Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wednesday Factoid: Scam

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Have you ever fallen for a scam? 

I guess the closest to "falling for a scam" I've gotten is when I was new at my job (the last place I worked) and someone outright misrepresented themselves to me on the phone as being the toner vendor for our copy machine.

The vendor called me and said they were the usual provider of toner for our copier but since it was an older model the toner has been in less demand so it's more expensive to get it now, and they wanted to "lock in" an order from me for a case of the stuff before the price went up. I asked my boss about it and he said okay, so I agreed to the terms.

The person specifically said one case would be purchased and we could individually buy each toner to order at our leisure. Not only did it turn out that the toner we'd purchased was sold to us at an exorbitant price, but they also kept contacting us every other week to say our next order was coming. When I first got these kinds of notifications, I told the representative that I'd been told new boxes wouldn't come until I ordered them, but she denied that could be true and told me the volume at which they were sending them to us was a "typical" usage for that machine. (This was also a lie.)

These damn things were priced at over $500, with a ground shipping of over $50. It made no sense at all.

Come to find out we don't even need to buy toner because it's included in the price of a maintenance fee we paid as per a contract with a copy machine repair company in the area. And I didn't end up having to change the toner in that thing for almost two years.

It turned out that this is a company that banks on reaching people who don't really know the facts on what suppliers are used and getting basic verbal permission to send them a grossly overpriced product, which they will then invoice you for. They'll then just keep sending them to you to see how many times you'll pay the invoice. They hope big companies will just pay for it. I ended up teaming up with my accounts payable lady in the corporate office and fighting the charges. And I wrote a strongly worded letter stating that I did not want to do business with them anymore after they'd overcharged me and misrepresented themselves as my existing vendor. It was predatory.

From then on, anytime I got a call from them over the next ten years (because yes, they continued to occasionally try me again), I referred to them as "The Toner Pirates." 

Sometimes their schtick included calling first to get someone in the office to tell them what kind of copier you have because they're sending out updated manuals or something. Then when they call back next time, they can pretend to be your vendor because they already know what copier you have. 

There are whole blogs about it and how pervasive this practice is. It's really obnoxious.

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