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Don’t Become a Data Loss Horror Story. Warning: This Story is Scary!

October 26, 2014 Leave a comment

data loss horror story

data loss imageImagine This:

You wake up in the morning and get ready for work just like any other day. You get yourself together, grab a cup of coffee and head out to work.

It’s pouring rain as you run to the car. As you pull out of the driveway you think to yourself, “Wow what a storm last night”. It started raining yesterday afternoon and hasn’t let up much since.

You get to the office and you’re the first one there of course. You didn’t get to where you are by being a slacker.

You sit down at your desk and you notice a strange, almost creepy silence in the office. It’s normally not this quiet, even in the early morning.

You turn on your computer and it starts up like it always does.

But then you notice a problem. You can’t get to your email.

You try a few other programs like your accounting, inventory and HR programs……nothing.

You’re starting to get a little worried but you’re not the type who panics at the first sign of trouble.

You decide you’ll grab a cup of coffee in the kitchen and then call your IT Director Brad. It’s probably something minor.

As you make your way down the hallway toward the bathroom you hear a subtle squishing sound under your feet. The carpet is soaked. Now you’re getting a little worried.

You realize that obviously some water from the storm has gotten into the office.

As you walk by the room where your IT equipment is stored you notice that creepy silence again.

Afraid of what you’re about to see you slowly open the door to the server room. The door creeks open and what you see and hear is horrifying. Nothing. The room is dark. No blinking lights, no sounds of fans, no signs of life. Your servers are dead.

You use your iPhone flashlight app and discover that there was obviously a leak in the ceiling which has caused a couple of ceiling tiles to become wet and they collapsed under the weight of the water above.

There are small pieces of wet ceiling tile all over the floor along with way too much water for your comfort.

The servers and networking equipment have taken a direct hit from the water and ceiling tiles and obviously the equipment isn’t functioning. Now you realize why you couldn’t get to the programs on your computer. It’s time to call Brad.

You call Brad immediately. Brad answers the phone and you try to calmly explain the situation to him. But you certainly don’t feel calm.

“I’ll be right there” he says with a tinge of nervousness in his voice.

25 excruciating minutes later Brad arrives in an obvious panic. It seems the drive to the office has given him plenty of time to let his imagination run wild.

When he gets to the server room and looks inside his face turns white and it looks like he’s seen a ghost.

Brad gets to work frantically and tells you that he’ll update you as soon as possible on the extent of the damage.

27 minutes (not that you were counting) later Brad comes into your office and says. “It’s not good. Most of our equipment is ruined. Were going to have to get new servers and networking gear and rebuild”.

You remember that you had a meeting with Brad about just this type of incident a few months ago after reading a blog post about disaster recovery.

You breathe a sigh of relief when you remember Brad saying during that meeting that you were all covered. He backs up all the company’s critical data using a tape system and he had hired a storage company to come pick up the tapes every few weeks and store them in a safe, climate controlled facility.

You try to look at the glass as half full. At least the data is backed up and safe. You want to let Brad know that you trust him and things will be fine.

The conversation goes something like this.

You: “Well Brad, it could have been much worse. I’m just glad you had the insight to put a good backup system in place. We’ve got a really big week planned and I don’t want to get behind. Will you be able to get things back up and running in the next couple of hours?”

Brad: “Next of couple hours? Uh….well I’m going to need more time than that.”

You: “How much more?”

Brad: “It’s probably going to take at least a week?”

You: “Did you say at least a week?” You almost choke on your coffee.

Brad: “Yes, at a minimum.”

You: “How is that possible? We have everything backed up.”

Brad: “Well all of the data is backed up and safe but there is a process to getting everything back up and running. Since most of the equipment is destroyed we have to order new servers and networking equipment which could take anywhere from a few days to a week to get here.

Then we have to figure out where were going to set up the new equipment. We obviously can’t put it in the old IT room because it’s going to need to be totally renovated because of the water damage.

Once we decide where we’re going to put everything I’ll have to set it all up, then network and configure everything. I’ll have to re-load all of our programs and then test everything.

Then once that’s finished I’ll retrieve the tapes from the storage company and load all the critical data onto the new servers. After that I’ll run some further tests and we’ll be back up and running.”

