Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review Response, Our Truth

"Finding the right egg donor to help you start your family is harder than finding a needle in a haystack.  My husband and I use a composition book to keep track of all of our membership accounts and donors of interest, across more than fifteen online agencies.  We spent a year methodically [Public record shows interaction with fertility agencies for over two years] searching thousands of profiles, periodically requesting additional information or basic hormone testing on donors of interest.  For each site, we had looked at every profile in the database at least once if not multiple times.  We had tested eight donors and were still searching when my husband and I inquired about a donor whose screen name I will refer to here as “Donor1”.  I had established a rapport with the agency and they were well in versed in our requirements and the personal heartbreak that had led us to that point. [42 hours and 6 months of documented work] We had already tested one donor through the agency and inquired about several others, but none had panned out. [Well qualified donors were rejected by these parents for various reasons including donor timing availability and lack of timely response by the Olivers. The Olivers’ top choices, three donors, were not available in the next three months which is a common wait time for most parents pursuing egg donation. The Olivers chose not to wait for these donors only to return 3 months later inquiring about the same donors again-now no longer available because they chose to not take the guidance and retain the donors. Therefore the donors went on to have successful cycles with other families. This could have been the Olivers success, but they chose not to wait for the opportunity.]  Much was at stake with this being the second and final donor cycle we would be able to afford, and there was zero room for error.[The first documented interaction with the Olivers was their request for a discount due to being a victimized by an agency scam. We have yet to find documentation of this supposed case scam with another agency.]

     “Donor1” turned out to be everything we were looking for. [This donor did not meet any provided criteria documented by the Olivers.]  She was marketed on the “NowDonor” page as “available right now”, [As in the documented and agreed upon terms of use by the Olivers, Profiles are not verified. Donors are human beings and not a retail item with life changes that are not reportable in live time. Donors provide a projection of their best potential availability at the time of application. The Olivers were informed many times in available documents that each donor is individually confirmed prior to a match. The Olivers were informed about the donor’s poor response and they were advised against a match with this donor.]  her age was ideal for a donor, her features were close to mine [Donor did not match criteria given.], her compensation request was within budget, her profile was appealing and her basic hormone test indicated she had a high egg reserve [Fertility Bridges (FB) provided hours of work organizing this test with the Olivers’ clinic and nursing staff prior to any payment to the agency.]. Although we still had other donor testing in progress, we decided to proceed toward a match with Donor1.  We were absolutely elated that our patience, hard work and due diligence led us to this decision.  Moreover, we had comfort in the published business practices of Fertility Bridges.  Their stated mission is to “provide a nurture and loving environment throughout the maze of fertility options to bring a baby home.”  It had clearly posted on its site that it they offered refunds for certain circumstances [There has never been documentation of refund circumstance on the agency webpage. There are countless communications and now available records showing the “complete” agency agreement with the truthful terms. The Olivers were informed many times about the refund policy prior to the execution of the agreement.] and its contract indicated the donor not completing the cycle was one scenario where its refund offer would apply [This is a false statement. The Olivers signed an agreement that did not refund the coordination fee. The match fee was returned within days of the donor changing her mind about egg donation. The service fee for the 42 hours of work performed at the direct requests of the Olivers over a 6 months period was not returned. Fertility Bridges has documented work for its service fee and it has been presented in its entirety to the NJ court system where it can be requested for legal purposes. Even though the Olivers were not entitled the return of this fee, $3,000, Fertility Bridges returned it anyway within 60 days of request. The Olivers demanded more money outside of the full refund and along with threats to the staff members]  Also, the matching process outlined on the Fertility Bridges site was very clear.  In order for the matching process to complete, the donor “must be 100% committed” and would sign agency agreements, cancellation agreements, and the legal contract with intended parents [This “matching process” statement has never existed in the history agency website, record also available]. In addition to this, I had asked the Fertility Bridges match coordinator to speak to Donor1 one last time and confirm she was serious and committed to the process.  The match coordinator assured me that Donor1 was very excited to work with us and she had already signed paperwork, protecting us if anything should go wrong. [The donor provided all necessary agreements for the process and spoke with the coordinator at the time of the agreement. Fertility Bridges would never use the words "protect us if anything could go wrong." In fact, Fertility Bridges states many times that many different things can go wrong and Fertility Bridges can never control a donor's behavior or commitment to the process. Donors are not things, but people with lives.]

