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Old 01-20-2004, 01:47 PM
lieu lieu is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Bedrock
Posts: 26,079
Telemarketing lightbulbs thru "Handicapped Services"... scam?

A week or so back I received a call from a friendly guy who wanted me to help the handicapped by buying some 5 year lightbulbs. I said I'd be more than happy to help... that is until he started reeling off their prices.

I believe the 20 pack was for over a hundred dollars and he recited several other packages, finally getting down to the four pack which was thirty dollars. I said I figured I could do that, mainly because he assured me this was going to a worthy cause and helping to keep a handicapped person employed. I received the bulbs a couple of days ago, along with the invoice for thirty one and change. As I was putting them in the pantry I noticed another four pack my wife had recently bought from the store for a couple of bucks.

Normally I'll just hang up on telemarketers and we're on the national no call list but since it suppossedly is helping out the needy I made an exception. Still, I decided to see if I could find out anything about the company online. I wasn't sure if they were a charity or what but did have the company name, an address and a phone number.

After five minutes I had a page from a certain state's Better Business Bureau with their report on the company. It says:
[Removed] Handicapped Services, Inc. was chartered as an [removed] for-profit corporation on August 4, 1998. The company's principal officer is identified as [removed], President.
The BBB has received calls from consumers who have been contacted by the subject firm by telemarketing. Callers have reported to the BBB that the subject firm is engaged in the telemarketing sale of 5 year light bulbs.

This firm has been the subject of customer complaints to the BBB. The firm has responded to BBB customer complaint correspondence by providing a statement of its position in response to the customer's concerns.

Additional File Information

BBB Voluntary Advertising and Selling Guidelines advocate that commercial companies market their products on their respective merits without relying on sympathy appeals of any kind. It should be understood that his company is a commercial, for-profit enterprise, and not a non-profit or charitable organization. Any monies paid to this company are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.
I'm at a bit of a loss here in trying to decide whether I've been scammed or not. They did tell me that the exhorbatant mark-up on the bulbs was to keep a disabled person employed but the report makes me wonder just how much would actually go to those in need and how much is just lining the President's pocket.

Any thoughts on this?
Old 01-20-2004, 02:05 PM
lieu lieu is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Bedrock
Posts: 26,079
Don't know if it's important but two additional things...

* The first thing he said was "I'm not trying to sell you anything...", and

* I believe I've bought bulbs from them in the past. Not sure if it was within the last 18 months or not.
Old 01-20-2004, 03:12 PM
Scuba_Ben Scuba_Ben is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Below the thermocline
Posts: 5,702
Yesterday I was in the grocery store. 4-packs of light bulbs were on sale at a dollar a pack; typical price is a few bucks per pack. At the sale price -- $0.25 per bulb vs. your supplier's $7.50 per bulb -- I don't need no steenkin' "lasts for five years" bulbs.

Poke around on the web and see if you can get price quotes. And see if you can return the bulbs for a refund. If they won't even discuss a refund, MHO is that it's a scam.
Old 01-20-2004, 03:59 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: underpants
Posts: 19,744
A little over ten years ago, I had for a few months a deadbeat roommate who couldn't hold down a job. In desperation to pay rent, and looking for a job that would pay quickly, he answered a telemarketing ad.

It turned out to be "handicapped workers selling light bulbs." He was not, in fact, in any meaningful way, or by any reasonable definition of the term, handicapped. Naturally, he asked if it was okay for him to hold the job.

The hiring guy said something to the effect of, "You have to say you're handicapped to work here. Are you handicapped?"

Roommate: "Sure."

Hiring guy: "Good enough for me. Welcome aboard."

He did it for half a day and walked out. Even though I was getting tired of his employment treadmill and worrying about his cash flow, I really couldn't blame him.

I vote scam.
Old 01-20-2004, 04:00 PM
lieu lieu is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Bedrock
Posts: 26,079
It's not the cost. I know I can find them cheaper just like the ones my wife bought.

My concern is where the money is going. Does this appear to be a legitimate attempt to help the disabled OR are they using the disabled to help line their own pockets?
Old 01-20-2004, 04:08 PM
lieu lieu is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Bedrock
Posts: 26,079
Didn't catch your post on Preview Cervaise.

Thanks. That's a... how do I put this... "maddeningly satisfying" answer.



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