Attack of the Pinktober Sharks

It’s not even October yet.

About ten days ago, I got a call first thing in the morning on my house phone. The people I really want to hear from usually call me on my cellphone, and telemarketers are the folks who usually call the house phone. But occasionally, one of my doctors will call the house phone, and I was waiting on some test results (again), so I picked up the phone.

“Hello?” I said, and waited. I didn’t hear any background voices or any of those funny noises that herald an auto-dialer. So far, so good.

“Is this Ms. Kolb?” A female voice.

I never answer that question directly. If they ask, “Is this Mrs. Kolb, I usually say, “There’s no Mrs. Kolb here,” which is the literal truth, and hang up. What I said this time was, “Who’s calling, please?”

“My name is Hoozit Something-or-other. I’m a representative from Corporations for Character and I’m calling on behalf of the Breast Cancer Financial Assistance Fund. Many women with breast cancer suffer a significant financial impact and need help to pay their bills. Blah, blah, blah…”

I interrupted her. “I’m only going to say this once, so just listen, don’t say another word, and grab your pencil. I don’t know how you got my name or number, but I have some ideas. I’m one of those women with breast cancer who’ve suffered a significant financial impact. I’m going to give you an email address, so write this down. You are welcome to email me some information and links, and I will review and research them, and if I decide you are legitimate, I may write a blog post about your organization. And if I decide you are NOT legitimate, I’ll write about that…”

Foolishly, she interrupted me. She was not, I’m certain, waiting with her pencil poised to take down my email address.

“Oh! I’m so sorry! You are just the sort of person we’re trying to reach. Our organization…blah, blah, blah…”

“I told you not to say another word. Would you like my email address or not?”

“…and we’re trying to raise more funds and get the word out to the thousands of women in this country that…”

“You’re not listening, are you? Neither am I. Don’t ever call me again.” Slam. The great thing about still having a regular phone is that you can slam it when you hang up on someone.

Sharks and tornadoes.

I’ve researched the legitimacy of countless breast cancer organizations, including those who offer financial help. There’s no doubt that many of us go broke having cancer and could use some cash while we’re waiting for a cure. [See Broke: The Cost of Breast Cancer.] The last time I googled ‘breast cancer organizations,’ I got nine million hits. When I googled ‘breast cancer charity organizations list’ just now, I got three-and-a-half million hits. A lot of those hits were for groups that monitor such charities and who attempt to separate the good from the dross. Needless to say, it’s impossible for one blogger to keep up with the dross.

But after that ridiculous phone call, I did look up the Breast Cancer Financial Assistance Fund. Their website is in ‘maintenance mode.’ But I did find this: One of the Nation’s Worst Charities: Right Here!, a post published by the Utah Better Business Bureau just this year on April 22, 2014. And this, by Maggie Freleng, Breast Cancer Scams: The Worst Charities Include 5 Pink Types, posted a year ago. The bottom line is that the BCFAF is essentially a scam group that is part of another scam group called the Cancer Fund of America. From the BBB article:

BCFAF not only has been the subject of numerous legal actions by government entities, it was recently spotlighted in a detailed investigative report by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting as the Second Worst Charity in the United States. Cancer Fund of America also known as BCFAF was also the subject of a 2009 news warning from BBB in St. Louis.[…]

BBB research shows that Cancer Fund of America, also known as, BCFAF hired Corporations for Character to solicit for donations via telephone. According to the 2012 IRS Form 990 for Cancer Fund of America, also known as BCFAF, Corporations for Character raised $448,276 and kept $410,996 with $37,280 (or a little over 8%) going to the charity.

Corporations for Character and Feature Films for Families are also the subject of a May 9, 2011, complaint in which the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice allege the defendants made 16 million calls to numbers on the Do Not Call Registry and misrepresented how funds would be used.

Just to add insult to injury, I had also just received a snailmail solicitation from Bank of America for their Pink Ribbon BankAmericard MasterCard. Bank of America has earned its own list of reports about fraudulent practices, including this, by Mike Taibbi of Rolling Stone, about BOA’s role in the 2008 economic crisis: Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail. However, never let it be said that corporate pinkwashing has gone out of style. According to BOA’s webpage, if you get their Pink Ribbon credit card, you can

Join the fight against breast cancer and earn cash back, too[…] For each new Susan G. Komen®-branded credit card account opened and activated, Komen receives a minimum of $3 and 0.20% of all net retail purchases made with the card. For example, 20 cents for every $100. Komen also receives $1 for each annual renewal of the card.

Wow, a whole two tenths of a percent! I mean, just think how many useless pink tchotchkes you could buy with $100! And with 20 cents going to Komen, that cure ought to be discovered any day now, eh?

People, the sharks are out there. And they’ve started early.

A few alternate suggestions. These folks will spend your donations legitimately:
Breast Cancer Action; see their Think Before You Pink page.
METAvivor, which funds research for metastatic breast cancer.

