Beware of vans bearing gifts!
Apparently, a very questionable sales program has been employed by van-driving teams of salespeople around the world. These infamous vans have stalked intersections and parking lots from London, England to Sydney, Australia to Geneva, Switzerland for the past several years. They have spread around the world and have not spared the highways and byways of the United States. They have established hunting grounds from Los Angeles to Cincinnati to New York to Orlando. It seems no city or town is safe. Where there are people with money, there will be people looking to make a fast buck.
In general terms, a team in a delivery van (generally white) or SUV will cruise the streets looking for a potential score... anyone who looks like they may have disposable income. They will honk, wave and be very aggressive at getting your attention. If you ignore them, you are lucky. However, many people will give in to their curiosity and see what all the excitement is about.
Upon luring the potential score to their van, they begin their rehearsed routine with a passion and excitement worthy of an Oscar nomination. They are very persuasive and aggressive. The drivers generally tell the person that they have fallen into an unbelievably fortunate situation. They present themselves as delivery drivers and/or installers who have just finished a job, telling the score that by inventory error, they have extra hi-fi speakers unaccounted for. They often tell the score that they need to get rid of them before they return to the warehouse and have to give them back to their boss. Some have presented themselves as speaker company representatives, while some have presented themselves as drivers for local audio/entertainment companies.
They present themselves very well and are very believable. They show delivery invoices, business cards to look very legitimate. Then they show you speakers they describe as high-end speakers worth well over $1000 per pair. They justify this claim with colorful ads in audiophile magazines or slick brochures listing a very high retail price. Even the web sites displayed prominently on the box justify the high price for the speakers. When the potential buyer begins to walk away, the driver then asks what the person is willing to pay for the "high-quality" speakers. Buyers have paid anywhere from $200-$1000 for a pair, thinking they made a great deal. The drivers have commonly been known to ask for extra "beer money" for giving the buyers such a great deal.
For people who are in the market for speakers, this may seem like a great deal. However, there are audio review web sites, such as AudioReview.com, which have given poor ratings on these speakers. Many have felt ripped off and tried successfully, or unsuccessfully to get a refund.
People who are not interested usually receive an increased dose of intimidation and pressure from these salespersons who don't like to take "no" for an answer. Some are lucky enough to walk away. Some give in to the intimidation because of fear. These people may assume because they got such a great deal, they could recoup their costs by selling the speakers to a friend or to someone on eBay, only to discover that it is easier said than done with the product's lack of name-recognition and poor reputation.
The salespersons may give the buyer the impression that he or she is benefitting from a "shady" deal, giving no receipt and hoping the buyer would feel too guilty to ask for a refund. However, if you want a refund you are entitled within 3-days by law. You may pursue it by contacting the manufacturer or the local distributor.
An actual case reported on April 2001 by one of Scam Shield's own staff members was investigated. The speakers sold to him by the questionable salespersons listed a phone number to JAM Entertainment. A call to John Mehaffey of JAM Entertainment led the staff member to Mike Amoroso of the manufacturer Audio Wood Products (also known as Audiofile) in Chino Hills, California, which ships the product to regional/local distributors who have independent contractors (van drivers) who sell the speakers. Mr. Amoroso of Audi Wood Products referred our staff member to Orka Distributors/O-Town Sound in Longwood, FL. The manager of Orka Distributors denied any responsibility for the salespersons who sold his speakers.
Each person in the chain claimed to be running a legitimate business without any direct ties to the contract salespersons. The fact that these van drivers are provided with the means to deceive consumers and are still in business probably means that someone has done their legal homework.
It seems coincidental that there can be so many similarities in the marketing tactics nationwide and even worldwide without an organized and coordinated effort. Many elements of the sales pitch are consistent worldwide. Even the supplemental "beer money" is not an isolated incident. The distributors maintain their legitimacy, even though they work closely with these contractors on a routine basis. Responsibility does rest on the salesperson based on the misleading sales tactics they choose to use, but what about those that coordinate and train these people how to use these tactics? What about those who provide the misleading materials used by the salespeople? What about the company that provides the vans for these people to drive?
Read about the experience others have had with this scam and get info from people in your local area in the SIGHTINGS & LOCATIONS section. If you have had any experiences with the White Van Speaker Scam, please share your experience with others, because only through the sharing of information can we help others.
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