Rants on business, science, technology, society, politics, police, and justice, plus life hacks and tricks, since 2003. header image 2

Karen Hightower is teh suck; Mail service is also teh suck

July 29th, 2004 · No Comments

Today on FARK I picked up an article about a letter that was delivered a mere 37 years after it was sent. The letter was lost behind a machine at the post office, and when the machine was moved, they discovered the ancient post. This made me feel like telling a story at story time.

I used to deliver mail as a work-study job in college. I was always amazed by the sheer amount of stuff that was just routinely tossed without further thought. The problem is, some stuff is sent via the wrong class of mail. Many people don’t realize that, for example, presorted standard mail (although far less expensive than first class) is not the correct medium for mailing, say, a bill or pseudo-important letter. Standard mail does not get forwarded. Meanwhile, I would see driver licenses, credit cards, and other highly important documents just get tossed in the recycle bin because they couldn’t be forwarded or returned to sender. Now, someone reading that might say, “Well, why did you just throw those things away?” I would never throw them away, I would meter them and send them back when I found them, only out of concern for potential identity theft. My supervisor permitted the miniscule monthly expenditure of postage (it was, after all, the ‘right’ thing to do).

So what was the problem? Most of the stuff came in discrete envelopes. I only knew I was holding a driver license because the return address was to “MV 44” — the form number for a new or renewal license. Credit cards were also just as “difficult” to spot. So, I guess what I’m getting at here, is that when you don’t get your important shiat, you can blame the companies mailing your shiat for trying to save pennies on every envelope they push.

And now that brings me to the totally hysterical part of today’s post — the discussion of some junk mail that I’ve been getting recently. So, I apply for a Chase Manhattan credit card because they’re offering me a low interest rate (which, at this point in my life, is meaningless to me anyway) and a decent line of credit. I put my signature on the application, and mail it out. I was approved, and within a week or so I received my brand spankin’ new Chase Platinum card in the mail. I thought that life was pretty damn good. There was one problem though — there was a typo in my address. As I mentioned, I’ve been a mail carrier. I noted the error, and decided that it was so insignificantly small that ignoring it would cause no harm. Well, I was definitely correct that mail to the ‘incorrect’ address would still come to me.

Over the course of the past two weeks, I’ve been barraged by a peculiar strain of junk mail. Most junk mail is just direct mailing advertisement that just gets thrown out. The first piece caught my attention immediately. First and foremost, I noticed that the same typo appeared in the address of the junk mail — clearly, because my name had been sold by Chase to some external marketing department. For those who are curious, check out this other blog and the intense documentation of just exactly how shady this one piece of junk mail is: Karen Hightower from ARC turns out not to be a real person, nor is she from a real company. The whole thing is a magazine scam. Plus, once you call the phone number on the postcard, you’ve technically ‘done business’ with them, and so even if you’re on the Do Not Call list, this company can call you all they want.

Well anyway, I called up Chase and biatched them out a little bit, and then opted out of their fantastic information sharing programs. Then, however, I got two more pieces of junk mail that were similar in style to the afforementioned piece of suspicious mail. I called back — through an anonymous relay service used by folks who are hard of hearing to communicate through the telephone. The transcript of the call to NME can be found here. What’s interesting is that the agent at the other end admits that the name of the ‘Salesperson’ is actually just a fake. I actually called the other company, ARC, as well, and asked for Karen Hightower just like the postcard instructed me to. The operator explained the relay to the person on their end — and they were obviously confused as to why exactly someone was reading what they were being typed to say. Amusingly, the operator said, “Tell [them] that it’s just an offer for magazines and a sweepstakes and they’ll probably just say they’re not interested and hang up.” Whoa there! That’s quite a sales strategy!

The moral of today’s story: Chase can sizuck my biznalls, ARC and NME are spammer frauds, and you should never do business with a company without searching Google for their name as well — remember that open, community driven markets are good for consumers like you and I.

Tags: Business · Complaint Department · Scary Stuff

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