Senior Citizen Slamming

in Scams

For those of you unaware of the marketing concept of slamming, my definition is “tricking” your competition’s customer(s) into changing service, without them being aware they are doing it. The “slam” is done by someone cold calling on the phone or showing up at your door. The tactics are reminiscent of the Fuller Brush Sales techniques (i.e. do anything to get in the front door, and you will have a sale). The bigger problem is that the door-to-door reps are Senior Citizen Slamming (i.e. tricking the elderly into services they don’t need or want).

More and more seniors are being duped, by these new age technology press gangs, into services they may not want. Someone very close to me was switched from one Television “cable” provider to another, and I still don’t know what happened exactly. I have been able to fix the situation, thanks to some help from friends in well placed spaces, but this makes me concerned about what about other seniors?

News services are full of stories of seniors being duped into giving up money to hucksters, this must stop. The first comment I get that goes, “caveat emptor” gets a swift kick in the behind.

Seniors and Technology

At our Church we are trying to help seniors with technology, and a few of us get together on a Saturday morning and try to answer parishioners’ questions about technology. The technology problems that bring these seniors to our get together are usually:

  • A loved one has purchased technology for the senior, thinking it would be a good thing. The problem arises when the Senior isn’t given any instruction or help with the technology, so it usually ends up sitting on a shelf being unused.
  • The senior has been duped into purchasing a different type of technology by a sales
    person who claimed, “it works just like the other thing”. (no an Android phone and an iPhone are not the same to a Senior).
  • The senior inherited the technology from their spouse, who has since passed away.

Inevitably we try to help out as best we can, but it is infuriating to see how many Seniors are being tricked into buying expensive technologies that they are not able to use.

What To Do About Senior Slamming

I may sound dramatic, but I view slamming as senior abuse, but here are some simple things you can do to help your neighbours and loved ones in these situations:

  1. If you buy a Senior loved one technology (no matter how simple) sit with them until they feel comfortable using it. You simply deciding, ” … it is easy to use, they will figure it out …” is arrogance on your part. What would you do if someone gave you a mimeograph machine and told you to put out 100 leaflets with it? Never assume technology is obvious (to anyone). This mentoring may take a while, but it is important to the senior.
  2. If scum bag door to door folks trying to sell services are in your area, and you know you have older neighbours, warn them about these snake oil sales droids. Call your neighbour, or better still walk over to their place before the sales scum get there, and help your neighbours. For those who say my characterization of door to door folks as scumbags is harsh, you are wrong.If someone comes to my door to sell me a service they are either:
    • Viewing me as an idiot because I can’t figure out how to call to get their services
    • Viewing me as an easy mark.My only hope is that folks who do this kind of predatory sales trickery one day fall prey to similar tricks, or in the next life inhabit the same level of Dante’s Inferno reserved for Usurers (Circle 7, I believe)
  3. Follow up with the senior about any phone scams going on too. Remind them that no one from the CRA will ever call them and ask for money, and that if a “loved one” calls asking for money in a foreign country, they should be skeptical.

Help our seniors, I will be one soon, and so will you.

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