One of the things I hear throughout the Disney community over and over in “sales groups”, information groups etc. when someone gets scammed is “but they were Disney fans I thought I could trust them.” While I know we all want to believe that all Disney fans personify all things good and trustworthy, we have to remember that villains exist in the real world and in the Disney movies and stories we all love. Tonight I want to address a few Disney related scams I have seen or heard about as well as some questionable practices in hopes of helping you protect yourself, because sadly there are people who call themselves Disney fans that intentionally try to scam other Disney fans.
Some groups like to sell shirts inside their group. They don’t host these shirts on public retail sites like TMSM does, but instead use an in house sales system where members send payments to the group owner, and a shirt is mailed from the owners home. Sadly a lot of the time these sites not only take advantage of their members that are buying these items, they also take advantage of Disney by selling trademarked and licensed imagery without buying the rights from Disney. Sadly we have heard many horror stories of people selling “custom homemade shirts” that don’t deliver your shirt, or return your money, or worse yet charge ungodly shipping or to the resort delivery fees. We also have learned that some don’t declare the sales they make with their local sales tax office so as to avoid paying income taxes on these item sales. One of the main reasons these people are able to take advantage of so many people is that they aren’t reported to the authorities or Disney. Also, sadly too many people pay using PayPal gift which protects the person receiving the money, not the person sending it.
The best way to avoid being scammed when you are looking at buying a shirt for your trip or to just show your Disney is to use a legitimate business like the Disney Store, Hot Topic, TeeFury or TeePublic. Each company offers cute and fun shirt designs (and other fun swag) while also adhering to federal sales tax practices and trademark regulations. These sites also make it easy to return items, and have an easy to check order tracking system.
Another problem we see is “Personal Shoppers” or people offering to “do pick-ups” in Facebook groups. There are a few issues with these practices. Many Personal Shoppers advertise as being a business this means this profit is coming from a commercial venture. Also when doing pick-ups or reselling items from inside the parks, the seller charges a pick-up fee or “up-charge” so as to make a profit. Disney’s Annual Passport Terms and Conditions clearly state these things are a violation:
- Additionally, Passports may not be used for commercial purposes and are void if altered or misused.
- BENEFITS/DISCOUNTS: A Passholder must present his/her valid Passport and valid photo identification prior to purchases to receive any applicable benefits and discounts. Benefits and discounts are nontransferable and may not be combined with any other offer or promotion. Such benefits and discounts are for personal use only and may not be used to obtain or purchase items or services with the intent to resell such items or services.
Another problem with “pick-ups” is that many people do this for limited edition items. This not only keeps people who are actually in the line behind the “shopper” from getting an item they want because of the shopper bulk buying for people that aren’t present, it also opens the door to the buyer being scammed. Currently there is a known case of a lady “picking up” bags that had a 5 item per person limit, but she sold to well over that number of people and at the moment over $5,000 in collected funds lack merchandise to line up with the buyers payment.
Finally we have heard of people “selling ads” in their Facebook groups. While this is their choice and is a practice Facebook has yet to address it still isn’t necessarily kosher depending on how the practice is done. We have seen proof that there are some groups making members pay $25 or more a day, as a PayPal gift, to be a group’s specific sponsor of the day. While this doesn’t sound like much, when you do the math 30 people paying $25 a day is $750 a month, or $9000 a year that is not being declared as income by PayPal. By using the “send as gift” option PayPal’s payment tracking systems are bypassed. Per PayPal “Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 6050W states that all US payment processors, including PayPal, are required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide information to the IRS about certain customers who receive payments for the sale of goods or services through PayPal. PayPal is required to report gross payments received for sellers who receive over $20,000 in gross payment volume AND over 200 separate payments in a calendar year.In order to help you understand these changes, we have prepared the following FAQs.”
So while not all Disney fans are heros, you can protect yourself from villians. Here are a few quick tips to remember when buying Disney items or paying to sponsor a Disney group or Facebook page
- Never buys items in Facebook groups where prices aren’t publicly listed. If you need to private message for pricing avoid the sale because you have no guarantee that everyone else is paying the same amount you are.
- Never send money as a PayPal gift, always send it as a payment. If you send money as a gift you may not be able to get your money back if the item doesn’t arrive. If you send it as a PayPal payment PayPal’s “PayPal Purchase Protection” program is in place.
- Don’t be scared to ask for a business license and referrals if you see large amounts of sales but don’t feel safe about the purchase. If the seller gets defensive remember, their item probably isn’t unique to them, so you can probably find it else where for a better price.
- If you want an item from the parks instead of using Personal Shoppers or people “doing approved pickups” check the Disney Store online, the Shop Disney Parks App, or contact the merchandise line directly at 877-560-6477 (toll Free) or Merchandise.Guest.Services@DisneyParks.com most items can be purchased directly through Disney.
- If you see someone selling licensed imagery, contact Disney Anti-Piracy directly so that their highly paid lawyers can go after those in violation. Fighting them on your own not only does little to no good, it just creates drama. Per Disney the way to report Anti-Piracy is easy:
The Walt Disney Company and its subsidiaries own the intellectual property rights to the characters, brands, titles and properties popularly associated with the Disney name and with Disney’s affiliates. This includes a large number of titles, characters and other elements from Disney’s television programs, feature-length motion pictures, animated productions, publications, games and music.
Disney takes the enforcement of these rights very seriously. We protect these rights so that we can continue to provide quality entertainment that measures up to the standards that our audience has come to love and expect. We welcome reports of suspected infringement of any of these rights. Please direct reports to us via one of the following methods:
Voice Mail: 818-560-3300
Mail: The Walt Disney Company Antipiracy Group
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, California 91521-0644
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