Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Predatory Rant

I came home the other night to see this "check" sitting on my kitchen table. It didn't take me long to recognize what it was - a scam. I've gotten a half-a-dozen of these or more in the past. They're for various amounts, usually ranging from $5 to $15 and sometimes in quirky amounts. The Dollar figure is always prominent and it's the first thing you see. When economic times are tough, or anytime, when you receive an unexpected "check" in the mail with your name on it... well, it's nice. Problem is with all of these things - there's fine print.

Sure enough, with this one like all of the rest, there's a clause in there (not on the actual check, mind you) that says "by endorsing and cashing this check, payee is registering for XYZ service with annual/semi-annual payments of $XYZ" - and that amount is always significantly higher than any money you get on the check. Yeah, you usually get a 30 day "free trial offer" - but good luck in getting out of that before they make you pay something. Anyway, instead of simply ripping up the check and throwing it in the trash, I called the number.

I spoke to a very polite woman named "Heidi" on the phone. I explained that I knew she was just answering the phones, that she really had nothing to do with this, but that I knew the call was being recorded and I needed a few seconds to vent. And vent I did. Because the simple fact is that this kind of "marketing" is predatory in nature. It prays on the idea that for every person who reads the fine print, there's going to be 1, 5, 10, who simply cash the check - especially when money is tight - even if they know what they're signing up for. And then their credit card gets billed for $50 - and that's all it takes. Bam!

I didn't call them back because I was concerned for myself. Truth is, I'm not going to go for those "free" offers because they take too much time & effort to get out of anyway. I called and said my rant because there's tons of people who DO get preyed on and we need to speak up for them. It's crap like this that makes me ask the question - "As a follower of Jesus Christ, how can ANYONE believe in Laissez Faire Capitalism?" I'm shaking my head in disgust right now...

No comments: