Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Public Service Announcement..... Or How to Turn In Your Citizenship Card For "Namby Pamby Land"...



One day little girl,
The sadness will leave your face,
As soon as you've won,
Your fight to get justice done......

("True Grit", Glenn Campbell)


You know, a new scam pops up every day. Especially those types that prey on the elderly. And we, as guardians of our aging parents, need to be sharp---and frequently question them when it comes to their utilities and other large expenditures. Even if they sass you back in a Southern Accent. You've got to be on your toes.

It all started with my beloved Mumsy emailing me the following: "Rats. Satellite dish out and I can't reach the company--and me here with no good book."

I got the name of her satellite company and told her I'd try to get a work request put in for her since she's not good with those type of technical things. She said: "Oh, and the guy says don't call the regular Direc TV number---he said to call this one here."

Ok, it's difficult for my mother to manage technical things like satellite TV dishes, cell phones, and ATM machines. (But she can use powerful saws to cut her mosaic tiles and is a whiz bang with an electric hand mixer.) But she has a hard time explaining things on the phone to slick talking phone operators.

But not me. I'm a bulldozer of a consumer---and I don't, per the popular GEICO "mean psychiatrist" TV commercial, "need to go to Namby Pamby Land to pick up some courage".

Noooooooo, I am a savvy consumer and I suffer no fools. And the reason I don't need to go to Namby Pamby Land to get courage is that I already have it. The shit that I've had to crawl through (literally and figuratively) in my lifetime has painfully burned plenty of courage into my skin, whether I wanted it or not.

But my mother is a Southern Lady and sometimes gets flustered. And she would never think of being "rude" to another person. So she needs my help with some matters, even if I am across the country and out of my natural habitat of The South.

Anyhoo, here's the scam:

Last year she went to buy a TV and got to talking to the shop owner. She made a slight, chatty complaint about how Direc TV wanted her to renew her contract by buying a new box. Immediately she is referred to a "guy" in the shop who makes her what she didn't realize was a devil's deal:

If she'd allow their company to handle her Direc TV account from now on, she'd get an "individual Direct TV account", with the same Direc TV deal she had before, only without having to buy the box. And also that she wouldn't have to go through Direc TV's regular telephone voice menu hoopla for repair calls---she'd deal one-on-one with Direct TV's repair department to get better and faster Direc TV service.

The only catch is that she had to change the name on her account to her middle name....

Great. So she falls for the deal the nice young men offered her, never knowing it's a common scam, sometimes called the "back door" scam. She falls for it and signs on the dotted line, which said "American Wireless".

So. To make a long story short, guess what I found out when I took her information and began investigating why we couldn't get a simple repair call put in to Direc TV?


1. She is not a customer of Direc TV and they never heard of American Wireless.

2. She has Direc TV equipment. She thought that meant she was still a Direc TV customer. Nope again.

3. She gets a monthly bill statement on a paper bill which has realistic looking Direc TV letterhead. I had her look closely. And (as she would say) Oh my word. The bill statement showed an incorrect address for her, and there was another lady's name & address on there for some weird reason--- and the payment money was going to a suspicious address in Arkansas. Also, they convinced her that she HAD to let them take the payments automatically out of her credit card, which might explain why the addresses on the paper bill didn't have to make sense.

4. She can't get ahold of anybody at American Wireless for a repair call. Whatever happened to her getting better customer service if she switched to their repair guys? I called their damn number till it rang for about a zillion times and the cows actually came home, which was all for naught because I never got an answer.

(This may be the one time in my life when I actually wanted a voice recording to answer, if only to immortalize myself claiming that I would "wipe the floor of I-35 with you yella-belly, egg-sucking, mother-cheatin', dog-ruinin', card-cheatin', couldn't-hit-the-broad-side-of-a-barn-with-a-cap-pistol, assholes whenever I finally got ahold of them".....)

Today, my mother is still having a hard time believing she was fooled. She doesn't understand it. She is not like me---she doesn't frisk people at the door, ask for identification, ask 250 pertinent questions, or do background checks. Just kidding, I don't do that---but I can smell a scam a mile away. They would never have even TRIED to screw with me because, although I might look like a small person from Geico's "Namby Pamby Land", I'm actually from Maddie and Rooster Cogburn's "True Grit Land", and am usually loaded for bear when it comes to people cheating me or my mother.

(Or is that Sarah Palin Land???? Let's not go there...)

Okay, there are several morals of this story:

1. If you have a beautiful Southern Lady mother, watch her closely.

2. If your mother is cheated, do not spare the cheaters. If you have to, go get some courage from Namby Pamby Land. But whatever you do, go for the gusto---get those damn cheaters and make sure they cringe the next time they hear your name.

3. Tell them you know the county's Asst. District Attorney.

(But don't tell them it's because the Asst. District Attorney and his brother once saved your ass from a drunk driving conviction by plea-bargaining it down to a lesser charge, behind Judge's Chambers, with the Asst. District Attorney lecturing you in a stern Texas accent: "Now Bo! Don't yew never drink no more booze ever agin', you heah me? And Ah mean it this time, dammit!"

(It goes like that in small Texan towns, sometimes.....but ya gotta come from "True Grit Land".....)


Epilogue: I was able to negotiate a fabulous "Come Back to Us" package from the REAL Direc TV--and admonished my Mumsy to consult me on big decisions--and dammit if she didn't sass me again.




Jenn said...

You go, Bo! Good for you for advocating for you mom! Let the scumbags have it!


Bo... said...

Thank you so much, Jenn!

Cindy/KS said...

Similar events is how we found out my mil has dementia! (And that isn't trying to say your mom might have it also!) Her sister, who now has financial POA has her included in a class action suit against the bank that allowed the scammers to withdraw from her bank account multiple times even though they knew it was a scam.

Bo... said...

That's exactly what I'm worried about, Cindy---that they'll get ahold of her money in her account. She's already allowed them to take out their monthly bill's money from her credit card account.

danielle said...

Off topic - looked at the photo of the sweater you are making for your uncle and just wanted to tell you that i luuuuuuuuvvvvv the colors! They are yummy together!

Bo... said...

Thank you, Danielle!!!

Anonymous said...

BTW, county's generally have one ADA. It's the DA that they have one of. If you say you know "the" ADA, it doesn't really work. Unless they don't know what you're talking about either.

Bo... said...

To Anonymous: What the hell are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

You said: "...the Asst. District Attorney and his brother once saved your ass from a drunk driving conviction..."

I think Anonymous just made an error in typing her reply. I think Anonymous meant to say "county's [sic] generally have [more than] one ADA," which is true. So if you were referring to "the ADA," the person wouldn't know who you meant, because there are usually more than one Assistant District Attorney.

Bo... said...

Anonymous: It's true that most counties have more than one ADA but not in Texas podunk towns. They sometimes just have one. That's the way in this particular town. And in the court proceedings altogether. I had a probation officer who was more my friend than anything else because she liked nurses. She never once tested my urine for alcohol or drugs. And sometimes the PO's don't turn in young boys who test positive in their urine tests because they want to steer them in a better direction. Luckily for me, I was there for this particular court issue. The ADA's brother was a friend of mine and he really did work out a deal with his brother, the ADA, for me to avoid a 2nd DWI. I'll be grateful all the days of my life.