Monday, April 18, 2011

Summit Media

Summit is an E-Commerce company that operates in The Wolds prison, having previously been run in HMP Rye Hill - where I was one of their first employees about a decade ago.

Summit sharply divides opinion.  As a private company, they make millions in profit, based on the work done by prisoners who are paid around £15 a week.  You can see the moral objection...?

Yet I not only volunteered for the opportunity, I had to pass an interview and selection process.  It was a position I had to fight for.  At that time, I didn't know squat about the Internet.

The work environment was interesting, in that Summit provides a specialist service and the expectations upon our professionalism were correspondingly high.  Being treated like a capable human being is a novelty in prison.

However...Summit wished to pretend that it wasn't operating within prison, whilst relying on that very fact for its existence. If we were absent from work for exercise, visits, medical appointments - the detritus of daily prison life - then they used to bitch about it.

The largest objection to Summit is the argument it offers for paying such low pay while raking in such gargantuan profits.  Summit argues that the training it provides would be hideously expensive for us to gain in the outside world, and that the skills Summit endows would lead to good prospects upon release.

Well, yes - and no.  Summit prefers to employ Lifers and long-termers.  Assuming a normal course through the sentence, a man may leave Summit and not reach the outside world for 4 or more years.  The relevance of the skills in such a fast moving field after that length of time away from the Internet is questionable.

Summit also declines to say just what percentage of its employees leave prison and find work in the field.  That raises loud alarm bells for me.

And as a matter of equity, any company who can make millions in profits should at least pay minimum wage to its workers.  Cut through the sophistry, and it comes down to fairness and decency.  Summit stinks.

An interesting footnote, though.  The prison service refuses to allow us Internet access on "security grounds".  How then, does Summit manage to operate within prisons? Perhaps the income it generates may help answer that question? Or are we just uncovering yet another piece of stinking hypocrisy on the part of our keepers?

39 comments:

  1. This is absolutly disgraceful, where else can a company get an employee for £15 a week, while the taxpayer foots the bill for food and board? I know an inmate at the Wolds, who is very much exploited,and Hedley Aylott is doing very nicely thank you very much. The Wolds is a private run prison. I doubt they would get away with it at HMP. See the link Campaign against prison slavery for more info.

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  2. An absolute disgrace is what it is. Prisoners are not kept in the lap of luxury by any means, but the meagre living they enjoy is still funded by the tax payer. What percentage of prisoners have actually left these so called 'training for work' jobs and gone on to find a job on the outside?

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  3. How else would Hedley Aylott pay for his plane that uses his PRIVATE polo grounds as an airstrip (on which his other office is located for avoidance of tax purposes)! Doesn't stop there either, Summit Media also pay for his house which is located on the same polo grounds - ah, prison labour! Follow the family trail to find out how they were able to 'employ' prisoners for their business. Whilst Hedley Aylott at Summit Media may appear to be successful, it is truly at the blood and hard work of others - he couldn't possibly risk hurting his polo swing!

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  4. so ben why was it you got fired from summit media or are we not meant to talk about this?

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  5. Scummit Media!! They are a disgrace and run by an Old Bitch (Marian) and her spoilt Son (Hedley) Wolds is then run by a drag queen (Charlotte)
    Fact!!

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  6. How come Charlotte the harlot is still there? she was caught giving sexual favors to inmates and bringing drugs in. I would have thought she would have been sacked for that, if not, just proves money talks.

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  7. yes bjust seen some privatley educated young toff getting embaressed about how much money summit media makes !
    but then when you look at how corrupt the past 40yrs of goverment have been its hardly supprising , if i was in the pc office id converse with my other lags to find a way of "internet frauding " there accounts

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  8. Ben, you are clearly an idiot! and the rest of you who have commented! I have no need to validate my statement, wasted on such simpletons!

