Monday, August 28, 2006

The phone call that changed my morning drive...

So, I was running late for work this morning and decided not to make any stops. Trying to behave in a guilty fashion, I studiously paid close attention to what I was doing.

And then my cell phone rang. Now, there are a fair number of people who have my number, but I usually recognize who is calling me. Didn't recognize this number but I decided to risk life and limb to take the call anyway.


"Hi, Michael?"


"This is so-and-so with something-or-other Publishing Services..."

Publishing services? I don't remember signing up with any publishing services. Did someone in the publishing industry pass my name on to an authors' scamming company?

"I was calling about your order..."

Don't recall placing any orders with anyone.

"Just in case you haven't received it yet, I wanted you to know that it's on the way."


"So don't be surprised when you get your adult DvD in the mail."

My what?

The smooth, professional voice on the other side of the connection continued blathering on about something as I briefly debated with myself whether I should argue that I haven't ordered any adult DvD. I think the saner side of reason won out when I simply pressed the button to break off the call.

I heard earlier this year that telemarketers would soon be given access to cell phone numbers. Maybe this is the first of many unwanted telephone calls and I'll have to either get a new cell phone number, sign up with the Do Not Call Registry (although supposedly my number is unlisted and unpublished, which to a telephone company only now seems to mean they can charge more money for giving it out), or maybe just have to switch to a more consumer-oriented telephone company (does such a thing exist?).

But I was amused by the fact that this guy was trying to pull the same sort of scam that cheap office equipment suppliers use. They'll call up companies and ask what the serial numbers on copy machines or printers are. If they get the wrong naive person on the phone, they "confirm" an order and have merchandise shipped to the company. Then they send an outrageous bill and make a tidy little profit.

This adult DvD guy may be working a system where he calls men at random, "confirms" their adult DvD order, gets their billing info, and then maybe actually sends a cheap trashy DvD or possibly just runs off and uses the private info to make illicit purchases. I don't know.

I've been receiving an increasing number of phone calls from people wanting to send me $200 worth of groceries and gas or something because I used my credit cards to make purchases (actually, they are reciting the numbers from my debit cards -- which are processed through the Mastercard/Visa systems). Now, I do recall being told about such promotions by my banks, but I always hang up when these "customer service representatives" start to tell me about how I need to pay the postage to receive my prizes.

I'm sorry, but that just doesn't work for me. You're going to give me $200 worth of gasoline but you cannot afford to pay the postage?

I've traced a few of these numbers back to their originators. Some are very well guarded, but one went back to a cell phone in California. So, my national banks are hiring independent contractors to call me from their cell phones to tell me that I have won $200 in gasoline or $600 in groceries but that I have to pay the postage to receive the prizes.


I can see where the new telecommuting economy makes this possible, perhaps even plausible. But frankly if my bank wants to give me $600 worth of groceries, it can send me a letter at its own expense. I am sure it will cost them less to do so than it would cost me if I were to agree to any of these prize phone callers' conditions.

Maybe these people just answer want ads and sign up for low-skill jobs that help them pay their bills. I don't know, but my inclination when they call is to say something like, "I know you have to feed the kids (or the habit), but you need to get a real job."

Instead, I usually just hang up and continue driving to work. But today I felt compelled to blog about it.

They have made an impact on me.

BTW -- if I do receive any adult DvDs, they will be thrown in the trash and I will devote the next 2-3 years of life disputing any attempts to collect for them.

If you're reading this, take me off your list. I might just be inclined to tell the world what your phone number is and who you work for. I can also often find out where you live.

Think about that before you take that low-skill phone job....


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