Well, it’s been Scam City around here this morning. (And Spam City too, come to think of it: sixty emails this morning, only one of which was a real, honest-to-God communication from a real person. GOD.)
First came The Phone Call. Now, I’ve had this phone call before. It comes from an organisation – in this case ‘TNT Children’s Safety – who claim to be in the process of publishing a safety guide for children which will be sent out to parents at all of our local schools, and which is just crying out for my support, in the form of me spending a few hundred pounds on an advert for The Bizniss. Because, you know, saving the children is good, but cynical profiteering under the guise of "helping charity" is even better!
When we were new to business, I’d never fail to be sucked in by these people. I wouldn’t actually buy an advert from them, of course – sometimes being poor has its uses – but I’d believe that they were, indeed, genuine organisations, genuinely trying to help the poor kiddies of the county. As much as I’d believe them, though, I’d also never failed to be angered by them, and the blatant guilt-tripping they’d inevitably engage in. "You don’t want to buy an advert?" the caller would ask, incredulously. "But.. but… Miss McNaught, don’t you care about the children?"
"Nope," I’d answer cheerfully, putting down the phone. "Ask their parents for donations! I am a hardened, child-free bitch donchya know." Well, two can play that game…
Anyway, a couple of years ago I had one such call which rapidly degenerated into the caller trying to convince me that if I didn’t part with my money immediately,children would die instantly and it would ALL BE MY FAULT. In retrospect, I should have probably reported them to… someone… at this point, but the whole kidney failure thing was at its height and I decided to let it lie. More fool me. A few months later I had a phone call from the same organisation, thanking me for my generous support of their cause, and asking if I’d like to take out another advert, in their next wall planner.
Wallplanner? Support? Me? The hell?
I went into shock for a few moments (Had I somehow spent hundreds of pounds on an advert in a wallplanner, without noticing? Where had I got the money? Had they used a picture of me in the advert? What was I wearing in it?) before the penny dropped. There was no wallplanner. There was no "child safety campaign". And no, although they swore blind that I had indeed paid for it, and my advert was RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the planner – right in the middle, people! – there was no advert. They were trying to scam me.
I put this theory to the caller. CLICK! Brrrrrrrr……
So, today, the same thing happens, except ‘TNT Children’s Safety, as they’re now calling themselves, had decided to skip stage one and proceed straight to stage two, with the "Gee, thanks for your advert, Amber, it was published back in May! Would you like another one?" Well, unluckily this lady (Miss Moore, if you want to speak to her. But seriously – don’t.) called me before I’d had my first coffee of the day, so I went at her, all guns blazing. I’m a redhead – we get like that sometimes.
"Miss Moore" told me that I’d taken an advert back in May. I had signed for it and everything! Somehow, through the red veil of anger that was obscuring rational thought (yeah, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it) I managed to ask her to email me over the agreement so that I could see how well they’d forged my signature. She pretended not to be able to do this, and pretended not to understand what I meant when I asked her to snail mail it to me, although she did finally agree that she would send it through the post. I’m holding my breath as I write this, seriously. Then I asked her for the address and phone number of her organisation and she told me not to be silly (no, she really said that, I’m not making this up), and that she wasn’t going to "waste her time reading out her address" when it would be on the mythical documentation she was going to "forget to send me" anyway.
"Well, you were happy enough to waste my time by calling me to try and scam me with this," was all I managed to get out before I was met with the now familiar CLICK! Brrrr…. Naturally, her phone number had been withheld, and a quick Google reveals that ‘TNT Children’s Safety’ doesn’t exist. Shocker.
Well, after all the drama I was in desperate need of a coffee, so I took my mug (no, not Terry, an actual mug) and headed down the stairs, stopping in my tracks as through the window I saw – THE POLICE. PARKED OUTSIDE MY HOUSE. AGAIN.
Not wanting to face the filth alone, and assuming that someone was, well, dead, I got Terry and stood on trembling legs as he opened the door. Terry was not remotely anxious about this, by the way, and the reason he wasn’t worried? This is is the FIFTH TIME this year this has happened. The FIFTH TIME. Time and time again (well, five times) the police have turned up at our door looking for one David Ronald who they insist lives with us. This one time? They sent FIVE POLICE MEN to collect Mr. Ronald, and clearly didn’t believe me when I said that no, it’s just me, Terry and the dog (who, OK, could do with a night down the cells, but I don’t think it would take five of them to take him in. Four, maybe…). I almost passed out.
This time they’d sent Good Cop and Also Good Cop, though, who immediately accepted that we weren’t concealing a fugitive from the law (again, yes, there’s Rubin, but what they don’t know…), and told us that this time Mr Ronald had been spotted "swinging from the lampposts outside Chicago Rock". GOD. This is the kind of thing we’re being connected to. WHAT MUST THE NEIGHBOURS THINK?
And, oh God, speaking of Neighbours, I think I hear the theme tune starting up…