Flu and Other Shots for Elders
INTERESTING STUFF: 15 October 2011

Crabby Old Lady Wearies of Stupid Retail Tricks

By now, just about everyone who uses email can spot the infamous Nigerian scam and its imitators, right? We also know better than to give our Social Security and bank account numbers to strangers over the telephone or in an email. And Crabby Old Lady is pretty sure you would never fall for a “miracle cure” that lands in your inbox.

If you ever have doubts about a commercial offer, the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission keeps up-to-date lists of scams, how they work and advice on avoiding them.

But today, Crabby Old Lady is more concerned with tricks than scams. It feels as though she has spent a lifetime being always on alert for someone who is trying to rip her off – even reputable retailers – and rather than ire, Crabby feels weariness and ennui.

Hardly a week passes that a catalog doesn't arrive with a blaring headline, “25 Percent Off Sale.” It fools Crabby every time.

Just when she thinks she can finally pick up an item she has been wanting at a reasonable price, she spies the teeny tiny print beneath the giant headline. It requires her magnifying glass for Crabby to see the catch: “On purchases of $200 or more.”

Crabby's item is never as much as the price limit and do you suppose those marketers really believe she will buy $150 of stuff she doesn't need to get 25 percent off? Do they think she is stupid?

This 25 percent off $200 trick is invariably from well-known, established retailers Crabby Old Lady has used all her life – in stores and online - but Crabby is less inclined to feel warm and fuzzy toward them each time this happens.

Then there are the online retailers – well known and otherwise, hundreds if not thousands of them – who make Crabby click through 12 pages to find the price of the item she is interested in. Who in their right mind believes making it hard to find a price will endear anyone to their products?

Crabby Old Lady lives on a budget. She knows how much she is willing to pay for any given item and she does not stick around through 10 or 12 pages to see if her price is a match with the store's. They have lost the sale no matter what the price by page three Crabby clicks.

Crabby cannot be the only person who shops – or not - in this way.

Although Crabby likes to think she's sophisticated in spotting tricks and scams, she got caught in one just this week. She had received an offer to try a “serum” that promises to erase facial wrinkles even in people older than 50.

Yeah, sure, like any of those things work. However, about once a year Crabby tries one with the idea of writing about it here – if she ever finds one that does what it claims. This offer required that Crabby pay only shipping costs.

The miniscule bottle arrived a few days later and as in the past, after a couple of weeks, Crabby's skin was no firmer and her wrinkles had not changed a whit. About then, an unexpected box arrived in the mail – another miniscule bottle of serum.

And sure enough, when she checked her credit card activity online – there was a charge from the serum company for $75. Oh, damn - Crabby immediately knew exactly what had happened.

In purchasing the sample, she had skimmed the 89-page terms and conditions where it undoubtedly states that she agrees to receive a new bottle of serum every two weeks at a cost of $75 each, but she missed it (or, perhaps, it's not there).

It's an old trick used by thousands of online retailers – especially cosmetics companies.

Crabby went ballistic. After a heated telephone discussion with the company, Crabby currently awaits a deduction from her credit card and if it does not appear by Monday, she will open an official dispute via her credit card company. No way will she ever pay those rip-off artists.

That happened on Wednesday. By Thursday, Crabby was again assaulted by lame marketers who believe withholding the price is a sure-fire way to make a sale.

In yesterday morning's email was an announcement of an “upgrade” for the brand of money management software Crabby uses – the new 2012 edition. $20 off, said the email without telling Crabby the price.

Like she said, Crabby feels less angered by such trickery than tired by the stupidity of marketers thinking customers are more inclined to make a purchase when the the price is hidden behind large numbers of mouse clicks.

On this one, Crabby will stick with her old edition and if the company cuts off her ability to sync with her online banking, there are alternatives.

There is no story at The Elder Storytelling Place today. There will be more next week.


Oh dear & I thought I was the only one "taken" on this "deal!" I did manage to have the price taken off my credit card, but after my heated phone conversation I was told that I had to pay a $20 "restocking" fee. For a mini-bottle??? Dee

It's unrelenting and what worries me is letting down your guard when you don't want to. You're tired, distracted, sick, whatever, and then they "get" you becaused you're not your old self. And everyone will get there. Who wants to have someone check on something for you when you want to try "a new thing?" Every time? Which new thing needs checking?

Re wrinkle treatment
"However, about once a year Crabby tries one with the idea of writing about it here – if she ever finds one that does what it claims"

For shame Crabby...its "for research purposes only" indeed!! I thought better of you. You know that wrinkles are inevitable as one ages.

I ignore most of those blandishments. Once in a while I get suckered in to reading the announcements about upgrading my software, but I get stopped before buying. With everything else, I buy clothes at Ross or thrift stores, I don't need housewares, and my truck is still going at 17. I am willing to pay full retail for my shoes tho. Happy feet is a happy me.

It's worth while to buy a subscription to Consumer Reports. One of the "Oil of Olay" products works minimizing wrinkles while none other does.

