For many people, land lines at home have become something of the past. This is not always the case for seniors who many times have a home phone with a number they have used for many years. These land lines make them susceptible to things like phone scams and telemarketers trying to make a quick buck. This was the case for 98-year-old Virginia Ranken and some costly garbage bags in the name of charity.
Over the last four years, it seems a company out of Indiana has been enjoying a huge profit off of selling household items like garbage bags and light bulbs for a massive amount of profit. They do this by playing on the desire of the elderly to do their part to support charities. The company calls themselves “American Disabled & Disadvantaged Workers” but they are hardly what they seem.
The company contacted Ranken and asked her to support them in the work that they do by offering job training and supports to those who are disabled. As Ranken shared:
“You feel sorry for them. If you can help them you do.”
Ranken thought she was supporting a non-profit to help the handicapped, but they are a for-profit call center. As a recent report explained:
“The Indianapolis based company claims to provide job and training opportunities for adults who are disabled and disadvantaged.
Make no mistake though — it’s not a charity. American Disabled & Disadvantaged Workers is a for-profit telemarketing business that sells trash bags, light bulbs and greeting cards at a tremendous mark-up compared to retailers.
“They’re just taking advantage of her,” said Ranken’s grandson-in-law, Brian Wilson, who unpacked the box of white trash bags. “They’re not stretchable. They’re not scented. They don’t reduce odors. They don’t do anything special. It’s just a garbage bag.”
While Ranken’s grandson-in-law just recently discovered the purchases from the company, it seems they have been targeting the senior woman for the last four years with invoices almost $2,000 for plain, low-quality garbage bags.
Sadly she is not the only person being victimized by the company. They have been a party to more than a half dozen consumer protection claims in the state of Oregon alone. One such claim was very similar to Ranken’s as a report explained:
“In May 2014, a Lebanon woman filed a complaint against American Disabled & Disadvantaged Workers with the Oregon Attorney General’s office. Eileen McHill said her then 93-year-old mother had been charged $79 for two rolls of garbage bags. The company also sent her mother boxes and boxes of light bulbs, explained McHill.
“My mother didn’t want the product. She had too much of the product,” said McHill, who reluctantly agreed to pay American Disabled & Disadvantaged Workers, fearing the dispute would end up in collections.
“I think they are preying on people, elderly people, who want to do a good thing and want to contribute to a good cause,” said McHill.”
The owner of the company, Joshua Gilbert, has been on record with the state of Indiana as being in business since 2013. There seem to be issues with the company almost from the start as there have been tax warrants issued between 2014 and 2017. This often happens when a corporation does not meet their tax liability or file promptly. Gilbert has also not been available in many cases to answer to contact from concerned family members of the elderly they seem to prey upon.
Gilbert did issue a statement to the Department of Justice in Oregon after yet another complaint was filed. According to this statement:
“We hire disabled workers to package products like trash bags, light bulbs etc. We are not a charity. We are a company that employs disabled people. We are a real company with real disabled people working here.”
Gilbert is, in fact, right about them being a real company. They are selling products and making delivery of said items. What he is not saying is that they use the cover of their disabled workers as a smoke screen to trick the elderly into buying over priced items to help these workers.
When questioned about the large sums of money they were receiving from Ranken, the company shot back with threats of sending her to collections if she did not pay for the items. It is not clear if Ranken will pay the outstanding amount or follow-up with the state authorities.