Dishonesty and the Misuse of Language

OK, that title is a little misleading, but that is what the post is about.

I got two phone calls in as many days from telemarketers using words, shall we say, loosely.

I’m writing because

  • These conversations amused me enough to share
  • I searched for information without a lot of luck and this will provide a resource for the next guy
  • It’s easier to write about this than some of the other topics in my queue

Conversation #2 – today, 9:00AM

I answer the phone.  They are already talking, sounds like I missed a couple of words…
“… courtesy call from The Rate Center … the letter you received or will be receiving … your rates have increased or will be increasing … we might be able to help with the rates.

Press 9 if you want to speak to a representative …”

What the heck.  I press 9 to see what it’s about.

“Would you like to talk to someone …”

me: “Who is this?”

“This is The Rate Center.” (the tone of voice says ‘Duh’)

me: “The ‘Rate Center’ for whom?”


Additional research says these folks are using a spoofed number in caller id and they won’t give out contact info.

“Do you have caller ID?”  “Then you should already have the number.”

I received a call this afternoon (8/20/2010, 4:50 p.m.) that not only was in violation of do-not-call regulations but was also misleading and dishonest. A recorded message was worded to sound as if it was from a credit card company we do business with and said that we would be receiving a letter about a rate increase, and if we wanted to negotiate a lower rate to press 9. When I pressed 9 (so I could get the name of the company and make a complaint) I was connected to a woman who wanted to sell me a new credit card at a purportedly lower rate of interest than my current card(s)?  The number showing on caller ID, 778-000-6544, is a sham. I asked what the name of the company was and she replied, “The Rate Center”.  When I repeated the company name back to her she became rude and raised her voice and hung up.
Caller: The Rate Center
Call Type: Telemarketer

We are supposed to assume that this is a call from someone with whom we have an account, and this is their ‘rate center.’

Conversation #1, earlier this week

I answer the phone

“May I speak with Elijah’s mom or dad?”

me: “This is his dad.”  I already smell a fish, but decide to play with him.

“… I’ve been assigned to Elijah … Your son checked off a box saying he was interested in <something about preparing for the SAT or improving his scores>”

“Has your son told you about the changes to the SAT format?”

No, he doesn’t typically talk about stuff like that, though we know all about them., “Why, no.  He hasn’t.”

I can tell he’s excited.

He tells me all about the new essay portion and how that makes it harder and increases the need for preparation.

“blah blah blah … self paced lessons on CD … twenty minutes two days a week … they will arrive in about 10 days … when you get them … if you decide to keep them …. just need to confirm your mailing address …”


me: “Hold on.  I never said I wanted these.  I have a few questions.”

me: “Where would he have ‘checked’ this ‘box’?”

“Perhaps at a career day at school, or after a practice test, or perhaps in the counselor’s office …”

We homeschool, and are pretty sure our son is not hanging out with any counselors or taking practice test behind our backs.

 “Hmm.  That sounds pretty vague, and none of those apply to my son.”  I wish I hadn’t said that – it put him on guard.

me: “So, you are ‘assigned to’ Elijah – by whom?”

he sounds a bit off guard

“Um ‘Student Services’ ” (duh.  and a good parent wouldn’t ask)

me: “‘Student Services of what?


This one really ticked me off.  They are preying on parents who want to believe their kids are striving to improve, and taking advantage of the fact that most of them don’t know exactly what is going on at school.  They are using words that imply association with the school without really saying so.

Again, further research shows that they don’t give out contact information, the return phone number does not work.  The cost (“$50” or so) turns into a monthly cost, and it’s near impossible to stop the recurring charges.  If your son or daughter is around to answer questions (such as where this ‘box’ might have been checked) they will hang up.

I’d kind of like to know the law on this one – if I can get them to send me something on trial without asking for it or saying I want it, and without giving out a credit card number (duh), can I keep it?

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