You hear everything Brad is saying but you at the same time your mind is in another world.

Was this really happening? It feels like a bad dream, no, more like a total nightmare. How could this happen? Were you really not going to have access to any critical customer data for a minimum of one week?

Your mind is racing. How are we going to explain this to our customers? What about the auditors that are coming in next week? What about the presentation we have to do for our largest customer next week? What about all the invoices that need to be sent out? How is this going to affect cash flow?

Then the full weight hits you. This is going to cost the company money. A whole lot of money.

You start to feel a little lightheaded and sick to your stomach.

How did you get here? The answer is simple. It’s not easy, but simple.

Then you remembered it. Last year when you read the disaster recovery story on the web and called a meeting to ask Brad if you were prepared for this type of incident he told you all critical data was being backed up but he would feel a lot better if the company had a full blown disaster recovery plan.

Two weeks after that initial meeting Brad brought in a couple of guys from an managed services company and the four of you discussed what it means to have a full blow disaster recovery service versus just backing up your data.

It all sounded great. Until they brought a quote back a few days later.

You remember being shocked by the quote. How much per month?

For something that’ll probably never happen? After thinking on it for a few days you let Brad know you thought it was a really good idea but you’d like to put it on the back burner for now.

You’d see how the fourth quarter went and if the numbers looked good you would reconsider.

Then you basically forgot about the whole thing. It’s easy to do. We’re all very busy with our businesses, our families and everything else life throws at us.

You realize that most likely that the cost of the disaster recovery service would have been a pittance compared to the financial hit you’re about to take.

So what is the difference between just backing up data and having a full blown disaster recovery plan? About 1-3 weeks! That’s 1-3 weeks of being without your company’s critical applications or data.

In a similar situation to the one above, if you had a full blown disaster recovery plan and service you would be back up and running in about 15 minutes. There would no real harm to your business.

But you don’t have that plan and service so for you, things are going to be much, much more complicated. After doing a little research on your iPhone you realize that one week is an extremely optimistic time frame.

Now back to reality. The good news is that this didn’t really happen to you.

It may never happen but the question every responsible executive has to ask them-self is, what if it does happen?

There are thousands of business owners and executives throughout the world that could tell you their own data loss horror stories. It happens, it really does. More often than you think.

You may be wondering why you don’t hear about these stories if their happening all the time?

Think of it this way. If it happened to you, would you announce it to the public or try to keep it quiet?

I’m not talking about customer’s financial information being stolen by hackers. Obviously there are times when a business is required by law to notify its customers and the public of a security breach. That’s the way it should be. In this case I’m just speaking of data loss.

Don’t let this happen to you. Protect your organization and yourself by implementing a reasonable disaster recovery program.

There are many different ways of going about disaster recovery and many good companies out there who do it very well. One positive is that the pricing on disaster recovery services have gone down significantly over the last 5 years.

Do your homework, talk to a couple of reputable companies to get an idea of your options. Then pick the one that’s best for your company. You’ll be glad you did.

Then you’re life won’t become a data loss horror story.

If you’re considering implementing or updating your disaster recovery strategy feel free to contact me or fill out the form below for a short chat. I offer a free, no obligation evaluation of your situation. No sales pressure, no games. Just an honest assessment of whether your organization is adequately protected.

Remember to have some fun today!

Ed Worthington.   edworthington@outlook.com.                          443-570-0414

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What If All Of Your Business Applications Were Down For 2 Weeks?

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Recently I had a very sobering realization.

Sobering because what I’ve been seeing in the marketplace has led me to believe that many small and mid sized businesses in America are in serious danger.

I’m not kidding or exaggerating one bit. Let me explain.

Here at my company we provide IT infrastructure services and managed services such as cloud, server colocation, connectivity and managed services such as disaster recovery, backup and firewalls.

In other words, we provide services that help keep a businesses critical data and applications protected and up and running 100% of the time.

What I’ve realized is that many small and mid sized businesses in America are totally exposed if they were to have a disaster that wiped out their servers.

Examples of this type of disaster could be a fire, flood or natural disaster or if a server just simply crashes.

Many organizations think they’re covered because they back up their data to tape or disk which is not unusual.

