Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dating Baiting



And you think all I've ever done was scam-baiting, didn't ya?

Well before I had received my first email scam, I had taken a few pokes at snail mail solicitations, too. Getting back to the lighter side of dating and dating soivices, my little pre-Valentine's Day prod at eHarmony.com (which still hasn't drawn a response from them) wasn't the first time I'd undertaken to poke a little fun at those who -- for money -- seek to be the grand arbiter of anything relationshipanal. And if that ain't a real word, it just became one hyar.

Back in the mid-80s, and in the wake of learning that my one true love was no longer remotely available to me via matrimony elsewhere, I was a tad on the emotionally destitute side. Sometimes a believer in 'things happening for reasons', I not long thereafter was the recipient of a snail mail solicitation for hep. Hep in finding "that special someone". A company that was nationally-renown at the time, decided that I needed hep.

Before I could ponder just how they could know I needed hep, I realized that it was just another of them 'bulk mailing' things. But what the heck: I could read into it anything I wanted, and I was a wounded free agent at that moment.

The company had a smattering of locations in the Metro area, so I selected the closest one to me and scheduled an appointment. No harm in hearing what they had to say, right? I mean, they did contact me, offering to hep.

I needed hep alright...

Arriving at the location, I sat down in a somewhat spartan reception area, and awaited the associate "assigned to hep" me. When she entered, I was momentarily nonplused: she was stunning in appearance. She greeted me ever so sweetly, introduced herself, and invited me back to her cubicle. For a couple moments, she made small talk, complimenting me on my appearance, etc, yada foo-foo.

And then she shifted gears like a high-balling trucker, and launched into her 'take no prisoners' sales pitch:

She: Are you ready to make a change?
Me: Uh, I suppose so. What am I changing?
She: Your whole approach to dating. Your whole approach to selling yourself. Are you ready to make that change?
Me: Uh, well, tell me more and we'll...
She: *leaning forward and more aggressively*...ARE YOU READY TO MAKE A CHANGE? Me: Uh...

She then settled into a talking points presentation about her company, how it worked, what it did for their clients, and what they expected of their clients. With, at regular intervals, assertions that "here, our members are ready to make a change".

I was starting to get this funny feeling, as if I had landed myself inside a Stephen King short story, like Quitters, Inc.. If you're not familiar with that story, it was about a place where smokers went when they thought they wanted to quit. None of them realized that, once signed up, they were signed up for life. Or death. There was no failure in their program. Ever. As she continued to pitch 'the program', along with ever-persistent insertions of the phrase, "are you ready to make a change?", I started to get this mental image of my beautiful sales associate, morphing into a snarling, whip-wielding Naziette, cracking the whip, screaming "ARE YOU READY TO MAKE A CHANGE, YOU SPINELESS PUPPY! YES OR NO, DAMN YOU!!!? SIGN ZE PAPERS, YOU PIG! VE HAVE VAYS OF MAKING YOU SIGN ZE PAPERS!!!".

I really do need to have a serious heart-to-heart with my imagination, but I digress.

At any rate, she kept pressing, and I kept non-committing, all the while using my dead-pan poker expression to wait for the proverbial "other shoe to drop": what it was gonna cost. I knew that this Valkyrie-like goddess-in-PMS-mode was herding me that way. For those of you who don't know what a Valkyrie is, imagine the entity that arose from the Ark of the Covenant in the first Indiana Jones movie, and what it did seconds later, and you get the general ideer.

Finally, "the other shoe" fell. If I signed up for their "basic package", I would need to make a full, up-front payment of only $1600.00.

*TOING* That one hit my wallet right between the eyes. But not as hard as the "special running now...for only $2199, not only would I get additional 'services', but I could put it on a credit card.

This was a 'special'?

After my adrenal gland had relaxed and taken the pressure off my sphincter -- all the while, Madam "Change" was staring two razor-sharp eyeholes through my soul -- I started to say that I'd like a day to mull it over. But before I could finish the sentence, I was hit with...(all together now)... "ARE YOU READY TO MAKE A CHANGE, OR AREN'T YOU?"

It seemed an appropo moment to borrow a line from none other than Cary Grant, from the movie Father Goose in reply, and I did so emphatically: "I aren't". And with that, I got up to beat a (barely) dignified, hasty retreat, before the iron bars slammed in front of me, trapping me with Madam Iron Box, until I signed ze papers. As I was leaving, I heard her faux *sigh* and say, "I guess you weren't as ready to make a change as I thought".

