WARNING: “Cover It All Siding” Lindstrom MN Family Business, Takes Advantage of College Instructor During Pandemic – Chris Bretheim, Rachael Bretheim, and Samantha Bretheim

“Felt like a con-man, or in this case, a con-family.”

This could not be a better real-world experience for my students, or even as a warning to all who explore business with Chris Bretheim, Rachael Bretheim, and Samantha Bretheim, even after such close mutual connections and references, never in a million years did I expect to be treated the way I’ve been treated with Cover It All Siding from Lindstrom, Minnesota...

I was originally connected with Rachael Bretheim who works for Polaris to manage all of the content for the project. I was to build the business a brand new website. Rachel & I connected on a handful of video calls together via “Zoom”, the hottest new remote working software at the time. As you can see in the screenshots, we had a great working relationship, stayed on task, and worked efficiently. And even though I found myself often patiently waiting for proper content from the client, including copy and images, we were always able to find a temporary solution and keep their exciting new project moving forward with placeholder stock content, to be replaced when properly provided by the client. However once the website launched, all priorities to continue providing content suddenly disappeared. Months went by, still with no communication about any payment compensation for time or reimbursements.

*Communication & invoice screenshots are attached below of the entire project, of which only about half of what was mutually agreed upon was actually billed… All of the time I spent, plus expenses, working for their business with now a year later not one ounce of reimbursement, compensation, or communication...

This is an extremely important reminder to all freelancers and all students to ALWAYS collect down payment upfront. Never work for a client and just assume that they will pay you, even with close friends & mutual connections. Especially when it comes to spending money for your client that you would be reimbursed for later. Imagine not only spending all of your time on a project and never getting paid, but on top of that, you spend your own savings to help a local business with absolutely no reimbursement or appreciation. This is exactly what happened with Cover It All Siding from Lindstrom MN, during the pandemic in 2020.

Soon the holidays approached… Keeping a positive outlook on the entire situation, I sent a Holiday Thank You and Gift Card to Cover It All Siding. Still, no response, and another month passes, until another family member, Samantha Bretheim, reaches out with an emergency for the website… I happily give them everything they need as I would treat any client, and they then decide to take over everything we had been working on into their own new direction for the project. All communication suddenly stops at this point. Not one response to any of the emails I sent to their family. I reached out to Rachel after all the video calls we spent working on this project together. Not one word. It felt entirely coordinated from the start. Not one explanation. Felt like a con-man, or in this case, a con-family.

Months go by, I send a final invoice to the Cover It All Siding on 2/1 for all services and expenses I incurred helping them build their local business. I even offered to help train them on additional strategies moving forward at no cost. No response. They viewed the invoice on 3/2. No response. They’ve received reminders. No response. The only thing I received, was an invite from Samantha to like their Facebook page.

Is this how people are treated in today’s world? How can an entire family treat another human this way? I can’t imagine treating anyone myself like this. Especially coordinated together as a family. I’d feel sick to my stomach. I’m always more than happy to help support another freelancer and compensate people for their time, I just don’t understand how others can treat people at times. All the people we have sub-contracted over the years to help with our projects… We are extremely grateful to have their interest in helping with our projects.

This was an eye-opening experience I have never seen in 20 years of freelancing, that I truly hope no other student has to face moving forward. Please always do your research before working with a client. This one I never would have thought we would be in this situation in a million years…