Saturday, December 31, 2011

I don't need no stinking free cruise*

*An homage to Stinking Badges.
Check this website for everything
you ever wanted to know
about Stinking Badges.

The phone rang just as I was flinging my feet over the side of the bed to get up this morning. I can't fault anyone for calling too early; I'd looked at the clock when I turned out the light last night and it was 3 a.m. It felt more like one or 1:30. So I hadn't been in a rush to get up and a 10 a.m. call isn't outrageous.

My bedside phone has no caller ID. It's old, but it's a speaker phone -- handy if you're making a call that requires punching a lot of buttons -- and it has a cord, which allows you to stay in touch with the power company during a power outage. Just yesterday I went to my power company's website to get my online bill and they had a survey, one question of which asked whether I use the website for info regarding power outages. Huh? Sorry, but my computer doesn't work during power outages.

Robo-Lady asked that I not hang up on this important call. She was so earnest that I let her continue, not like with "This is Rachel and I have important information about your credit card" which rates an immediate hang-up after those words. Robo-Lady said she was taking an important survey about the national debt. I was once a survey researcher back in the 50s before surveys got viewed with skepticism, and I still retain a certain sympathy for legitimate surveyors. I'm also a bit of a political junky and this sounded like potential fun if it's one of those that frame the question so that if you answer contrary to the set-up answer, you throw apple pie in the trash and stab momma in the heart. I'm onto that game and this might be a chance to stick it to the opponents or cheer for the allies.

For this 30 second survey (short, that's good), you will receive a free cruise for two to the Bahamas. All you have to pay is taxes and port charges. Nuh-no-no-no. The reward is way out of proportion to the effort. If they'd offered me the opportunity to be entered in a drawing where my chances were one-in-a-million to win a free trip to Paris, I might have gone forward. It would have been more credible. My next choice was to press one to continue to the survey or press 9 to be forever removed from their mailing list. It took no more than a heartbeat to be removed, banished forever, from their call list. (And do I believe that? Heh heh heh.)

But who the hell was making this call? Idle minds need to know. Once I was up and about, I got the phone number off a caller ID phone and Googled it. You can find lots of righteous ire on these websites that talk about "who called you" and some good speculation as to the true motives of the caller. Some people took better notes than my memory.

One caller reported: Female voice claimed to be from ESG Research Group offering a free 2-day cruise just for answering a 30-second survey. Is second or third time they've called me recently, but they never actually come back to the phone when I 'accept' the call.
Caller: Supposedly 'ESG Research Group'
Call Type: Survey

Another answer: You must press one to get the CSR. Then they offer you a free cruise to the Bahamas. Everything is included but liquor, gambling, gratuities and port tax. THE PORT TAX MUST BE SECURED WITH A DEBIT OR CREDIT CARD #!!!!!!!

WARNING. They get around the no call list by saying it is a survey which are exempt along with charities and political robo calls.

That answers the question about why repeatedly punching your phone number into the No Call List doesn't seem to have any effect. I don't know how Rachel and her credit card thing get around it. I've never stayed on the line on that call long enough to find out what the pitch is.

Someone had the good grace to look up the company (alleging) to make the call: I just looked up ESG - Results below:
'About ESG
IMPORTANT NOTE: A company using the name “ESG Research” is soliciting customers to take a phone survey to win a trip to the Bahamas. That is NOT Enterprise Strategy Group. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced, but ESG does NOT engage in these practices.
Message from the Founder

What amazed me in the comments was the number of people who were annoyed that they weren't put through to the survey (they apparently failed to press one), or the long waits they had to endure to give their credit card information, or why the car rental site promised never answered.

I leave it up to you to decide whether this is a scam to steal your credit card information or some kind of low budget cruise rip-off. And who is paying airfare to the port city? What? You think it might be legit? (Somebody must.)


See you soon.


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