If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sales Bullies

My late first husband, who died ten years ago, still receives mail at my house—though we were divorced for fifteen years before he died. If he were alive, he would be approaching Medicare age. Suddenly, missives from various insurance providers (almost none with identification of the firm involved) are hitting my mailbox every day. I called the number listed on one of the early ones to tell them that Michael was dead. I sent back the cards, which others provided without a phone number, printing in large block letters across them, DECEASED.

Almost immediately, I began to receive hectoring telephone calls from the first company, who now had my phone number and name from my call to advise them of Michael’s death. The more I refused the Medicare insurance they had to sell, the more verbally aggressive and downright mean they got. I began refusing to pick up the phone at sight of their phone number in caller ID, so they switched numbers and caught me another couple of times before I learned those new numbers. Currently, they call four or five times within five minutes, varying the number each time. They start at 8:00 a.m. and continue throughout the day, every few hours. When I’ve told them that they must stop, they say I contacted them so they have the right to call me, even though I’m on the no-call list. And unfortunately, that seems to be the truth, even though I contacted them only to tell them their target was not here.

Meanwhile, someone from one of the other companies showed up on my doorstep, insisting I let him in so he could give me the hard-sell on his company’s insurance plan. When I repeatedly said no, he verbally abused me for agreeing to be visited and changing my mind, shouting and leaning into my face at the door until my dog was straining at the collar I held, trying to get at this stranger threatening his mom. I slammed the door in his face, puzzled at his feeling of entitlement until I realized that he must be from one of the companies I’d sent a card with DECEASED written on it. Someone at their corporate headquarters must have interpreted that as permission to send their salesman around.
I’ve been in touch with our attorney general’s office about these events, and I’ve learned that this is common. Medicare is confusing, and these companies have made a habit for years of using high-pressure sales tactics with the elderly, since they’ve found older people’s unquestioning regard for authority figures makes them easy targets to bully.

Now, the baby boomers are hitting retirement and Medicare age. My late first husband was in the vanguard of this group. If he were alive, he would never have put up with this sales-bullying, and I think these companies are going to find that their stereotype of little old elderly people who are easy to pressure into sales will backfire in their faces as they try it out on the boomers. We have had precious little regard for authority figures throughout our lives.

I have encountered more and more of this aggressive, high-pressure behavior in salespeople of all kinds lately. I wonder if that’s because I’m moving toward that age when we’re supposed to turn into people easy to bully into sales that are not in our best interests, or is it because times are tough financially and people are desperate to make sales. Which do you think it is? I try to keep in mind that even the most hectoring salesman is just trying to put food on his (women can be bad, but the worst offenders are all men, I’ve found) table. Still, it really makes me mad. Have you noticed this kind of sales warfare being waged against you lately?


E. B. Davis said...

One time a nearby county's firefighters called us for a donation. I kindly informed them that I lived in another county. They insisted that I lived in that county, not the one I actually live in. With a bit of research, I found that the call was not from nearby firefighters, as they purported, but from a professional "charity promoter" that county had hired, which was located in Hollywood, California. It was no wonder they insisted I must live in the other county. When I looked up our phone number online, for some reason our number listed another community located in that county. Our exchange, which we've maintained for twenty years is now dedicated to another area even though we don't live there.

I love when building contractors call or when they arrive at our house to sell us new windows or such. Sorry, my husband is a building contractor. Hehe!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Elaine. More and more nonprofits and such have outsourced to those "charity promoters," which are nothing more than call centers using the hard-sell. When one of them I've been giving to does that, I inform them that, since they are spending money on one of these places to harass me, I won't be giving them any more of mine.

I have less and less patience with this kind of stuff as I get older.

Gloria Alden said...

I am so tired of hearing from Rachel of Cardholder Services. Since it's a robo call, I can't tell her what I think. In fact, if there's a pause from when I answer, I figure its that kind of call and hang up immediately. Also, when any charity or anyone else calls for a donation, I tell them I never contribute to anyone who calls. In fact, if it's someone like from CARE, I tell them I won't contribute to them again.

