Marketing, like politics, can be very dirty.
Until recently, the telemarketer that raised my ire the most is the aggressive-voiced female, who frequently leaves messages on my answering machine. She launches into a diatribe about how my credit rating is at stake if I don’t attend to it – fast. In a less aggressive voice, she says there is nothing wrong with my credit rating, but it could be even better if I push some button or other. I don’t remember the number because, by now, I have usually slammed the phone down.
This, to me, is marketing in its lowest form.
While my credit rating is indeed fine now, I have over my lifetime been in situations when things were tight, times when creditors, who had been so willing to lend were fast to demand immediate payment. I can remember the heart-thudding, stomach-clenching humiliation of those calls.
So, even though I know I am financially fine, these calls trigger unpleasant memories and I can well imagine how this telemarketer’s call could affect someone who is under financial duress.
And I have a new gripe.
I am well-aware of the risks of Internet shopping and am very careful. I know that if I browse some sites, I will receive a spate of emails from places I’ve never heard of, trying to sell me something. That’s OK, because they’re gone in one click of the delete button. Unfortunately, other marketers are not so easy to shake.
I have had a couple of major department store cards for more years than I’d like to admit, and for the most part, have had no reason to complain. Not any more.
Sometime in March – after 9 p.m., when I was deep in a game of Words With Friends, my phone rang. The man on the other end identified himself as a representative of one of these companies. He offered me membership in a program that would bring me huge savings in a variety of stores.
“No thank you, I am not interested,” I told him, anxious to return to my game.
But, he waxed poetical, promised a package of valuable coupons would be coming my way and, if I wasn’t totally satisfied, a phone call within 30 days would cancel my membership, without charge. Stupidly, I accepted, then promptly forgot about the call, the package and the membership. When I use this card, I immediately pay the bill with my bank card, so the payment shows up on the bill above the charges. Imagine then, my surprise to see two month’s of charges, charges that brought back memories of that rainy night in March and the fact the promised package had never arrived.
A call to the company revealed that the man who sold me the package was not a representative of the card-holding company.
“So, you don’t want us to give your name to third-party marketers, you want us to take you off the list?” he asked.
Wait a minute! I don’t ever remember giving anyone permission to share my info. Getting out of the program with a full refund was a convoluted hassle.
At least I think I got out. Next month’s bill will tell the tale.