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  9. @anon 10:46, I'm pretty certain that I have mentioned the fact that I was fired from Summit for breaching their security protocols and ogling naked ladies. No surprise there to anyone who knows me...

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  10. I gained a lot from this activity when serving time in ryhill it's a shame that a lot of people feel bad about the founders of summit but you have to put yourself in there shoes they must have risked quite alot when they decided to work with prisoners
    I got the sack but luckly they had given me two years training that changed my life and my outlook forever. I have worked now f0r 8 years in the web business since my release and have never forgot that, like you prisonerben I agree that it is run by a bunch of Drama Queens but their intentions are good and the knowlage of those around them (including other inmates) is invaluable.

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  11. Ben...if you chose to look at naked ladies, not do the work you were meant to do, then no surprise you got fired, and are now clearly very bitter. My experience of summit has been professional and positive. long may it continue

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  12. Group 4 loses Wolds contract. Lets see how he squirms out of this one to save his £20,000 a month salary.

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  13. This article has very much been written from a chip on your shoulder, small minded, ex con’s perspective.

    I too worked in Summit in the prison for around 4 years.

    My input:

    • Hedley was forward thinking enough to open an enterprise in a prison.
    • Of course he’s going to make money out of it, it’s a business
    • Of course the wages are going to be low (its prison you can’t pay people the same way as the outside world
    • Of those prisoners intelligent enough not get fired for looking at porn – what a brilliant way to learn and spend a very negative period of your life in a positive way
    • Summit help tons of prisoners in to new job with Summit and provide references for those that don’t
    • Summit is a very successful global company NOT built off the back of prisoners work – built of the back of brilliant ideas, hard work, best practice and vision
    • Other options for prison employment are far bleaker than Summit

    People need to look beyond Hedley and the wealth he has created - recognise the opportunity that Summit brings and stop criticising people that do well.

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    1. Well said. So many have gone on to be so successful. He currently employs around 10 ex prisoners on the outside, despite the office closing, Summit still gives guys who are released an opportunity. Summit changed my life. I looked forward to going to work in there as I was treated like a human being. Not only that; those that are working there are not limited in any way. Obe guy got to senior client manager 2 tears after being released another is a partner in the company. Summit wages were way better than standard prison wages too, if you worked for it and proved yourself. It's such a shame that the supply of lads getting the opportunity will eventually run out. I'm still in touch with a few lads that want a job upon release, but that will be it. Oh, and another thing, everyone that gets a job there is told about the story of the prison. They are not given a nob if that bothers them. Everyone they employ is happy to be surrounded by people, no matter what mistakes they made.

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  14. See what you mean BUT 20k a month + helicopter + plan + 100 horses + a farm + 2 polo pitches + astin martin + Caterham + Audi A8 + god knows what else we don't know about. Everyones a winner.

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  15. I worked in Summit HQ (Townend Farm) for a number of years and was privy to the P&L of the business. It's safe to say that since Google changed the way they rewarded agencies for PPC, the Wolds was breaking even at best. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that it was probably running at a loss once you account for the non-prison staff that managed the guys.

    In short, they took a bunch of guys who have committed some pretty heinous offenses, imposed some strict and morral rules upon them, then spend a lot of time and effort teaching them effective online marketing skills. How many other companies would take such a gamble?

    Sure, they got paid £15 a week, but the space they occupied used to be a factory teaching inmates how to make concrete gnomes for £8 a week... I know which I'd prefer!

    The guys are completely client facing so I think a robust and thorough interview process is the right thing to do. Inmates choose to work, or not. No one forces this upon them. if they don't like it, that can walk out at any time.

    There's much better and faster ways to get rich than using a prison population, otherwise every industry would be on it. You've got to remember that no one goes to prison for being a nice guy and a pilar of the community. The author of this has spent all but a couple of years of his adult life locked up. I'd say his views on life and the world in general are pretty naive, skewed and jaded - It's everyones else's fault and the world's against you..... right?

    Time to grow up and take on the big wide world with hard work and determination!