PS: Thanks for adding me to your elder blogger list for the week. :)

Jenny Richardson...
Anyone who has been hanging out at this blog for more than a month knows that Crabby and Ronni have been defending the normal changes of aging and railing against ageism (which is what all methods of trying to look younger are) for the entire eight years this blog has existed, and Crabby will have none of your snark.

Crabby is quite fascinated by the changes in her physical appearance, has watched them closely over the years and is also curious about the never-ending commercial appeal to fool consumers into thinking these products do anything.

Someday, someone will create a product that actually does firm skin and/or reduce wrinkles and then a fascinating philosophical debate will begin about youth versus age. Crabby looks forward to that.

Meanwhile, you can take your snark elsewhere.

BTW, if anyone is interested, what Crabby liked about this product is the consistency of it - as a normal moisturizer. (Most are too heavy or greasy for Crabby's liking.) But not at this stupid price.

I think I'm turning into a crabby myself! I'm so skeptical about anything that exhorts me to buy things. What I really hate is the offers to get something for free -- if I only will get my friends to buy too. I'm supposed to do their marketing and advertising for them?

At least you are alert and intelligent enough to undo the damages: I have had to bail out a friend twice this past year from shysters who sold her things on the phone that she didn't need, and one, a different Medicare drug plan, has cost her a lot and she was unable to switch back for a year. She has a bit of mental confusion, as do sdo many elders, and that's exactly what those rats are looking for.

My tax refund check is still sitting in my credit union waiting to be used for new window treatments.

Smith and Noble has a nice little catalog that I get and I was so excited to see their 25% off sale! Yet, reading the fine print I find that you need to spend $2,000 or more. The cost on the basic honeycomb shades I'm looking at will be just a little over $1,000. Oh well, guess I'm not using Smith and Noble!

Let me second the comment about how alert you are, on the ball and keeping track of all the ways that we can be tricked. It took my sister and I almost a year to clean up all the scan s*(t in my mother's accounts. Her last purchase was for a totally useless alarm system, sold by a very rude young man. We told him to disconnect it and when he arrived to do so (after messing up all the electric wiring in the house), he started trying to soft soap my mother, calling her by her first name and insinuating that her daughters didn't have her best interests at heart. I cut him off and very curtly told him to call her "Mrs." Oh and I ripped the company for taking advantage of elders. Unfortunately they are not the only ones; this company was located overseas or I might have instigated some sort of investigation. To say that a lot of these scammers are resorting to "stupid tricks" is too kind. It's outright theft and fraud and those who prey on the elderly are beneath contempt. Tar and feather the lot, say I!

I not only have to constantly watch out for scams, but because shopping is difficult for me I buy everything (with the exception of shoes) over the Internet. My last two purchases have made me a very crabby old lady. It's just too long to go into here, but take it from me, I got scammed in a different way. Things were not as advertised and both were sold by reputable dealers.

I'm outside gardening, butt in the air, when up the driveway, struts a man selling driveway sealer.

Three steps in and he makes the pitch.


My response:

"I never buy anything from my driveway or front door."

What I should say is:

"Hey, my pit bull hasn't eaten his breakfast yet, would you like to open the garage door and let him out?"

(I don't have a dog, but who cares?)

Driveway sellers love catching seniors off-guard.

By the way, my mother's driveway is 45 years old, not a crack in it.

Only cracks are in phony sales pitches.

And...have you noticed that in so many stores now you spend $70 and the clerk circles on the receipt where you have "saved" $150 on your purchase. Well actually, I didn't save anything, I spent $70 bucks and I'm thinking that if it is so easy to knock off so much, everything is overpriced to begin with.

oh dear, oh dear, Ronni...
YOU may call it snark but i think maybe its more a case of the truth hurts otherwise you would not be so defensive.

As a very experienced blogger i am surprised that you are so thin skinned. I should not have to tell you to just ignore comments that you do not like.
Peace ...I will delete your blog from my RSS feed and read you no more.

A few years ago, when we were in the midst of the real estate boom. Many people I knew were flipping houses and condos like Aunt Jemima and her pancakes. One day while I was driving, I came upon a radio talk show with a half dozen pundits discussing the R. E. boom and one participant, trying to rationalize the mad pace of home sales said "You know it's the American dream- to own your own home" and another pundit responded "That was the American dream. Now the dream is to make a fast buck"
I think a lot of the retail tricks practiced are inspired by the new American Dream - to make a fast buck and it really doesn't matter how you do it. The ends always justify the means

Caveat emptor, as "they" say.

But who among us hasn't ignored that advice from time to time due to being seduced by advertising. (Oh, well.)

At this age I'm more interested in getting rid of things rather than accumulating them. Well, most of the time anyway! Still need a few toys.

I would never take you off my blog feed, Ronni!
I value your blog. I do think you overreact to criticism, but that is not exactly a crime.
You should see some of the comments I get! That is why I had to go to moderation!

Oh happy day...if she reads no more, she will comment no more. Ronni, don't pay any attention...it is snarky. We all know you do check these offers out for us.

