On Your Side: Candy Confusion

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March 28, 2007

Some Aiken businesses say they feel deceived after they sold candy for charity only to find those donations may be lining someone else's pockets.

But the man who gave them the candy to sell says it's all just a big misunderstanding.

You've seen them before: boxes of candy on a countertop that ask you to make a donation to some charity before you take a piece of candy.

The message out of this story is to make sure you read the fine print before you drop your spare change.

Palmetto Tire and Brake shop is known for helping car owners, but the owners also want to be known for helping the community.

There was no cost to us, no charge to us," owner Mark Alexander said, explaining that he was fine with putting out a candy box. It looked simple enough: a small donation gets you a piece of candy. With the photo of the missing girl on the front, you feel like you're giving to a good cause.

"We've been eating candy out of it pretty regularly, making donations more than what we thought the candy was worth," Mark said.

But then Mark read the fine print and spotted a line saying the money is not for charity and will go to the owner of the box.

"We were kind of upset about it," he said.

Mark's shop wasn't the only one. We found another very similar box just down the road at classic image hair salon. Owner Karla Atkinson was not happy.

"It upsets me," she said.

12 On Your Side found a total four shops within two miles of each other with the same boxes.

We called the man who distributed the boxes, and he says it was all a big mistake. The labels were misprinted and would be corrected soon.

He says he's with a group called the Beacon Project that helps find missing children. We checked...the labels did have the same phone number that the project uses on its website.

Calls to the Beacon Project were not returned to confirm this.

One store owner says if it was a mistake, she just wants the problem fixed.

"If he says it's going to missing kids, it needs to go to missing kids," she said.

The man who distributed the boxes says he would gladly take the boxes back if the shop owners were unhappy with them.

He apologized and promised the problem would be fixed.

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