Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Seniors Become Sitting Ducks

I told you recently about an enjoyable visit to the Fifty-Five Lifestyle Show. I mentioned at the time that I had filled out a number of contest forms and expected that I would get a lot of calls that would nor necessarily be about things I had won.  Well, let me tell you about some of them.

First I had a call about the 3 course dinner that everyone who filled in a ballot was entitled to.  A chef would prepare it, using the Cuisine Sante International cookware I saw at the show, to demonstrate how easy it would be to cook healthy meals without fats or oils. I was naturally busy on the dates he had available within the next week or so, and he will call back in October, when the chef would be available for the next round of meals.  I likely won't answer the phone now that I know what name will appear on the screen.  I have now had time to look up the company, and the "deal" along with the comments from other people who either loved the cookware or found the trip that came with it to be a scam.  I'm certainly not interested in paying exorbitant prices for pots and pans, or any of the other kitchen equipment they may try to foist on me after I've eaten a meal they invited me to.  If you want to know how these people operate, check this website and investigate further for yourself.

The second call came from  Arbor Memorial Inc.  I was walking by there, thinking it wasn't anything I'd be interested in, when I was called over to fill out a ballot for .... well I couldn't imagine what. I asked him if it was a cemetery plot or a funeral or what, and I'm not sure I got an answer to that, but just for filling out the form, I was going to get a free book where I could record where everything was, so others could find things if something ever happened to me.  Well, we really all need one of those, as I realized recently, and this one looked like a decent book that was well laid out.  But suddenly, he couldn't find one to give me, and seemed, after rummaging around in the booth, to only have the sample copy left.  However, he now had my address and he would  make sure I got one.  Ya, well, with the phone call, it was clear that it wasn't coming by mail, and would be delivered along with a sales pitch on future funeral arrangements or something. I just told him I'd just pass on the book thanks. He had time to say, "Are you sure?" before I said, "Yes," and hung up.

The third call was from a company I didn't even remember seeing there. The lady said, "Well, you filled out a form for a $20,000 draw. Do you remember that?"  I laughed and replied that I had filled out a lot of contest forms that day. I had a good time, actually.  She said that, though I was still in the running for the $20,000 there were also daily draw and I had won one of those.  She said there were three choices.  One was a 3 day, 2 night stay at a quality hotel, from a large list that covered all of North America. The second was something that sounded rather like CAA coverage, with towing and battery boosting, etc. and the third choice was a 50 foot PVC garden hose.  I had to laugh at that, as there is such a large difference between a trip and a hose, but she said that as some people can't travel, and some people don't own a car, they had to provide something for everyone. (Well, I could argue that some people may not live in they type of housing where a hose would be useful, but I was still being good at that point).

I, like many others, chose the hotel room (or, as they hoped you believed, the trip).  Then she wanted my physical address.  I asked why, and she said so they could deliver the "travel package".  I asked, "When that gets delivered here, then what happens?" I have to wonder how many people never think to ask that.  She said that they would want feedback on their air filtering system.  I said, "So someone will want to come in here and show me your product?" and she said yes, as they wanted feedback.

At this point I told her I thought I'd pass on the whole thing as I had played this game before, and really wasn't interested in doing it again. I then quickly said, "Thanks anyway," and hung up.  For any of you who don't know, falling for a demonstration of an "air filtering system" is really just allowing a vacuum cleaner salesman into your home.  I had a really great time confounding one of these fellows before, but once was enough.  You see, my first job was in door to door sales. I was trained in how not to take "No" for an answer. This makes it easier for me to see how these people try to maneuver their customers into making a purchase.  Guilt and embarrassment often work well.  The time the last vacuum cleaner salesman got to practice on me (and I actually told him that was all he was going to do), I had him convinced that I didn't care how dirty or germ infested my house was. Since he couldn't convince me how badly I needed his product, he couldn't sell it to me. He did have a quick mind though, and I asked him if he was doing this to put himself through university. He said he was. I told him he would do well in life.

Most recently I have been getting a number of phone calls from Breath EZ Homes.  I have not answered that call.  I know they will just have me do a survey, and then call back in a couple of days to tell me I've won a prize.  Then, of course, they will want to come and deliver it and do a product demonstration.... oh yes, it's another vacuum cleaner sales pitch.

At this point I'm starting to think that the whole Fifty-Five Plus LifeStyle show was a way to put the scammers in touch with the vulnerable senior citizens, and I think they should find a way to screen their exibitors better next year.

If you attended this show and had similar experiences, I'd be very happy to hear from you as I think I may try to find a way to alert the promoters before this sort of thing happens again. The more people I hear from, the more convincing this complaint will become.

1 comment:

  1. Good idea! I have to say that you are far more generous than I at these "trade" shows, because that's all they are.
    Apparently, Wayne Rostad organised this one, so he may be a contact.
    We did come away though with two free dancing lessons, that I and a friend will be taking advantage of. They even provide a partner (or partners, if our case!).