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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A company not living up to its advertising

Top of the morning to you!  I'm Donna J Jodhan at the business desk and today I am going to take a different route.  I am doing this because of a recent influx of emails that we have been receiving with regard to the topic of false advertising and those companies who sell products with inadequate manuals and instructions.
It has come to our attention that more and more of the smaller companies are getting on the band wagon when it comes to selling products for persons with disabilities, products for seniors, and products for anyone who has a special need.  These companies are bold enough to offer these products to these groups of consumers but truth be told they are not selling what they advertise.
Within the last month we have received several complaints about some companies that are selling games for blind and visually impaired persons but their games do not come with Braille instructions.  They only come with print instructions and when the company is asked for Braille instructions or instructions in alternative format such as audio cassette or electronic format, their comeback is that it is too costly to put it into alternate formats.  So, I ask the very sober question:  What should a blind person do if they purchase a game that a company says has been adapted for them and when they receive it there are no Braille instructions?  Here is what I did on behalf of those several emailerswho continue to write to us with this problem.
A few days ago I phoned a certain company in Washington because I was following up on a recent purchase that I made of a Sudoko game.  The game did not come with any Braille instructions and when I tried to obtain a Braille copy of the print instructions I received a one page instruction in Braille with Braille on two sides.  Definitely not the equivalent of the print instructions which consisted of 10 pages. 
When I asked the company if it would be possible for me to receive the Braille equivalent of the print instructions, they told me that it was too costly to put it into Braille.  When I asked them how it would feel if I were to send them instructions in Braille with no print instructions, the call taker hesitated then admitted that she fully understood my problem but that she did not have an answer.
I believe that most of these companies have the best of intensions when it comes to making games available to blind and visually impaired persons but they do not take the time to consider that blind persons are unable to read print instructions and the only way for them to be able to read it is if a sighted person reads it to them.  What has happened here is that I now have a brand new Sudoko game that I can't use because I only have one page of Braille to work with and it does not even come close to the equivalent of the print instructions.  What concerns me even more is that when I spoke to this particular company, the call taker first tried to defend the company by saying that the Braille instructions were the same as the print instructions but when I pointed out to her that the Braille instructions only consisted of one single page and that the print instructions consisted of 10 pages, she quickly retreated.  Her naive comeback was that the Braille page was double sided and my response was that it takes much more than one Braille page double sided to be the equivalent of 10 print pages.  Her other response that it would be too costly to put the instructions in Braille really concerns me.
As I write this I have two very serious questions:  The first is this!  Did this company think things through before it decided to offer their Sudoko game to blind and visually impaired persons?  Did they not know that blind and visually impaired persons need to read their instructions in Braille and not print?  The second is this!  When the call taker at the company told me that she did not have an answer, was she somehow telling me that she did not care?  So what?  It costs too much and that's too bad?
My humble advise to any company wishing to sell products to persons who are either blind or suffer from low vision, or are print disabled, is as follows:
Please take the time to become familiar with alternate formats.  Please take the time to understand that blind and visually impaired persons are unable to read print.  Please try to understand that when you fail to put manuals or instructions in a format that your consumer can read, you only end up humiliating them and embarrassing yourselves.
It is absolutely false and unfair to advertise and sell products for persons who are unable to read print instructions and manuals due to either being blind or being print disabled if you either do not want to do it or you find it too costly.
To let you know which company I am referring to, please find their info below.  This company is presently advertising products to persons who are blind or have low vision.
 
Info on REB Magnetics: 
R. E. B. Magnetics
mail: 3321 Mt. Pleasant Road, Kelso, WA 98626 U.S.A.
e-mail: russ@cport.com
fax: 360-578-1219
voice: 360-636-4693
This is the contact us page link on their website.  They don't advertise an email.  We got the above email from another site that does business with them:
http://www.rebmag.com/catalog/contact_us.php
My final comment to anyone wishing to buy products either on behalf of themselves or for themselves:  If you are either blind or print disabled, make sure that they come with instructions that are in alternate format.  Finally, this company does not have a professional email address so this may be a tell-tale sign that they are just a small fry attempting to play in the big leagues. 
 
I am out of time for this week.
I'm Donna J Jodhan at the business desk wishing you a terrific day.

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