      Later on, confusion arose around Fertility Bridges’ stated application of and use of terminology of its donor cycle fees.  Fertility Bridges told me that the first fee, commonly referred to in the industry as “the match fee”, was not being considered to be “the match fee”[The Olivers had countless communication explaining the fee structure and provided documented understanding. The Olivers signed an agreement to these fees and were provided ample opportunity to have the agreement reviewed with the coordinator and their attorney. The Olivers signed the agreement agreeing to all the terms, which included non-refundable funds for donor coordination.]  Yet, we submitted the check with “Donor1” name specified in the memo, upon signing the contract to complete the match with named “Donor1” [The fee provided was agreed upon as non-refundable in their signed agency agreement]. This fee was also paid through the “match coordinator”.  Although the contract stated that the “match fee” was refundable under certain circumstances, Fertility Bridges claimed what was had paid was a non-refundable “coordination fee”, despite the fact you are aligned with another Fertility Bridges resource to start the coordination after the match [A Match Fee was never collected or provided by the Olivers. A Non-Refundable Coordination Fee for our 42 hours or service was paid as in their signed agreement. These explicit terms are explained on the first page of the contract and were reviewed in detail the the Olivers before signing the agreement. There was many other times where the Olivers requested the same information repeated to the point they couldn’t remember the provided user log in. Leading to harassing the staff that they were locked out; which is something not possible by the system. The database access does not change per individual since it is the same for all clients looking at the same time. It is impossible technologically to change it for just one person. The Olivers were informed six times of the same information, yet reported to have been “locked out” when no such action was taken. The Olivers were tediously provided the same information at a standard reading level with the additional time to have attorneys assist them.]. The website also indicated “after the match was paid”, coordination activities would commence [There is no such claim on the agency site now or in its history]. It was difficult for me to understand how this coordination fee would be aligned to the initial matching process, and the match fee applied to the coordination process. [The Olivers were provided email instructions and the agency agreement with full explanation of the process many time over six months.]

