Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Curbside Extortion

Every once in a while some budding entrepreneur attempts to make some cash in our neighborhood by painting curb address numbers. Sometimes they're sneaky and make it sound like they're part of a city team doing it... but usually they get permission before painting the numbers. (And usually, by the way, the workmanship is shoddy at best.)

Today, we got a notice from someone who's putting the onus on US, the homeowner, to stop them from painting. Check out this note, found taped on our door:

We ask only that you consider a $15 contribution, or what is most comfortable for your budget. After work is completed, we will stop by to pick up your contribution, should you be kind enough. If you do not wish to have your curb painted, please tape this notice to your curb and it will not be painted. (Tape on flyer might not be enough, duct tape is best) We paint 4 inch numbers and work will begin in 1 to 5 days.

Lemme get this straight: If I don't want my number painted, and don't wanna cough up $15 for your work, it's up to me to make sure this flyer is taped on my curb, with the hope that it doesn't float away? And if it does, I'm gonna have to pay you scam artists? That's not right.

Meanwhile, the Atwater Village Newbie notes that the L.A. Bureau of Street Services is trying to catch some of these guys in the act:
According to Senior Inspector Rodney Lucas, the only organization allowed to paint the curbs in LA is Care for the Children ...

If you received one of these notices and you see these individuals painting in your neighborhood, please call Sr. Inspector Lucas at 213-847-6000.

If your curbs were already painted and these individuals knock on your door requesting their 'donation,' you can refuse to pay them and call the police. It's highly unlikely that this organization is a non profit and your 'donation' will actually be payment for services and not tax deductible.

Of course, just like refusing candy to teenage trick-or-treaters on Halloween, I'm guessing that you may run into trouble if you refuse to pay these guys. That's where the extortion comes in.

UPDATE: Check out Curbside Extortion, Part 2 for the second half of this saga.


Anonymous said...

Last week, around 9/7/2012, a non-profit organization painted street numbers on the curb of each house in the neighborhood.

Few days after, a person claiming she's from the "Care For the Children" and was asking for a donation for service rendered. I told her that we did not ask for it to be painted and the note they left us instructed us to attach in our mailbox ONLY IF we want it painted.

Few days later, a different person, now a male, came by our neighborhood collecting donations again, but this time I didn't answer the door nor entertain the person. This person then left a note stating:

"Sorry we missed you. Your new address number is complete. IF you would like to send a donation for the service provided please do so at:" (a P.O. BOX address given located in Whittier, CA). In the bottom of the note, it says "However, there is NO obligation..."

I was very speculative and being cautious about "SCAMS" going on.


Anonymous said...

Our curbs were painted without a notice, some man was coming door to door with a crossing guard vest on. He told me about the curb, which was news to me, and wanted a $15 donation, I told him I don't have any money on me and he said I could write a check. I told him I don't write checks. He became a bit annoyed and said any amout will do. I refused he handed me a note, and said if I change my mind I can donate online.
Nothing on the note about no obligation.

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