Saturday 5 June 2010

The dumpster king is a crook

When I write my articles, I conduct research and then I create my articles based on my research and my opinion. I am making an exception in this submission because the article I read in the Toronto Star written by Dale Brazao is so good, any attempt on my part to rewrite it would ruin it. I am submitting this article to you in my blog because it tells you just how far some business scumbags will stoop to rip of their customers. And now his article.

Toronto’s self-proclaimed dumpster rental king runs a sham company that is little more than a cellphone and website used to plunder homeowners’ credit cards with bogus charges.

When creditors come looking for Giuseppe “Joe” Sansone, they end up at the doors of his 22-year-old girlfriend or his estranged wife — people he uses in a scheme that starts when homeowners call 310-BINS or partner company Lowes Disposal.

Sansone also leads customers to believe his company is affiliated with Home Depot or Lowe’s Home Improvement to lend an air of credibility. Home Depot has demanded he stop and the real Lowe’s believes he may be infringing on the company trademark.

Jocelyn Bigras had a bathroom renovation and ordered a bin from 310-Bins, expecting to pay about $400. She found her credit card charged twice for the same bin, and then a mysterious $500 charge for someone’s Rogers cellphone bill the next day. Rogers won’t say whose bill was paid by Bigras, but says the Ottawa woman was a victim of fraud, it is investigating and has apologized. “I was very upset that this happened,” said Bigras, who had to get a new credit card and eventually convinced VISA to reverse all the charges. “It was time-consuming and frustrating.”

A 75-year-old Cabbagetown woman found $760 in unauthorized charges after four bins were ordered from a Sansone company. When the woman’s nephew complained, a second $760 charge went on the VISA.

“He gets your credit card and he sucks you dry,” nephew Tom Hutton said. His aunt, who did not want her name published, has been unable to get a refund.

Financial victims are scattered across the province. At the Better Business Bureau that covers the Greater Toronto Area, 310-BINS and its partner company, Lowes Disposal, have been given an “F” rating. Sansone failed to respond to 12 of the 16 complaints “alleging billing errors, unauthorized charges or questionable collection practices,” the bureau says.

Sansone is a 52-year-old entrepreneur who favours Lamborghinis, Porsches, Hummers and Mercedes, and wears fine suits and Versace sunglasses.

His website boasts his firm is the “premier” waste removal company in Canada that will suit all your renovation needs.

“Our trash removal employees are friendly and courteous and always arrive at your home on time in professional uniform,” company promotional material reads. The three companies in Sansone’s mini-empire are 310-BINS, Lowes Disposal and Red Waste. In reality, the companies are virtual firms that take orders for dumpsters and subcontract to legitimate firms, taking a $50 finder’s fee. Homeowners say credit cards are then double charged (the real company’s fee and a 310-BINS fee) or hammered with mysterious charges.

Sansone told the Star he knows nothing of customers’ credit card problems. “I have no idea at all what you’re saying about that,” he said in a telephone interview (he would not meet the Star reporter in person). “We don’t process the credit cards, period. Whoever we dispatch our orders to, they process them automatically.”

Ownership of Sansone’s dumpster empire is murky. His estranged wife, Mariella Sansone, is listed as the sole director of 310-BINS, set up in 2004, which she told the Star she was unaware of.

His 22-year-old girlfriend, Daniela Mazzotta, was originally listed as sole proprietor of Lowes Disposal when the company was created in 2007; her signature is on cheques written by Red Waste; and collection agencies have been after her for unpaid bills related to the dumpster company. “That’s too funny,” Mazzotta said. “I don’t even know a company called Red Waste.” There is no evidence to suggest either woman is involved in Sansone’s schemes.

With the renovation season well underway, homeowners who want to remove building debris often call bin rental companies which drop off a container in the driveway and haul it away when filled. Most turn to the Internet in their search for a dumpster.

In the Bigras case in Ottawa, 310-Bins subcontracted to a legitimate bin company — HD Disposal, affiliated with Home Depot — which did the work and charged $461 to Bigras’ VISA. Then 310-BINS charged $550 to her card. Three days later, Bigras found the unexplained $500 charge on her card from Rogers Communications.

