Wednesday, March 06, 2013

exposing scams and wondering about random things

pretty photo i took at esbjerg harbor yesterday - more like this to come as soon as the internet arrives

the internet has promised to arrive at our house today at the most precise time of between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. - it's 1:19 p.m. as i write this, still via my highly unstable mobile connection - made even more unstable by it being a cloudy day, and there's no sign of those jokers skilled technicians. but since a blog post is bubbling in my head and standing in the way of me getting anything of substance done, here are a few things i'm pondering as i wait for the real internet to come:

~ i'm not keen on energy-saving lightbulbs. there, i said it. i miss the soft light of the old-fashioned kind. i know they're not good for us and for the environment, but can't someone please make an energy-saving lightbulb that lasts as long as it claims it will and also gives off some kind of soft, glowy light? i replaced the lightbulb in the lamp by the bed yesterday and it already burned out this morning. that's not cool and was by no means the 6 bazillion hours that phillips promised on the package.

~ are TED talks just the new sermons for the secular? don't get me wrong, i love TED in many ways, but i'm getting an evangelical vibe from them of late.

* * *

i have for you a sordid tale of a collection scam that's apparently made its way to denmark. i wrote previously about an insidious scam that student loan debt collectors had going in the US. this one is much more small scale and probably much more lucrative for its perpetrators, as i guess it probably works most of the time. we had a magazine subscription to a garden magazine. we stopped the subscription and had a final bill to pay of about 245 DKK ($40). this bill ended up on my desk, where other papers piled up on top of it and i'll admit i forgot all about it. for a couple of months.

one day, last month, i was going through the stack of papers on my desk and found it. looked at the due date (a couple of months previously) and thought, "shit, i'd better pay that!" so tho' it was a thursday evening, i opened up the netbank and immediately paid it.  

lo and behold, five days later, i receive a collections notice from a company called advis on the subscription, now adding an additional 480DKK ($83) to the amount of the bill i had already paid, for their "collection costs." on a bill that was paid. so i wrote to them at the generic email address that was provided and asked them to please check their records, as the bill was already paid the previous week. five days is ample time for a payment to be registered.

they responded that it had already gone to collections (suspicious timing in my view) and so i needed to pay the extra 480 to avoid court. really? i find that to be utter bullshit, so i have continued to dispute the claim. 

i find the timing very suspicious as well as the amount - double the amount of the original bill, and on an item, like a subscription, where i imagine that there are many people who forget to pay the bill on time. it's a small bill, you lay it on your desk, thinking that the next time you sign into the netbank for something a bit more significant, you'll also pay that one. and then, like me, the paper disappears down a pile and you forget. 

i imagine the collections trick - sending it out as soon as you realize the customer has actually paid (what was admittedly an overdue bill) - works pretty well. people feel guilty that they forgot about it and they just pay the additional amount. the original non-payment of the bill wasn't due to a lack of funds, more due to the general insignificance of the amount and feeling it wasn't worth the whole getting out the code thingie to sign into the netbank just for that. i imagine that doubling the original amount as "collection fees" also represents an amount that people will swallow. and it probably works most of the time.

but i find it to be utter bullshit. there was ample time in this electronic age, for the payment i made to have been registered in their system. i believe the system is designed to kick out these collection letters to try to get more money out of people, to prey on their guilt. are things really that bad in the publishing industry that they have to resort to this? it strikes me as one of those "businesses" that arise in a time of crisis. and honestly, i think it's crap. so i'm continuing to fight it. the next step in my fight is to send them a link to this post. after that, i'm going to a DR program called kontant, that exposes consumer fraud. i can't be the only one who has had this little scam played on me.

No comments: