Small Business Owners – Beware of GSA Scams
There are no shortage of GSA Consultants available but quality consultants are very few are far between. During your search you will find specific consultant firms offer more value than others. Beware of extremely low prices. This is typically a 6-9 month process and averages between 350-450 pages to complete with the appropriate documents for submission. Roughly 250-300 man hours even for highly experienced GSA processors. If something sounds too good to be true, it typically is. Submitting and managing something as important as your GSA shouldn’t be decided based on low ball prices
Do’s and Dont’s
- Look for qualified firms that have a verified history ( Been in business for more than 1 year). Are they Bonded for there services, or are they just saying they are Bonded. Independently verify the Amount of the Bond and history of claims with the Bonding Insurance company used;
- Check they firms online reputation;
- Check their corporate records in their State to verify how long they have been in business;
- Look for constant name changes;
- Look at their website to insure their contact details are accurate with phone and email and address that match corporate records;
- Google their address to insure they are not operating from a post office rental business;
- Check for any complaints in the State of Incorporation or State the business is located in;
- Use a firm that accepts all normal payment options, (Credit Card, Debit Card, Company Check, ACH, Wire) Your first choice should always be with a Credit or debit Card so you can have the protection to be able to do a charge back if the firm doesn’t perform. If you send a check or wire, once that is deposited if you want your money back, if it very difficult if not impossible. Best to protect yourself by using your credit or debit card as preferred types of payment terms.
Basically, do your due diligence before handing over thousands of dollars to anyone!
- Never Engage a firm that doesn’t have a current Florida Telemarketing License if they are based in Florida.
- Engage a firm that is only willing to give you cherry picked referrals;
- Use a firm that offers guarantees you will get on schedule;
- Use a firm that doesn’t show you the GSA opportunities on the GSA.gov related sites;
- Use a firm that claims to be located in Wash. D.C. and has a (202) area code number using a rental Box mailing address when they are really located in another State;
- Use a firm that has any complaints from past clients;
- Use a firm that doesn’t perform the research to make sure you initially qualify to be considered for a Schedule Contract;
- Use a firm that doesn’t offer continued management and support for your Schedule;
- Use a firm that is hard to reach during your decision making process. If you have trouble reaching them immediately during normal business hours, what likely are your chances of reaching them after they get your money?
- Use a firm that only accepts wires or cash for purchases.
Basically, make sure any firm you are considering will be around for the term of your contract, potentially 20 years.
The main misconception is when you are being told by any firm that simply obtaining a GSA Schedule contract guarantees you sales. A GSA Schedule contract can be a valuable marketing tool. The GSA can does periodically review a contract holders sales history and reserves the right to cancel the contract if there are either annual sales less than $25,000.00 or any failures in contract compliance.
Look for a Knowledgeable firm with Expert Staff!
Does the firm provide you with an experienced main point-of-contact assigned to your file? This same point of contact should be available throughout all stages of the GSA process.
Are the staff handling your GSA submission A.C.E.S. Certified processors?
FLORIDA TELEMARKETING RULES AND LAWS:
Florida Restrictions on Telemarketers
Florida’s Telemarketing Act protects you from aggressive sales tactics and deceptive practices by telemarketers.
- State of Florida – Division of Corporations
- State of Florida – Dept. of Agriculture – Telemarketing License Compliance
If the company you are thinking of doing business for your federal procurement, registration, and /or certification requirements is located in the State of Florida. Search these 2 databases above to make sure they are not operating illegally.
Example; Enter TC5082 GP&M’s Licensed Telemarketer License Number) under Licensed field and it will pull us up as previously licensed and the fact we have now received the annual exemption because of our following of all TM rules. If the search comes up empty under a company name- they have never been registered legally in the State of Florida and you should log into the chat window on that page or call :
State of Florida: (Mon.– Fri. 8 a.m.–5 p.m. EST)
En Español: 1-800-FL-AYUDA (1-800-352-9832)
State of Florida DOA – Address
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Plaza Level 10, The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800
AND FILE AN UNLICENSED TELEMARKETER COMPLAINT. ( It can be a Felony State of Florida to operate an unlicensed Telemarketing operation. And in this Industry. It is the State’s opinion that we all must be licensed in this industry.)
Who Must Comply with Florida’s Telemarketing Laws
Florida’s telemarketing laws apply to businesses located within the state that make telemarketing calls, as well as businesses located in other states that call Florida residents. However, certain entities such as religious organizations, newspapers, banks, charities, and political organizations are generally exempt from Florida’s telemarketing laws.
Telemarketers Must Have a License to Operate in Florida
Businesses and salespeople that engage in telemarketing sales over the phone or digital media must obtain a license from the Florida Division of Consumer Services (the entity that manages telemarketing activities in the state) before operating in Florida.