What many organizations may not realize is that if there servers are destroyed or fail it could easily take two weeks or more to get the business back up and running.

Why?

Because even if you have the tape or disc stored offsite (many companies don’t) you still have to restore that data to something that resembles your original environment.

By original environment I mean your original computing and networking equipment like servers & switches. Again, you have to have something to restore that data to.

So in other words you have to order new servers and switches unless you have spare ones on hand. Most organizations don’t.

Then you have to set up and network those servers and switches and then you have to restore all the original data back to the new environment.

In some cases this can take more than 2 weeks. There are A LOT of moving parts here.

If your office had a fire, flood or natural disaster where are you going to set that new environment up? Are you going to quickly lease a new office? How long will that take?

What is your desired equipment is on back order from the manufacturer?

See what I mean. It’s a bit scary.

What if you are a healthcare provider like a nursing home or a large physician practice?

What would happen if you couldn’t get to your EMR systems to access critical patient data for two or more weeks?

For a nursing home how do you know what medications Mrs. Smith gets and when?

You don’t have to be in the healthcare field to experience major business issues.

Think of it this way. What if you couldn’t get to the programs you use everyday in your office like CRM, accounting, operations, inventory, ect. for two weeks or more.

I’m not exaggerating when I say many companies and professional practices would literally go out of business.

So what is the disaster recovery plan for your business?

If you don’t have one your at risk.

If you want help contact me by phone or email for an absolutely no pressure evaluation of your situation. 443-570-0414 ed@edworthington.com.

Categories: Uncategorized

What is Server Colocation?

September 3, 2014 Leave a comment

With so many IT related buzzwords being thrown around on the internet these days it can be hard to get a good understanding of what these terms mean to you and your organization.

One of these terms is “server colocation” or sometimes referred to as just “colocation”.

Server colocation is the practice of moving your organizations servers, storage and networking equipment to a commercial data center where you rent space.

The commercial data center (or colocation facility) provides space, power, cooling, connectivity and physical security for the equipment of multiple firms thereby reducing the cost for each firm.

The power and cooling aspects are provided in a safe and redundant manner using equipment like surge protectors, power distributions units, and generators.

Redundant connectivity is achieved by the data center hosting multiple telecommunication service providers.

From a security standpoint data centers are locked down from the public using features like key card access and bio-metric scanning. Once inside the data center each companies servers are housed inside of a locked “rack” which provides additional security.

So why would you use a colocate your equipment to a commercial data center?

The first reason is that in order to provide the same levels of redundant security, power, cooling and connectivity you would have to build a your own data center potentially costing your organization millions of dollars in up-front capital expenditure.

But the most important reason is PEACE OF MIND. When you colocate your equipment to a legitimate commercial data center you can rest assured that your equipment will be safe in an environmentally controlled environment with many safeguards in place.

This will free up your time and mental hard drive to focus on other important tasks.

By utilizing a commercial data center you get the best of both worlds. All the features we discussed above without spending large amounts of money upfront to build a data center.

I hope this helps.

If your considering server colocation or a move to the cloud please contact me or fill out the form below to get any of your questions answered and a NO OBLIGATION quote.

My company, Expedient Data Centers, owns and operates 9 data centers in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Boston and Indianapolis. We offer server colocation, cloud computing, connectivity, managed backups, disaster recovery as well as a host of other managed services.

Thanks!

Ed Worthington  443-570-0414  ed@edworthington.com

Why an Old (Paid Off) Copier Can Easily Be Costing You More Than a New One

 

 

I recently received a call from an organization in Northern Virginia. Someone in the organization had been reading this blog and contacted me because they were curious if there was any way they could get a new copier for anywhere near what they were paying for their existing copier.

The copier they had was an older Cannon Image Runner that printed/copied at 20 pages per minute in black only and had very few of the  features that are available today. The copier was donated to them several years ago (already used) and had been serving them well but they wanted a little to see if they could upgrade to a newer, better copier(maybe even a color copier) for anywhere near what they were currently paying.

The service contract was about to renew for another 12 months and the existing copier company was asking this organization to pay$1,750.00 for 35,000 black copies/prints for the following 12 months. That’s 5 cents per black print/copy. OUCH!!!

5 cents per black copy/print is VERY expensive.

