The Braille Monitor                                                                                January/February 2002

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Elliot Zaretsky Visits the National Center for the Blind

Marc Maurer
Marc Maurer

by Marc Maurer

On December 5, 2001, Elliot Zaretsky, the driving force behindMaxi-Aids, came to visit me at the National Center for the Blind. He had called earlier to ask if he could come, and I consented to the visit.

Prior to the Zaretsky visit, Maxi-Aids had behaved in ways that made the National Federation of the Blind determined not to do business with the company. We are convinced that Maxi-Aids's ethical standards are at variance with our own, and we believe that a level of trust and confidence in Maxi-Aids cannot be established. Therefore we have determined that we will do no business with Maxi-Aids under any circumstances. In fact, we believe that Maxi-Aids's conduct has been sufficiently questionable that others should follow our lead.

With this in mind I wondered what Elliot Zaretsky would have to say to me. His message was not complicated. He told me that Maxi-Aids had never done anything improper and that it had the best interests of the blind at heart. He said that he and others associated with Maxi-Aids wanted only to support blind people and that he wanted to learn what could be done to create a positive relationship with the National Federation of the Blind. I responded to his question by telling him that we did not trust him. He would have to behave in a way to engender trust. If he did, perhaps our opinion of him would change.

He repeated to me that Maxi-Aids had never done anything wrong. I asked him if he had obtained Perkins Braillers from South Africa at the subsidized price and sold them in the United States at his catalog price of $685. He told me that he had obtained the Braillers from South Africa at a subsidized rate but that he sold them in the United States at a very low price. I asked him how people in the United States had learned about the low price. He responded by telling me that he had informed people about the lower price. When I asked what it was, he said $499 or $549. I did not inquire about the method for deciding which people got the $499 price, which people got the $549 price, and which people got the $685 price.

Elliot Zaretsky also offered to sell products to the National Federation of the Blind. He showed me a small barcode reader which, he said, was the latest and greatest. He said he would give me one as soon as they were available, and he intimated that this product would be a very hot seller which we would want to distribute. I reiterated that we would not be doing business with him because we did not trust him.

I still do not know why Elliot Zaretsky came to the National Center for the Blind. Perhaps he thought that the force of his personality would make me reject the vast quantity of evidence that has raised in my mind so many questions about the character of those in charge at Maxi-Aids. However, the oft repeated recital by Elliot Zaretsky that all is well does not make it so. Our policy about Maxi-Aids has not changed.

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