     The next day when I deposited the checks, Fertility Bridges started setting the stage for its ultimate declaration that the “donor was not responsive.”  [The donor was responsive following the agency fee deposit.] Each day that passed, Fertility Bridges repeated that “the donor was not responsive.” [Donor remained responsive for one week as communicated to the Olivers.] My clinic also raised a red flag about the donor’s unresponsiveness as she never returned the initial questionnaire to start the cycle [The clinic nurse had communication with the donor during this time and at the time of organizing the lab testing.].  But only after our checks had fully cleared did Fertility Bridges confirm the donor was gone [The donor notified Fertility Bridges two weeks following the agreement that she was unable to continue. The Olivers were informed right away at which time they were informed their non-refundable payment was applicable to another donor. They began their new search and found many donors of interest to begin reviewing. The agency agreement signed by the Olivers informs them of this possibility and the action that takes place following it. FB warned the Olivers that this donor was not the best choice for them because of her history of unresponsiveness and did not match the characteristics the Olivers had initially requested. FB advised the Olivers to work with the available, interested and more responsive repeat donors that did fit their criteria and they rejected these donors and chose an unpredictable donor].  Eventually we were told the company accepted her “formal” withdrawal by text message and since she was young, it couldn’t hold her to the agreement she had made with Fertility Bridges. Even though it now turned out that she never even completed all of the agreements to become a donor and had not started the first step of the cycle, we were told our only option was “re matching” with another donor. [The donor completed all of the agency agreement. Donors cannot be forced to donate their eggs. The Olivers signed a comprehensive agreement that donors can withdraw. The Olivers agreed to find another donor as in the terms of their agreement.] There was no initial match to begin with and only a week had passed, so how could we be forced to “re” match? [6 months and 42 hours of work were recorded and the proper payment of the agency fee was collected regardless of a donor cycle.] Not only had the donor been advertised as “available right now!” [Donors  are not merchandise and are not advertised. Donors report their availability in a social media setting. The Olivers were informed that donor availability is subject to change.] – she was not available now… or ever. Why should we, the prospective parents, be held responsible, by way of thousands of dollars, for the agency’s so-called donor?  There was no donor and no match or coordination that had occurred. [6 months and 42 hours or documented work accounted for the proper payment for a service that went above and beyond including; sending donors for evaluations collecting their interview and agreements, many of their selected donors were turned away or opportunity lost due to the Olivers not responding for over 2 weeks.]
     As if it had prepared in advance, Fertility Bridges immediately started (what I think is best described as) “up-selling” other donors to us by email [Donors with various requested compensations were provided in time consuming search for the Olivers with documentation that they are negotiable and can be made within their budget. The agency does not different fees per donors and do not receive more based on a particular donor. This is compensation to the donor alone.] ; these additional donors listed at three times the compensation price as Donor1, but they did not comport with our own requirements, about which Fertility Bridges was fully aware. [The Olivers were informed that these donors can reduce their fees.] When I escalated my concerns and requested a refund, I was told only “the Director” could make this decision and follow-up would be made with her. [The Olivers were informed to review the agency agreement they signed regarding no refunds.] I escalated several times through the course of a month but the coordinator would not even disclose the name of this Director. The Director never contacted us. [There are many documented communications from the agency director which the Olivers did not respond to.] At one point, I noticed my account to the website had also become disabled [The user information cannot be disabled; server documentation of changes are provided for public record. The login cannot and did not change]. It was ironic I could be forced to work with the agency without a user account. [The Olivers were provided the user information and instructions over six times by three staff members.]

     In the meantime, we were offered by email a new prospective donor who I will refer to as “Donor2” from London, who was not shown on the website [The coordinator went above and beyond to search applications for donors not in the database to assist the Olivers in more options].  With our meticulous donor search now at a grinding halt, we waited anxiously to find out more about this donor. Although Fertility Bridges committed to provide all of the details on Donor2 in one week after a scheduled Skype call, the agency was completely unresponsive [An international interview was arranged with the donor outside of office hours on a Holiday Weekend to accommodate the Olivers, which shows a high level of response and commitment by the agency to help the client.]. We resorted to emailing the main mailbox after the individuals that had been interfacing with us did not respond.  Finally, our clinic notified us that they had identified this donor could not be used in the United States due to legal restrictions [Donor was able to donate within the U.S. The Olivers were informed that the donor was rejected per their clinic’s protocol only. The marketing of this donor as a viable prospect had set us back weeks. When confronted, Fertility Bridges responded they saw no problem with their actions and are not responsible for eligibility. They had already kept our money for no service performed [42 hours and 6 months, over 6 donors evaluated, and three sent for blood works prior to any payment is work.], and now had tried to close a deal which would have cost us the rest of our donor budget. Once again the agency went into its recovery mode, inundating us with random donor suggestions by email [Time was put in searching to find a donor within the available database and applications. The Olivers worked closely with their coordinator to refine their searches and were receptive to those provided to them including asking for additional information on many proposed to them.]   It was clear at this point that there was no business left to be done with Fertility Bridges.

