As mental health providers, we are often faced with ethical questions in our business practices. In fact, in Indiana, all licensed providers must have at least one hour of ethics training each year. Too bad the same isnt required for those in the business community. From Frank Gray’s column in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette comes this story that is just bad business at best and unethical at worst.
“Anthony and Stacey Quinones are a couple with developmental disabilities who live in a small house in Bluffton where they take care of each other, with help from their family and social service agencies.”
Then a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman showed up.
“The salesman was selling Rainbow vacuum cleaners, an expensive brand that is supposed to clean the air as well as vacuum dust and dirt. By the time the salesman had left, Anthony and Stacey had bought a model and signed a contract financing the cleaner at almost 22 percent interest over four years.
Now, the couple are on the hook for a $3,100 vacuum cleaner, which came complete with attachments for cleaning hardwood floors, even though they don’t have hardwood floors in their home.
Since then, Stacey, Anthony and their family and even Bi-County Services [the agency which manages their case] have been trying to get the contract canceled.
We called the company that sold them the equipment, Rain Tech in Auburn. We were told that Stacey had confirmed that she wanted the vacuum cleaner and it was her mother-in-law who wanted to cancel the deal. Besides, the deal was out of the company’s hands now. It was now in the hands of a finance company in Minnesota. If Rain Tech were to take the vacuum cleaner back and cancel the contract, it would cost them $1,000 in finance charges.
Stacey Quinones, though, tells a somewhat different story. She says she felt pressured to sign the contract to buy the vacuum cleaner. That was on a Saturday. Two days later, she said, she called a telephone number she was given and said she didn’t want the vacuum cleaner.
“But they said it had already been shipped,” that it was too late, Stacey Quinones says. “We’ve been trying to stop it ever since.”
Nannie Quinones did call the Rainbow distributor and say her son and daughter-in-law didn’t want the vacuum and couldn’t afford it. She says she was told no, don’t send the contract back. She wrote cancel on it anyway and mailed it back to the company. People have three business days to cancel contracts signed in their homes, but the canceled contract wasn’t postmarked until 2 a.m. on Oct. 18, two hours too late.
The couple’s program manager has also weighed in. The manager says she discussed the contract with Anthony and Stacey. She says they didn’t understand the contract, they didn’t understand that they were paying 21.99 percent annual interest, that they didn’t understand the contract was for more than $3,000, and that they didn’t understand it was for 48 months.
Anyone who would have spent five minutes in the couple’s home would have recognized they have issues, she said. She has written the finance company, arguing that the couple didn’t understand the entire transaction. But to no avail.
The family is now appealing to the Indiana attorney general’s consumer protection division, trying to find a solution.
Officials with Adult Protective Services in Allen County said the best route for the couple to take is to simply ship the vacuum back to the company. But they can’t do that because whoever delivered the vacuum took the box.
Nice work Rainbow. Lets see here, you wanted to make a buck. Fine, free country…your allowed to make money. But now you have a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office, Really bad press, Adult Protective Services involved, and this Blog picking up the story for more bad press. Hope whatever money you made was worth it. Forget about all the possible legal and ethical issues, don’t you think the smart, let alone the right, thing to do would be to just give these people their money back. Now your going to be known as the company who takes advantage of people with developmental disablities. Bet your marketing department will love putting that on your business cards!