Friday, May 19, 2006

Corporate Phishing Expeditions

Four cases recently - personally experienced - where I have the feeling that
companies have made 'mistakes' in the hope that people will be naive enough
not to question the invoices sent to them. Companies shall remain nameless.

Case 1 - Telecommunications
I recently purchased a new mobile and they ran a credit check which was
approved in store.

About a week later I got a letter saying my application had been refused
(the dogs had been released, etc) and I should contact a credit company to
make sure my credit rating was ok.

I rang the telecommunications company and said that I KNOW that there is
nothing wrong with my credit. The sales rep had to enter my data twice in
store because he cocked it up, they were having computer problems, etc so I
assumed that it might have had something to do with that.

I was told to contact the credit firm anyway as the customer service rep
couldn't do 'whatever' on the phone. That credit report cost me $27.50 and
nothing, of course, was wrong.

So, I then rang the telecommunications company again .... this whole thing
had taken about 3 hours already ... 'Oh, just ignore that letter, the
computer has a habit of sending them out automatically and the customer
service rep should have told you that. Can I help you with anything
else?'..... arggghhhh!!!!

So, automatically thought, telecommunications company maybe has shares in
credit company. The typically action would be to change companies, etc,
etc..... oh no no! 24 month contract. $1000 (!) early exit fee ... usual

Case 2 - Telecommunications
Different company. We receive a monthly bill which 'normally' has a lead
time of 30 days. It is however systemically sent out 19 days 'late'. The
issue date on the invoice might be May 1 with a due date of June 1, but we
will receive it on May 20. For some people on a tighter line this might be a

The first two times I thought this might simply be a computer error but it
is consistent. Our address is 100% correct and I challenged said company as
to why this is so... Reply was 'Australia Post, etc, etc.' So replied with
'You are saying that Australia Post is then consistently 19 days 'late'?'
... 'We'll look into it'.

Case 3 - Insurance
I received a bill around the end of March 2006 for amount X (yearly premium)
which I paid 1-2 weeks prior to due date.

About a month later I received another bill for the same policy saying it
was overdue (the dogs had been released, etc) but with two completely
different amounts on it - a balance of $91.29 was 'still' outstanding.

The 'funny' thing was that the difference between amount X and the second
amount was nowhere near $91.29.

After a LOT of running around (including a total of an hour on hold) they
simply told me to ignore the second bill ....? Another computer error.

Case 4 - Retail
Recently purchased a piece of computer equipment which I quickly established
was faulty. Returned this to the store the next day and, as a replacement
was not directly available, was told that a new unit would be posted out. I
then received said unit with an invoice stating that the same amount I
originally paid was outstanding. Rang store... 'Oh, just ignore that
letter,' ... sound familiar ... 'the computer has a habit of ....'.

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