Myles Goldberg, a key player in the founding of Errand Folks [est. 03/14/2020], has allowed other people to “manage” the public outcry on Drago Renteria’s personal Facebook post questioning whether Errand Folks is an altruistic service. If you were to look at Errand Folks’ website, the initial impression you would get would be that they are a volunteer-based organization with free services focused on running errands and supporting vulnerable community members who are unable to leave their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Looks fantastic, right? Until you click on the Terms of Service, where you see a section that says, “Errand Folks will charge and the customer will pay additional fees as described in this section” (see the screenshot). 

This is a description of the screenshot of ErrandFolks' Terms of Services page. A job sample was included in Errands’ Terms of Service to give a better description of what patrons would be paying for: "$25 service fee for all services, $20 hourly fee after the first 30 minutes, $100 minimum hold for all products and services to be refunded upon completion of service, [and] 5% to 10% service fee for all products purchased. For example, a $100 grocery bill will have a 5% service fee, or $5. Sample pricing: Example 1. $25 service fee, $100 hold (lifted at the end of the service), $100 grocery bill, $20 - 1 hour shopping trip, 5% service fee ($5), Total charges: $150"

The Terms of Services was made available only through the “services inquiry” link, for individuals who needed services. The question still remains: Were volunteers made aware of the Terms of Services when they signed up to volunteer, or no? If you wanted to sign up as a volunteer, all you had to do was contact the same email address: [email protected]. A volunteer-based service charging additional fees?

After seeing Drago Renteria’s Facebook post, Deaf Vee Journal reached out to Myles Goldberg and also contacted Errand Folks at their main e-mail address, which is [email protected].

Almost immediately (less than five minutes later), we received a response from Errand Folks that is exactly identical to some of the pasted “comments” that users have claimed come directly from Myles himself. In this response, the unknown sender stated that Errand Folks had initially started out as a business idea; however, with the pandemic, they decided not to “roll with Errand Folks as a business” and launch it as a free volunteer-based service instead. The response also explained that Errand Folks neglected to “take down the old page” of Terms of Services with rates, with the insistence that they have never charged fees for services rendered, before proceeding to encourage us to use their services if we need it. 

Naturally, there is always room for fraud to occur during a volunteer-based service run (especially if the patron is a Deaf* senior citizen, DeafBlind, DeafPlus, or DeafDisabled), so Deaf Vee Journal responded with a second e-mail message to inquiry about the preventive measures Errand Folks has in place to protect their consumers from fraudulent behavior on their volunteers’ part. We received this answer, shown below:

This is an e-mail from Myles Goldberg with ErrandFolks at 11:39am on Friday, March 20, 2020. The e-mail says: "Hello Mary, Myles Goldberg here. To answer your questions, please read below. Thank you for your interest in Errand Folks.  The long term goal is to ensure that all Deaf elders and those who are at risk remain safe and healthy. As long as we are in this coronavirus pandemic crisis, there will be Errand Folks, which will continue to be a volunteer-based service. Trust is the key.  We want to trust that our volunteers are sincere about providing support to those in dire need. To ensure that our clients are kept free of risks our volunteers are required to sign a contract before joining the team.   If our clients have concerns (I sincerely hope not!), we will address this quickly. Any requests, questions, and concerns can be sent to mailto:info@errandfolks.com."

Myles Goldberg waited after public objections were made on social media to explain that he “neglected to take that old page down” of the Terms of Service with rates. Goldberg himself has owned another business by the name of reFort, LLC. (established in 2017), which was also selected as one of CSD’s Social Venture Fund projects. If Goldberg is an experienced business owner, forgetting to thoroughly check Errand Folks’ official website and update the Terms of Services webpage, along with their official Facebook page, prior to going on public record is a rookie mistake. Errand Folks updated their website and Facebook page only after Reneteria’s post occurred.

In a public Facebook group where Errand Folks was shared with the Texas Deaf* community, Avril Hertneky posted a comment that completely contradicts Goldberg’s claims that Errand Folks has not charged anybody for their services (see screenshot below).

With all that said, it seems that Errand Folks has not thoroughly considered any additional measures to protect Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, and other elders/persons from exploitation other than the mandatory volunteer contract.