Meet the “9001 Council.” I put that in ironic quotes because it doesn’t appear that the organization actually exists in any formal way, other than as a website. It doesn’t list any actual humans behind it, masks its website domain registration through anonymizer services, and its address is a post office box in Switzerland, where hackers like to register websites and rich folks like to hide their money. Settle in, because this gets weirder.

The “Council” has decided that it was a good idea not only to trash the Oxebridge Totally Free ISO 9001 QMS Documentation Template Kit (or OTFISO9001QMSDTK for short), but to just outright lie in order to do it. I’m not linking to their review (why drive hits?) but I will debunk their outrageously false claims. Let’s tear down their review of the free Oxebridge kit:

Claim: the essential project guide and the detailed customization instructions are missing; there are no forms and checklists, nor are there any tools to set up an internal audit program.

Status: FALSE. It’s not possible that the “Council” really downloaded the kit and failed to notice the 30+ forms and massive 22-page instruction guide, so clearly they are just making this up.

Claim:nor are there any tools to set up an internal audit program.

Status: FALSE. Again, the kit contains not only an internal audit procedure, an internal audit log, a process-based internal audit checklist form, but also a set of instructions dedicated on how to conduct Oxebridge-style process audits.

Claim: “most of the procedures included with the kit lack real, actionable content and instructions.

Status: FALSE. The Oxebridge documents come with clearly indicated customization instructions which you can’t miss because they are put in bright yellow highlighting.

Sample of Oxebridge template kit document with highlighted customization prompts.

Claim: “many procedures contain little more than reworded ISO 9001 requirements.

Status: FALSE. The kit contains multiple procedures which address the requirements and then go far beyond, such as utilizing the famous COTO Log or Oxebridge’s own CAR system. Since there is no possible ISO 9001 wording addressing these approaches, a kit that merely reworded the ISO 9001 requirements would be literally impossible.

Claim: “The kit also fails to address several ISO 9001:2015 requirements, resulting in incomplete ISO 9001 documentation.”

Status: FALSE.  It’s worth noting that the “Council” doesn’t bother to mention which requirements are allegedly missing, probably since there aren’t any. Many companies have gotten certified by IAF-matrixed registrars with the kit, which would not be possible since any single missing requirement would be a major nonconformity.

Claim: “The procedures are structured in a bizarre way, combining some ISO 9001:2015 requirements and breaking up others in seemingly random fashion.

Status: FALSE. One of the provided Quality Manuals is structured per the standard, and then references the procedures in order. Following the logic of the documentation is as simple as going from A to B, but apparently the “Council” can’t manage that herculean task. And notice how just one sentence after they said the kit was missing requirements, they changed their argument to say they’re “structured” wrong.  They can’t keep their story straight from one sentence to another. It’s also worth pointing out that clause 0.1 of ISO 9001:2015 clearly says there is no right or wrong way to “structure” the QMS, so the so-called ISO 9001 “Council” doesn’t even know what’s in ISO 9001.

Actual paragraph from clause 0.1 of ISO 9001:2015.

Claim: “They won’t be able to implement ISO 9001 without the assistance of an Oxebridge consultant.

Status: FALSE. Once again, thousands of users have downloaded the kit and many have successfully registered their systems without a second of Oxebridge support.

They then add on some sneering swipes against yours truly, because they think that will help their cause.

You Know Who It Is

So it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on here. The “Council” website claims to have some expertise in template kits, so obviously they must be selling one of their own, right? But the site itself doesn’t actually sell any kits, nor anything else. It’s just a nameless “Council” that doesn’t appear to serve any actual purpose. But stick with me, because the ruse is pretty thin.

Instead, the site lists reviews of other people’s kits, such as mine, alongside those of the ISO 9000 Store and Advisera. All of those get less than five-star reviews by the “Council,” except for one: the $895 kit offered by 9001Simplified.com. In that review, they gush with abandon: “9001Simplified’s Certification Package is an unusually business-oriented template kit, and we applaud the company for taking this crucial element so seriously.” They also include a link to the 9001Simplified website, whereas the review for the Oxebridge materials (and others listed) don’t include such links. Hmm.

The only company that got a worse review than Oxebridge was Epsilon, which apparently has been out of business for almost a decade. Advisera came next, and the “Council” included some whopping lies in their review of that company, as well, claiming the company is “a relative newcomer from Eastern Europe,” when in fact it’s been around since 2009 and has offices all over the world, including Switzerland and New York City. Easy9001 came in 2nd highest, which isn’t a coincidence as I am about to reveal.

It takes but one click to notice what’s going on: the 9001Council and 9001Simplified are fronts for each other.

First, both companies took pains not to invoke the “ISO” name out of respect for ISO’s trademark: one is called “9001Council” and the other “9001Simplified,” both — characteristically — without a space between the words. As you’ll soon see, there’s a reason for this.