In the existing copier companies defense the Cannon is very old and probably very inefficient in it’s toner use. But 5 cents still seems high.

After asking a lot of questions and making sure I understood their needs I created a proposal for this organization complete with full cost analysis comparing what they have now to what I’m offering.

I have cut and pasted below that actual Cost Savings Analysis I included in the is customers proposal.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Copier Cost Savings Analysis

 

Current Situation

XXXXXX currently has a Cannon ImageRunner 1021F which prints and copies at 20 pages per minute.

The cost for a new 12 month service agreement from your existing vendor, which includes 35,000 black copies/prints, would be $1,750.00.

Proposed Solution

ABS-Toshiba is proposing a brand new Toshiba e Studio 2050c color copier.

The  lease payment will be $92.43 per month for 39 months for the new

Toshiba e-Studio 2050c.

The service plan for the Toshiba would be $784.00 per year ($65.33 per month) for 7,000 color and 28,000 black copies/prints.

The total cost for lease and service would be $157.76 per month or $1,893.12 per year if choosing a 39 month lease.

Conclusion

XXXXXXXXX can upgrade to a brand new Toshiba color copier with more capabilities for $143.12 per year or $11.93 per month more than you are now paying for the Cannon when choosing a 39 month lease.

If you were to choose a 48 month lease you would be paying $91.52 per year or $7.63 per month more than you are paying now for the Cannon.

** If you were to choose a 60 month lease you would SAVE $230.56 per year or $19.21 per month compared to the Cannon.**

Further savings will be realized by using less paper due to duplexing (2 sided printing) capabilities of the Toshiba.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The bottom line is that this organization could get a brand new Toshiba color copier for LESS money per month provided they go with a 60 month lease.

Keep in mind we are comparing the total cost of ownership of an old Cannon copier that prints/copies only black to a brand new Toshiba color machine with far more time and money saving  features.

They can cut their paper budget by at lease 30% because the old machine doesn’t do two sided printing so every time they print a 2 page document they are forced to use 2 pieces of paper. A 4 page document now requires 4 pieces of paper where their new Toshiba e-Studio 2050c would only require 2 pieces of paper.

You get the idea.

What’s even more impressive is that if they were to lease a Toshiba e-Studio 206L, which is the true equivalent model of to what they have now (20 pages per minute black copier), saving would be considerably more.

I’ve pasted the conclusion of the Cost Savings Analysis for our equivalent model below.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

XXXXXX can upgrade to a brand new Toshiba copier with more capabilities for less money (including lease & service)  than you are now paying for the Cannon.

The total savings realized would $423.88 per year when choosing a 39 month lease.

The total savings realized would $471.61 per year when choosing a 48 month lease.

The total savings realized would $769.60 per year when choosing a 60 month lease.

Further savings will be realized by using less paper due to duplexing (2 sided printing) capabilities of the Toshiba.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It’s an understandable misconception. Most organizations (businesses, churches. nonprofits, ect) assume that because their copier is paid off that they are saving money over leasing or buying a new one.

The reality of MANY cases like this is that I can provide them a brand new Toshiba copier for less money (including lease AND service) than they are paying now. Sometimes substantially less.

If your organization is located in Maryland, Washington DC, or Northern Virginia or Deleware and you would like a competitive quote from a copier salesperson who will always tell you the truth,  please fill out the quick easy form below and I would be glad to help.

If you are anywhere else in the United States and would like my recommendation for copier companies in your local area fill out the form below and I’ll get back to you asap.

My company carries Toshiba Copiers, HP & Lexmark Printers, Fujitsu Scanners and Dahle Professional Shredders.

In addition to the hardware listed above we provide software and services such as Managed Print Services, IT/Network Services and a full line of document management software.

If you have a general copier buying question or would like a free copy of my book, The Ultimate Copier Buying Guide, just fill out the form below. Thanks for stopping by. Come back often and most of all…… HAVE FUN!

Ed Worthington

Categories: Uncategorized

How to Buy A Copier

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

After many months of writing and editing I have finally finished my new book, How to Buy a Copier- A Step by Step Guide to Copier Leases, Copier Service Contracts and Just About Everything Else You Need to Know To Get The Right Copier at the Best Possible Price.

