SO. When I talked about wickedness yesterday, and having a wicked sense of humor-today presented a fine opportunity to make use of it. I think it’s funny anyway. Here’s the scenario…
I’m barely conscious. I’ve been wandering blearily for about 2 minutes, and have just got the coffee going and figured out my gluten-free breakfast. I’ve begun to hydrate. This is a huge win for less than 5 minutes of consciousness. And then the phone starts going. It happens.
I take one call-it’s a patient needing to reschedule. No problem.
I take another call-this from one of my dad’s employees. He’s…concerned because he’s gotten a very nasty phone call saying we’re way behind on the power bill-and disconnect is due in one hour. He gives me the name and number of the lady he talked to. I tell him to look for a recent copy of the bill. This doesn’t seem remotely right. I mean, dad’s been sick, but we’re all paying attention to things like paying bills. So…I’m not at all sure about this. It seems like a scam, but you never know. (By the way, to anyone in the area-this is a scam being run with people posing as NorthWestern Energy.)
But I call the number-right away, I see it’s not a toll-free number, so I’m pretty sure I’m already NOT talking to the power company. “Amy” tells me the bill owing is $900.00 US. “Mmmmm,” I say, tasting my Lara Bar. “That’s a lot. So how long are you saying this bill has gone unpaid?”
“Amy” tells me she can’t actually check because, “our computer systems are being updated.”
“You’re able to tell me how much you think we owe, but you can’t tell me anything else?”
I sigh. “Well Amy…this is not good. You say you’re disconnecting the power in an hour?”
“Yes. This bill has to be paid immediately.”
I drink my coffee, breathing in the aroma. It’s awesome. “Amy”, on the other hand, is not awesome, although she’s doing her best to convince me she’s kind, and is “going to work with me.”
“Amy, you tell me how you’d like me to pay this bill.” I say, pondering whether I’m going to do my eye makeup with my Tarte Palette, or the Naked3 Kristi sent me for Christmas. I decide on Naked3.
In apologetic tones, “Amy” says, “Well, because our systems are down, we can’t accept credit or debit cards, or Western Union Payments.”
I pause, nibbling at the Lara Bar. It’s especially awesome with the coffee. Hazelnut and chocolate. Breakfast of This Champion.
“So how, exactly then, am I supposed to get this egregious sum of money to you?”
Amy generously offers to put us on a payment plan, as long as I cough up half the amount due today. She then asks, “So, do you have a Rite Aid nearby?”
I consider. I live in the largest city in 4 states, but Rite Aid is not one of our stores. It’s Walgreens and CVS here, baby. And Albertson’s. And Target. And 3 MFing Wal-Marts.
“No Amy, we don’t have that here.” I put as much distress into my voice as I can muster.
“How about a Dollar Tree, or a CVS Pharmacy?” Amy asks, helpfully.
A DOLLAR TREE? I think. At this point, we’ve hit hilarity. I mean really, the POWER company wants me to make a payment through a Dollar Tree?
“Yes Amy, there is a Dollar Tree nearby. Sort of. What exactly am I supposed to be doing at a Dollar Tree that pays this bill? You’ve pretty much completely lost me.”
Her headset/phone starts to go out, as if agreeing with me how lost this cause is. I feel sorry for it. It’s connected to such a terrible thing-her head.
I tell Amy she sounds like she’s underwater, while I obnoxiously slurp some coffee. You know, like soup, except I never do that, because my parents taught me not to. Like they taught me about fiddly silverware and other table manners I’ll never use unless I visit England or someone I’d be too nervous to eat around anyway. But I still remember them.
I contemplate gargling my water, and decide it would be too much effect at this point. I give her silence instead.
Amy says, “Is that better?” She’s adjusted her headset/pre-paid cell phone.
“Yes, much better,” I say. “So tell me again, what am I doing at the Dollar Tree?”
Amy happily announces to me that I will need to buy at “Green Dot Card and then call her back.”
A Green Dot Card sounds to me like some unholy union between a charity, an environmentalist cause, and something sinister, like a prison tattoo, if they gave you access to green ink. (Lot of ink dots in prisons. I worked in a prison, ok? I didn’t do TIME in one.)
“Amy,” I say, having googled the area code for the phone number she’s using, and seeing that she’s in Missouri. “What the hell is a Green Dot Card?” I’ve decided it’s ok to swear a little here. Let her think I’m good and confused. It will take up more of her time.
“Oh…” she says, as though explaining to someone very slow. “It’s just a prepaid credit/debit card. That’s all. But you have to bring cash to buy one.”
“Why, Amy, is THAT what has to be used? I just don’t get it. ” I’m starting to think longingly of getting into a warm shower. The kitty is hanging out next to me. Kitty headbutts the phone. She knows there’s a calculated lunatic on the other end. She can smell crazy. I give her a pat.
