Off topic: How can I verify the authenticity of a Behindertenwerkstatt/Blindenwerkstatt?
Thread poster: Rebecca Holmes

Rebecca Holmes
United States
Local time: 16:25
German to English
Jan 10, 2005

I am not sure if this is the correct forum or not, but my question is related exclusively to Germany and German organizations so I have put it in the German forum.

Last summer someone claiming they were from a Behindertenwerkstatt called selling copier paper, paper towels and general office supplies which were supposedly packaged by handicapped persons, thus providing them with gainful employment. Being as I needed paper at the time, and thinking it was certainly a worthy cause to support, I ordered some. The person on the phone gushed about how I was providing three days work for two handicapped persons, etc., etc. When the package arrived it contained 10 perfectly normal machine-wrapped packages of copying paper and was outlandishly expensive (over 100 euros). I found myself wondering how it could possibly take even two severely handicapped persons three days to place ten packages of paper in a box. Even more suspect was the bill itself, which was obviously home-printed, made no indication of the abbreviation "e.V." behind the organization's name, and contained a gmx address as an e-mail contact.

Since then, this organization has been literally calling me every two weeks asking if I want to buy more paper. I keep on telling them no, please take me off your calling list and they keep calling anyhow.


Now on top of it I have a Blindenwerkstatt calling me and wanting me to buy products made by the blind - they claim they have nothing to do with the other organization but strangely enough they also use the same opening phrase on the telephone ("Ich dürfte mich noch mal melden ....")which makes me wonder.

Please let me clarify that I would love to support the handicapped and blind by buying their work - that is not at all the issue here - but I have some serious doubts as to the authenticity of the organizations calling me based on the products and bill I received.

How can I find out if an organization is trully what it claims to be in Germany? Is there an "Amt" or something I can refer to?


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:25
English to German
+ ...
Hauptfürsorgestelle Jan 10, 2005

Hallo Rebecca,

ich hoffe, es geht in Ordnung wenn ich das hier auf Deutsch schreibe.

Soweit mir bekannt, ist die Hauptfüsorgestelle verantwortlich für jeden Betrieb, der behauptet Schwerbehinderte zu beschäftigen. Normalerweise ist das regional geregelt, d.h. du müsstest herausfinden wo sich dieser Betrieb befindet und welche Hauptfürsorgestelle für diesen Betrieb zuständig ist. Die HFS müsste dann in der Lage sein, dir mitzuteilen, ob in diesem Betrieb tatsächlich Behinderte beschäftigt sind und ob es da mit rechten Dingen zugeht.

Leider sieht es in der Praxis so aus, dass viele Unternehmen nur zu einem bestimmten Anteil Schwerbehinderte beschäftigen müssen. Ist diese Quote erfüllt, kann theoretisch die Anerkennung als Schwerbeschädigtenbetrieb erhoben worden. Dann können auch ganz andere Menschen dort beschäftigt sein, und häufig wird diese Quote dann genutzt, um ganz normale Waren zu überteuerten Preisen zu verkaufen.

Aus eigener Erfahrung kann ich nur sagen, dass seriöse Behindertenwerkstätten ihre Waren normalerweise nicht am Telefon oder an der Tür verkaufen. Entweder haben sie einen Verkaufsstand auf Märkten oder einen der Werkstatt angegliederten Laden, in dem man die von den Behinderten hergestellten Waren erwerben kann.


Gruß,
Sonja


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:25
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Amtsgericht Jan 10, 2005

Hi Rebecca,

I continue in German, if you don't mind ...

Da eine solche Organisation in Deutschland eigentlich immer ein eingetragener Verein (e.V.) sein sollte, schlage ich vor, dass Du Dich an das für den Sitz der Organisation/des Vereins zuständige Amtsgericht wendest. Dort müssen alle e.V. im Vereinsregister eingetragen sein, und aus dem Eintrag muss auch hervorgehen, ob sie als gemeinnützig (charity, not-for-profit etc.) anerkannt sind. M.E. muss Dir das Amtsgericht eine solche Auskunft erteilen, wenn Du konkret nach der Dich belästigenden Firma/Organisation fragst. Das funktioniert natürlich auch andersherum - wenn der Verein nicht eingetragen ist, ist er vermutlich auch nicht seriös.

