PKWY STE G
LAWRENCEVILLE GA 30043-5897
March 6, 2005
To Whom It May Concern:
You declare on your website that the Live Strong™ bracelet is a “new hot item.” “Hot,” you say? I must tell you that I don’t think your illegal sale of the Live Strong™ Bracelet is “Hot.” I don’t think the fact that you’ve marked up the price on the wristband so that you are making a 300% profit on each bracelet is “hot” (and this doesn’t include anything you make on shipping/handling charges). I don’t think it’s “hot” that you’re making profits selling other licensed cancer and charity bracelets, no doubt illegally, at hugely inflated prices. Rather, I think it’s despicable, contemptible, shameful, vile, reprehensible and simply appalling. Your company is the perfect example of the depraved underbelly of capitalism; avarice and income are evidently the rules of operation and conscience – well, it’s clear that any modicum of scruples is unremittingly avoided.
Moreover, your company has the dubious honor of being the first site I’ve found that DIRECTLY PLAGIARIZES from the Lance Armstrong Foundation Site to unlawfully sell your marked-up wristbands. The last line of that stolen copy states, “All proceeds will benefit LAF programs that help young people with cancer live strong.” Hence, not only are you willing to steal copy to illicitly sell Live Strong™ bracelets at a profit, but you have the gall to imply that all the proceeds are benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation. In other words, you have no compunction about playing on peoples’ emotions to turn a profit.
I have just realized something else. The physical address for your company is the VERY SAME as the address for “www.beaniewonderland.com,” to whom I sent a very similar letter yesterday. “Beaniewonderland.com” charges a little less for the bracelets, they don’t use the same copy, and their phone number is different, but I find the fact that the address matches indicative of highly suspicious business practices. I hope the Better Business Bureau finds this as interesting as I do.
I take this all VERY personally. After stumbling across another site that sold the LiveStrong™ bracelet illegally AND raised the price like you do, I did a search for similar sites. I found too, too many; it made me sick. I have huge admiration for what the Lance Armstrong Foundation is doing. They are raising awareness, not to mention huge amounts of money for research, cancer resources, cancer support and legal advocacy. They are a NONPROFIT registered 501(c)(3) organization. And perhaps these passages from the Lance Armstrong Foundation Website (quoted from the Live Strong™ FAQ section) might interest you (especially since they come DIRECTLY after the text you filched from the site):
Can I use ‘Live Strong’ for my organization or project?
Live Strong™ is trademarked by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). It may not be used without written consent from the LAF.
Can I resell yellow wristbands?
Live Strong™ wristbands may NOT be resold. They are not packaged for resale. There are significant state fundraising registration laws and tax and non-profit accounting issues that prevent their legal re-sell.
I have seen them priced from $1 on up – how much are they?
Live Strong™ wristbands sell for $1 plus sales tax. Sales tax must be charged and collected by local governments because the wristband is classified as merchandise. Official retailers of Live Strong™ wristbands may sell wristbands for $1 ONLY and not in combination with any other store promotion or policy. Abuse of this policy should be reported to the LAF.
Where does the money go from the sale of the yellow wristbands?
All proceeds earned from the sale of Live Strong™ wristbands will benefit the LAF. Proceeds may NOT benefit any other organization or private enterprise.
The legal and ethical implications here are very clear. There shouldn’t be ANY re-sellers at all, let alone re-sellers that make profits. What you are doing is ILLEGAL. What you are doing is UNETHICAL. And let me explain something on a more personal note – what you are doing is OFFENSIVE to cancer survivors and their families. Also, you spit on the graves of those who have NOT survived.
And why do I take this SO personally? Let’s put it this way: My father’s incurable bone cancer is not “Hot” – far from it. He had prostate cancer in his mid-forties, had a radical prostatectomy (which entails a nasty, long recovery) and has been “cancer-free” for fourteen years. But last year he did not get a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test, and this year his PSA was through the roof. A dormant “opportunistic” cell had suddenly and efficiently caused a reoccurrence and massive spread of the prostate cancer cells throughout his bones – just like that. My father is sixty-one. It is very likely that he will die before all of his children. He will not see his grandchildren grow up; he will not see many of them born. It’s improbable that he’ll actually get to experience any “retirement” and he will know no “golden years.” And if he does have some retirement time, it will be filled with hormone therapy and chemotherapy and the resultant side effects and pain.
I wear a Live Strong™ bracelet given to me by my sister-in-law. This August I officiated the wedding of one of my brothers to her. Her mother, who suffered with Leukemia/Lymphoma for eight long years, made every single gorgeous wedding invitation by hand. She helped pick out the incredible red wedding dress. But by the time of the wedding she was too ill to even attend. It was a beautiful wedding, but her absence cast a pall on everything. She was heartbroken that she couldn’t be present at the wedding of her only daughter, but she told them to go ahead anyway. As it turns out, she knew she didn’t have long to live. She passed away a little more than a month after the wedding, and my brother and sister-in-law spent their “honeymoon” watching her die a horrible, degrading death. Now they are pregnant with a grandchild that she will never get to meet.
I won’t even get into the stories of the friends I’ve lost to cancer and the friends who fight against their cancers. A company such as yours obviously cares very little for the private side of this equation, anyway. I will say this: People like me and my sister-and-law – my whole family and all my friends, in fact – don’t give a damn that the Live Strong™ bracelet is “Hot.” To us it stands for hope for the future, for remembrance and as a daily reminder of those we have lost and those we hope to keep with us just a little bit longer. When people ask about the bracelet it is also an opportunity to spread awareness by telling them about what the Lance Armstrong Foundation does and how they can help the fight against all varieties of cancer.
My hope is that every shady company like yours will be stopped from selling “charity” merchandise illegally (such as the Live Strong™ bracelet). I, personally, intend to do my best to make this a reality, especially as your company, in particular, has reached new heights of shifty behavior. You have plagiarized from a charity website in order to illegally sell their fundraising merchandise at an inflated price while inferring that all the proceeds will benefit the Foundation but instead you pocket a substantial profit that was intended for cancer research, education, treatment and advocacy. Does that cover it? Wait – I forgot trademark infringement. If you use the Live Strong™ trademark without written permission that is another misconduct that you perpetrate. Oh yes – and you apparently are running any number of shadow businesses out of the same office, which is more than a little fishy.
I will carbon copy this letter to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. As you saw in the aforementioned passages, the Lance Armstrong Foundation says, “Abuse of this policy [the pricing policy] should be reported to the LAF.” I am more than happy to do so.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation (www.laf.org)
The Better Business Bureau Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia (http://www.atlanta.bbb.org)