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  16. A brief glimpse at summits accounts reveal you to be wrong. Fact.

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  17. Sounds like the Summit PR machine in action.....

    "I worked in Summit HQ (Townend Farm) for a number of years and was privy to the P&L of the business." Name yourself!

    And who, apart from Aylot's, slaves says this "Time to grow up and take on the big wide world with hard work and determination! " Yawn yawn. Whip Whip. Work harder, harder. Now work harder.

    The problem is the way he treats his staff, pays his staff, bullies his staff and rewards himself with £20k per month (tax efficient), etc etc. Not the energy to list the ever growing list of assets he owns directly as a result of extracting from the business.

    Over to you Summit PR.

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  18. Yeah and no one apart from Hedley, Mike, Marion and Tony see the P&L. So unless you're Hedley, Mike, Marion or Tony you're lying. Another reveal to you be wrong. Fact.

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  19. Running at a loss? Wrong.

    A little look at the revenue from 3 mobiles affiliate program reveals you to be wrong.

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  20. And heamroaging staff right now. Won't be a business left soon. Everyone wants to leave. Can't say I blame any of them for leaving. Dreadful place.

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    1. The salaries are extremely top heavy at Summit, and because of that, it will always be a training ground for people who learn their trade and then move on

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  21. And here we have Hedley Aylott enjoying hiring female caddies for a round of golf. He's a joker. A big one.

    http://eyecandycaddies.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/summit-media-golf-team-jun11/

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    1. god I cannot put into words how much I hate that company and hedley, ben and tony, the smarmy arseholes. total fucking joke of a company and any staff still gladly working there want their heads seeing to! god they make my fucking skin crawl. treat their staff like the Nazi's would the jews. nice to see hedley married an Aryan the sour-faced bitch. that they called latham "big ben" in the article - he reminds me of bungle! about as useful as him too - and the sinister tony Patterson - ugh - gives me the creeps - fucking ugly letch. hope he contracts a terminal std. so glad to hear about hedleys dad dying!

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    2. Here here. Amazing really that they've managed to con so many customers and employees for such a long time. Finally people are seeing through the operation. It's all lies, manipulation and bullying. If there is any justice in this world he won't sell his business off the back of other peoples sweat, tears and time. The truth will out. I wouldn't wish anyone any harm apart from that little shit. Give it up mate and go and do something else. Nice to see a little social media biting you in the ass ;)

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  22. I had the good fortune to work at summit for 18 months while at the wolds yes they made money off us but I would sooner spend my time in a office then locked in my cell. Yes there was a lot off bullshit in the office and off course inmate favourites some inmates could do nothing wrong but in the long run how many inmates had internet access while learning new skills and has for Charlotte,Tracey and Dave I could not say a bad word against them I found them helpful intelligent and understanding and always willing to help as for Hedley I saw him 3 times in 18 months so could not comment on how he was and as for Marion I meant her twice and both times felt like she did not want to be round us or near us but hey hoo.

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  23. Well certainly some strong opinions here, so much so that I feel compelled to write something. I don’t intend to reveal who I am, but worked for Summit for quite a few years.

    I’ve worked with all the ”civi” staff mentioned on here, I do not work for Summit these days but still earn a living from what I learned whilst a resident at hotel Wolds.

    Summit suits those who want to make good use of their time away, If your switched on you’ll glean as much knowledge as you can whilst there,
    I wasn’t a lifer and do agree that the industry moves at a quick pace, but there is still money to be made online even after a break in the industry.

    If you face fits? Yes you’ll get more out of it, If I’m honest mine did, I’d like to think though it was through hard work.
    I’ve been out of Prison now for several years, and I’ve done quite well from my time spent at Summit, and I’m not alone in that.

    As for some of the nasty name calling posted on here, pathetic, open your eyes and stop thinking about how well others are doing, focus on yourself.

