Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) is issuing an alert on a company called Vision Packaging. The company, which is registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State, goes door-to-door and collects money for care packages they say will go towards supporting troops overseas. However, they are not a charity; they’re a for-profit business. BBB has concerns about what percentage of funds goes towards the troops versus how much goes to operate the business and pay their salaries. BBB has also established a connection between Vision Packaging and Patriot Packaging Sales LLC, a St. Paul-based entity which operated briefly in 2015 before apparently ceasing operations.
“We have the same concerns with Vision Packaging that we had with Patriot Packaging Sales LLC,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Both entities appear to enter a given market – generally outside of Minnesota – and proceed to go door-to-door without securing proper licensure. Not to mention the fact we have no idea how much – if any – of their sales proceeds go to benefit the people they claim to support.”
Earlier this month, BBB reached out to Vision Packaging through a contact link on their website and asked if there was any connection between them and Patriot Packaging Sales LLC. A company representative responded by saying the two companies were not connected. At that time, BBB also asked the company what percentage of their sales proceeds reaches the individuals the organization claims to support. Vision Packaging has not yet provided a response to that question. They did state they haven’t done any fundraising in Minnesota since last August.
Based on media reports, BBB has determined that at least one representative formerly associated with Patriot Packaging Sales LLC is now working for Vision Packaging. In September of 2015, a Chicago Tribune article reported that representatives of Vision Packaging had been arrested in Batavia, Illinois, for soliciting without a license. According to that news report, the representatives admitted to soliciting and were cited with an ordinance violation. The company lists a Chaska address on their filing with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. However, their website has no contact information other than an email address.
In April of 2015, BBB became aware of a St. Paul company calling itself Patriot Packaging Sales LLC. The company claimed to sell – and ship – care packages for U.S. servicemembers overseas. However, it stated on their website they were not a charity; they were a for-profit company. Patriot Packaging Sales LLC was the subject of an alert issued by BBB of St. Louis in April of 2015, when company representatives were soliciting in the Missouri area. At that time, the St. Louis BBB was concerned donations the company was collecting were going to pay salaries and other expenses and not to help the troops, as the company claimed. According to the St. Louis BBB, prior to soliciting in Missouri last spring, a Patriot Packaging Sales LLC representative had been stopped in an Iowa town by police and told they needed a permit to solicit in that community.
In May of 2015, Patriot Packaging Sales LLC was the subject of media reports in Sioux Falls stating they were soliciting donations in that area without a permit, which was illegal. In one news article, a company representative said they had raised $16,000 from area residents, claiming that 20% of that would go to sales representatives. When asked, the company representative said that the company had already sent 900 care packages to troops overseas, but didn’t provide the media outlet with any proof of that. Later in 2015, BBB noted the company’s website was shuttered.
Consumers should always ask door-to-door salespeople if they have a solicitor’s license (if such a license is necessary in their city) and make sure they are clear on what percentage of sales proceeds go to help the group or individuals the business or organization says it supports. Consumers should also be aware that purchases from and donations to for-profit entities are not tax-deductible.
The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.