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Local Business Warns Of Office Supply Scheme

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DURHAM, N.C. — Schemes concerning toner supplies, garbage bags and other office supplies

are not uncommon

. Unordered, overpriced products are sent to unsuspecting companies along with an invoice.

The hope is that someone will just pay the amount on the invoice. A Durham business manager believes he was targeted by such a schemeand is warning others.

Most businesses need office supplies, like register tape. That is what Sam Sharpe, operations manager for The Crossings Golf Club, thought he recieved when he opened a box of register tape rolls.

The package came from National Business Supplies, a company with a Vermont address that Sharpe was not familiar with.

Sharpe noticed the register tape rolls inside the box were half the size of the ones he usually gets, but he said the real shock came when he saw the invoice.

"They charged us almost $200 for this box of 24 little rolls [of tape] and we can get 8 rolls of this for $10," he said.

One of Sharpe's employees got a call from the company saying they needed a name and address to ship an order to. The employee gave the information.

Sharpe called NBS to straighten out the situation; however, the company insisted the product was ordered.

"Why would we order this for four times what we can get it for?" Sharpe asked.

Sharpe said NBS offered to drop the charges if he paid to return the package. Sharpe refused and called Five on Your Side. He said he wanted to warn other people who might unknowingly pay the invoice.

"This company just blindly sent the product to us, trying to slide an invoice under our radar and get paid for it. That's the way it came across to me, at least," Sharpe said.

Five On Your Side found that the North Carolina Attorney General has another, similar complaint against NBS. The Vermont Attorney General's Office has 11 complaints against the company.

When Five On Your Side called NBS at its Montreal headquarters, spokeswoman Marie Vital apologized for "any misunderstanding," but insisted The Crossings ordered the product.

Vital agreed to drop the charges and have Sharpe keep the rolls of register tape.

As for the other complaints, she said in general, "people order, then deny ordering."

Sharpe does not buy the explanation and has a final word of warning.

"Just be careful with what comes in the door," he said.

Anyone who receives an unordered shipment, should send a certified letter demanding proof of the order.

If the sender cannot provide proof, the recipient should tell the sender that unless the merchandise is picked up in 30 days, it will be disposed of. That way the sender cannot claim the recipient accepted the offer simply by keeping the shipment.

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