    Charlotte, Dave and Tracey work hard to run an office and accommodate the diversity of inmates.
    Marion and Hedley run a huge company these days and the Wolds is just a small part, I recall the time when they worked in the Wolds most days.

    As for Hedley’s dad, A nicer gentleman would be hard to find, I am sorry for your loss.

    S

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  24. I am a foreign national who had the privilege of working at Summit (Wolds) for almost 2 years, regardless of the negativity in previous posts, I can honestly say that the skills I have picked up while at Summit is invaluable.

    From that I have been able to turn my life around and earn a honest living.

    Thanks for the opportunity Summit!!!

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  25. Ha Ha Ha if only you all knew??

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  26. About time we lifers had someone to stand up for us and say whats really going on. I know two that have recently been jogged on by summit on who may have been there years??

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  27. lots of opinions here, what i will say is, Summit's purpose is to make money, it's a business, that what there primary objective is, I was very lucky, worked for Summit for a number of years, taught me a lot, now i have a very, very well paid job in the same industry, I don't think that anyone can say Summit is a bad thing, it's helped lots of people and gives focus while inside, rather than sitting watching shite on the TV all day

    it seems the people with the strongest opinions are the ones "jogged on" by summit, probably for being useless, not turning up on time, etc, etc

    Weirdly, getting sent to the Wolds and working at Summit has turned out to be the best thing that's ever happened to me, comforting to know i now earn more than the judge that sent me down......

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  28. Still hemorrhaging clients (which are still on the site) and staff. Woops Summit Media. Not so forward thinking now are we Hedley?

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  29. Still a bunch of dicks. Can't sell the business though eh? Oh yeah how many clients now? Not as many as the website. Think yhe game is over for the Aylott bullies.

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  30. I worked with Summit Media as an affiliate to promote the Three mobile program a few years ago and was shocked at how bad the conversion rates were compared to other networks at the time such as T Mobile, Orange, O2 and Virgin. The overall earnings per click was very low in comparison and the approval percentages was never consistent unlike the other network operators. I always thought something fishy was going on and finding out they operated from a prison sent alarm bells for me. Its very judgemental for me to assume anything untoward merely because they are staffed by convicts, but something just didnt add up with Summit Media.

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  31. BTW This is an old forum thread regarding the affiliate program and you can see I'm not the only one who shares the same opinion:

    http://performancein.com/forums/mobile-broadband-internet-services/95004-3-mobile-affiliates-worst-performing-mobile-merchant.html

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  32. Upon close investigation it looks like Hedley forced his OWN mother into bankruptcy in the early days of his Media Agency. The second in command "Tony" is an ex convicted fraudster, they have a sales man called Ben Latham who offers bribes to clients if they award Summit a contract. One of these days the Summit bandwagon will fail.

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  33. I worked at Summit for many years and this post and comments are rubbish in so many ways.

    I wish I had the time and energy to explain why, maybe one day I'll come back and do so..

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  34. Ben, you might be interested / amused / disappointed to know that Summit went bust, or to be more accurate was "rescued" by a venture capital firm. If you look at the last two sets of accounts it explains how the accounts were cooked to the extent that a business that claimed it made (modest) profits had in fact lost nearly 3 million quid since it was founded. It was the usual dodgy accounting stuff, i.e. capitalized software development, accelerated revenue recognition and under accrual of expenses which over the years added up to a lot of money. Anyway, the upshot appears to have been a liquidity crisis (i.e. they ran out of money) which lead to a venture capital firm rescuing the company via a loan of 2 million (at a 12% interest rate) in return for two thirds ownership of the company. The Aylott's (mother and son) remain employed and shareholders, but their combined annual dividends have been trimmed from 240k to a more reasonable 96k. I'm not sure if that can sustain the polo ponies and other extravagances noted above...

    So, even with labour at 15 per week, it wasn't a viable business.

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  35. I hear Summit are haemorrhaging staff. Thoughts?

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