I know the title is long but I wanted it to communicate exactly what this book is. This book is THE definitive copier buying guide for anyone who is now or will ever buy a copier for their business or practice.

Although my company Action Business Systems-Toshiba Copiers is located in the Maryland and service the Baltimore, Washington DC, and Northern Virginia areas this copier buying guide can help you no matter what part of the country or world your in.

To receive a FREE copy just fill out the form below.

How to Reduce Copier Jamming Due to Humidity

Copier jamming is one of the biggest frustrations in an office environment.

Unknown to many office workers is the fact that humidity is a major cause of jamming.

Humidity in your office can cause paper being stored in a supply closet or in the copier drawers themselves to become damp, therefore, making the paper thicker which can cause jamming.

Also if the paper is damp the small wheels that move the paper through the machine may not be able to get traction on the paper causing it to jam.

If you hold the paper in your hand you really can’t tell it’s damp by the touch, but it is.

If you pick up a ream of paper sometimes you can actually tell if it’s damp because it feels a little heavier than a dry ream.

This is one indicator that you may have a humidity problem in the office.

If you have this problem here are some ideas for being proactive with the issue:

1) Put a dehumidifier in office, preferably near where the paper is stored. If the paper is stored in a supply room or closet put the dehumidifier in there if at all possible. This will greatly reduce the amount of humidity in the air.

2) If you open a ream of paper try to reseal it as best as possible. Rather than open an entire end of the package as    the package indicates just make a small slit and pull the paper out as needed. If possible put the leftover paper (still in the plastic that you made the slit in) back in the box it came in for storage.

3) Keep boxes (sometimes called cases) off of the ground. Put them on a shelf or on some type of pallet to keep them off the ground where there tends to be more moisture.

4) Try not to fill the copier drawers with paper if it isn’t going to be used within the next couple of days. Paper that sits inside the copier drawers will soak up humidity because the copier drawers are not airtight.

I hope these tips help.

If you have any copier or printer questions please feel free to call or email me and I’ll get back to you asap.

Also if your company is in the market for a copier, printer, or document shredder please contact me for a competitive quote.

In the months of February and March 2013 we are offering a free gift of an Apple iPad, a Toshiba thrive Tablet, a Toshiba laptop, or a 40″ Toshiba flat screen TV on qualifying copier purchases. Please contact me for details.

Ed Worthington, Action Business Systems-Toshiba 443-570-0414  eworthington@abscare.com

How to Avoid Office Supply Scams

As a professional in the office equipment industry I constantly hear horror stories from clients about past experiences with toner and office supply scams.

I recently discoved this guide from the Federal Trade Commission online and I thought that it was great information.

Please read this carefully and protect yourself.

Could your organization be a victim of an office supply scam?

If you don’t have adequate purchasing controls, probably so.

Businesses, churches, and fraternal and charitable organizations are being bilked out of millions of dollars by bogus office supplyfirms. You can protect yourself by learning to recognize the scams and understanding your rights.The typical office supply scam involves goods or services that you routinelyorder: copier paper, toner and maintenance supplies, equipment maintenance contracts or classified advertising. When fraudulent telemarketers call, they often lie to get you to pay for items you didn’t order, or to get you to pay more than you agreed to. How? The caller may falsely claim to be your “regularsupplier” or to tell you that the offer is “special” or “good for a limited time only.” Con artists take advantage of holes in your organization’s purchasing procedures or of unsuspecting employees who may not be aware of office practices. What’s worse, the office supplies peddled by these bogus firms often are overpriced and of poor quality; the services usually are worthless.

The Scams

Office supply scam artists generally use three ways to take your money — the phony-invoice, the pretender, and the gift-horse.

Phony-invoice Scams

The goal of the phony-invoice scam is to get the name and address of an employee so your organization can be shipped and billed for unordered goods or services. The invoice includes the employee’s name as the “authorized” buyer. Scam operators use various ploys to get an employee’s name: They may call asking for help completing an order, claiming that “the accounting department lost the name of the person we should send these supplies to,” or they may ask for the name of the person in charge of your Yellow Pages advertising.

