"This Call Was a Wrong Number"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013

We frequently read about scams, hear news reports and are even warned by our local authorities to beware of them.

Some of us have received a phone call telling us we might have won a jackpot. We are told if we pay an investigator’s fee we can find out if we are a winner. Some of us receive a mailing or email telling us if we deposit a specific amount of money in an overseas bank, we will have a much larger amount deposited to our account. Another scam arriving by mail tells us we have won a sweepstakes. All we need do is send our banking information so the winnings can be deposited.

How about the telephone scam received from a sweet sounding young lady or gentleman that begins with, “How are you today?” The conversation continues with pleasantries for a few minutes until the announcement saying, “Congratulations – you have won a cruise to the Mediterranean!” To avoid litigation, cruises were actually given, but they were for one or two days to the Bahamas. Accommodations were in the center of the ship, well below deck, with no view. These cabins were often vacant on cruises. The cost of the cruise was pre-paid by the company awarding it to the recipient of the phone call.

There was a slight alteration of the itinerary of the cruise not mentioned by the caller. Participants taking the cruise had to sit through high pressure sales pitch’s regarding the purchase of condos in Florida. They lasted most of the day’s cruise and the sales persons were the type that could sell ice in Alaska!

Most of us are aware of the scams I’ve mentioned and perhaps others also. We know they generally originate overseas and are from companies we never heard of.

Unfortunately scams are now arriving from companies we hear of daily, and we are their customers. As I see it, we all need to be aware of them.

In the ongoing struggle to gain supremacy of the digital airways, the major players are beginning to play dirty.

After we landed in our winter home this year, we called the land line phone company to inquire regarding the high cost of our bill. We had the same number for more than 25 years and were always pleased with our service. The rate had been quoted, but the bill arrived 40 percent higher. After a pleasant phone call, it was agreed credit would be issued, and the next bill would be adjusted and reflect what was quoted. The following month, however, the bill arrived only three dollars less than the first month. Another call was made and a request to have the bill brought into line with the quoted amount was once again agreed upon.

Enter the scam. The very nice young man said we can offer you a service that will combine your home phone and Internet. My wife said I cannot switch my Internet provider so I would not be able to use that system. She was assured she could just use the phone part and all installation fees would be waived. (A bill for $332 arrived two days later for installation charges that disagreed with this statement.) She was told her monthly bill would be exactly the amount she was originally quoted.

The very next day a friendly installer with a modem and very large battery arrived. After being told we would not be using the Internet connection, he announced the system would not work but he installed it anyway. The phone actually did work, but having concerns about the statement made by the company representative, we called the company. The person we spoke to agreed, we could not use the newly installed system.

At this point, confusion set in and we called the wireless people who represent the same company. A very eager sales representative said he could take care of our needs. We would have the same phone number. So instantly we were switched over to wireless. A very complicated usage program was explained and a promise made that a new phone (charged instantly to our credit card) would be shipped. It actually did show up 12 days later.

The next day we realized wireless would not work for us and called the landline division back requesting they provide a regular phone at the agreed upon amount. We were told no problem, and the person expressed grave concerns about how bad our experience had been and “promised” (that was her word) we would have service in 24 hours. She said it was a good thing we did not attempt to cancel the wireless first, or we would have lost our number forever. So we were happily switched back and all was well.

No — we have no phone service and if you try to call us on the number you may have used the past 20 years you will hear, “The number you called has been changed. The new number is unknown.”

By this time, Pat had lost her voice from being on the phone for hours with various phone people. I got the pleasure of speaking to a person in Columbia whom I could not understand. There was a birthday party being celebrated in the background, so we could not complete our attempted conversation and he transferred me. I reached a young man in Oklahoma who researched my problems and agreed they were concerning, therefore, he would transfer me to his supervisor to make matters right. At this point, I was disconnected — and still am.

Pat’s voice recovered after a few days rest. She called the company on a friend’s phone and a wonderful person said how sorry they were for our troubles. A rush would be put on our order. ...

The moral of this story is: don’t ever think a familiar company you have done business with for many years won’t abuse you. Sales persons working on commission will.




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