14 March 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Toner Pirates!

PirateI haven’t always sold toner cartridges. It was a very long time ago, but back in the day I sold tacos for a living.  Yes, my first real job as an adult was as a manager at Taco Bell. Boy, those were the days. We made everything except the sauces and tortillas from scratch and all the vegetables were cut from fresh produce. I think I still remember how to cook up a pot of beans, 13 pounds of beans, 2 pounds of lard, 8 ounces of salt and four gallons of water. An hour and forty minutes in a pressure cooker and …. Those were good times. But, I digress. There was something that happened one day while I was manager that sometimes happens in our industry today.

I was doing some paperwork in the office one afternoon when I answered a call.  I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went but he man on the other end of the line mentioned that his company was our light bulb supplier. He went on to verify my name and our address and told me he would take care of everything. Of course, being none the wiser, I just went along with whatever he said. Soon after, I received a case of light bulbs, nothing special, just a case of ordinary incandescent light bulbs. Not long after that I received the bill. If I remember right it was for about three or four times what the bulbs would have cost at a convenience store. 

I had to tell the district manager about the bill and I feared for my job. Not really my job, but I was uncomfortable with the prospect of admitting that I had been so gullible. He was surprisingly understanding and told me what to do to get the situation handled. It was a pain in the backside but everything came out alright in the end.

The same thing happens today to some unsuspecting folks except they are selling toner cartridges. We call them toner pirates. They are looking for someone in the organization that does not know the process for replenishing toner cartridges. They talk to them in a way that is not a sales pitch but rather as a customer service representative that is just handling supply needs.  They don’t always inflate the price but they send out an inferior product and later a bill.  Their hope is that you would use the product before accounting gets the bill and then you’re stuck with the cartridges. Of course, if there is a problem, they are nowhere to be found. 

Other than educating everybody on the perils of cartridge ordering, a fairly mundane conversation to say the least, there is only one way that I can think of, to keep this from happening. Once you have found a reputable dealer that you like to do business with, see if they have some type of label or sticker with their logo and phone number on it that you can attach to the printer.  That way, when a toner pirate identifies themselves, the target employee would either not recognize the name or at least have something to reference to verify that they are actually an approved supplier.

By the way, if you do get one of these toner pirates on the phone you could always do what Sandra likes to do when she receives a call from one. While being careful to not agree to anything being sent, she gives them inflated number regarding the number of cartridges she uses. Then, just as they are getting all excited about a really big sale, she asks them if their momma knows what they do for a living. That’s always a lot of fun but hold the phone away from your ear when you do that because you’ll probably get the phone slammed down in your ear.  

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