A creepy phone “survey”

I’ve gotten a couple of voice messages which claim to be from the Center for Disease Control. They’re very creepy, and I think they’re fake. If it’s really the CDC, that’s even creepier.

The first message wanted me to call back and give information about any children I have in a certain age range. This isn’t something I would give to any stranger on the phone. The second one lied outright, claiming to have previously spoken with an unspecified person in my household and asking me to “complete” the survey. The caller ID was 312-578-7017. The number the second voicemail wanted me to call was 877-220-4805. The first one may have given the same number, but I didn’t save the message or write down the number.
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Welcome to the doctor’s. Please remove your wallet.

I’m gradually getting convinced that the entire medical business is a scam. At my last visit to the doctor, at a practice affiliated with St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, I got a flu shot and a pneumococcus shot, in addition to the normal cursory examination. Since then I’ve received a bill which informed me that those two jabs ran up a cost of $737, of which over $100 isn’t covered by insurance. Normal, honest businesses tell you before you spend sums in that range.

The description was very vague, with amounts for “professional services,” “vaccine,” and “pharmacy.” Nothing said which shot contributed to how much to the costs. I called the doctor’s office, which directed me to the central billing office, which directed me to the St. Joseph Hospital office. I called and had to leave my number because “all our agents are currently unavailable.” They didn’t call me back. I called an hour later and reached someone.
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Trump and a Scam from the Republican National Committee

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, then left it in draft status. With Trump suddenly begging for money, pieces fall into place now.

A while back, he was talking like a gangster to the Republican National Committee:

They better get going. Because I’ll tell you what, you’re gonna have a rough July at that convention. You better get going, and you better straighten out the system because the people want their vote, the people want to vote and they want to be represented properly.

Just minutes after reading that news article, I opened a piece of mail from the RNC that said “Check enclosed” on the outside. That was just the beginning of the lies in the mailing.
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Prize scam by Allen Mello

Allen Mello Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Nashua, NH is running a highly deceptive “Heart of Gold” giveaway, designed to bring in people on the false belief that they’ve won big prizes. They lured me in that way today.

A mailing which I received on Wednesday from them claimed to be giving away prizes. More often than not, I throw those things out with the rest of the junk mail, but I thought of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and decided to uncover the numbers. The mailing had specific prizes next to specific numbers, so I’d know whether I’d won something worth claiming or not.
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Consumer alert: North American Power

In today’s mail was a “First Notice” from “North American Power,” addressed to a person I’ve never heard of. (I’ve lived here for over ten years, so if it’s a past resident, their records are really old.) A “first notice” from a company I’ve never done business with is ample reason for suspicion, and some quick research turns up more grounds. An article dated just a few days ago, from a Rhode Island author, says that the outfit is offering a “teaser” rate without making it clear that it will go up soon and that it’s been the object of hundreds of BBB complaints. It provides a link to a report that the Maryland Public Service Commission fined North American Power $100,000 for deceptive practices, including impersonating a PSC representative.

I know I won’t ever deal with this company. What you do is up to you.

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Resident Power / PNE / Fairpoint Energy

This is off the usual themes of my blog, but I think it’s important to get the word out.

A while back I signed up with Resident Power for my electrical power in Nashua, NH. It seemed like a good deal, with lower rates, until the first time I had a question. It was only then that I realized that Resident Power’s website has hardly any support information, just a generic “info” address to contact.

Yesterday I received a notice from Power New England (PNE), which is another name for Resident Power, stating that my service is being reassigned to FairPoint energy. It says that I can opt out of this and revert to PSNH, but doesn’t give any information on how to do this. Fairpoint currently provides my Internet connectivity, and I’m constantly getting dropouts. (The only high-speed alternative is Comcast, with which I have other problems.) I can accept that level of service for Internet but it doesn’t make me trust them for electrical service, which is more critical. Correction: Resident Power is an aggregator and isn’t the same company as PNE.

Resident Power never explained the billing procedure properly; I got another bill from PSNH with no notification of termination, made a flurry of phone calls and emails (finding the right address to contact with some difficulty) to try to get things straightened out, and finally was told I’d continue to be billed through PSNH.

Resident Power’s website is still asking people to sign up and doesn’t mention that the whole operation has been sold! This looks like deceptive advertising to me.

Sometimes there’s a reason for paying more. PSNH is a known quantity and doesn’t put the same kind of barriers between its customers and support. I’m getting away from Resident Power, PNE, and FairPoint Energy as fast as I can.

Update, June 7, 2013: I’ve re-titled this post to clarify that it’s about FairPoint Energy, whose only connection with FairPoint Communications is that they paid to use the name.

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