     After pressing for the refund we were told that the Director [Olivers were referred to the agency agreement terms they signed.], finally identified to us as “Maria”, would be calling me. She never called.  [Maria was on vacation the week they requested a call from her. She returned from vacation a week later to address the issue and looked up the couple's background information on Google to find out who they were and to see if they had a history of threatening other businesses or people. She made the decision not to call the Olivers back because the Internet was full of stories of a history of crimal investigation and aggression by IP Oliver's husband and she was fearful she could be harmed by him in some way if he was not satisfied with her response. He had threatened the office staff if he did receive all his money back immediately (money that was not legally his).We resorted to filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.The BBB found no fault in Fertility Bridges’ actions as available in their website.]. Although Maria was too busy for the entire duration of our ordeal to contact us [Maria sent several emails to the Olivers with a copy of their contract and inviting them to mediation and reminding them that libel could result in legal action], our Better Business Bureau complaint was immediately met with a bizarre [ A professional response was provided to the Olivers.] response from Maria Andrade stating that my husband and I were trying to illegally buy human tissue [ This is untrue.] and that we were going to be met with a “multi-million dollar lawsuit” for defaming the company.[A multi-million dollar lawsuit is a common defense for a company against a former client who makes up false statements on the internet about a business in an effort to defame them and cause harm.].  Maria Andrade went on further to threaten the Better Business Bureau itself should it make the complaint public [This is untrue. The BBB was informed that mediation was agreed to in their signed agreement prior to placing any false reviews.].  Her response also indicated that we paid for the “coordination” fee only, not for a specific donor match [A non-refundable coordination fee was paid as detailed in their agreement and communication.]. However, communication from Fertility Bridges indicated the coordination was to commence after the match [42 hours of coordination work over 6 months was performed by FB at the direct request of the Olivers].. The donor screen name was clearly identified and she was specifically referred to as a donor in the signed match paperwork. The donor screen name was recorded on the cashed check. [FB's contract clearly states that at least 25% of the time donors do not complete the egg donation process and that the coordination fee is not for a specific donor. Writing a donor's name on a check is irrelevant.]

      In writing, I asked what specific “coordination” had been performed for Donor1, being that she was unresponsive from the time of payment [The Olivers were provided documentation and notes of all hours and service provided over 6 months.]. Initially, I only received a general explanation about what the fee was for. It was equated to a retainer fee for an attorney.  [This is untrue.] After a year we had not found a donor across fifteen agencies [Olivers search was longer than a year and included other suspicious pursuits of “scams” within agencies. FB has never heard of a client who could not find a donor after such an exhaustive search. Why they would choose one of the lesser qualified, less responsive donors in the FB list is beyond comprehension when they had so many other good options], so I wondered what logic we would have presumably used to put our dream on hold and give up such a large sum of money to be “coordinated” by a single agency with no prospects [Various donors of the Olivers’ choosing could have completed a cycle prior to the event with Donor1 as guided in documentation from the coordinator. The Olivers resisted the professional recommendations and were infrequent in follow through with retaining a particular donor resulting in loss of time.].  Later on, Maria claimed to have a spreadsheet of specific coordination activities performed for the unresponsive donor, which would supposedly substantiate keeping the fee. [Services and fee were agreed to in their signed agency agreement.]

     Although we were assured the contrary, [No assurance was given.] “the Director” inevitably never did call us.  [A call was not place due to the husband, Michael Oliver, had a poor public track record of maintaining public neutrality in the face of a perceived threat.] She only surfaced to threaten us over numerous emails with a lawsuit by email for having contacted the Better Business Bureau and “posting a public review.”[The review was full of lies with the intent to harm FB. The Olivers agreed to Mediation in California in their agreement. The Olivers breached their agreement with their threats to defame the agency.] None of her emails provided a direct phone number at which we could speak with her, and she never once personally answered Fertility Bridges’ phone.  One email stated we should “move on” and “save for our children’s education”, “rather than spend it on mediation or defending ourselves”. [In addition to posting lies on the internet and defending themselves against libel.] Another stated we were contracted to mediate and “this could cost us $10,000” [FB has never gone to mediation and has no idea what it would cost], which was clearly not feasible in relation to the donor fees in question.  The mediation terms outlined were not focused on correcting the situation, but on our freedom to speak about what happened to us…the only thing we had left [Mediation was agreed to in the signed agreement. Fertility Bridges offered to pay for a portion of the mediation expenses].   We received nothing in exchange for the money we paid, except for a tremendous amount of stress and lost time. [Many donors were made available that were turned down by the Olivers, 6 month of consulting time performed by FB, and to arrange donors across the country and world to have medical records passed on to the Olivers clinic.] No good could ever come from feeling victimized and being silent about it.[The Olivers received 100% of their money back so what victimization is that? And they were warned that FB cannot MAKE a donor perform and egg donation if she changes her mind. The only victim here is FB which performed all the work, did not get paid and now has to defend these lies on the internet and worry that Michael Oliver will cause them harm as he already threatened to do.]

