One of the most difficult things about doing business as a blind person is finding an outlet that is easy to use and reaches a lot of people. Assistive technology can be expensive, and there are a lot of people offering good deals on used equipment. Currently there are only two outlets for blind ECommerce. The first is an old fashion email list called blind bst. The problem with this list is that not only does it have less than 700 members, but contributing to the list if you aren’t a well known name is near impossible. Messages never go through and often times you are banned for no reason. New members have their messages stalled for distribution for up to two days in some cases. There are a handful of old staples on this list which post nearly the same thing every day, most notably jewelry and what I can only assume to be arts and crafts type stuff. While I’m not against creativity or any offering to the community, it is interesting how some folks are valued over others.
Let’s talk about the next widely known platform, Blind Bargains. Blind Bargains is run by an individual, JJ Medaugh, who is propped up by the National Federation for the Blind, a very strict, one size fits all, authoritarian organization which has received widespread criticism for their approach to independence in the blindness sphere. His AT-Guys outfit has been called out for reselling very cheap Chinese made electronic pariferals like USB sound adapters for $3 found on Amazon for around $25 on his website. His Blind Bargains outfit is one of the greatest scams which has been around for the past 12 years. JJ Medaugh is the same individual, if you may remember, who was the main force behind the Zone BBS which has been taken offline do to failing and outdated code. Essentially, Blind Bargains boasts the convenience of reaching many people while distributing your ads to help make sales.
But here is the truth. At $5 per ad, rarely anyone makes sales. You see, in the blindness sphere, unemployment is very high, and thus, we find a sizeable group of folks trying to make a buck, and so we find more sellers than buyers. As far back as 2012, the payment form on Blind Bargains refused to work with any card or any device in any location I tried. After reporting this issue and never hearing back, I questioned the legitimacy of this guy’s scheme and only a few months ago after trying to post an ad, the website charged my card, yet gave me an error. I’m willing to bet I am not the only person who has encountered these problems with this guys scam site, and indeed, after making a sale to an individual and havign a brief discussion with him, he too identified many bad business practices with this scam site. Now, I call Blind Bargains a scam, since this individual gets off on charging for merely posting text on a webpage. Links I post in my ads have been sensered and this JJ guy refuses to reply to any of my emails, often time taking days before actually posting an ad.
It is a shame we must deal with these types of individuals that get off on nickle and diming those who want to just do legitimate business with one another. And it is no secret, as I mentioned previously, that there are more sellers than buyers, which means there is no shortage of people paying this guy $5.
To fight these unscrupulous tactics, I have not only started a Youtube channel called Sightless TV, but more importantly, I have created a Facebook group call Blind Sell Trade Marketplace which is completely free and has no heavy handed moderation. I believe in giving people the best user experience and not trying to always have my hands in someone’s pockets.
Some may use the argument that Blind Bargains needs to pay for hosting. However, I can assure you that web hosting is not expensive in the least. For example, a promotional package through my hosting provider cost me $160 for three years. And judging by the layout of his website, it is merely a customized wordpress theme, much like the page you are reading now. His overhead is laughable, yet, he seems to have plenty of money to fly all over and goes to conventions like CSUN, on our dime. I have no issue with someone traveling, but how they conduct their business is another story.
Those of us who are blind are nickled and dimed enough, especially when it comes down to transportation, something so simple most people who can see don’t think twice on. Perhaps the transportation debate will come at another time, but suffice it to say we definitely don’t need anyone else rubbing salt in the wound.
So please, join my Facebook group, spread the word, and help me grow the group and community that will help all of us and keep out the scammers.
I appreciate your support. As always, stay tuned for more site updates coming soon.