Ich hoffe, dass Dir damit etwas geholfen ist, und wünsche Dir ein gutes und erfolgreiches Jahr mit möglichst wenig "Telefonterror".

Viele Grüße

Steffen

P.S. Sonjas Hinweis ist natürlich auch korrekt. Es hängt sicher davon ab, ob es um einen eingetragenen Verein oder ein Unternehmen geht (z.B. in diesem Sektor oft eine gGmbH - gemeinnützige GmbH).

[Edited at 2005-01-10 16:42]


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:25
German to English
Sounds like a variation on an old scam Jan 10, 2005

Decades ago, before the Internet, I worked in a small financial institution. We were constantly plagued by callers claiming that they worked for a paper distributor, and that one of their trucks had broken down in our neighborhood. We could get a "great deal" on 10 cases of paper, since otherwise the paper would be ruined if it sat in the truck for more than an hour.

The second variant was a little more clever, and my secretary actually fell for it once while I was on vacation. A caller would represent him/herself as a representative of Xerox and ask for the model and serial number of our copier, as well as the name of the manufacturer of the copy paper we used. Seemed innocent enough. A few days later we would receive a call, allegedly from Xerox, indicating that they had discovered that brand so-and-so was found to cause various malfunctions in Xerox machines, and in some instances, would cause the machines to catch fire. Several cases of another, safe brand could be delivered in a few hours, but we had to immediately remove our old paper from the machine, otherwise Xerox would not be held liable.

On one subsequent occasion when they called, I happened to answer. I told the scammer that we had a Minolta copier and made up the name of the paper company. Sure enough, the next day, we received a call about Minolta hazards when used with Brand X paper.

As a rule, I generally don't buy anything based on an unsolicited offer.


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 22:25
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Sounds familiar... Jan 10, 2005

I had a call last year from a "Behindertenwerkstatt" offering to sell me office supplies. Although I generally am quite charitably inclined, on that day I just didn't have time to deal with the phone call and I had just received a big shipment of office supplies - which meant I really had NO room on my shelves for any paper. So I asked them to send me some information about their operations, so that I could contact them at a later date. I have never received anything from them, and they have never called back....

If you have their address I would write them a letter asking them to stop calling you and point out that you may decide to take further steps to stop them from pestering you.

FWIW

Alison


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Rebecca Holmes
United States
Local time: 16:25
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Contacting Press Jan 11, 2005

Hi to all,
Thanks for your replies and good ideas as to whom to contact. I have printed your answers out and filed them with the bill for the paper. If they keep calling me non-stop I will certainly take some steps to verify their identity and clearly let them know I am doing so.

Every time I tell them to stop calling and hang up on them I get terrible pangs of guilt thinking "my gosh, maybe they are for real and here I am being inexcusibly horrible".
Yesterday afternoon when the Blindenwerkstatt called again I did ask them to send material to verify the nature of their organization, Alison. I will be very interested to see if something arrives.

At this point I think next time they call I will "threaten" to contact the press with their name and address. In fact I think I WILL do just that. If they are for real, press coverage could only help them and I am sure they would welcome it. And if they are scammers they are of the very worst kind and should definitely be exposed and put out of operation.

Thanks for the help,
Rebecca


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 22:25
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
You could also inform the BDÜ Jan 11, 2005

Rebecca Holmes-Löffler wrote:

At this point I think next time they call I will "threaten" to contact the press with their name and address. In fact I think I WILL do just that. If they are for real, press coverage could only help them and I am sure they would welcome it. And if they are scammers they are of the very worst kind and should definitely be exposed and put out of operation.

Thanks for the help,
Rebecca


One place you could certainly contact is the BDÜ to have this published in the next MDÜ. Just an idea.

HTH

Alison


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