     In shocking turn of events [The Olivers told FB they would contact him if FB didn't return their money.] when Public Citizen became engaged to object to enforcement of the non-disparagement clause of the contract, Maria stated that “donor” we selected was pregnant. [Maria would not have stated this as being completely confirmed in a public setting. Paul Levy presented himself as the Oliver's attorney and any information parlayed to him via Maria would have been considered to her to be of a private nature and not for a public disclosure. Mr. Levy never stated that anything Maria would write would be presented online. But that is exactly what he did. Doesn't seem to be much of a Public Citizen with that type of behavior. If she did disclose anything about a particular donor, it would have not been information to share in a public setting since it is private information.]

[The anonymous donor did not confirm her exact reasons for withdrawal from egg donation, nor does she legally have to. Nor does she have to disclose if she was pregnant or whether she decided to terminate a pregnancy. ]. The match we paid for was a pregnant? This conflicted what the agency had reported about not being informed and being equally baffled at the turnout of events. [Due to privacy and anonymity for egg donors; disclosure of the donor’s potential condition was not shareable information to the Olivers after the event.] Also, a pregnant woman cannot be a donor. At that rate, she might as well have been a man! [The donor did not have a confirmed pregnancy at the time of the arranged blood test, direct communication with the nurse, and signing of the agency agreement.]

     Couples searching to match with an egg donor have already suffered physically, emotionally and financially. [Fertility Bridges has helped hundreds of families and brought hundreds of babies into the world through its egg donation services. This is the first complaint, of any kind, in the history of Fertility Bridges in the U.S and Internationally.] Many have suffered years of infertility or multiple miscarriages. Many have taken out loans to enter the donor process. Because these individuals are in situations of harm and are at greater risk of harm, the underlying operating standard should be to simply do no further harm. If agencies prey (really?) on the anonymity of the process, Intended Parents can be forced to forgo their privacy rights in order to seek help.  Intended Parents have a right to take a calculated risk, free of inaccurate information and unfair practices [The Olivers were given many detailed explanations of the process and consulting time over half a year; along with an agency agreement.]. It is reasonable to expect these agencies to provide a legitimate service and operate ethically [Fertility Bridges acted within its agreement and still returned the Oliver’s full payment out of courtesy. The Olivers turned down mediation several time and FB will try one more time to resolve this process in a professional setting. FB will keep you posted on the results.].  While the egg donor industry is often referred to as uncharted territory, and is generally still unregulated, that doesn’t mean that all other laws do not apply or ‘anything goes’. Our experience serves as proof that this does need to be spelled out by Federal Law. Until then we must rely on the truth and free press to help each other reach our goals. With that being said, does Fertility Bridges offer the type of “nurturing and loving” environment you want to give yourself to? [Please contact us for any further questions. We have hundreds of clinics, parents, donors, and surrogate across the nation available as references. If you have been harmed by Nadiya Oliver or Michael Oliver, FB would like to know. Please contact our office. By presenting our facts about this couple online, hopefully we can prevent other companies from being harmed by their lies, threats and extortion behavior."