Linda, I'm getting junk mail for my ex-husband, who has never lived in my house at this address. Like you said, and you're younger than I am, we are prime candidates for all the charities, insurance companies and other ones who target older people, and with good reason. When my friend took over her mother's finances when she broke her hip, she found her mother was donating to all sorts of charities numerous times. I get notices from charities I haven't contributed to in years that have in big red letters, FINAL NOTICE. Some elderly people would be scared by this and write a check right away. In my opinion, that's an unethical charity. I can't remember which one it is now, but it is a very well known one.

E. B. Davis said...

Me too, Linda. I love the Planned Parenthood organization, but after I gave money towards their programs, their political action people got very aggressive trying to get my donation for their agenda. Even if I do support it, I didn't like their tactics.

We once had a nail salesman call us. (We buy a lot of nails in the building business.) They had good prices, but then we realized that they were in California and the shipping took away all the savings and made them more expensive than local nails. The salesman got so mad he threatened me. I called the police and they put a tracer on my phone. Of course, I wasn't too worried since they were in CA, but really selling to the East Coast where their product couldn't be competitively priced was unrealistic, and of course, threatening was outrageous.

Warren Bull said...

When I changed insurance companies from Blue Cross Blue Shield of KANSAS CITY to Blue Cross Blue Shield of KANSAS (note the difference) I informed my pharmacy but they sent one last bill to KC anyway. KC mistakenly paid the bill and then tired to dun me for cost, insisting I owed them $7,000. I agreed KC had paid when KS should have. KC refused to talk to KS about it. KS admitted on the phone to me they owed the money but repeatedly lied about when they would pay it. (Think: Never.)

I was harassed and threatened but I refused to pay a bill I did not owe. KC reported me to the credit score companies as a deadbeat. Finally an advocate at my wife's workplace called KS and they paid.

She represented thousands of customers so she was not safe to ignore. I can only imagine how often KC and KS branches of the #@$%## SAME INSURANCE COMPANY get their bills mixed up.

My wife became eligible for Medicate recently and we were deluged with letters and calls.

Thanks for this blog so I could vent.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Elaine, I find some male salesmen get threatening with women, trying to intimidate us. Bad tactic with me.I may look and sound like a nice, sedate middle-aged woman, but inside, I'm still the girl who broke a lamp over the head of an attacking Hell's Angel.

I'm glad you called the police on him. I hope they sent one of their counterparts in CA over to visit the company.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, I have received those threatening notices from charities, also. Sometimes, one to which I've never given will send me an official-looking INVOICE(!) for my "pledge." And yes, these are big, "reputable" organizations who've outsourced their direct mail solicitations the same way they've outsourced their phone solicitations.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, oh, yes. The insurance glitches.

I am having to leave an eye doctor I love because the woman who does the insurance for the big eyecare chain he's part of routinely mislabels part of my insurance claim, no matter how he makes sure he marks it as medically necessary, so my insurance company won't pay. I call and they say "mark it right and re-send." I call the woman and tell her that. Instead, the next thing I hear is from a debt collector. The company won't get rid of her, and I'm tired of doing this dance and paying for things my insurance covers, so I have to find a new ophtalmologist. *sigh*

Warren Bull said...

I haven't even begun to complain about insurance companies. I hope when you leave your eye doctor you will consider writing a letter to the company directors explaining why they lost your business.

I used to contribute to public radio but they would call me way to often at dinner time. I told them I would contribute if they stopped calling but if they ever called me for any reason except to tell me my house was on fire I would never contribute again.

I had about one month of peace. Then they called and I stopped giving.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Warren, you and I have had large experience of insurance companies.

To those readers who haven't yet had a critical or chronic illness, pray it never happens. Aside from the physical difficulties you'll face, the insurance companies and hospital bookkeeping offices (which have mostly been outsourced to companies in other states) will torment you at your most vulnerable time.