Tag Archives: charity

Beware Donating to Collectibles with Causes

4 Nov

Keen readers will notice my last blog post discussed parting ways with my beloved comic book collection. I painstakingly entered each book first into a spreadsheet and then into an online database. If I’d carefully packaged and sold the lot, spread out into a hundred or so auctions, I probably could have received $5,000 or so.

Collectibles With Causes Legit? Unknown. Sketchy? Yes.

Collectibles with Causes, also known as With Causes, Works of Life International Ministries, and dozens of other names, is a charity that accepts collectibles, sells them, and then uses proceeds for good works, When I found them in August 2014, I did my research, like any good donator would. While I found nothing indicating proceeds would be used for hateful/exclusive causes, their EIN (26-0903224) appeared in neither the California nor the USA register of charities. I called the IRS and they confirmed that they had no record of their non-profit standing. Furthermore, none of the charity rating services have an entry for them. Not a deal-killer, but cause for concern.

The only third-party mention of With Causes/Works of Life I could find pertains to their Christmas 2011 gift of a house to a large family whose house had just burned down. Here’s an article/video. Works of Life is still milking it; one of their most recent (2014) Tumblr posts gives a shout-out to this same charitable effort.

Nonetheless, I was attracted to Collectibles With Causes. I really liked the idea of a win-win-win. I get a tax write-off for my comics and don’t need to spend dozens of hours selling them. The charity sells them and my beloved comic books find new, loving homes. Finally, people benefit from the good works/proceeds of the sale. Three wins–at least! But is it too good to be true?

Communication Problems

Collectibles with Causes might not want to reimburse your shipping expenses even when you follow their instructions.

Collectibles with Causes might not want to reimburse your shipping expenses–even if you follow their instructions.

I sent them the details of my donation on September 3, 2014 and received a canned response thanking me, providing shipping instructions, shipping reimbursement instructions, and other information. I asked for clarification on 9/7/14. On 9/9/14 I still hadn’t received a response so I pinged them again. Later in the day, no response forthcoming, I called them. Ginger finally checked the info@withcauses.org inbox and responded.

Five days later, on 9/16/14, I shipped eight boxes/about 280 pounds of comic books to:

Works of Life
ATTN: Collectibles with Causes
1175 Shaw Avenue #104-135
Clovis, California  93612

Their canned reply mentioned that, “The best method for shipping a volume of comics is USPS PARCEL POST or MEDIA MAIL …costing only approx $25.00 per long box and less than half of that for a short box.” Alas, you’re unable to ship anything with advertising via media mail. (Newsflash: comics have ads.) The plot sickens: USPS Standard Post (known as Parcel Post, until May 2007,) is much more expensive than $25/box. My shipping bill totaled $484.49. I sent them the original receipt as requested.

I notified them of the shipping cost and problems with media mail, and asked them how long it would take to get reimbursed the large shipping outlay. Amazingly, I got a reply the same day, 9/18/14, “Shipping is reimbursed once we receive your books and the shipping receipt. I will let you know once the books arrive.”

Tracking information let me know that the books arrived on 9/26/14. Ginger did NOT let me know. I sent an email on 9/29/14 asking if the books arrived. No response. I sent another email on 10/8/14 asking for an update on shipping reimbursement. No response. On 10/27/14, I emailed again. No response. (I should note that I called a couple of times in that month-long period too.) I then called on 10/28/14 and was told Ginger no longer worked there and that I’d receive a call back in a couple of days. That didn’t happen.

I called on 11/3/14, and they’re now apparently reluctant to reimburse shipping, because actual expenses don’t gel with the dream-world figures in their horribly out-of-date canned response. They asked me to scan and send another copy of the receipt. I did. Again, they said they’d get back to me. …24+ hours later, I’m not holding my breath.

Is Collectibles With Causes as Scam?

I’m not sure if Collectibles with Causes is a scam. …They might just suffer from personnel and communication problems.

If I don’t receive shipping reimbursement within a week I will contact the California Attorneys General, the BBB, the IRS, their local news media, and anybody else I can think of. I’ll pass along every bit of information I have about Works of Life and how they’ve (so far) reneged on the implied contract presented on their website, in their emails, and via phone. …I’m pretty sure that’s a crime. They are messing with the wrong dude.

I strongly urge you to find another charity for your donation. I will revise this review if they eventually make things right.

Update:

It’s 11/17/2014. After nearly two months staying on them, I have a shipping reimbursement check in hand. (They paid up!) Did this blog post have anything to do with it? I don’t know.

If you’re going to incur considerable postage expenses when you ship something to any With Causes charity, note that you might have to wait and/or fight for reimbursement. If I had to do it all over again, I’d donate to a local charity instead. Lesson learned.

