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When Is Free, Free? Another “This is Joe” Enterprise

When Is Free, Free? Another “This is Joe” Enterprise

My land line just rang. It was Joe again, a medical health care advisor. Apparently, someone in our household is suffering from hearing issues. That may or may not be the case but if and when it happens, Joe won’t be the first to know.

I’m just about fed up with telemarketers. Day and night they call, badgering me with good news of free medical care, debt consolidation, offering a special promotion that is going on for this or that, or congratulating me on winning a free trip. That 5 day free cruise I won will only cost me $199 per person – yadda…yadda…yadda. Free is not free anymore!

By the time you’ve paid all the hidden tax and fees, bought a new wardrobe for the trip, gathered up spending money, and arranged travel to and from the ship, you’ve spent a small fortune on a trip you didn’t know you wanted – and can’t remember signing up for – you may have to take out a small loan to pay for it.

The difference between my answering the phone and H answering the phone is about twenty minutes. I can usually tell when something’s not quite right. I always say no quickly and hang up. And when they ask for H, I say he isn’t available – even if he’s standing next to me. He tends to listen to the whole spiel and then ask questions before saying no and hanging up. This tends to happen, more often than not, as we are walking out the door.

Have you ever gotten one of those calls saying you have been awarded a free government grant? Really? I sincerely believe that if the government was going to give me a chunk of money I never applied for, they would not hire foreigners to advise me of how to go about receiving it. Who’s with me here? Puhlease!

Calls from medical advisors stating Medicare as the key word aggravate me to no end. Numerous times the voice on the other end – usually a foreign accent that no normal person can completely understand – informs me that they have been notified that someone (if they had been notified, surely they have my name) in the household is having knee or back pain.

Of course older people have back or knee pain. It’s called a fact of life. I haven’t admitted knee or back pain to any medical offices and haven’t authorized disclosing my medical conditions to a third party. When they mention the word Medicare and you are there or nearing that age, most of the elderly stand up and take notice. Or they stay seated depending on the amount of pain they are in at the moment. These senior citizens are drawn into the web of deceit by the spider. I’m nearing that stage, but not quite there yet, and my mental faculties are still in tact!

Getting old means not always hearing or clearly understanding the guy on the other end of the phone line. These telemarketers know exactly which words and phrases to use to draw in the elderly and prey on their lack of knowledge. Mention pain combined with Medicare to someone who doesn’t know any better and you have the formula for disaster. By the end of the conversation you could be the proud owner of a piece of medical equipment you’ve been convinced you can’t live without – one that will do you no good sitting in the corner, still packed in the box, because it’s too complicated to understand – and a chunk is missing from your bank balance no matter how much Medicare chipped in.

I have no problem understanding Joe, but there is a lack of communication between us when I say, “We are not interested. Don’t call back.” What can I say? He’s a man and has selective hearing.

As soon as H retired we started getting calls informing us not to worry. Our credit cards were not in arrears, but we were eligible for a program to pay off our debts at a greatly reduced amount. That threw up a red flag because we didn’t have but one credit card and it carried a zero balance.

The daily mail to retirees and the elderly contains offers of programs to consolidate their debts with the letter worded consistently and expertly to make it sound as a notice informing you of the fact that if don’t pay them off immediately, with funds from their offers, you will be facing ruination or possibly a lawsuit. Another disaster in the making if you don’t read and understand the fine print.

Another offer we get quite regularly is for extended coverage on our vehicles – both of which are less than three years old. The letters are worded as though our warranty has never been activated and if we call now all will be fine in the world. Actually, they are trying to sell us an extended warranty which Dave Ramsey says to never buy.

I signed up for Social Security last year because it made sense for me to draw at sixty-two. I immediately started receiving offers of supplement insurance by phone, mail, and email daily, even though it would be three years until I would be eligible.

What happened to the days when you wanted some information you went looking for it? Now it comes looking for you whether you want it or not and doesn’t take NO for an answer.

I’ve decided that there is no way to stop these calls or letters or offers in the mail. They will keep coming as long as we have a phone and an address.

“Try it for free today!” Watch out for that statement, on the phone and in print, and never give your banking or credit information to these people.

Be careful. It’s scary out there! Rant over…


About Elle Knowles

Elle Knowles lives in the Florida Panhandle with her husband and off-at-college-most-of-the-time son. She has four daughters, one son, and eleven beautiful grandchildren. 'Crossing the Line' is her first novel. The sequel 'What Line' is a work in progress. Recently published is Coffee-Drunk Or Blind - a nonfiction story of homesteading in the Alaska wilderness with her parents and four siblings, told through letters by her mother and remembered accounts from the family.

14 responses »

  1. We get that in the UK too – but as we have the NHS – even tho it’s chronically underfunded – at least we don’t get the Medicare pushers – it’s just one of the consequences of a “free market”.

    I always just say go away and put the phone down – and feel sorry for the poor person on the line who’s sunk so low that they have to do the job!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I let them leave a message on the machine. Then I can choose to call back or not. Family and friends know to call me on my cell, so I don’t worry about not picking up my landline for emergencies.
    I agree with you. It’s a nuisance for me but scary for the elderly and uninformed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a rant I could have written myself. I wonder what good all those privacy notices we have to read and agree we read are good for. If you have a phone, you have no privacy. If I want to sleep late, I turn my ringer off. I don’t answer calls I don’t recognize — even in my own area code. If it’s important, I know they will leave a message.

    I resent having my TV and radio programs, blogging time, meal preparation, and bill paying interrupted by people offering services I don’t want or need. Even if I don’t answer the phone still keeps ringing so I can’t hear my program.

    The junk mail is bad enough. I especially hate the offers from banks I’m forced to shred to protect my identity. I have made sure not to give my cell phone number to anyone but personal friends I’m likely to need to contact when I’m on the road. I use my cell phone to call out, not have anyone outside my family or close friends use to call me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We use our cell phones for everything. I don’t put my number down for anything and H gives his out all the time. I told him that is why he gets all those crazy phone calls. Maybe one day he will learn. Ha! If I don’t have a name attached to a number calling me I’m pretty sure it’s not someone I want to talk to.


  4. If I don’t recognize the phone number, I don’t answer. Most of these callers hang up (and were probably scammers). If they leave a message I can choose to return the call or not. Problem solved. The telephone is for my convenience, not anyone else’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Two things you can do:
    1. Abandon your land line (I know, I know . . . but you’ll miss it less than you think)
    2. Tell every single telemarketer to take you OFF their calling list.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s carpet bagger time … Carpet bagger 101, using the phone. My sister still maintains a land line. Recently they bought a new phone. Which had screening software, built in. My sister, found that in the last year, their cold calls dropped very significantly.

    I dropped my landline … maybe 12 years ago? Never regretted it. Saved a ton of money on that. Now here in good ol’ Canada we have some of the highest cellphone costs in the world. Separate issue. My carrier is now pushing a web based land-line, with all the bells and whistles. I think I can get by without it? Cheers Jamie

    Liked by 1 person


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