These telemarketers are getting serious.
You know who I mean. Those people who sit in little rooms and dial your telephone number and try to sell you something.
They used to call and mispronounce my name as "Mr. Alley Ward.'' They've smartened up. Today, they call and ask, "Jim?'' And, then they pause.
I say, "Yes.'' They say, "This is Jack.''
I don't know anybody named Jack, do I? Well, this guy on the other end of the phone is saying he knows me. He is a friend of mine. Cautiously, I again say, "Yes?''
Jack tells me, "I'm your insurance agent.'' He's being friendly. But, then comes the pitch.
He says, "I was just checking your policy and I'm wondering if you'd like to increase your benefits?'' I ask, "Will that raise my rate?'' He says, "A slight increase.''
I have my own response. "Hit the road, Jack.''
If you get on the do-not-call list, they aren't supposed to bother you with a sales call. But that law doesn't apply to non-profit groups.
Charities will call to say they really don't want a contribution. Huh?
No, they don't want my money. They just want me to agree to send letters to five friends asking them for money. The first time this little ploy happened, I was napping when the phone rang. I woke up confused and agreed to their request. Two days later, they called back to thank me. At that time, I told them I didn't want to do it.
A couple of weeks went by and they called again.
"Mr. Alley Ward? I'm not calling for a contribution.''
I hung up. Fast.
This same technique seem to be happening with car repair places.
Not long ago, I drove to a quick-fix car place. I parked, walled into a waiting room where there was a man seated, but no one behind the desk. Suddenly, the owner or head mechanic came in from the garage to ask a question of the man waiting. He got the answer and, ignoring me, turned and went back to his work. He never asked me if he could help. He never asked why I was standing there.
So much for the quick fix.
I walked out and went to the place across the street. There, they were friendly, courteous, attentive and just about everything I wanted in a car-repair shop. They had framed little homilies framed displayed on the wall. They smiled a lot.
I told them the brakes were mushy. They smiled and said they could fix it for $545. I told them to do it.
The job was done. I drove the car with new brakes home. Suddenly, the ride was exactly like a dump truck driving over rough terrain.
Bump. Bump. Bump.
I took it back and told them about the ride. They looked at it. They pushed on the rear. They pushed on the front. They said it was the rear shocks and struts. See, when they put it up on the rack to fix the brakes, the shock absorbers extended. Now, they had to be replaced. They said they could fix that little job for just $645.
"I come in to fix the brakes for $545. You put it up on the rack and fix it and you ruin the shocks and now you want me to pay $645?''
They said I could put it on a charge card and make payments. I told them I already did that for the cost of the brakes. Well, it's an old car, they said.
About a week later, I received a telephone call. It's from the place that ruined my car while fixing it. I nice young man wanted to know if I'm satisfied with their service. I tell him, "No.''
He asked me if I wanted the owner to call. I said, yes, he can call me if he wants to. He never did.
Now, if I take an evening drive, I think of Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve.
"Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night.''
One good thing. At least when I'm in the car, the telemarketers don't call.
Jim Aylward of New Port Richey was formerly a nationally syndicated columnist and radio host in New York City.