'Excused absences' online

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

THACKERVILLE, Okla.--Owners of the Excused Absence Network say it's a simple case of supply and demand. They're meeting a need they see, but not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

Pages and pages of excuses come with the downloadable software, for a one-time fee of $25.
"You work with employees and you know that it's out there so you know people use it,” said Darl Watterhouse. He founded the company with business partner John Liddell and operate www.myexcusedabsence.com from Liddell’s Thackerville home.

They discovered the market about one-and-a-half years ago, when people were searching for what look like legitimate documents.

The form letters allow people to fill in a specific doctor's name or county where they supposedly served jury duty. The letters even have places for photos in a funeral service program, with a spot to include two different bereavement-based poems. The company's disclaimer says the forms are only for entertainment purposes, and not intended to deceive.

"I don't think we're enabling people to do anything they wouldn't do anyways," Watterhouse said.

Medical professionals say even without this computer software people have been making up doctor's notes for years. It's not a practice they encourage, but they say it still happens.

“It's not a ha-ha funny type thing, it's very serious to do that," said Kerye Ashmore, asst. Grayson County district attorney.

Prosecutors say a person could be found in contempt of court if they present a fake doctor's note to be excused from jury duty. He or she could even face criminal charges for giving an employer fake documents saying a person served jury duty, and didn't.

"It's dishonest and I'm sure if an employer were to find out that you weren't at work and you claimed to serve on a jury which would not be hard to find out, to check, you might be looking for another job," Ashmore said.

Watterhouse says they cannot control what people are already going to do. They say their next big project has customers sending a text message to download a picture. The text enters the person into a drawing for a breast enhancement.

www.myexcusedabsence.com

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original story:

THACKERVILLE, Okla. (AP) - An Oklahoma business has carved out a niche for itself -- making excuses for people. For about $25, students and employees can buy excuse notes that appear to come from doctors or hospitals.

Other options at the Thackerville-based The Excused Absence Network include a fake jury summons or an authentic-looking funeral
service program. Co-founder John Liddell says people sometimes need a day off and are going to lie anyway.

The company's disclaimer advises the notes are "for entertainment purposes only."

Customers receive templates so they can print the notes after typing the name and address of a local doctor or emergency room. Those who choose jury duty as an excuse to miss work enter their county courthouse information on the form.

But critics say bosses might wrongly think a doctor or other medical provider helped in the scam.
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On the Net:
Excused Absence Network: www.myexcusedabsence.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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