Thursday, March 1, 2007

Crime Walks Upright on Two Feet

It is amazing to me how intent we are in pursuing justice for victims of criminals that walk amongst us upright on two legs. People like the peeping tom, the intruder, the thief, street beggars, and terrorists.

But meanwhile, we are so oblivious to the crimes of the thieves and swindlers that embed their horrendous crimes against innocent individuals in print. Things like home and car insurance policies, bank service policies, and utility policies. Things like user fees, carrier charges, hidden fees, customer fees, and fees for access of our own money. We all have stories to tell of the contract that wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on.

I can’t help thinking about the “Gas Cost Recovery Charge” I paid on top of current charges for several years to the gas company. The explanation being that they charged less in previous years than they should have.

And since when should I have to pay a deposit on a vehicle that I am interested in buying? No matter what retailers are selling, whether vehicles or major appliances, if my choice is not a special order, there should be enough inventory that they would be happy to hold the specific one I’m interested in for a measly 24 hours without me giving them a generous deposit?

And I think it’s criminal to have to ‘buy’ a warranty for anything. Isn’t a warranty intended to demonstrate the seller’s conviction that they are selling a quality product? And then there’s the magazine companies that renew subscriptions without authorization from the subscriber and then send bills and bills and more bills. The only way out is to send a letter of cancellation for something you never even requested. And if you buy a toilet, for cryin’ out loud, it will be displayed in the store in it’s completeness but no one is going to tell you that it comes minus a tank and lid, unless you happen to ask. And what’s with those sale tags that are so carefully placed on shelves to cover the regular price? Don’t retailers want customers smiling about the bargains they got on sale items? Makes people like me skeptical about whether sale prices are more or less.

Or the sale tags that say butter that normally sells for $3.69 is only $2.15 a pound and then in tiny unreadable print there is the condition that you must buy four pounds. Of course you can’t hope to read the small print so you are totally happy with that reasonable pound of butter until you get to a busy till and find out that it is even more than normal price cause you didn’t buy four pounds. That is a fraudulent business as well. Or prices displayed that are really quite impressive but when you get to the till you find this shop is a club or sorts, and without valid membership in the club, the prices you pay will in no way resemble those prices posted.

And isn’t it fraudulent practice for investment advisors to neglect to say, “I think this is what is going to happen with this investment, but the truth is my opinion on any of this amounts to nothing more than guesstimates. I laughed when one of the television channels did a small investment test a few years back. One all-knowing investment expert chose her preferred stock according to experience and wisdom, the other pinned the stock page listing to the wall, threw some darts and accordingly choose her stocks. The archer ended up with radically greater profit through this endeavor two years in a row.

It is getting to the point that there are more scammers in our day-to-day lives, then there are spammers on the internet. And there is too much skulking going on for me to be convinced that there is ‘nothing to hide’. But why the skulking, I have no idea. It’s not as if we see any of this as a crime. Crime walks upright on two feet.


Joy Des Jardins said...

This was a terrific post Roberta...and I agree so much with what you say. There are all kinds of crimes, and they're being perpetrated against us every day...we just don't always know, or fully understand it. Thanks for the shout-out...

Matty said...

Good Post! We have white collar crime everywhere,,,,,are they any different than thugs who grab your purse? Not really, they're just more polite about it.

Roberta S said...

joy and matty, what I don't understand is if grocery items must list the ingredients why contracts are not required to list up front all charges including 'hidden charges' or higher rates that kick in aftr an initial free month, cause, know what? I'm seriously allergic to extra charges. Like peanuts, those charges make my throat swell and seriously affect my breathing.

Thank you both for chiming in. It's always nice to hear from you.

Matty said...

This week I called the phone company,,,I had no clue why my phone bill was so high every month, when I communicate with my family by MSN.
I was taxed on taxes..Ihad them explain to me what I was paying for.
No, I told them I don't want to talk to 2 people at the same time,,I don't want call waiting,,,,if someone wants me bad enough they can call back, I don't need to be listed,,family and friends have my number, I'm not looking for more. I don't need a long distance plan, who do I call? We all MSN each other. That way, I cut my phone bill in half.

A few years ago, I was visiting my mother when her house insurance agent passed by. I asked him why my mother was paying twice as much as me, when I had the bigger house? He hemmed and hawed and talked about rising insurance rates, blah, blah, blah!
I then called my agent, and my mother changed her policy, so I saved her a few hundred a year.
You really do have to read between the lines.

Dick said...

What is the crime of robbing a bank compared to the crime of running one? Bertold Brecht

Anonymous said...

Great post, Roberta!

It's become necessary to read everything these days. You can't assume that people in business will be honorable. I miss the days when a handshake was an adequate contract.


Roberta S said...

Hi dick, your comment says it all. Thanks for stopping in.

Roberta S said...

Hi Buffy, my God, it's been so long I completely forgot about the "handshake". But now that you mention it, I remember those days, and I'm bloody homesick for them right now.

Roberta S said...

matty, nice to hear how you spotted one of the 'skulkers' and got more reasonable insurance prices for your mom. Sometimes the crime is revealed in the small print, other times its revealed in conversation (or body language).