the town was surrounded by mountains on every side.  Many of the buildings were stone built and looked wonderful.  Bansko definitely felt like a town on the up.  Despite the potholes and crumbling edifices in places, there was a buzz and plenty of construction being carried out.  This was certainly a place that I'd be happy to sell property in.  Who wouldn't want to own a home in such a beautiful location?

Fifteen minutes later, I could see what was clearly the edge of the town.  The buildings were thinning out and a forested mountain road could be seen.  Had I gone the wrong way?  I continued up and finally there it was - The Kempinski Hotel.  It was right next to the ski gondola.  Wow, it looked amazing!  I wandered into the spacious reception and looked around, hoping to spot MRI staff.  The place was deserted.  I went to check at reception, but there was no joy.  It was early still, as I hadn't known how long it would take to walk up, so I settled in to wait.

Meeting the Managers

Around 10:30am (I could have had an extra 30 minutes sleep!) a man wearing a suit walked in.  He looked suitable MRIish, so I approached him.  I was right.  He was the Assistant Manager in Bansko and was called Klaus.  He didn't seem very pleased to see me and was incredulous that I'd walked to the hotel.  How else did he think I was going to get there?!

We sat down and had a chat.  Klaus explained that I'd need to be shown all the properties and obviously learn to find my way to them all.  The weekend was approaching so I'd "piggyback" with one of the other staff members and see how things were done.  He talked about the plans for Bansko, including the new ski lifts, slopes, road improvements, golf course and airport - all the things we'd also been told about in training.  The meeting was quite short and I felt that Klaus didn't warm to me.  Not to worry.  In my many years experience in sales, I'd found that many managers didn't have very high expectations of me initially, as I don't fit the usual salesy stereotype.  Once I started bringing in the deals, that quickly changed.  Klaus was just another person to add to the list of people who judges a book by its cover.

Around 30 minutes later, I could see another man approaching us.  Klaus introduced him to me as the manager, Richard.  Richard looked very young and I placed him in his early twenties.  I didn't care what age he was, as long as he was good at what he did.  We shook hands and then he basically told me to go away!  He clearly didn't want me around and yet again I felt very unwelcome.  He suggested that I spend the day getting to know Bansko and that I would meet the rest of the team the following day, as there was a meeting at the office in the morning.  It's not the way I would have welcomed a new member of staff as a manager, but I'd been dismissed and there was nothing I could say, so off I went.

Discovering Bankso

I stepped back out into the freezing air and resolved that the first thing I needed to do was buy a warm coat.  I wandered back towards the town, this time taking a different route away from the main road.  After graduating I spent 5 years leading Adventure Tours around the world and I loved going to and getting to know new places, so felt in my element. 

Away from the main artery running through Bansko, the town was even more attractive.  Cobbled streets, pretty timber and stone buildings, an abundance of restaurants with smoke billowing from their chimneys and welcoming shops all lead down to the huge, green main town square.  Despite the freezing temperatures, the pavement was full of tables and chairs laid out in front of cafes and men sat drinking coffee and chatting.  I was blown away by it and it completely beat all my expectations.  Having worked extensively in former Eastern Bloc countries I thought I knew what to expect.  Apart from the horses and carts, donkeys, cows and goats wandering the streets, I could have been in a hip Western European mountain town.  This was just getting better and better. I knew that I was going to enjoy living here.  Let's just hope that the rest of the MRI team were more welcoming than the managers.  If so, this is somewhere that Paul and I could live happily.

The main square of Bansko is very attractive and a focal point of the town.  This is where MRI had their very smart looking offices and I have to admit that I was impressed that they had such a prominent location.  It would be a great location to go to work every day.

I spent the rest of the day enjoying and getting to know Bansko.  By the evening I was shattered and returned to the hotel.  I remained coatless, since as I suspected, I was unable to find any suitable that would fit.  I guess I'd just have to put up with the cold.

All Alone

I was hoping to meet some other staff members in the hotel that evening.  I presumed that as MRI had put me there, then other staff members would be staying there also.  I also wanted to discuss with somebody renting an apartment.  MRI's policy was to pay for your accommodation for the first three months.  After this you paid for your own accommodation PLUS they then started to deduct the cost of the first 3 months accommodation from your commission.  Staying in a hotel that charged €60 per night was going to cost me a small fortune in the long run, plus it would mean that I'd have to eat out every night - not something I wanted to do.

That evening I spent some time in the hotel lobby and had a coffee in the bar, hoping to meet some other staff members.  As time rolled on, I became more and more tired, with no sign of anybody and so I called it a day and went to bed.  I was looking forward to meeting everybody the following day.