I continue to receive calls warning me that the warranty on my 15 old truck is about to expire! For the record, the warranty expired 12+ years ago and I did not buy an extended version. It’s a scam call… which I get daily, sometimes twice a day. I also recently plugged in a new TV device, which of course had to be activated by going online and entering the code on the screen. The online address that pops up first is a scam address (I think it’s missing an “s” on the http portion of the web location)… anyway, I pulled this up on my phone, and the page looks official, but you quickly learn it’s not when it routes you to make a call that connects you with someone who wants to charge you to activate the product. They are clearly not legitimate, and after the ransom is paid, the activation would never work.
I’m not happy that the company that makes this product hasn’t provided more substantial warning about it, or that the search engine still allows the scam site to “hijack” the real site. But I’m also really pi**ed about these horrible people that try to steal from the unsuspecting public. As soon as I realized I was redirected into a scam, I hung up. I called back just to see if the number would be answered and to my amazement it was. I told them they were lying and were a scam, and was going to try to reason with them, but they quickly started to get extremely vulgar with me, so I simply hung up… and even though I clearly understood all the obscenities, they must have thought I needed additional clarity, because they called me back. This time when they spewed their four-letter laced diatribe at me, I let them talk because I figured while they were on the phone with me, they wouldn’t be able to rip anyone else off. I considered posting their phone number and asking everyone to call them, making their ability to scam others more difficult as they would be inundated with calls, but in the end, I figured they would probably just get a new phone number and it wouldn’t matter.
The number in question is likely routed out of the country, but for good measure I called the police in the area code where the call originated, as well as my local police, who were extremely helpful and understanding. If nothing else, this person or company will need to at least change this particular phone number. I guess I can count that as a small victory.
There have always been dishonest people, so although sad, I’m not surprised this happens. What did surprise me is the company whose product I purchased didn’t take greater interest in stopping this kind of larceny. I was eventually able to contact them via Twitter (because no one really has true support anymore, instead they have to be Twitter shamed to respond), and they provided some suggestions, but all the work to resolve the issue was assigned to me… to fix their issue. Same with the search company, they just forwarded me to, what I would describe as, the equivalent of their DMV line for support. They really don’t care. Seriously, they don’t.
As a self-acknowledged nerd, I watched the congressional hearings a few weeks ago, the ones where they interviewed some large tech company CEO’s, and every one of those CEO’s said “it’s all about the consumer”. I’m here to tell you it’s not about the consumer. It is about money. It is always about money. I’m convinced that the provider of the product I’m talking about just has my “scam” experience factored in as an acceptable percentage. The search company has me factored in as an acceptable percentage, etc. Then they both assigned me the task to fix a service problem associated with their products. But they told congress they were concerned with the consumer… can you see why I’m confused?
If my company’s web address was being hijacked on a regular basis and used to scam people, I would 1. Be irate and 2. Be doing everything in my power to stop it… and I’m a tiny little company, not one worth hundreds of billions or even over a trillion dollars… let me write that out for you $1,000,000,000,000. Not to harp on the point, but a billion dollars is one thousand million dollars. Think about having a net worth of just a measly one hundred million dollars (wouldn’t that be nice), then understand that a billion is ten times that amount (or a thousand million). Now consider a trillion dollars is one thousand billion – seriously, a thousand billion dollars! It sounds ridiculous, but not quite as ridiculous as a company having that kind of wealth and not handling their own support issues. I’m not opposed to having super successful companies, in fact I hope to be the owner of a super successful company one day, but I am absolutely astonished by their lack of interest in providing easy to access customer support. Is it because they have too many customers and it would be impossible to support them all? Is it because they can’t afford it? Maybe when they get to $5 Trillion they will be able to afford it? Maybe it’s because they don’t have to provide support, because the reality is we have limited options and they simply don’t have to care … where are we going to go? Actually, it’s probably just about money. It’s always about money.
In the past, when I had an experience below my expectations, I used to change products or services, at least for a little while to make my dissatisfaction known. Now it doesn’t matter, because many companies have made it extremely difficult, if not impossible to “walk” by making you commit to long term agreements or even worse “subscription” services that are cumbersome to turn off. Even if you do walk, where do you go? I believe in free enterprise and capitalism, but I also believe that those who wield influence and power should lead by example and inspire others to be better, not lower the bar for everyone… be better big companies, start inspiring instead of disappointing us.