Actually the title should be “2 strange things and another rant”
Strange incident #1: I went to a friend’s blog today but instead of her usual page, I got a strange notice warning me that her site was “a Reported Attack site”. So I took a screen shot of the warning, along with a copy of the text and explanation, and sent it off to her. It wasn’t until she replied that I took a better look at the screen shot I’d sent her. Ho boy, was my face red. I’d forgotten to clear the entry in my Google Search box on my toolbar. Um, yeah, Mr. Webmaster? I hope you won’t think badly that I was googling for “bondage devices“.
Strange incident #2: My phone rings and though I don’t recognize the name or phone number I pick it up. (Which in itself is unusual – I generally screen my calls because I’m so fed up with telemarketers – which prompted the rant below.) The conversation goes like this
Lady on the other end: “Leah?” (she says it with the two syllable pronunciation as I say it)
Me (thinking it must be someone from the TRW because only my writer friends know me by this name): “Yes.”
LOTOE: “I’ve got your cheque ready for you.”
Me (thinking cheque = money? Great! It’s about time it flowed that way. But unfortunately no one I know owes me money.) “Um, I hate to say this but who are you?”
LOTOE: “It’s Rose.” A long pause. “This is Leah, isn’t it?”
Me after another long pause while I’m wondering how I explain that it is and yet it isn’t Leah: “Um, yes, my name is Leah, but I think you’ve got the wrong Leah.”
After a couple more exchanges by which time we’re both laughing, I hung up and had to think – what are the chances that a wrong number would be someone looking for someone else with my pen name. It’s not as if Leah is particularly common in this area. Strange, huh?
And here comes the rant sparked by why I seldom answer the phone, Canada is FINALLY getting a Do-Not-Call list. You folks in the States have had it for 5 years. Up here in Canada, we’ve not been so lucky. Unfortunately, the thing I don’t get is we’ll still be subjected to calls from:
Charities, political parties, pollsters, newspapers seeking subscriptions and companies with which customers have existing business relationships.
Do you know how many times I get calls from the Toronto Star or the Toronto Sun in a month? No, I don’t want your paper. I don’t want it today, I won’t want it next week. It’ll end up in my blue box for recycling. Same with the professional fundraisers for MADD, the Canadian Liver Society, the Cerebral Palsy (Ottawa Chapter – why that chapter when I live 4 hours away, I have no idea), the CNIB and Diabetes Association. (Most of whom phone me from outside of my local area code so my money wouldn’t even be benefitting my local chapter.)
Look, I am not against charities doing fundraising. Heaven knows I support the anti-drunk driving stance – I lost a friend to a drunk driver, as has Gizmo Guy. I support the Canadian Liver Society because an acquaintance of mine’s daughter required a liver transplant (which unfortunately was unsuccessful). I support the Canadian Cancer Society because I know just too many people with cancer, the Alzheimers’ Society because they helped me with my Mom and Dad, the Heart and Stroke Association because … well, you get the idea.
I’ll gladly give to charity but because I give to your charity this month, does not mean I can afford to give you another $20 (or as some have asked $100) next month and every month after this for your latest and great fundraiser, especially when you see the number of charities that call not just in a month, but in a week or even in a day. Give me a frickin’ break, people! All you do when you keep pestering me is have me answering the phone and hanging up without listening which leads to a long distance charge on your bill.
In my not so humble opinion, I think “Do not Call” should apply to any number I want to put on that list – especially when you realize that many calls that are from ‘charitable organizations’ are actually hired professionals who take a huge cut from the charity. In fact, there are warnings about things you should ask any caller soliciting funds for a charity.
- Ask for written information – have them send you a package of written information so you can judge for yourself how legitimate they are before you agree to a donation.
- Ask for identification – it’s common in my neighbourhood for kids to come around selling chocolate bars, but did you know that there are professional organizations hiring those kids to sell them and hardly anything ever actually makes it to the charity, if a charity even exists?
- Ask how much of your donation will actually be sent on to the organization? Is it percent based? You may be surprised to learn that less than 60 to as low as 20 cents of your hard-earned dollar may end up in your charity’s coffers, the rest may be kept by the fundraiser to cover administrative costs. It might just be better for you (and the charity) to write a cheque directly to the charity itself.
- Call the charity to verify – there was a scam in this area recently where the solicitor was using a name very similar to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Turned out the guy was taking the money people were donating in good faith and pocketing it.
- Refuse high pressure tactics – unfortunately some of the bigger name charities (including a police organization) tried this on me a couple times. I will never donate to them again.
- Don’t send cash or give your credit card information over the phone.
- Get a tax receipt – that’ll also help prove they’re at least a registered charity.
- If you’re donating online, make sure it’s on a secure site – that the URL is an HTTPS site with an unbroken key or padlock in the task bar. And don’t forget to google to make sure that they are a legitimate charity – especially after a major disaster such as Katrina or the earthquake in China. Too many shysters set up websites to bilk people who want to help. Here’s a link to an FBI posting on tips if you wish to donate online.
- And finally (there are more points on the link above but I’ve ranted enough), Don’t be afraid to say no. Trust that little voice inside you that thinks it might not be legit. (Plus if you waffle and say ‘maybe’, they’ll just keep phoning back knowing at some point they’ll just wear you down.)