Beware of 'toner hawks'

Beware of 'toner hawks'

By Bill Stiteler
Minneapolis Service Center

The University of St. Thomas has service and supplies contracts for all multifunctional devices and most networked printers on campus, which provides maintenance and supplies, including toner as needed at no additional cost.

However, there are certain unscrupulous companies that call businesses (and universities), pretending to "confirm an order" that has been placed for these supplies. These companies, sometimes known as "toner hawks," will then send your department toner that you don't need (and possibly can't use), along with an invoice that your department will be expected to pay.

When they call, they typically speak very fast, running over the name of the group they work for, and usually want to get you off the phone very quickly. They almost always try to get you to believe that an order has already been placed, or that it's "time" to send you a regular order. Their goal is to get someone to "confirm" this order.

Another tactic used by "toner hawks" is to ask you to "confirm" your copier/fax model number. This allows them to call back with the information, making it sound as though they do work for one of our contracted providers.

To help fight this nuisance, please make sure that everyone in your department, especially student workers at the front desk and others who work at "main" numbers, understands the tactics of these businesses and how to deal with them. Refer any questionable incoming calls to the person in charge of ordering the supplies for your department, or simply offer to take a message and call them back.

Of course, our legitimate vendors do call to clarify orders or service requests, but they also are aware of the "toner hawks" and should be happy to accommodate a request for more information or to take a message.

One more tip: know who your maintenance is provided by (usually listed on the label on the machine), and don't be afraid to ask for more information or to take a message. Legitimate callers won't be in a hurry.