“Amy” explains, although her patience seems to be fraying around the edges, just a little…”Well, that’s just what we use. And if you don’t want the power disconnected, you have to do this. Today. I can delay the service people for a little while, but only if I know you’re going to make this payment today.”
I wonder, briefly, if “Amy” has gotten out of some terrible life, where she’s been part of a human trafficking ring, and THIS is the better thing. Then I wonder if “Amy” is involved with some horrible phone pimp, who’s going to beat her if she doesn’t pull this scam off. I say a silent prayer for her, although I doubt this is the situation. It’s likely “Amy” is the brains behind the operation.
“Amy,” I say, “I will have to start my day much earlier than I normally do to take care of this. I’m going to have to make at least one stop before I go to the Dollar Tree, and that’s the bank. For all the cash to do this. That’s going to take longer than an hour.”
“Amy” tells me she will call the “service techs” and have them not disconnect. “But they’re going to want to talk to you, to confirm you’re paying,” she says.
“Ok,” I say, and hang up the phone.
I happily perform my ablutions, singing, “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat.”
When I am dressed and damn good and ready, I check the phone. I’ve missed 3 phone calls from the “service techs.”
I call the number back and get “Amy” again. “I missed the service techs,” I say. “I was in the shower.” I feel like giving “Amy” TMI right now. I want to tell her I have some horrible rash or an embarrassing personal problem, but I’m actually now in a hurry to get moving with the day.
“I’ll have them call you back” she says, a little shortly. “But you need to make sure you pick up the phone this time.”
The phone rings, instantly-a dead giveaway-silly scammers-it’s the SAME number “Amy” is calling me from.
I’ve got a man with a very thick Native accent telling me I need to make the payment quickly, “because our systems are very sensitive.”
“Your computer system that doesn’t work because it’s being updated is very sensitive?” I ask.
“Yes. This part of it is working. If you are one minute behind on payment, we will disconnect.”
“Ok” I say. I hang up, gather up my things, make sure the neurofeedback gear is in my bag, and that I am zipped up. It’s cold as hell outside. Like 9th circle cold.
In the meantime, I call my dad, just to be sure. I get our account number from him, and confirmation number of the last payment, which was December 11th. I call the Real power company.
After being informed there’s a 45-minute wait time, I decide that for once, I’ll actually hold. I’m not fooled by these jackasses, but someone elderly might be. Or someone with low IQ. I don’t want someone who can’t know better getting scammed.
I take 3 more phone calls through the hold, let the employee know not to worry about the power, and never actually reach a human being at the power company. Oh well. I had to hang up sometime.
I see my patients instead.
In between them, I call the Missouri number back. “Amy!” I say, as cheerfully as if she’s an old friend, “I’m all ready to make this payment to you.” I can hear an audible sigh on the other end. She is relieved. “But I just need to ask you one thing before I do that. Can YOU tell me what my account number is?”
Long silence. She starts to say something. I cut her off. “Or how about the last payment made and the confirmation number on that?”
Long silence again. She starts to say something, and I cut her off again. “I tell you what Amy, don’t even bother trying to think up a lie. You’re just…not that good.” She hung up on me.
So, you know, I called the number back. This time, I got a very loud, very angry, highly combustible, and oddly sexually explicit man with a hell of a southern accent.
I said, “You know, you guys worked pretty hard to scam my dad out of some money today, and you wasted some of my time, and I wasted some of yours, because you guys just aren’t that good. I’ve been messing with you for hours. I consider it karma for all the people you’re screwing out of money.”
Combustible Man shouted, “You a cop? Cause you sho’ like that cop attitude don’ you?”
I thought about it. I decided on the truth. “Nope,” I said. “I’m a therapist. I’m here to tell you what you are doing is wrong, and elder abuse is a very serious crime. You are doing something very bad, and I hope you stop it.”
“I’m doin’ summin’ very bad? Girl, you don’ know what very bad IS. I bet you like to though. You come find out what kine o’ bad I am. It’s all good, my kine o’ bad. You come and suck my ***%$%@&@&@**#*#*@.” And he suggested a number of other really creative and utterly improbable things I do to him, and then to myself.
So here’s the thing: God helped us invent caller ID for a reason. Here’s the number they used to harass me. (816)-888-4441. I suggest, that if you are bored, or need to take a little frustration out on someone, these people are BEGGING for it. Karma. And I would find it wickedly funny if you share your story with me. You can do it at [email protected], or @KKringsLunder on Twitter.
The power company will have this number in their hands tomorrow, and then the police/feds will be tracing the hell out of it, I’m sure, because the Reason the power company couldn’t get a human on the phone with me is because of this scam. My dad talked to them though, and they are desperate for the number I have. So they shall have it.
A saint would have never written this blog. An angel with a crooked halo because she’s got a bit of horns protruding because someone tried to mess with her dad…that’s who wrote this.
I rather think these people getting harassed and caught for their crimes is perhaps the kindest thing that can happen at this point. Keeps them from digging the hole a little deeper, don’t you think?
Be kind, do something fun and funny today.