No sh**, Madam Iron Box (no, I didn't really say that...but something close was just within lip range).

Having barely (it seemed) gotten out of there with my life, freedom and my wallet, I figured that'd be the last I'd hear of this company, since I wasn't that ready to make a change. But a month later, here came another snail mail solicitation from them. This time, with me as the specific addressee. Inside was a 'personality profile' for me to fill out.
Another *TOING*, but not that kind. It was the kind that, in time, would become a baaaaad Skunk *TOING*

Using up time some assert that I have too much of, I completely redesigned their survey, allowing my in-need-of-a-heart-to-heart imagination to run just a touch amok, by including the earlier image in the questions/answers section. I wish I'd kept a copy of the finished product.

Or better still it's probably best I didn't.

At any rate, once done I mailed it to them, figuring that'd be that.

Well, times have changed. Now, a baited company generally tends to ignore smart asses like me. But not then. I got, on corporate letterhead, a snarky reply as thanks to my 'suggestions' about their survey, that said in part (I am paraphrasing here): We are a serious business, and you are not what we consider client-worthy.
I couldn't have agreed more, then and since.

Though, my client-unworthyness didn't stop them from sending me unsolicited mailings over the next ten or so years. Or for a few years after I went online, either. But one email reply in 1999, reminding them who I was -- and asking if Madam Iron Box was still whipping prospectives into compliant, ready-to-change clientele -- finally got them to make a change.

They -- Great Expectations -- quit contacting yours truly. *Whew*

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10 Comments:

Blogger Serena Joy said...

Yowzer! I wonder what the heck you actually get for that $1600 to $2400? I know I could get a very nice dog for less than that.

That picture! Do you suppose it was taken on the set of 'Deliverance?':)

13 March, 2008 22:19  
Blogger Herb said...

Scambaiting was in yer blood all along. Didn't you say at one time you were a cop? It would fit. Sort of. In a Skunkfeathers sort of way.

14 March, 2008 05:53  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Looking for love? Go to Korea - there are plenty of girls champing at the bit for an American husband, no questions asked. Of course it is a package deal and you'll soon have the entire family living with you, but you won't be lonely anymore!!

14 March, 2008 08:06  
Blogger Skunkfeathers said...

Serena: yep, it was a pricey package back in '85, and I reckoned I could misspend that kinda money without anyone's hep ;)

Herb: yeah, I guess baiting someone was always in my blood...

PK: why do I need to look in Korea, when I get regular Russian bride scamstress wannabes emailing me? Granted, all they're after is a stupid American capitalist they can dupe into sending money, but yowza, some of the photos they send me...

14 March, 2008 11:35  
Blogger Little Lamb said...

$1,600 is not a small amount of change. If you can use a credit card for the $2499 does that mean you had to pay the $1600 in cash?

Can you imagine what it must cost now? Wow!

14 March, 2008 16:22  
Blogger Jack K. said...

As usual, I am duly impressed with your scam-baiting acumen.

The variation on your theme is the attendance at the obligatory time-share presentation. Whenever we go places with friends who do have time shares, we always go to the presentation. We always tell them up front that we are not interested, but are willing to listen.

In the end we say no thank you and take the gift certificate for a free dinner. They are great fun, even the last one where the general manager came in and all be called me a dullard and half wit. What an arrogant SOB. I think I just might have to post that experience. No sense taking up so much space here. tee hee, giggle and snerx.

15 March, 2008 11:30  
Blogger Debbie said...

I think it's time for a change, hehe

What, no 'free samples'or 'free trial period'?

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

15 March, 2008 20:39  
Blogger JMK said...

That is indeed a painful story of love and angst....or something like that, painful nonetheless. Seriously, I could really feel your pain there.

Thank God that your penchant for scam-baiting came through to bail you out, is all I can say.

02 December, 2009 07:21  
Blogger Serena said...

I'm glad you reran this! I enjoyed it just much the second time around. And I still say a puppy is cheaper. And more loyal.:)

02 December, 2009 19:16  
Blogger Sniffles and Smiles said...

Sounds like Time-Share Salespersons!!! Trapped...and with no way out...ARGHHHH!!! So glad you escaped...and lived to tell of it...'cuz this made one heckuva laugh!! I love it when you get those bad skunk *TOINGS*...Hugs, Janine

05 December, 2009 09:29  

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