*NEWS*BE WARY OF SALES CALLS ON OFF EQUIP

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*NEWS*BE WARY OF SALES CALLS ON OFF EQUIP

 user 2006-12-07 at 1:26:00 pm Views: 37
  • #17122

    Be wary of sales calls for office equipment
    BBB warns not to give out info when inquiry unsolicited
    If you get a call at the office asking for information about your office or computer equipment, you might want to think twice about giving it.
    Some local businesses have gotten calls asking for serial numbers to their equipment and, sometimes, the names of those in charge of ordering office supplies, said Michele McDaniel, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama.The callers often say they are calling from “business systems” or a similar name. They ask for the model numbers on printers and other office equipment, McDaniel said.”They have all this information and call you back and act like they’re your service provider,” she said.Sometimes the callers send supplies that the business didn’t order and expect to be paid. Other times, they send out used toner “that could harm your machine,” McDaniel said.Office-supply scams have been around for years, she said.”In the past that has been one of the top three or top five complaints we hear from businesspeople,” she said.Every year, businesses lose millions of dollars to con artists, according to the Better Business Bureau. Businesses from 27 states have registered complaints with the BBB about the schemes.Small businesses in particular need to be alert to “toner phoners,” “paper pirates” and other less-than-ethical salespeople who use tricks to peddle office supplies.According to the BBB, a telemarketer typically asks to speak with the person in charge of ordering supplies. The caller than asks questions which usually require a “yes” response from the employee. Afterward, a shipment is sent to the place of business, usually containing paper towels, credit card slips or something similar, accompanied by an invoice that is about 10 times the value of the shipment.If the business contacts the supplier to question the invoice, the supplier plays a tape recording of the employee agreeing to order the product. If the business files a complaint with the BBB, the complaint is immediately addressed and resolved.But many small retailers never file a complaint and may not realize they’ve been the victim of a scam, according to the bureau.The BBB offers these tips to protect your business from office scams:Train your staff. Advise employees who are not authorized to order supplies and services to refer any such salespeople to the purchasing department.Instruct the purchasing department not to respond verbally to unsolicited phone offers for office supplies. Require that all sales pitches be made in writing.Do not deal with unknown sellers without first verifying the reliability and complaint history of the seller. Every purchase should be documented by issuing a purchase order to the supplier with an authorized signature and a purchase order number.The handling of invoices and the like should be centralized and authorization closely checked.Keep a list of regularly used vendors. This will help protect your business against schemers who claim that your company has used their services.