But to the topic. I get emails from retailers I've shopped that scream "free shipping!!!" Again, in tiny print, only if I spend $150.

Olga, love your comment! I'm going to say that to the next cashier who tells me how much I've saved.

I detest would-be scammers! They hardly ever get me, but dealing with them takes time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere. Earlier this year I sent for what was clearly advertised as a SAMPLE acai berry dietary supplement. I don't know what possessed me! They sent the stuff but, like Ronni, I had apparently overlooked some well-concealed microscopic print that stated I was on the hook for a ridiculous sum every month. I, too, complained vociferously and got the order canceled and removed from my credit card, but what a hassle!

I can't imagine that these guys make enough money to offset canceled orders and ill will from angry customers, but maybe they do. Not from me, though!

I'm always cautious of the word "free" since that big coffee scam where coffee trucked into the mailbox once a month with no signed contract after the pot arrived.
And remember those free LPs? LOL, I got caught as a fresh 22 year old emigrant from Ireland. Thought I had landed in the Nirvana of free music until the monthly bills poured in the door and you had to tick the space for 'no record' (tiny print).
C'est la meme chose.
Nothing changes, just the fine print gets smaller to our weary eyes,

Elders always have been prime targets for snake oil sells people. There is one rule to live by when when being approached by people who have "unbelievable deals". Believe that they are unbelievable because you don't get something for nothing from total strangers.

I believe marketers think anyone over the age of 50 is no longer capable of rational thought. I'm crabby about this sort of marketing, too. A couple of years ago, after similar antics by a well-known vendor (automatic continuation of a service after the brief, initial time I had agreed to, because I didn't call them and say NOT to continue), and a less than satisfactory telephone conversation with a customer service rep, I wrote to the company directly, described their behavior as 'contract by ambush' and refused to pay. The billing ceased. I won't make that sort of mistake again!

I was always the good little girl, wife and mother. Reliable, always willing to help, kind to all, understanding etc. etc. After making a heartfelt comment and then being scolded by ronni followed by a few sycophantic comments by others I have discovered in my old age the joy of ruffling a few feathers!
I am certainly not going to take to a life of crime or even just start trolling all over the internet but it really was an interesting experience to be perceived differently.
Thanks ladies. Now smooth your feathers down. Accept that we don't have to be sweetness and light 100% of the time and that even the the most docile of us can have a moment of sharpness.

I had better results with that product and always read the fine print; so only got what I paid for; but I began looking around for something that might be as good for me (and everyone's skin is different) and would be cheaper. Once again it was from Oil of Olay (a product that never seems to irritate my rosacea as some do) Regenerist and got two from Costco (night resurfacing elixir and micro-sculpting serum for daytime. I also like something available from RiteAid (again not costly) called DermaSilk a tightening serum 5 Minute Face Lift.

Nothing is a miracle and I don't mind the fine lines. For sags, I am a believer in facial exercises and stick to them pretty regularly. I think, like our body needs exercise, our face can benefit from it likewise with finding what works best for each person. I like isometrics better than dramatic making faces kind. You can learn to move those facial muscles. It just takes learning and practice. That and lots of water are the biggies but there's no miracle to it all. Face lifts might do more but then they change the whole structure of the face and that horrifies me; and where staying out of the sun would be the biggest help, I never did and never will but I do try to wear hats more religiously now...

Ronni--I have no problem avoiding the types of scams to which you are referring; I spend no time fretting over wrinkles, or manicures, or hairdos and therefor don't purchase such things. But I really, really, really hate how the manufacturers and retailers game the system on pricing things that I do use.
1) In 1960, the standard roll of toilet tissue included 500 sheets. Now a "standard roll" is down to about 123 sheets. Today, there are "double rolls" and "triple rolls", neither of which contains 500 sheets. I have to buy "jumbo rolls" to obtain all 500.
2) Kleenex, at one time touted their larger (recently increased from their previously-sized) box - which at the time had increased to holding something like 230 or 250 tissues. Then, they touted having taken the air out of packaging so that the same number of tissues fit into a smaller box. Then, they touted "fluffier" tissues and decreased the number of tissues in that smaller box. The last box that my husband bought contained only 100 single ply tissues! You would be correct in assuming that with each change the price per tissue increased. (Well...I don't know what the single-ply tissues cost my husband.)
3) Just yesterday I placed my most recently purchased case of Diet Dr Pepper into the downstairs refrigerator. What a shock it was to read that it was a 20-can case. Previous cases have contained 24 cans - at the same price!
4) ad nauseum

P.S. I failed to mention that the width of the toilet tissues has steadily decreased. For many brands, today, one feels like they are using a ribbon as toilet tissue they are so narrow!

Whoa--everyone's out tonite! What drives me equally crazy & would be fun to discuss are those RIDICULOUS odd product sales channels on tv. Somebody must be buying sequined purses and microdermabrazion (sp)and autiomatically stirring their gravy, but it's not me! Don'tcha hate paying cable tv prices when half the channels are junk!? Thank you, Crabby ;)

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