Update:

2/16/2015:  Very unofficial response from alleged former Collectibles with Causes volunteer is in comments. While it’s entertaining, I smile more when I read my response to it. Enjoy.

Update:

1/30/2017:  Somebody claiming to be Cameron Arballo from Works of Life called both my wife’s and sister’s places of employment and left threatening messages saying that he knows where she lives. Conveniently, these conversations were recorded. I’m giving them to the police.

Dan Dreifort is a professional part-time complainer. (In lieu of donations, send his wife earplugs.) He consults on web optimization and usability for fun.

Hawaii Hotel Rates ?!

21 Feb

Hawaii Hotels

I do some work in Hawaii, so I’m always happy to hear when  Hawaii hotel rates come down to earth. Hotels in Hawaii aren’t always known for their economy. When I want to find physicists visiting Hawaii, I stay at one of these joints.  That’s a lie. I’ve never wanted to find physicists in Hawaii and I don’t know if I’d stay at one of those hotels. This is thematic banter. My name is Dan Dreifort by the way, and I like to make noise. What else about Hawaii?

Hawaii Real Estate

If I had a million dollars I’d buy Hawaii oceanfront real estate. I’d even have enough left over to buy something else – maybe even something useful. Or I could give some to charity. I’m a little miffed about volunteering and charity at the moment though.

You know it’s a rough economy when you can’t even get a job that doesn’t pay.

I applied to volunteer at the local Red Cross chapter. They told me to get a background check at mybackgroundcheck.com. I went there, paid the $15 to get the volunteer check. Then filled out their application packet and tried to arrange my 20 minute interview. Turns out there’s a special, free, “Red Cross” version of the background check I needed to do. I expressed to the local volunteer coordinator that they might want to change their instructions to prevent potential volunteers from wasting time and money.  After receiving several looping errors when submitting the form, my pristine background check finally made it to them on the day of my interview.

I did the interview, and while I’ll not divulge (any more) gripey complaints, I’ll say that I was interviewing them as much that they were me. I got the rejection letter a few days later and emailed them to ask if my extruded disc had anything to do with it, and if I’d be able to volunteer after I get that fixed. Their response:

“After conferring with our Exec. Director, [REDACTED], it was decided that “your skills and interests don’t match our current needs”.  Your physical limitations were not a factor in our decision.  We will keep your contact info. on file. Best wishes in your future endeavors. We have no doubt that you will be a great volunteer for another local organization, if that is your choice.”

Part of me wanted to ask them… On exactly which “skills and interests” should I be focusing, should I decide to yearn to be a better Red Cross candidate? Man, I swore no more griping… damn. But seriously, if the Athens Ohio Red Cross chapter is so well staffed that they’re turning away college educated, self made, Red Cross certified babysitting expert, almost able-bodied volunteers, then good for them. I just find it hard to believe that they couldn’t benefit from my skills, effort and time.

My last volunteer effort (in 2008) was teaching English to Chinese immigrants.  My students all worked at my favorite restaurant (sushi!) I made a flier (or is it flyer?)  offering free English lessons. I came to their shop at 11 PM one night a week for a few months. We all had a good time and learned things. Alas, they work seven days per week, usually more than a dozen hours a day, 364 days/year. Eventually classes became a yet another burden in their busy lives. Or maybe they were picking up more than enough English from their days and nights interacting with customers and an hour or two a night of watching late, late TV.

Or maybe they fired me because nobody wants me to work for free.

I’m beginning to think that people will only let me work if I allow them to pay me. It’s a paranoid thought that makes *some* sense in the marketing world. (I.e. people value things more when they pay. Give it away and people don’t think it’s “worth” as much.) So I’m turning away good paying work in my fields, but can’t find a good volunteer gig.

I considered writing a letter to my local paper about getting turned down by the Red Cross, but then realized it might open a flood gate of “Hey, come volunteer for us!” requests. And for other, more obvious reasons… I didn’t write that letter. (Is writing this blog any different?) (A little, I think.) So my buddy Roman at a great Athens Ohio marketing joint has an idea for a charity effort. I think I might help him with his vision.

In closing, I love what the Red Cross does for the world: Disaster relief, community education and blood drives to support the vampire mafia. And I’d decided to turn them down. They just didn’t give me the chance. Maybe they knew my interests better than I did. Oh, and apparently that time I was busted smoking pot in 1994 is no longer on my record. Or maybe, just maybe, society no longer thinks it’s a big deal for college students to toke the wacky weed. Even Obama did that. That makes me almost presidential. But Michael Phelps… that hairy potter can go to hell.

On the national level, Dan Dreifort now volunteers for Death With Dignity National Center and donates time locally to help Stuart’s Opera House and it’s programs.
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Ethan McCarty

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