Archive for Thursday, September 11, 2008

Unsolicited solicitors: Bug off!

September 11, 2008

Let's suppose you are just sitting down for dinner or maybe settling in to watch a Royals or Chiefs game when you hear that annoying "brrng" of the telephone. Of course you can overlook the jingling and wait for it to stop or to take a recorded message. However, if you are extremely curious - as I am - you rush to answer it.

And, guess who it is? "Hello, did you know that your car's warranty could be running out," is the recorded response. Since both of my vehicles are pushing the century mark in mileage, I have known for years that they were out of warranty. Anyway, I've received the above call at least two dozen times. One would have to think that after a couple of times they would figure out that I'm not buying so they'd move on, but that is never the case.

All of the experts tell you never to respond to these calls because even asking to be removed is a response and keeps you on the list.

Not being a person who always pays attention to suggestions, I have responded and was told if I wanted to be removed from the list to "please hold." Then instead of a person to talk to, I've been cut off. Of course the calls continue. Maybe they think if they harass me enough, I'll give up and buy whatever they are selling.

What I have always wanted to do is get a sales rep and ask him if my 1904 Stanley Steamer could be covered since the flues are beginning to clog. While tempted, I have always refrained from the call.

There are many unwanted intrusions into my life. One recorded pitch said I could get a satellite system, which would allow me to record programs and "skip the annoying commercials." Actually, I would rather skip the annoying phone calls.

Let's see, I have had calls asking me if I needed help with my credit card. This call always starts that it is "imperative" that I contact them about my credit card. Yes, they add there is no problem but time is running out on my chance to get a lower rate. Since I don't have a credit card balance, I don't need a lower rate or, for that matter, a rate at all. No matter how many times you do not respond, they keep calling.

Some of these pests get creative, too. You hear something like this: "Because we are concerned about you as a consumer, we have bent our rules and we are giving you one more chance to take part in our program." I suppose they think that you'll decide to buy because they have so much concern for you. I have had some who tell me that they are concerned about retired Wyandotte Countians and just want to help. Actually, all they want to help is separate me from my money.

On the other hand, these callers might just think we are losing our memories. I have had a couple tell me that they are calling because of the information I requested. Yes, I'm on the "very, very mature side of life" but I do remember whom I contact.

Callers aren't the only problem, however. Each day many of us receive a dozen or more e-mails touting products and services. These range from low-priced medicines to immediate loans and a quick college education. I have always been amused by the educational offers that I "registered for" since I finished my degree a half century ago and I am not really interested in training for a second career in health services, police work or crime scene investigation to name a few. They regularly e-mail me telling me that someone is looking for me. That's funny since I'm not that hard to locate and former classmates can probably find me fairly easily.

Now, I can deal with the e-mail because I know where the delete key is located and I can get rid of it any time I chose. It doesn't interrupt my meal or sporting event.

This is a good news-bad news situation. The good news is that the volume of junk mail is way, way down. The bad news is that we are getting a lot more "junk offer" solicitations. The more that I think about it, I sometimes long for the good, old days when you could pick up the mail and deposit the junk in the trash can on your way back.

I have never, ever, purchased anything from an unwanted telephone call or from a mystery e-mail that just pops up. No, when I spend my money I do it at stores where I can see the product and that I can find if something goes wrong. Just for your information, I've had three calls since I started writing this column.

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