Oh, and apologies to the Sharknado folks for altering your poster. 😉

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This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Monday, September 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm, filed under Fighting the Pink Peril and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

59 Responses to “Attack of the Pinktober Sharks”

  1. I would like to beat a few organisations (and, if I’m honest–PEOPLE) over the head with a pink spatula, yelling “Are you AWARE?” over and over.

    Also, I want to hang your Pinknado poster over my bed, all Tiger-Beat Style.

  2. LOL. My dear Wendy, I’d be honored to know that the Pinknado poster was on your wall. I’d even send you a file so you could make it bigger. 😉

    Wretched woman!
    Good for you, Kathi.
    I had an encounter two days ago that I plan on sharing as well. I felt I should calm down a bit before I tried to write about it.

  4. You, too, Gina?? These people have no shame. I plan to report them. I’ll post an update when I do.

  5. Brilliant as always.

  6. Thanks, Scorchy. A little Photoshop, a little righteous indignation, and I’m set for getting through October now. 🙂

  7. It’s too bad pink has become a fall colour. I used to love fall colours. I hate the pinkness of October. And the two or three months before when the pink really starts.

    If anyone deserved having the phone slammed down on them it was that woman. Well expressed.

    Cheers KAK.

  8. Sharon, I still refuse to think of pink as a fall color. Pink is the color of my azaleas, but it’s also the color of a gender stereotype. The original ‘color’ of the breast cancer awareness ribbon was peach.

  9. Well said! And I absolutely love the Pinknado poster…I want to post it in my new home office. 🙂

  10. The poster idea is being brought up a lot. I can’t sell one because of copyright issues with Sharknado. But nothing to stop you from printing it yourself, JoAnn, as long as you don’t sell it. 🙂

  11. […] Attack of the Pinktober Sharks. […]

  12. Wonderful. I love Pinknado in Pinktober!

  13. Pinknado? Priceless.


  14. I LOVE the real colours of fall. ((((Kathi))))

  15. I love this poster! Thank you for your thoughtful posts!

  16. Thanks, Melanie!

  17. Kathi, you have more patience than I do. That Komen group are the worst offenders. Before Carolyn’s cancer metastasized and she did research on all of this, I fell prey to some of these sharks thinking I was helping the cause and, indirectly, my sister. Thanks to her, you, and many others, I know better. And I tell anyone who will listen or read (or even those who WON’T listen), about this scammy pink shit. Love to you.

  18. Julie, the only reason I didn’t hang up right away was because I wanted to find out who this person was, so I could get the goods on them. That’ll teach ’em. Scumbags. Love to you & Carolyn. xoxo

  19. […] a Pinktober expose at the Accidental Amazon (a woman living with […]

  20. Kathi,
    So glad to see you posting! We need your voice during October madness. Well, not just then, but… It’s mind-boggling sometimes isn’t it? Thank you for stepping into the fray with your usual wit and artistic talents! xx

  21. I can’t believe how much nonsense we’ve seen already, Nancy. And it’s only 10/3!! Gahhh!!

  22. Oh my god, that visual. It is amazing. And I so admire how you handled that call.

  23. Thanks, Catherine. How are you? Busy, I think, between your book, the blog, and YouTube. From which I infer that you are hanging in there healthwise? So nice to hear from you.

  24. This. Is. Awesome!

  25. Thanks, Kimberly. Memes-R-Us. 😉

  26. Kathi, I’ve been catching up on my blog reading and I definitely wanted to get to yours. Yes, the sharks are out there, and I LOVE that Sharknado poster you created. So wonderful, but unfortunately all too true. Good for you for hanging up the phone. A nice click to their ear must’ve felt great.

  27. Beth, I keep thinking I might ditch the FIOS home phone, but since it wouldn’t save me any money, I keep it. Slamming the phone is one of its better features. 🙂

  28. oh, kathi, it’s so great to see this post from you! I love, love, love the Sharknado graphic! thank you so much for all the time and effort of getting the goods on those SOBing sleaze balls then listing them on your blog. I just wonder sometimes if all the evil energy exerted by scammers and corporate greed monsters ever comes back to bite them in the butt – you know, like their wife, or girlfriend, or husband, or mother gets breast cancer. hmmmm, wonder what they’d be touting then. I know that’s mean, but I FEEL mean when I think of the people who so genuinely want to help but get their pockets picked by these nefarious outfits. I hope you are doing well, kathi – I think of you often and send you my love and loads of warm, gentle hugs. Karen xoxo

  29. Karen, I think of you often, too. I hope you are well. Thanks for your comments, and yes, I wonder the same thing about some of these corporate fundraising sharks. Whole different story when it’s you or someone you love dealing with cancer. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

  30. […] Attack of the Pinktober Sharks […]

  31. You rock, and roll, and I love you so much… it’s always good to be on the look out for Pinknado, not just pinktober… so better late than never, I applaud you! xoxo

    PS.. There are times I wish one could slam their cell phone.

  32. 😀 Carolyn.

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