Columns

2009.03.11 Warning to readers: Annoyed consumer vents spleen

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

I remember reading somewhere that you shouldn’t hold negative thoughts and feelings inside you, that instead it’s much more preferable to let all that bad energy out in the open. It’s supposed to be easier to deal with that way, and less likely to give you an ulcer.

Of course, when you let that energy out and it doesn’t seem to help, that ulcer is still a possibility. And if I get one, there’s little doubt that those annoying folks at Verizon will be the culprit.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to be on their “Let’s call this person 10 or 12 times a week” telemarketing schedule. Usually, it’s a recording and they often give you the option of pressing a number to be removed from their call list. I always push the button, but the calls keep coming. That’s not really a surprise.

I’m not even all that bothered by Verizon’s telemarketing reps. One of the live calls I received from them was trying to sell wireless Internet service. The rep was amazed that I could turn down the “incredible” deal he was offering and wanted to know why. When I said I didn’t own an Internet-capable computer, he happily said, “With all the money you’ll save with our wireless Internet, you can afford a computer!”

OK, pal, let me explain this to you: I currently have no Internet bill. If I buy what you’re selling, no matter how cheap you may think it is, it’s still an increase in my monthly bills. Therefore, I won’t be “saving” anything, not enough to buy a computer or anything else, for that matter. But the reps aren’t my biggest complaint with Verizon, either.

What really bothers me is this. When I moved to Ohio, Verizon sold me a telephone package that included caller ID and anonymous call block, which is supposed to prevent callers who disguise their number or name from getting through to my phone. It actually works pretty well, with one exception.

Occasionally, I get a call that is identified on my phone as “unknown caller.” Most of the time those calls turn out to be from—you guessed it—Verizon. I reckon if I don’t answer their telemarketing attempts often enough, they disguise their identity and hope my curiosity will make me take the call.

Last week, my caller ID showed an incoming call from the “Sun Loan Company” with the unlikely-sounding phone number of (999) 999-9999. Sensing a scam, I answered the phone and heard yet another recorded pitch from Verizon. Since I’m paying them extra not to receive such calls, it’s pretty irritating that they continue to hide their own identity.

What’s more, they mail me three to five sales letters each month for the same products, trying to wear me down in another way. I wonder how much lower my phone bill would be if they skipped the letters and most of the phone calls. 

Verizon isn’t alone in the letter bombardment department, however. The folks at Discover send me cash access checks for my credit card account almost weekly. In fact, they came more often than that during the Christmas season. Luckily, they don’t call as often as Verizon, but they share that lack of listening ability.

Several times a year, I get a call from Discover wondering why I’m not using my card. I always tell them it’s because the rate is too high and they promptly change the subject. Yet they keep sending the cash access checks which have an additional fee on top of the interest rate. If they didn’t send checks so often, maybe they could afford to cut their interest rate.

And finally, there are those hard to get rid of folks at AARP. At least they don’t telemarket, not to me anyway. But they must think that along with old age, memory loss is inevitable because I seem to get their same letter about every third trip to the post office.

Sorry, folks, I’m just not interested at this time. Why not save some money and try again in two or three years? By then, you will have saved enough postage to give me a membership.

I have a 48-year-old friend who recently complained to me about receiving an AARP letter. She thought it was a mistake because she wasn’t 50 yet. I assured her it was just the first of hundreds, maybe thousands, to come. Add another member to the Annoyed Mailbox Owners of America.

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