Scott Corbett, president of the firm that owns HD Disposal, said he will no longer deal with Sansone, who he claims owes him $35,000, money he doubts he will ever collect.

His original arrangement was that he would pay Sansone a $50 finder’s fee for each bin referral. Sansone would turn over the client’s credit card information for billing.

“My truck, my driver, my gas,” said Corbett. “He’s supposed to turn over the cards to us for billing. But then he billed the customer and kept the money.”

During the Star’s attempts to interview Sansone, he went from joking (he said his real name was “Fonzie”) to aggressive. He denied being involved in overcharging customer credit cards, then got angry. “Now I’m getting f---ing pissed,” Sansone screamed into the phone. “If you want to find out things, go. You talked to 12 f---ing people so far. Keep on talking and write the truth.”

In one brief interview, Sansone denied ownership of 310-BINS, but said: “I’m one of the main guys working here.”

In an interview with a Chicago business magazine, Sansone’s son, Joseph Sansone Jr., said his father launched 310-Bins after 14 years in the limousine business because he saw trash removal as a “booming industry.” Sansone Jr. is listed as a director of Lowes Disposal.

The magazine was told that contributing to 310’s success was 24/7 phone access, a fleet of trucks equipped with GPS, drivers in full uniform, and on-time deliveries and pickups. “We have a 100 per cent satisfaction rate,” Sansone Jr. told the magazine.

Some customers who have taken Sansone to court have obtained default judgments. Collecting any money is another matter.

“I haven’t been able to get a dime out of him,” said Bradley Harper, a Toronto Hydro supervisor who’s pursued Sansone in small claims court since 2007. Sansone took a $750 deposit for bin services that ended up costing only $300, and then refused to refund the rest of the deposit. Harper said he was “bullied” out the door when he went to what he believed was the company’s headquarters on Keele St. near Major Mackenzie Dr. to serve Sansone with court documents.

“It was just a nightmare because nobody wanted to accept the subpoena. So I tapped the secretary with it and said, ‘Consider yourself served,’ ” said Harper, who is trying to get Sansone into court to garnish his wages.

Harper ordered the dumpster for his basement renovation because 310 claimed in ads that it was the “licensed provider for the Home Depot.”

Sansone lives in a luxury penthouse suite in the Terminal Building on Toronto’s waterfront, and in the past few month has been seen driving a red Audi A5, a white BMW X3 and a black Cadillac Escalade. His well-heeled neighbours have complained to management about him parking in their spots. Court documents obtained by the Star show Landmark Vehicle Leasing suing Sansone for more than $60,000 after repossessing four luxury vehicles — a Porsche, a Hummer and two Mercedes-Benz — for defaulting on the leases. A Lamborghini was also seized and later sold at auction.

Yellow Pages is seeking $69,579.94 for unpaid Internet advertising from Red Waste Ltd. Q Ponz Inc. is seeking $10,000 for flyers advertising 310-Bins. BFI Canada Inc, a waste management company, is after 310 for $10,000. Even Money Mart is trying to collect $990 for an NSF cheque Sansone cashed at one of its outlets.

Mark Bottaro, legal manager for Collection Group of Canada, says the company has closed several files and stopped pursuing thousands in debts after failing to find Sansone. The company employs a process server who is “very good at finding the needle in the haystack,” Bottaro said, but he couldn’t find Sansone. “He’s judgment proof,” says Bottaro. “We’ve advised our clients to not waste any more money.”

The Star found Sansone at the Terminal Building. His landlord has twice taken him to the Landlord and Tenant Board after he’s fallen three months behind on his $2,500 monthly rent. Each time Sansone showed up with a certified cheque and avoided eviction. He is behind in his rent again, the landlord says.

There is a lesson to be learned from this. First, call the better business bureau in your area. If scumbags have ripped of their customers, they will have complaints on file. Second, look into Google. Some people actually write about scumbags who rip people off.

1 comment:

alice said...

Nice post.I too agree with you.
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