Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are you prone to give in to Vanity? Think Twice, please!

This is meant as a warning, friends!
And something to laugh about.

Who else received a solicitation to be listed as a 'big shot' at the prestigious
Cambridge Who's Who ?
You?... YOU? You there, over in the corner at Addoway, Bonanza, you too?
And? Did you give in? Vanity took over?

It does sound so 'university-ly', yes? :)

First 'they' surprise you with a letter and/or an e-mail which both look very
im-potant, legit and flatter you to the bone.
Your phone number is the least dangerous information they are asking for - and yes, you are so smart, can't hurt, they don't know more about you - yet.
Yep, you fill it out because it looks so real - and after all you ARE a most accomplished business person. Aren't you?
You give a short description of what and who you are and off it goes. 
It takes only a day and you get your answer via e-mail.
"Yes, yes, you are so interesting we are almost sure you will be accepted. Please, give us a call we need to 'interview' you to make sure you are worthy of this honor. We want to include you  into the Executive and Professional Women registry."
Well, I didn't call back. Wasn't in the mood and had no time.
But 'they' called me. It went to the answering machine. I heard it and thought...
'oh well, actually, leave me alone'. 
THEN he called again and caught me.
Wow, what a pleasant guy.
"We would like to conduct the interview, do you have time?"
Yes, I had.

He congratulated me on the honor of my inclusion in the registry database, and conducted an interview, with many questions about my career and professional accomplishments.
"So, do you have a website?" Yes I do:
He pretended to open it and further acted like he was pleasantly surprised.
When he asked for my business website I happily gave it to him, thinking
'ok, maybe I'm selling something in the end?'.
Then came the questions about my education (of course), what my accomplishments are, where I'm working, what I'm working, do I belong to any society, WHAT I'm selling, where these items are coming from, what my goals are, what else I 'can' do, where my interests lie (Photographer, Video Producer, WebDesigner)

Oh, and THEN what I'm to receive! I will be listed in the Cambridge Who's Who with many links to my websites and businesses. I will also be 'mentioned' in the hard cover. (Am I cool or what?)
I will receive a 'plaque' (maybe it's a plague? black ?... cleaning out my bank account??) that looks mighty noble and I can use all this to post in my websites, print on business cards... and 'show off'.

He definitely softened me up. Nice guy, really. The voice sounds in the 30s and ummmm... sexy.

After the interview he decided on the spot that I *surely* will be inducted into this 'Hall of Fame'.
There is no cost to be included in this Registry
I admit, I was kinda floored.
'Wow, this all sounds incredible!'

But then I asked him
'and why are you doing this? I'm sure you are not Mother Theresa and simply a lover of human kind.'
 (Personally, I'm alway asking 'why', it's just me, I want to know reasons and the sense of things)
It seems I was a little too fast with my question.
He returned to his (fast) sermon and painted in all rainbow colors how great and exceptionally helpful this is for me.
IS is the keyword here - I was already showered with all kinds of elite honors.

I couldn't help myself but to pay him compliments on his sale-skills.
'Wow, you are one great sales man.'
He didn't answer. Yet he spoke even faster and that's when a pink flag was raised. Not red yet!

Naturally I still was under the impression from the initial solicitation letter that no costs are involved.

The rockets came rapidly:
"There are 2 kinds of memberships" (and I ran for paper and pencil)
"Gold is an initial $569.00 and after a month there will be $199.00 and that's good for 5 years.
BUT then there is Platinum and the honors (horrors?) of a lifetime achievement introduction and inclusion into the (no, not the 'Hall of Fame') prestigious Cambridge Who's Who.
It's only $ 769.00 now and after 30 days another $199.00 AND you will get a voucher for a round trip of your choice for a second person."
(I didn't understand what the additional $199.00 were for, but I'm convinced it's crucial for their survival that they get this money.)
When the 'voucher' came up, I started to grin

"What kind of Credit Card would you like to use today? Visa, Master Card, American Express?"

'Okay', I said, 'here's to IT'S FREE, huh?'
"Well, only with a membership you will have access to the database which you surely want to have."

Oh, DEFINITELY! I will need THAT!

After I expressed my concern about the high cost the price came down immediately:
"you know what? Just for you (rrrright) I can give you the lower price for the platinum membership."

Dear reader, you are right: All red flags were up by then. And I had a ball.

My question about what would happen with my lifetime honors if I'm on the street tomorrow, in a year or in 5 years went unanswered.
I kept telling him that if they are really legit they must be able to give me time for a little thinking and research.

In came the deadline. URGENT deadline.

'You know, I don't care about any deadline. I don't care if I'm missing this edition. I did survive until today without you, you see? If you are a serious institution it shouldn't matter to you if I sign up today or tomorrow.'

Then again: and I would get a plaque for all my lifetime achievements too - WOW!
(I am aware that I have achieved nothing special at all EXCEPT raising an awesome and exceptionally son, my Mr. Engineer)

I threw all kinds of pots and pans at him but he had a cover and a lid for every single one of them ;)

"You know what? Because I really don't want you to miss out on this fabulous opportunity, I'm offering you a lower rate! $99.00 trial version for a year. PLUS the voucher for your trip".
Thanks God he was a little too good and a little too fast and then way too pushy.
I had a lot of fun by then.

'See, I would be a BAD business woman if I would get out my wallet and pay any amount after a phone call. What do I know who you are indeed? You could be calling from India or Timbuktu, the Seychelles or the South Pole.'
Needless to say, he started all over again.

My pots flew and his lids came back. All in a very friendly manner.

And yes, he told me beforehand that this call was taped. He had to please his bosses, poor guy. I sooo felt for him.

Time to end this posse, it took me a blunt ‘no, not today’ – until he finally said good bye and EVEN ‘Good Luck’.

In came his last  e-mail 'lid':
Congratulations on your acceptance into Cambridge Who’s Who among Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs!

He has my address now too. It was inevitable. Can't wait, can't wait! until I get my FREE plaguish plaque in the mail. Hallelujah! I will be SOMEBODY then.

OK, my best friend here is a retired NY Police detective. I asked her for some more research (more than I'd done already) and told her what happened.
Here's her original answer:
'Take your bum hip and run as far and as fast as you can from them. Do not under any circumstances give them your credit card #, as they will keep billing you..... Ask them not to contact you, or you will report them to the State Attorneys Office.'

Glad I had my German common sense at work.
Because I wrote about this in a kind of a funny manner, doesn't mean it WAS funny. The whole thing sounded and was mighty impressive and tempting.

So, dear damsels and gents,
Keep your fingers OFF of ALL those Who's Who - well known spamming crooks.

Witness for it's correctness:  

Signed: Tiger
(sat on my shoulder the entire time - ROFL)

My charge for entertaining you?
Just go and buy something from my OUTLET-discount store - darn! Something for everyone.
And to whom ever doesn't understand this joke -
shame on me :)

Look what else I'm doing:


  1. Terrific warning shot with a touch of delightful sarcasm. You are so right, it's all scam in dress-up! And good for you for playing with the little dumpling while he thought you were the prey!

  2. It is easy to get caught by one of these scammers. All it takes is to let your guard down for a moment and let them come at you before you've had a chance to put it back up yet. If anybody tries to push something on me, I hang up on them so they can't talk me into it.