Volume 42, Issue 5 - May 2007

From the Fabricator
Scam Awareness
You Can’t Always Believe Everything You Hear
by Max Perilstein

Scams are not an unusual occurrence. From the infomercials that promise you can make $5,000 a month working part-time to the annoying dinner-time telemarketers calling you to sell a product that will change your life, we’ve all seen them and heard them. But did you know there are a few scams going on in our industry? 

The Price of Fame
The first scam is somewhat cloudy, but you still need to be informed. It goes like this: Every few months I get a phone call from a representative for some generic-sounding construction-related magazine, telling me he’s heard how great my company is and that his magazine wants to do an in-depth story on us. On the surface you’re thrilled, but then when you get a little deeper into this process you find out it’s not what it seems. 

You see, there are magazines and even TV shows that exist solely to entrap you into supporting them with ads or up-front costs in exchange for a “glowing” piece on your company. In the magazine case, this group makes it sound as though what they are doing is the most beautiful thing in the world. “Just give us the name of all of your suppliers and we’ll take care of the rest,” they say. Simple. Right? What they do next is contact the people on your list and shake them down for a paid press release or advertisement. And if you don’t get enough suppliers on board? Well the magazine comes back to you and says you now need to pay or else they will have to hold the story for another time.

Beyond that, these magazines may say they have a huge circulation, but who knows who really gets them or reads them. So for years I have been patiently turning down these groups, because I for one respect my suppliers and customers and do not want to sell them out. But now these magazines have gone downstream and all of a sudden a flurry of activity is happening on the glazier side. Yes, this may come off as petty, but my point is this: sometimes the thrill of publicity is not what it’s cracked up to be, and surely not worth the process that you have to go through to reach that point. It is what it is. For my two cents, it’s surely not anything to bang your chest about. So when this great magazine with a generic construction or manufacturing name calls you and tells you that somehow out of the blue, you deserve a major story in their magazine, take a step back and investigate it.

The Ordering Game
The obvious issue these days is the brutal phone scam that has spread through North America like wildfire. This swindle that has been perpetrated upon our industry is pretty sad and too many folks are missing the warnings that have been appearing regularly on usgnn.com. Some of the horror stories involve using a credit card to reserve 200 pieces of glass to be sent to South Korea. The company produces the order only to learn that the credit card was reported stolen. Or, in one sloppy case, the scammer wanted to order some material and “overpay” on the card by several hundred dollars—with the overage coming back to him as cash. Or, how about getting an order to ship 1⁄8-inch glass lites to Ghana? If you are getting calls in Wisconsin for glass to be shipped to Africa, I would be very wary. 

Be Aware
The stories go on and on. I do believe the publicity of outlets such as USGlass and its online news service, usgnn.com have helped educate and inform, but it still has to go further. This is especially true since people on the front lines don’t have the same access to information that those in the office have. So please communicate to those people throughout your organizations to be careful. It’s hard enough to be in business these days. Between trying to find and keep good employees, offering good healthcare without going broke and dealing with competition from all over the earth, now we have this. 

the author: Max Perilstein serves as the vice president of marketing for Arch Aluminum and Glass. Mr. Perilstein’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine. His column appears bi-monthly.


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