The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 12, 2013

Pitch sweetened with candy offer

Chocolate dangled as trade for cleaners’ 30-minute visit

By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item

NEW BERLIN — Congratulations! You have been selected to receive the following fantastic gift — A box of 36 large Hershey’s bars, plain or almond.

Did you receive this orange “Halloween special” notice that showed up at your door in the past week?

There wasn’t much information on the flyer. Only that the offer was “for adults only; limited to one per family” and to claim the gift, call a 717 area code phone number and mention the name of the person who had stopped by your house with the offer.

In the case of one New Berlin resident, the flyer she found between her front and screen doors was from “Melissa.”

I called the number, which was quickly answered by a pleasant man we’ll call Tom who called me “hon” throughout the conversation, which was both disarmingly sweet and a little bothersome.

“Where are you calling from, hon?” he asked. “Mechanicsburg, Harrisburg, Williamsport ...?”

I asked whether these flyers were being distributed all over the state. He laughed and said, “They probably are.”

He added that they had already received a lot of calls from the Valley.

The flyers are coming from a Camp Hill-based company called TAC (Total Air Cleaning), which Tom said is part of Rexair Systems. In order to receive the free box of candy bars, TAC wants to come to your house, demonstrate their product and get your “new product opinion, for research and development purposes.”

The product is the Rainbow vacuum cleaner.

“No, no, no,” Tom said, “don’t call it a vacuum cleaner.”

In fact, on eBay, where numerous Rainbow systems are for sale, someone has posted “a Rainbow is not a vacuum and legally cannot be called a vacuum. A Rainbow is actually an indoor cleaning system ...”

On TAC’s website, there is very little information about The Rainbow, including its price. When asked, Tom said, “It varies.” He insisted there is no pressure during the home demonstration to purchase the product and the representative is “just paid to make the visit.”

However, “If you want to buy it, hon, you can,” Tom said, adding, “We’re a nice bunch of people.”

He said the Rainbow home presentation takes around 30-40 minutes.

So the free offer of candy bars is actually a gift TAC is giving in exchange for letting its representatives into your home to show you a product you may or may not end up buying.

A 36-count box of Hershey’s candy bars sells for around $20; a box of almond bars is closer to $37.

Among the range of Rainbows up for sale on eBay is a new 2013 E2-E4 Series. The current high bid is $1,325.

Citizens’ Electric Co. is advising customers to be wary of utility imposters who may be in the Valley following an incident Oct. 4 near Lewisburg.

A customer contacted Citizens’ Electric to report two women and a man came to his door that afternoon and told him they were conducting a customer satisfaction survey for the company.

“Fortunately, the resident was suspicious of the visitors and did not allow them into his home,” said John Kelchner, vice president of engineering and operations for the Lewisburg-based utility. “Citizens’ Electric Co. has no such survey under way and we advise customers to be wary of anyone who attempts to gain entrance to their homes by stating they work for the utility.”

All of Citizens’ Electric’s field personnel wear uniforms with a company logo, drive vehicles that are clearly marked with the Citizens’ Electric logo and carry laminated plastic photo identification cards.

If someone claiming to be affiliated with Citizens’ Electric Co. comes to your door, protect yourself by:

Asking to see photo identification.

Calling Citizens’ Electric at (570) 524-2231 to verify work and employee identity if there is any doubt.

Looking for clearly marked service vehicles.

Reporting any suspicious activity to the local police.