Next, both websites look identical; in fact, the logos of both websites feature the same exact orange-and-black design, and utilize the same exact fonts for both the logo and tagline. They’re so close, the orange color is nearly the same RGB code between them. The websites likewise share similar source code and page templates.

This is because they were both designed by web designer Andrew Brundle of AB Design. But is Brundle a huge developer that made thousands of sites, and it’s all just coincidence? Not really. His own website boasts having worked only on six websites; the others include a yacht company, a Czech T-shirt company and a bead art designer. Brundle’s LinkedIn profile is all but empty, but his “connections” are third-tier connected to mine, meaning he has some pals in the same ISO sphere that I do. Stay with me…

Yeah. Those Guys, Of Course.

Clicking the 9001Simplified website shows the usual suspects you likely suspected were behind this all along: the US TAG to TC 176. The same group that was caught working with unaccredited certificate mill operator, and right-wing conspiracy theorist, Daryl Guberman to defame Oxebridge. The same group of Americans who worked to make the new ISO 9001:2015 confusing and then set about to sell consulting services through 9001Simplified, seminars and webinars through the American Quality Institute, and get exclusive publishing rights for articles in allegedly peer-reviewed journals like those of ASQ. Specifically, per the 9001Simplified website, Jack West, Charles Cianfrani and Denise Robitaille, alongside former ASQ Board Member Willie Carter and consultant Devang Jhaveri:

You may also recall that certificate mill operator Guberman filed multiple fraudulent Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices on behalf of West, Cianfrani and Robitaille (and others) in a stated attempt to shut down the Oxebridge website. None of the three opted to denounce the practice, and it was subsequently discovered that other TAG leaders were actively complicit in the attempt. Filing of fraudulent DMCA notices is illegal under US law.

But, wait, there’s more. In addition to the TAG cronies, the 9001Simplified website includes two alleged “customer service” staffers who (you knew this was coming) don’t actually exist. The photo for “Greg Thompson” was actually lifted from Getty Images’ stock photos series of a “mature businessman looking confident” (go see here). The image of “Carl Fallon” was also taken from Getty Images, but from their “portrait of a mature man standing with his arms crossed at home” (seen here.)

Ironically, the 9001Simplified website couldn’t stop lying about this fact, either, saying, “Our free ISO 9001 customer service and consulting is provided by real people….” Real people who use fake photos, I guess. Even some of the alleged customer “testimonials” call out thanks to the nonexistent staff members, raising questions about the authenticity of the customer reviews.

The page then goes on to tout the expertise of ISO consultant “Thomas Hansen,” featuring a photo of two random models taken from iStock photos. So their top “consultant” doesn’t appear to exist either. This is the guy they say wrote their template kit, too.

Zero Degrees of Separation

But connecting the two websites still has one degree of separation between them. Fortunately, our esteemed official US representatives connected the dots using a third website called “9001Courses.com.”  That site features a similar orange logo and openly links 9001Council and the US TAG leaders West, Cianfrani and Robitaille from 9001Simplified. The 9001Courses website sells training courses (naturally) provided by the TAGgers, and openly claims the courses are “9001Council approved,” while featuring the same photos of West and Robitaille from the othe rsite, while working hard to hide its identity, only using a Boston post office box.

That site even goes deeper into the weirdness well, by using a Getty/iStock photo of a “man calling outside” to replace the actual photo typically used for Charles Cianfrani, who is an actual, real person. All three — West, Cianfrani and Robitaille — have used the same photos of themselves for about a decade (or more), which always surprises folks when they seem them in person and find out they are much, much older than they appear online. Apparently now Cianfrani is just copping photos of young professional models instead.

Poked the Bear

The “Council” previously pissed off the powerful ISO 9000 Store folks, who did their own investigation. Apparently, at that time, they used a slightly different URL (iso9001council.org) which has since lapsed and been taken over by a Chinese squatter. Back in 2009 one Tobias Hanzl contacted the ISO 9000 Store asking for copies of their stuff to review; they found out he was promoting his own template kits, including those at Easy9001, which — coincidentally — was the 2nd highest “rated” kit on the new 9001Council website. The ISO Store folks appear to have alerted ISO that Hanzl was using their name in his website domain, and they contacted their law firm Carter, Ledyard and Milburn (CLM). According to the CLM website, they represented ISO in a fight against Hanzl for trademark infringement at some point. There are no cases filed in Federal court against Hanzl, so it appears while ISO probably sent him a cease and desist, they never actually sued. (CLM did the same thing to Oxebridge, and never sued, and then was forced (by me) to remove a defamatory statement claiming they had been “successful” against Oxebridge. Apparently, unlike us, Hanzl caved into ISO.)

It’s also worth pointing out that the fake name “Thomas Hansen” I mentioned earlier is likely Tobias Hanzl trying to Americanize his name. They also received an email from one “Ulrich Schacher” of the “Council,” who also does not appear to be a real person.