Once the con artist has an employee’s name
and address, he’ll ship the unordered merchandise.
The phony invoice arrives a week or so
after — for two reasons: First, the inflated
price — as much as 10 times what you’d pay
for the same goods from a legitimate supplier
— is less obvious if the invoice arrives after the
merchandise has been received and stocked.
Second, the chances are good that you’ve used
the merchandise before the invoice arrives.
Many organizations mistakenly believe that
they must return unordered merchandise or pay
for unordered merchandise if they’ve used it.
A twist on this approach may have the fraudulent
seller timing a phony invoice to match
your purchase of legitimate services from
another vendor. For example, the seller sends
you a bill for unordered classified advertising
soon after your ad runs in a legitimate publication.
The scam operator hopes you’ll be confused
and pay his bill instead of, or in addition
to, the one from the legitimate company.

The Pretender Scam
In the pretender scam, the caller may pretend to
be your regular or previous supplier, a replacement,
or an “authorized” supplier. By convincing
you that the goods or services and prices
offered are the same as before, the caller hopes
you won’t bring up prices, quantities, and
brands. Even if you do, the seller may try to
brush you off by saying, “We’ve supplied you
in the past, but it’s been a while,” or “The
price is the same as last time.” If you insist on
a price quote, the seller may give a price that
sounds reasonable for one carton but is actually
for a single unit, such as “$19.95 in a carton of
10.” Translation: the carton price is 10 times
$19.95 — or $199.50.
In one variation on this scam, the caller misrepresents
the quality, quantity, type, price, or
brand name. For example, the ribbons for your
IBM typewriters may not be IBM brand ribbons,
or the toner for your Xerox copier may
not be Xerox brand toner. Some scam artists
try to duplicate brand name packaging; others
sell half a carton of merchandise at the fullcarton
price. Similarly, sellers of Yellow Pages
advertising may actually represent fly-by-night
outfits that distribute few, if any, telephone
directories.
In another twist, the caller uses high pressure
tactics to rush your purchase decision and
dodge questions about price, quantity and brand
names. The seller may falsely claim that prices
are going up soon, someone was forced out of
business, a warehouse is overstocked, or a
limited inventory of government surplus is
available. Or that a computer glitch delayed
notification of a price increase, but, as a courtesy,
an order has been reserved for you at the
“regular” or “old” price.
Or, the seller may misrepresent the purpose of
the call, saying that he’s calling to send you a
promotional item such as a cordless screwdriver,
free samples, or a catalog so you’ll
“think of him next time you order.” Or the
seller may claim that he’s conducting a survey
of office equipment or updating company
records, leading you to believe that he’s the
regular or previous supplier. Before hanging
up, the caller may mention — in passing —
actual merchandise. “I’ll send that screwdriver
to you right away … and while I’m at it, I’ll
throw in a few deodorant blocks.” Soon, a
shipment arrives, followed by the bill.

The Gift-Horse Scam
The gift-horse scam tries to create mistrust
within an organization. The scheme starts when
the caller tricks an employee into accepting a
gift — a free promotional item — with a passing
reference to merchandise or services. You
receive overpriced unordered merchandise,
followed by an invoice with the employee’s
name. When the organization questions the
employee, the fraudulent seller is betting that
the employee will be nervous about the gift

when he denies placing the order. The hope is
that the organization will doubt the employee.
When this scheme works, the organization
believes that the employee blundered into
ordering something that must be paid for.
After the Invoice Arrives
Scam artists spend significant time and energy
on collection efforts. They send as many
invoices as it takes to get your money. Invoices
often are stamped “Past Due.” In extreme
cases, they’ll resort to real or bogus collection
agencies and threats of legal action.
An organization that pays for unordered goods
or services also may be targeted for additional
scams. This practice is called “reloading.” For
example, the seller may send a second shipment
of “back ordered” merchandise and another
bill, or bills for service upgrades. Additional
invoices follow as long as you continue to pay.
The con artist also may sell your organization’s
name to other scam operators, or move to
another bogus operation and target you with a
new scheme.

