Toner Pirates — How to Avoid and How They Trick You…

There are a group of people out there called “toner pirates” who can be expensive and seem to waste so much time that it can drive a customer nuts.  Who are these people?  Generally speaking, the idea is someone out of state will call your company and have a “great deal” on toner.  They get your copier model and try to get someone who talks on the phone to say it is OK to send toner over which they bill at astronomical rates.  Here’s how it normally works…

ABC Company:  Thanks for calling ABC Company, how can I help you?

Toner Pirate: Hello, I was speaking with your IT Manager and I was supposed to send over toner for your copier, I just needed to confirm which kind of copier you had so I can get it out the door.

ABC: You mean the Toshiba?

Pirate: Yeah, that was an EStudio, right?  Do you have the model #?

ABC: Let me see, it’s the 500.

Pirate:  OK, great. I will get that case of toner out to you for the EStudio 500, what’s your name so I can put it in my notes how helpful you  were?

ABC: Cassie.

Pirate: Well, thanks Cassie.  Let your people know the toner for the copier will be there in 2 days and thanks again…


OK, now in a few days, you will receive one of the following… 

Low Yield toner instead of the normal high yield.

A “Case” of toner, a case in these circustances generally = 1, but the cost is slightly lower than the normal 6 pack pricing.

What can you do about toner pirates here in Denver?

  • Make sure people know not to authorize toner shipments without the approval of an appropriate decision maker.
  • Do not open the box if you do get duped.
  • Send a letter to the company who sent them advising them of your intention to return the toner and if it is not picked up within 14 days, you will be disposing of it.
  • Contact your bank to see about stopping payment
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau.
  • Educate the offender

What scams do the toner pirates like to run?

  • Case = quantity 1… price more consistent with normal case pricing.
  • Low yield toner instead of high yirld
  • “Last chance”/fire sales…  you have to purchase right now to get this deal…
  • Can’t mail info, can only UPS info to you
  • Generally will be out of state instead of your local provider
  • Item pricing seems too good to be true

What can you do?

  • Purchase supplies from local vendor or nationally known company
  • Make sure your toner isn’t included in the copier contract before you buy anything!
  • Work with established, well run local companies.
  • Have 1 person assigned to supplies who know how to contact your legitimate suppliers.