What happened in the intervening years is not clear, but we can make some assumptions. To either double his possible exposure to the ISO template market, or to compensate for lagging sales form his prior Easy9001 materials, Hanzl reached out to the US TAG leaders and got their permission to partner with them for a second set of kits. Using the new 9001 “Council” as a fake website that purports to review such kits, Hanzl and his cronies — now including the TAG leaders themselves — slammed their competitors while giving themselves high-ranking reviews, all while hiding their identities and using fake photos. Pretty devious stuff.

You can read The ISO 9001 Store’s account of events back in 2009 here.

Hanzl now apparently runs a house that offers housing for international exchange students in San Rafael CA, which sucks, because it means families are sending their children to be watched by this guy.

So, to recap: a website that appears to be a fake company and which hides its staff behind a maze of Swiss addresses and anonymous webs hosts is promoting an $895 template kit sold by another website that has fake photos of nonexistent staff, but which apparently includes the active participation of real US TAG to TC 176 members and a former ASQ Board Member. A third website, also using fake photos and anonymous content, then links the two together. And they’re trashing Oxebridge, who released a free template kit that must really, really infuriate them, on a website that has real names of real people.

And it also means that senior leaders of the US official delegation body worked not only with a conspiracy theorist Guberman — who accuses ISO of terrorism — but also trademark infringer Hanzl, who ISO previously beat down with legal threats. This is who West, Cianfrani and Robitaille think makes for good business partners.

I’ve reached out to the living, breathing members of 9001Simplified, including West and Cianfrani, for comment. We will see if they have an explanation, but no one should hold their breath.

Meanwhile, I’ve also alerted both Advisera and ISO 9000 Store that the defamatory “reviews” coming their way have a very important sponsor: official delegates of the United States’ official representative body to ISO.

UPDATE 10 August 2018:

First, we’ve since confirmed with Swiss business registries that no company called “9001 Council” (or any variation thereof) is registered in that country. No surprises there. We’re now hunting down the name of the owner of the mailbox used at the physical address listed by the “Council.”

Next, web designer Andrew Brundle — who has relocated to Bangkok — responded to questions regarding the controversy, and showed himself to be roughly of the same moral fiber as his US TAG masters and the slippery Hanzl. When, through his Facebook page, I asked if he knew Cianfrani or West, he responded:

Aren’t you the gentleman who offers a free template kit. I came across you a while back. I remember you mentioning the two men you refer to somewhere on your blog, but I’m not acquainted with them. I have an ISO-related client in Switzerland that may be able to put you in touch with them, however. My job for the Swiss client is to do surveys, market research, content development, graphic design, programming, etc. I thought your blog / forum was very interesting, btw.

So it’s clear Brundle knows a lot about my website, but is sticking to the fiction that the owner of 9001Council is in “Switzerland.” His knowledge of my template kit — despite all the other content on the Oxebridge site — also hints that Hanzl himself may have written the review content, or at least uploaded it. I ignored this, and then asked him about Tobias Hanzl, as well as the fake photos he used for “Thompson” and “Fallon” on the 9001Simplified site, Brundle replied:

I’ve no idea if those two guys are real or not, and couldn’t really care. I just work with the images I’m sent. As for my contacts with different clients, and other details such as fees and the specifics of individual contracts, I never divulge that kind of stuff. Respectfully, have you ever thought of improving your own website? The design is very dated.

There’s a lot to unpack there. First, I never asked about any fees or “specifics of contracts,” so his answer is just freakishly weird. Next he throws his clients under the bus — great sales pitch! — by saying he doesn’t care what they do, he will work with anything they give him. The likelihood that West or Cianfrani — both of advanced age — know anything about Getty Images is slim, but it could have been Hanzl who fed the fake pictures to Brundle. The most likely excuse, however, is that Brundle himself did this, since a web designer is in the exact profession that uses Getty Images on a regular basis. So either Brundle is lying, or just turning on his own clients. He then insults my website as tactic to get me to hire him, another dubious approach.

I then asked him again if he knew Hanzl, and who wrote the review content on the 9001Council site. He replied:

As stated, I won’t discuss my clients with a total stranger on Facebook. You’d have to be rather naive to think otherwise, and you would do exactly the same in my position. Have a nice day, Mr Paris. PS. If you ever want to improve your website (your home page really is a disorganized mess!), you’re very welcome to contact me again.

So, again, Brundle won’t confirm he actually knows anyone involved, which is odd only unless there’s something afoot and Brundle knows it. Suddenly, I’m a “stranger,” although in his first response he knew exactly who I was, what I published, and all about my website. Finally, he doubles-down on his sales pitch tactic of insulting people into buying his services.

So far, there isn’t a single person involved in any of the three sites that isn’t either shady or wholly nonexistent.

More to come as the research continues. West, Cianfrani and Robitaille have still not responded to questions.

UPDATE 13 August 2018:

The 9001Council website has now removed the review for Advisera and 9000Store. The defamatory Oxebridge review remains, and a formal Cease and Desist has been sent to Tobias Hanzl.

    About Christopher Paris

    Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 25 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.