by Kung Fu Zu 9/16/16
My morning has become, I fear, typical of the American situation. In late July, I went to the website of a large internet retailer whose name starts with the letter between A and A and signed up for a free 30 day trial of it’s “Prime” package. The main reason I did so was to take advantage of the ability to watch “free movies” which the retailer pitches as a major reason to become a “Prime” member.
A few days later, I started looking into how I might use this service and found that I could not view any of the movies which I had interest in. I don’t understand why this was the case, but there it was. For me no free movies meant no need for “Prime.” Within a few days I went to the retailer’s website, and after some difficulty found my way to the button which one needs to click in order to cancel the free trial. I dutifully clicked and thought no more of it. Until today.
This morning, I went on line to pay a credit card bill and noted that a large internet retailer had charged me for joining its “Prime” program. Imagine my surprise and annoyance. In case anyone might think that I mistakenly click the wrong button, let me assure you that this is not the case. So the question arises, “Does the retailer intentionally debit credit cards in the hope that a person does not notice it for a month, thereby getting free use of other people’s money interest free for 30 days? Or, do they hope that the person will decide to go ahead and accept the “Prime” program since the payment has already been made?”
Of course, the debt could be a technical mistake. But if that is the case, one must ponder upon the veracity of the retailer’s claims regarding their “cutting-edge” technical expertise.
In any case, I visited the retailer’s site and after finally figured out how to contact it by phone in order to manage my “Prime” account. Once I called, an automated voice answered and mentioned that I could cancel my “Prime” account and receive a full refund. I thought it strange that this was the very first option given. It made me believe that a lot of people have had the same problem that I had.
Shortly after my internet retailer experience, I called my bank regarding something to do with my account. As is normal today, an automated voice answered and asked me to “say” what my call was about. I responded, “Banking”. After waiting sometime, a Philippine woman picked up and asked for my credit card number. A bit surprised, I advised the lady that I did not have a credit card with the bank. She explained that she only handled credit card questions and would transfer me to someone in banking. After waiting some time, I was transferred to an American man who asked how he could help me. I explained my situation and he said another division handled what I wanted to discuss and he said he would connect me with someone in that division. He said goodbye and the next thing I heard was the same automated voice which had misdirected my call in the first place. I hung up.
Finally, a few minutes after my bank call, my phone rang and the caller ID displayed Conroe 1-936-206-9856. Having received numerous calls from this number I knew who was calling; a fishy fund raiser. I picked up the phone and was immediately greeted by a fellow with a thick Texan accent displaying a particularly oily faux-bonhomie asking how I was. I cut to the chase and asked if he was trying to collect money for the “Texas State Trooper Association?” He confirmed he was. Before he could go into his spiel, I told him that I had received several calls from his group and had asked to be taken off their call list.
The man had the gall to claim that their records showed no previous calls to us. I was about to inform him that I had received a call from his organization less than 24 hours prior, when he apparently, decided it might be better to discontinue the call.
These types of occurrences have become all too common in today’s America. This is worrying as in each case there is either dishonesty, incompetence or both at work. Perhaps more damaging is that such behavior has led to an unhealthy cynicism whereby people decide that “Heh, everybody does it” thereby accepting and perpetuating the disease. Although it may be difficult, I hope all of us will try to avoid falling into this trap and handle ourselves with honesty, integrity and intelligence. Our lives and those of our families and neighbors will be better for it.
Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States.