Lies, Deceptions and Other Annoying Practices


(AKA: some of my favorite rants)


One of the most annoying aspects of contemporary life is the way lies and deceptions have become a part of the warp and woof of commerce and government. It's not even worth a "tsk, tsk" these days. We've come to expect them. How sad.
Oh, sure, the gov has legislated "fair trade" and "truth in advertising" but the sleaze will always find a loophole.

Wal-Mart "Rollbacks"


Minor but first-hand examples: my local Wal-Mart advertises "roll-backs" & I know for a fact the "was" prices are not accurate. The sign may say "was" 3.00 & the "rollback" is to 2.46 and I happen to have been buying that product for the last year at 2.53. You corner Wal-Mart with these figures and they'll tell you that 3.00 was the price at some Wal-Mart store in Poughkeepsie, not in your immediate area. Oh, PUHLEEZE! This is technically true, but is it HONEST? I don't think so!.

ZAP it to me!

And there was a great commercial on TV for ZAP "restorer" that said it would take the stains & mineral deposits from a variety of surfaces, including marble. But read the label on the Zap container at the store & it says to NOT use it on marble. Who are you going to believe? Restore4 is the latest offender...the TV infommercial includes marble, but the web site has no mention of it. I really do need something to take hard water deposits off of marble, but I'm not going to buy this stuff because I don't trust them.

Your Friendly Automobile Dealer

How anyone with any self-respect can be a car salesman of any sort is beyond me. Our latest purchase poses a question for those "satisfaction" surveys the dealers are sending out these days. We bought a 2000 Mazda van from a Mazda dealer. I made it clear to the salesman that dual air was a priority and I explained my reasons. Reassured more than once that the van we were considering met all our needs, we bought it. Only after getting home and over the next couple of days exploring all our options did we discover the "dual air" was only a rear control of the fan...not the air conditioner controls. Did the salesman mislead us deliberately or did he truly not know enough about this vehicle to tell us the truth? I did make it clear that temperature control and not just fan control was desired, so claiming he misunderstood my desires is not an option. Sigh.

POLITICS/POLITICIANS


The Great American LET-DOWN. It has become almost axiomatic that politicians are not to be trusted. What surprises me most is that the campaign trail is still littered with mud-slinging. I thought studies had shown that negative campaigning didn't have a positive effect. Am I the one who is naive? Does this tactic really work? Ewwww...these guys are worse than car salesmen!

The TAXING authority


(Property-Texas)


Oh, spare me! These guys are the best! I gotta tell you, when it comes to getting water from stones or blood from turnips, these folk will find a way. You worked for 40 years, paid off your house but your retirement won't cover the present property taxes? State of Texas doesn't care, your local school district (especially) doesn't care, your county doesn't care. Hard cheese, buddy.
We're not dealing with people here...we're dealing with taxing "entities." There's no person to hate. You can't cuss out the local clerk, it's not her fault. The whole system is totally de-personalized.
Trust me, this system is insidious. "They" can actually LOWER your tax rate and still get more money from you. You can protest and win, but you will still pay more. The State can enact favorable tax reform and you will STILL pay more.
How? Piece of cake.
Texas property taxes are based on appraisal value and tax rates. These are set at the county/school district level. Either/both or neither may be lowered or raised. The State can change items like the "homestead" exemption amount. Now here's how it worked when the State last raised the homestead exemption. It made then Governor Bush and his state legislature look good when the homestead exemption was raised from $5,000 to $15,000. As soon as possible, my Bastrop County Appraisal district increased the appraisal figure on the LAND portion (the part you can't argue about) of my property from $12,000 to $20,000 and taxes went up as usual.
The county/school district can raise your rate or your appraisal value. You can protest your appraisal value, and you can win, but chances are you won't win down to the amount you set for a value. I've had my appraisal reset twice and am still overvalued.
These guys are out to get more money and they WILL!
Count your blessings. (I tell myself)
At least I do have something to be taxed.
I CAN complain about it.

You think "they" are depending on that attitude? Hmmm?


Pay for OPTING OUT?

Here's a real bummer. You have to PAY to get your name taken OFF telemarketers lists. You have to PAY to have an unlisted phone number...and on this one you pay big time..as of October 9, 2002 for Southwestern Bell it's $35.00+ per year per phone number. Wait...why do I need to pay to have people leave me alone? And last time I checked I had to PAY to NOT have a long distance provider. Ummmm....isn't that interesting...those are all phone related.

BUT....here's an encouraging bit I got in my Red Hat email the other day. One of my favorite guys, Andy Rooney, has some hints for the TM nuisance:

Andy Rooney's tips for telemarketers
Three Little Ways That Work !!

1)Three little words are: "Hold On, Please..."
Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off(instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt. Then when you eventually hear the phone company's "beep-beep-beep" tone,you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end? This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone. This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a "real" sales person to call back and get someone at home. What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there,is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times,as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Since doing this, my phone calls have decreased dramatically.

3) Another Good Idea: When you get "ads" enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these "ads" with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away.When you get those "pre- approved" letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope. Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 37cents postage "IF" and when they receive them back. It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before! the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage- paid return envelopes. One of Andy Rooney's (60 minutes) ideas.Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express.Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back! ..if you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! Eventually, the banks and credit card companies will begin getting their own junk back in the mail. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it...Twice!

Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea !

If enough people follow these tips, it will work----I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.
*****************
THANKS, Andy...I'm definitely going to try your methods.


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