Friday, January 22, 2010

Overstock.com's Latest Scam: Haitian Relief

There's one born every minute I guess. Evidently the grimy corporate crime petri dish Overstock.com feels that way, because it s trying to glam onto the widespread compassion for Haiti with an appeal that goes like this: just give us a buck, and we'll pass it on to Haitian relief.

I mean, isn't that the smartest way to give charity: don't give it to the charity yourself. Just give it to a company under SEC investigation, whose accounting is the laughingstock of the corporate world, and they can be trusted to give the money for you. Sure they can!

The local CBS outlet in Chicago uncovered this goulish p.r. stunt, in an article on brazen corporate attempts to cash in on the Haitian tragedy:

Overstock.com has its Haitian-relief efforts on its main Web page, but customers are asked to add $1 to any purchase and the company will pass it on to a charity.

"That's great, but that's not the company doing it, and that's not even Overstock matching the dollars," Stern said. "This is just simply ... 'We'll pass it along.'"

Overstock could not be reached for comment.

If you have any questions about a company's motivation, Stern says you might want to send your donation directly to a charity.
Good advice.

This creepy little net retailer is also using the Haitian earthquake to promote its "Worldstock" p.r. scheme, under which it exploits low-paid craftsman by taking their wares at bottom of the barrel prices and selling them to the unwary. Like all of CEO Patrick Byrne's other schemes, it has been a financial disaster. This guy would have lost money in the slave trade.

Would you trust your money with a company run by America's Nastiest/Dumbest CEO, Patrick Byrne, whose internal controls are a disaster area, who is under SEC investigation for his accounting, is suspected of sales tax fraud (see Big Money article), and is widely known for his dishonesty? Sure you would!

© 2010 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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