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Beware of Pirates

We are all familiar with telemarketing phone solicitations at home. While often from legitimate businesses, they can be annoying and intrude on our personal time. Maybe a little less know fact is that some unscrupulous telemarketers have been targeting Tulane and these calls can end up intruding on your departmental budget. So far Tulane departments have had four such calls in the last month.

It starts with a phone call from someone from a company like the “Acme Widget Supply Co.” claiming to be the university’s supplier for toner cartridges. They may claim that their records indicate that it’s time for you to re-order and then say they can give a special discount if you give them your ok and shipping address. They can be very convincing and sometimes forceful, but rest assure what they are offering is no bargain.

These people are “scam artists” and they have been around for years hawking various inferior products at exorbitant prices. At one time copy paper was a popular item for these “Paper Pirates” to promote but more recently it’s toner cartridges. Their stories can range from the simple “it’s time to re-order” to elaborate tales of woe such as “we have a broken down truck full of product in your area and can make you a special deal”. Either way a red light should go on whenever anyone tries to sell you anything over the phone.

Quite simply these “Toner Pirates” misrepresent themselves as legitimate suppliers, often charging more than list price and substituting inferior products. They will call a department directly, stating that they are Tulane’s supplier for toner cartridges and try to get someone to authorize a shipment. It is important that you make it very clear that you will not accept any shipments and that phone solicitations of this type do not conform with Tulane’s purchasing procedures. If the caller persists or inquires as to what those procedures are you may direct them to call the Materials Management Purchasing Department at 865-5211 (Uptown) or 988-5104 (Downtown).

Even after you decline their solicitation, they might still ship you unwanted product and invoice you for it. At that time it is important that you contact Materials Management. We will pick up the product and deal with the “Pirate” from that point on. If you receive any further calls, inform them that the matter has been turned over to Purchasing. We will advise the supplier that the invoice will not be paid and that they can arraign to have their product picked up in a timely fashion or it will be considered a gift to the university.

It is even more important that you guard against this type of fraud when using a departmental purchasing card. In a P-card transaction with a “Toner Pirate” he gets his payment without issuing an invoice and obviously you do not want them knowing your card number. For whatever reason should you become a victim of a ”Toner Pirate” when using your P-card, you can still dispute the transaction by contacting Steve Sovinsky, University Purchasing Card Administrator, at 314-2675.

Remember: The only good “Pirate” is a Pittsburgh Pirate.

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