ECU faculty and staff should be aware of an on-going problem with unauthorized supplier representatives using questionable business tactics to market "special promotions", "limited time offers", etc. for copier toner, office supplies, maintenance items, etc. These telemarketers attempt to scam the University by convincing faculty and staff to order or approve shipments of goods based on the misperception that they are a University approved supplier. These supplies are usually of inferior quality and priced significantly higher than fair market value from University approved suppliers. Some of their questionable business tactics include:
- Phone calls about renewal orders never placed
- Invoices for goods never shipped
- A deadline for special promotion or sales
- Pre-authorization for a future shipment
- Phone calls to send FREE samples of toner
- Bogus email order confirmations
To help the University community stay on guard against these telemarketing suppliers, Materials Management has found some useful tips to help faculty and staff avoid being swindled.
How to Avoid Scams
Faculty and staff should take the following steps to avoid falling victim to the supplier's scams:
- Watch out for fake "invoices" that do not reference an ECU purchase order number or that were not generated by an official ProCard purchase.
- Watch out for telemarketers that call you directly with "limited time offers. Don't order from a supplier calling you!
- Order your supplies from state contract suppliers.
- Never give out your ProCard information to unknown suppliers.
- Report any problems directly to Materials Management.
Watch out for advertisements in unknown publications or unsolicited faxes, which are usually touting a "good" cause - veterans, minorities, and the like, or deals that sound too good to be true. Don't be fooled by this.
Copier Toner Sellers
BEWARE. These are the most prevalent fraudulent suppliers at this time. They often have information about you before they call or they smoothly get information from you about your equipment and then contact someone else in the department to make their pitch as though they are your regular supplier. There is no let-up in these types of "toner-phoners". Never buy from them! Purchasing from unknown toner scammers just promotes their interest in East Carolina University.
Goods and Office Supplies
Beware of offers for goods or office supplies from suppliers with a tale of woe - going out of business - "someone died and we have to liquidate" - "a misdirected trailer is sitting close to the University and we'll practically give you the stuff", etc. Often the prices for these goods or supplies have been found to be anywhere from 2 to 10 times higher than what you would pay from the State vendors. Quality and warranty are also issues since these "companies" change their names and move from location to location continually.
As a reminder, office supplies should be purchased via a requisition in PORT using Forms & Supply, Office Depot, or Staples punch-out catalogs, OR via a ProCard at www.StaplesLink.com .
Federal Trade Commission
Additional scam FACTS are provided by the Federal Trade Commission and may be viewed in the following FTC FACTS for Business:
Federal Trade Commission Office Supply
NC Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau may be accessed at http://easternnc.bbb.org/WWWRoot/SitePage.aspx?site=66&id=7fd24320-d5f1-48c5-be2e-1ce1864fca59 and will provide users a site to search for a BBB accredited business or list of complaints that may exist for a vendor you are considering.
Vendors to Avoid
The Department of Materials Management has developed a list of vendors to avoid. These companies have been known to send out "invoices" for unapproved orders and have contacted ECU departments in the past. Beside each vendor is the commodity (good or service) that was targeted. These vendors are adept at changing their name and address frequently, and it is possible to see several variations of the same name. Materials Management will be updating this list as new information surfaces.
- National Imaging Systems, Inc. [toner]
- Supply Services, Inc. [printer cartridges]
- Systems Service & Supply, Inc [toner]