Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Cyber Millionaires

 My phones, some would say Luddite that I am, landline and cell, ring so often I'm tempted to turn ringers off. Most are telemarketers and I am loath to be really rude to them in hopes they will take me off their list. After all, they are working in an almost universally disliked job to earn a living and to me that's commendable. So many, in present times, are not willing. So I don't answer if the number is not familiar. What does aggravate me very much is that some unscrupulous places have the ability to 'spoof' numbers and names. This is fraud, pure and simple. I learned by trial and error(answering) not to be fooled if a number is very similar to one I know. Names from different providers sometimes do not show, unfortunately, so memorize the numbers you want to talk to!
The piece below is a column I did a number of years ago for a local weekly newspaper. Even more valid, today, I'm sorry to say.

Completely Free 

Riiiight! How many times are we taken in by that phrase? I know I have been too many times to count. And its cousin, ‘If dissatisfied, cancel anytime.’ Uh huh. Just try calling the number you’re given to call and cancel the subscription to Clutter-Free Living after six unread issues clutter your coffee table. If you persevere through half a dozen pass-the-buck call transfers, or manage not to be disconnected, you might get to talk to a live person. You very calmly explain that you wish to cancel your subscription and receive a refund on unused issues. The person oh so sweetly wants you to tell them why you could possibly be dissatisfied with such a stellar periodical. When you remind them you were told you could cancel for any or no reason, you get more circular talk. And to please hold while the representative confers with the ‘circulation manager.’ ‘Circulation manager’ comes on the line to persuade you how much you need the magazine. You yell and scream and finally are told that yes, of course, your subscription will be cancelled. Relieved, gullible you hang up. Only to have to go through the same thing for the next two months when the magazines keep piling up. By the time the next-to-last issue is due to ship, your subscription might be cancelled. Three months pass and eventually a check for five dollars arrives in your mailbox. Once upon a time we only got into these predicaments if we unwisely allowed a door-to-door salesman – or an earnest student ‘working his or her way through college’ - inside our front door. Now telephone solicitors calling from huge boiler room operations, and online offers too good to pass up, lie in wait for us multiple times daily. Online websites which charge for information are masters of this sleight-of-hand scam. Sign up and browse for free. Only once an account is created a credit card number is required before any useful information can be accessed. Humans are so constructed that once they’ve invested time in a project, they are more willing to invest money. Thereby are cyber millionaires created, from ‘free’ stuff.