The Brush-Off
When organizations complain that they didn’t
order the merchandise or services or that the
price is too high, the scam seller reacts in some
predictable ways:
✏Bullying. The seller argues if you express
any uncertainty about whether the supplies
or services were ever ordered: “They were
ordered. We have a recording of Mr. Jones.
If you don’t pay, we can take you to
court.”
✏Negotiating. Here, the seller agrees to
accept a lower price. After all, the goods
and services are so grossly overpriced that
almost anything the seller gets is profit. If
you complain about price, the seller may
say, “You were charged what? They must
not have given you the discount for ….”
The seller then tries to negotiate “a better
deal.” Sometimes, the seller appeals for
sympathy: “We really need the business.
I’ll let you have it for….”
✏Charging for returned merchandise. The
seller claims you can return merchandise if
you pay a “restocking fee.” In fact, the fee
is often more than the goods are worth.
Similarly, the seller may try to get you to
pay shipping charges to return the items.

Protect Your Organization
You can protect your organization from paying
for unordered goods and services. Here’s how:
1. Know your rights.

If you receive supplies
or bills for services you didn’t order, don’t
pay, and don’t return the unordered merchandise.
You may treat unordered merchandise
as a gift. By law, it’s illegal for a
seller to send you bills or dunning notices
for unordered merchandise, or ask you to
return it — even if the seller offers to pay
for shipping. Further, if the seller sends
you items that differ from your order in
brand name, type, quantity, size, or quality
— without your prior express agreement —
you may treat the substitutions as unordered
merchandise. Unordered services are treated
the same way. However, first consider the
possibility that the seller made an honest
mistake.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC)
Telemarketing Sales Rule offers additional
protections in business-to-business sales of
non-durable office or cleaning supplies and
most sales of goods or services to individuals,
groups, or associations. The Rule
requires telemarketers to tell you it’s a sales
call — and who’s doing the selling —
before they make their pitch. They must tell
you the total cost of the products or services
they’re offering, any restrictions on getting
or using them, and that a sale is final or
non-refundable before you pay. It’s illegal
March 2000
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION FOR THE CONSUMER
1-877-FTC-HELP http://www.ftc.gov
Facts for Business

2. Assign designated buyers and document your purchases.

For each order, the designated employee should issue a purchase order — electronic or written — to the supplier with an authorized signature and a purchase order number. The order form should instruct the supplier to note the purchase order number on the invoice and bill of lading. The buyer should send a copy of every purchase order to your accounts payable department. Keep blank order
forms secure.

3. Check your documentation before paying
bills. When merchandise arrives, the receiving employee should verify that it matches the shipper’s bill of lading —paying special attention to brands and
quantity — and your purchase order. Refuse
merchandise that doesn’t. If everything’s in
order, the employee should send a copy of
the bill of lading to your accounts payable
department. Bills for services should be
reconciled the same way. A supplier should
not be paid unless the invoice has the
correct purchase order number and the
information on the invoice, the purchase
order and the bill of lading match.
4. Train your staff.

Train everyone in how to
respond to telemarketers. Advise employees
who are not authorized to order supplies
and services to say, “I’m not authorized to
place orders. If you want to sell us something,
you must speak to __________ and
get a purchase order.”
Buy from people you know and trust. Authorized
employees should be skeptical of “cold” or unsolicited calls and feel comfortable saying
“no” to high pressure sales tactics. Legitimate
companies don’t pressure you to make a snap
decision. Finally, consider asking new suppliers
to send a catalog first.
Where to Complain
Report office supply scams to the FTC, your
state Attorney General, local consumer protection
office, or Better Business Bureau. In
addition, you may want to share your experiences
with other businesses to help them avoid
a rip-off.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent
fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business
practices in the marketplace and to provide
information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free
information on consumer issues, visit
http://www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTCHELP
(1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-
4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing,
identity theft and other fraud-related complaints
into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online
database available to hundreds of civil and
criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
and abroad.
Your Opportunity to Comment
The National Small Business Ombudsman and
10 Regional Fairness Boards collect comments
from small businesses about federal compliance
and enforcement activities. Each year, the
Ombudsman evaluates the conduct of these
activities and rates each agency’s responsiveness
to small businesses. Small businesses can
comment to the Ombudsman without fear of
reprisal. To comment, call toll-free 1-888-
REGFAIR (1-888-734-3247) or go to
http://www.sba.gov/ombudsman.
for telemarketers to misrepresent any
information, including facts about the goods
or services being offered.

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