Lock in low toner prices! And I did! And I was scammed! Help, please.
January 23, 2009 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Okay, so I fell for the copier toner scam. How do I fix it?

In my defense, they were actually really nice and I was on DayQuil and they sounded very convincing. I "ordered" the stuff today, and right after doing so realized what I did and I quickly tried to call them back and cancel the order, but the number they called from, 213-537-1910 is dead air and googling the number tells me that I'm a complete idiot for falling for it, but no way to call them back. Does anyone have any ideas? I feel like a complete idiot. Anon due to idiocy and wanting to take care of this before anyone else finds out. "Ordered" today and being shipped out on Monday.

p.s. I'm in Ohio, if that helps.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total)
Did you pay by credit card? Or are they invoicing you?

If it's an invoice, don't pay. If a shipment comes, refuse the delivery.

If it's a credit card thing, you can always dispute the charge with your credit card company.
posted by arniec at 8:56 AM on January 23, 2009

This is probably not legal, but it's what I'd do:

Don't pay for it. If you receive anything, refuse delivery. If you can't refuse delivery, send it right back where it came from. Repeat until they give up. If they try to bill you, ignore the bill. If they try to charge your credit card, charge it back for not ordering the product. If you wrote them a check, stop payment. If you gave them cash... well, you're probably screwed.

But, anyway, what are they going to do? Sue you? Do you really think a fly-by-night company would do that? And, if they do, do you think the judge would be very sympathetic to them? At worst, you can offer to refund them their shipping costs (at their cost), but I can't see it progressing any more than that.
posted by saeculorum at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2009

First rule: It's not the crime, it's the cover-up. Fess up to your boss. Worst thing that can happen is that someone else in your office accepts delivery, and then you're really screwed.

Aside from that, refuse delivery. Don't offer to pay anything, including shipping costs, as it acknowledges responsibility.
posted by mkultra at 9:15 AM on January 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

As long as they don't have your credit card number and are just invoicing you, it's simple enough to play their game right back at them. (Someone at my office fell for the scam when I was on vacation.) I just kept returning their invoices with "DID NOT ORDER" written across them. One time someone called from the place and told me that "Susan" had placed the order and that the product had been shipped and signed for. I replied that no one named Susan worked in my office (even though she was sitting across from me at the moment) and I'd return their product if they paid the shipping. They gave up sending bills after a while and we never heard another thing about it.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2009

Here is my question about a similar situation from a couple of years ago.

If you can, refuse delivery. If you're in a larger organisation, instruct reception / receiving / whoever not to accept packages from whatever the company calls itself ... or any packages addressed to you. As we had signed for the package, that was one of their major threats - you signed for it, so you accepted delivery, so you must pay.

As others said, if you paid by CC, contest the charges.

This Canadian site offers good advice on how to deal with it, and sample letters to respond with.

If they're anything like the ones I was dealing with, they will harass you and others in your organisation by mail and phone. It is upsetting, and this harassment is the worst part of it ... many people pay up just to make the harassment end ... only to receive more products immediately afterwards and the cycle starts over. Eventually it will stop ... though it may take some time and/or the scammers going to jail, as happened in my case!

The best advice I received from the org. in my last link is very simple:
- end the call the moment they identify themselves
- do not talk to them
- do not engage in any discussion
- document dates/times of calls and letters received
(In my experience they would call, I would hang up, they would call back, I would hang up ... and that would be it for that day. YMMV)

You mention not wanting others to find out. That may not be the best plan - if you're in a larger organisation, you will need to warn accounts payable about this as the scammers could well call them directly.

Good luck.
posted by valleys at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2009

At my office, we don't hang up. We say very nicely "Hold on just a moment and let me get to my desk." Then we leave them on hold until they give up. If we really want to be mean, we go in every few moments and tell them we'll be right with them. We figure if they're holding for us, they're not bothering someone else.

But sometimes they call back and swear at us. One lady called me an evil bitch. Ahh, good times.
posted by raisingsand at 10:06 AM on January 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

To mess with the frequent callers we invented a purchasing agent to whom all cold calls and unknown billing calls were referred. His name was Willie Loman. Problem was Willie was never in... After a while Willie went off to the Gulf War and Travis Bickel was his replacement. Travis unfortunately was killed by a cab while crossing the street. Hayes Modem replaced him.
posted by Gungho at 10:16 AM on January 23, 2009 [10 favorites]

If you reply in writing, take a harsh tone, and state that your company requires a PO number, and that Mr. Anonymous is not authorized to make purchases.
posted by theora55 at 12:13 PM on January 23, 2009

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