Keep on Plugging: Jackson Kelly Helps Mile Hi Services Avoid Inappropriate Government Fines

  • CLIENT: Mile Hi Services, a company with the largest client base in Colorado, excluding utility companies that serve the state’s entire population
  • CHALLENGE: Inappropriate enforcement of the No-Call Law, which threatened to ruin Mile Hi Services’ entire business.
  • SOLUTION: Building upon an existing relationship with the Attorney General’s office, attorney John Zakhem helped Mile Hi Services Owner Florian McCann to avoid potentially business-breaking fines and penalties.
  • RESULTS: The Attorney General’s office agreed that Mile Hi Services was conducting business legally and also came away with a favorable impression of the company overall.

Lawn-Aeration-Mile-Hi-Case-StudyTHE STORY:

Mile Hi Aeration has one of the largest customer bases in the state of Colorado, surpassed only by the utility companies. Mile Hi’s growth, and its positive relationships with vast numbers of Colorado citizens, is an example of entrepreneurial spirit at its best and illustrates a true “by the bootstraps” story.

Florian McCann was born an entrepreneur. At the age of 14, he began knocking on doors and mowing his neighbors’ lawns. He was willing to hustle and to maintain relationships with his customers, and so his business grew… as far as he could walk! He didn’t have a driver’s license yet.

One day, he saw a neighbor’s lawn being aerated, a technique he had never seen before. He asked what it was, why it was beneficial for lawn care, and decided he could do that, too. He put together a flyer that explained the benefits of aeration, sold the service to his neighbors, and then convinced his brother to drive him to rent a machine so that he could walk up and down his streets and aerate lawns. Things really took off when he got his own driver’s license!

Today, under McCann’s leadership, the company develops all of its own computer systems (including automated customer appointment booking, telephone and email communications) and builds its own aeration machines (factory-built machines are “too flimsy,” explains McCann).

THE CHALLENGE

In 2001, the Colorado General Assembly passed the Colorado No-Call Law, legislation that allows consumers to limit unwanted telemarketing calls. The law allows consumers to sign up on a no-call list. Businesses that use telemarketing strategies are required to buy the list and update their databases to exclude all of the names. Companies that violate the law are subject to a $2,000 fine up to a maximum of $100,000.

The bill does not prevent all solicitations. Calls are still permitted from any business that has an established relationship with a customer.

McCann heard about the law on the news and got a copy of the law to read for himself. He didn’t think his company would be in violation because he only calls previous customers with whom he has a prior business relationship. But, just to be safe, he called Jackson Kelly attorney, John Zakhem, who also read the law and agreed that Mile Hi Services would not be in violation.

Unfortunately, the media was misinforming the public, telling them that the no-call list would prohibit all calls from any company at any time. When the law went into effect, the Attorney General’s office was flooded with complaints from people who didn’t understand the law. McCann received a summons from the Attorney General’s Consumer Affairs Office demanding a formal recorded statement in response to consumer complaints.

THE SOLUTION

Zakhem, who has a positive, professional relationship with members of the AG’s office, recommended that McCann invite the AG to Mile Hi Services and explain how his business operates, including an explanation of how he maintains his database of customers.

“Florian demonstrated how his auto-dialer is regularly updated with the no-call lists and his past customer data,” says Zakhem. “There was no possibility for him to have called someone on the no-call list unless he was authorized to do so based on a prior business relationship.”

McCann says, “The Attorney General came in thinking I was a horrible violator but he left with a thorough understanding of my business. He really respected what we were doing.”

THE RESULTS

Thanks to Zakhem’s familiarity with the Attorney General and his understanding of Mile Hi Aeration’s operations, values and business philosophy, the company was able to continue operations.

Still, McCann sincerely did not want to pester people who didn’t want calls, nor did he want to spend his resources calling people who didn’t want to hear from his company.

“Over the next few weeks, I had my team personally call the people who had complained about me,” says McCann, “and when we explained the law and asked them if they still wanted us to stop calling, most of them said, ‘No, we love your service. You can keep calling me.’”

McCann was very satisfied with the results of Zakhem’s representation and says, “John cares passionately about the people he represents. When you have someone with that kind of passion with a license to represent you, you can’t lose. I’ve never lost with John as my counsel.”

ZakemJ-webZakhem, John S.

(O): (303) 390-0351
(F): (303) 390-0177
(E): jszakhem@jacksonkelly.com

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