How to Find Out if a Telemarketer Has a License
If you want to find out if a particular business or salesperson holds a Florida telemarketing license, go to the Division of Consumer Services website. Click on “Business Services” and then “Business/Complaint Lookup.” Enter the name of the company or salesperson in the “Name” search box. If the company or salesperson is properly licensed, the search results will show the license type as “Commercial Telephone Seller” or “Commercial Telephone Salesperson” along with an expiration date for the license.
Florida’s Telemarketing Restrictions
Telemarketers in Florida must comply with some very strict restrictions including when they can call you, what they must say when they call you, and what they can’t say. For example:
- Telemarketing curfew. Telemarketing curfews limit the times that telemarketers can call potential customers. In Florida, telemarketers may only call you between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
- Telemarketers can’t block caller ID. Under Florida law, telemarketers may not block their name or number from showing up on your caller identification system.
- Telemarketers can’t say certain things. Telemarketers can’t tell you that you can only pay for their service by credit card.
- Telemarketers must say certain things when you first pick up the call. From the time you answer the call, the telemarketer has 30 seconds to state his or her true name, the name of the company the telemarketer represents, and the goods or services being sold.
- Telemarketers must tell you about your right to cancel. If you agree to buy the goods or services that the telemarketer is offering, the telemarketer must provide you with information about your right to cancel the agreement. For example, if you verbally agree to purchase the goods or services over the phone, but do not sign a contract, you can back out of the agreement and do not have to pay any money. On the other hand, once you sign a contract, you generally have three business days to cancel the contract (in writing) after the seller sends you a confirmation of the sale.
What to Do If a Telemarketer Violates the Law
If a telemarketer has violated any of these requirements or restrictions, you can do one or more of the following things.
File a Complaint With the Florida Division of Consumer Services
To report a violation, go to the Florida Division of Consumer Services webpage and click on “File a Complaint” to find general complaint forms. If the department believes the telemarketer is in violation of the law, it will take action against the telemarketer. Violators of Florida’s telemarketing laws are subject to a civil penalty of $10,000 per violation and possibly criminal penalties as well.
After the violation is verified and reported to the State of Florida, DEMAND an immediate full Refund!
Under Florida law, you are entitled to a refund if you return the goods or make a written request for a refund within seven days after you receive the goods or services.
File a Lawsuit Against the Telemarketer
If you can’t get the telemarketer to give you a refund, you can sue the telemarketer to recover your actual damages and/or punitive damages, including costs, court costs, and attorney’s fees. (Start by keeping track of the telemarketer’s violations with Nolo’s Telemarketing Phone Call Log.)
Add Yourself to Telemarketing Do Not Call Lists
Do-not-call (DNC) lists protect consumers from unwanted calls from telemarketers.
How to add yourself to the national DNC list. The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission maintain a national DNC list. The registry is nationwide and applies to all telemarketers (though certain organizations, such as non-profit organizations, are exempt). You can add your number to this database by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website.
How to add yourself to the Florida DNC list. Some states, including Florida, have their own DNC list. If you opt into the Florida DNC list, telemarketers cannot contact you on your residential phone, cell phone, or paging device. You can sign up for the DNC list at www.fldnc.com. Your number will remain on the list for five years. (Learn more in Florida Do-Not-Call Laws.)
Opting out of calls from a particular company or organization. Under Florida law, if you tell a telemarketer that you no longer wish to receive calls from that company, the telemarketer must stop calling you. This law also applies to charitable organizations seeking charitable contributions.
How to Find Florida’s Telemarketing Laws
State of Florida of Department of Agriculture Site: ( This is the Law Enforcement Dept. that enforces Florida Telemarketing Rules and requirements. https://www.freshfromflorida.com/Business-Services/Telemarketing
Can you tell me what the telemarketing law requires?
The law requires businesses that solicit the sale of consumer goods or services:
- To be licensed,
- To post some form of security,
- To license all of their salespeople and
- To provide FDACS with a list of all telephone numbers to be used by the applicant.
- It requires solicitors to identify themselves by true first and last name and the name of the business on whose behalf they are calling.
- It requires a written contract that matches the description of the goods or services offered in the telephone solicitation, contains the name, address, telephone number and license number of the seller, and states the buyer’s right to cancel immediately preceding the signature.
Always Google Company name(s), listed owners, their local BBB rating, any complaints like on Ripoff Report. Check their State of Florida Records in the division of corporations, see how many name changes , address changes, or ownership changes have been recorded.
THE ONLY WAY TO PUT THESE ILLEGAL OPERATIONS OUT OF BUSINESS IS WITH YOUR HELP IN REPORTING THEM!
For more information, visit gsa.gpm-b2g.com to request our free GSA Schedule Analysis or for information on obtaining a GSA Schedule call 866.986-0998 Press Option #4 to discuss options, pre-qualification criteria and see what the GSA is currently buying annually for what you sell.