Friday, July 22, 2005

Pay for NO Services

I see in today's San Francisco Chronicle that Wells Fargo Bank is willing to let you not have your identify stolen if you pay them $12.99 a month.

In the same edition, an outfit called Direct Marketing Association will put your name on the Do Not Call list for a mere $1. There's only one catch. You have to be dead.

Otherwise, your family will be bombarded with telemarketers trying to sell their deceased loved ones goods and services, cemetery plots and wreaths I presume.

We already learned that magazines are the gift that keeps on giving unless you take affirmative steps to cancel instead of using that old fashioned method of letting the subscription lapse.

What's next? Will the IRS stop sending you tax bills after you lose your job for a mere $5.00 per month?

Will magazine and newspapers subscriptions returned marked "deceased" on them, be discontinued only if accompanied by a $20 bill?

Will your credit card company promise not to broadcast your secret pin number on the internet if you cough up $5.99 with each purchase.

It's enough to make you want to join the economic underground. In my youth, cash was king and most of my friends kept their "savings" in a jewelry box or cookie jar, but that was only because as starving students, our savings amounted to a few dollars, and lasted only a few days.

We didn't need banks or credit cards, and we didn't have the internet to purchase items on, so identity theft was kept to a minimum: younger siblings "borrowing" our driver's license for a night on the town; pizzas being ordered by rival fraternity houses.

Property theft was kept in check too. Not too many burglars coveted the ancient black and white TV inherited from parents, or the 8 track tape player. Mortgages were unheard of.

This new fervor for charging you NOT to be ripped off is really nothing new. Anyone familiar with gangster movies, most of them starring Robert Di Niro, knows the ploy. Pay up or get your kneecaps whacked.

Who'd a thunk the Mob would take over all the financial institutions of this country? But then, who'd a thunk Alfred E. Newman would be in the White House?