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Scam Available For 72 Hours Only!

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     For once, we're not dealing with online and email scams. These are real pieces of surface mail that arrive in official looking envelopes often with screaming messages in bold red print about how you need to "OPEN IMMEDIATELY" because it is a "TIME SENSITIVE MATTER".

     And they come all the time. Sometimes you'll get two or three in one day.
     Some present themselves as a bill, only to say in the fine print at the bottom of the page that it is not a bill. Sometimes they claim you've won a contest. Others, like our example below, that it is something you already have that you need to continue.

     You already know what's coming.

     An easy ninety percent of more of these things are simply shills trying to either get you to part with some of your hard earned money, or an attempt to either establish what is now known as a 'business relationship' so they can send you more junk mail and call you during dinner to try to sell you something else. A few are actual attempts to get personal information out of you for more sinister purposes (identity theft) somewhere down the road- which is something of interest to the Postal Inspectors who are famous for not having a sense of humor about such things.

     The same rules apply here as they do with email- TRASH IT!
     Unless you are the Desk of course who will scan the thing and use it as a good bad example for all the world to see.

     Let's take a look at the below example (see images at bottom of page) and try to read the fine print and see what's what about it.

     The letter comes from an outfit called Dealer Services and proclaims a registered owner number across the top that is an absolutely wonderful number.... it has to be, it's a Registered Owner ID number right? How it relates to the Desk is still a mystery as the Desk checked several of its various cards and receipts for various things and found no other occurrence of the number.
     Oh well. Moving on.

     It was sent to one of the Desk's US Mail addresses. Which is fine all things considered. Except opposite the address is a line that says 'FINAL NOTICE 2004 Chrysler'.
     Now that is very interesting. The newest vehicle the Desk owns is now eight model years old. And it isn't a Chrysler. As far as the Desk can remember, it has Never owned an actual Chrysler nameplate product. Dodge and Plymouth, yes, but they have long since gone to that great parking lot in the sky, and the newest of them was built during President Clinton's first term.
     Fascinating no?

     Then the letter promises 'Employee Pricing' which is very nice, except we still don't know what they are selling. But if you follow up you'll get zero percent on your finance rate.

     Now to the body of the letter.
     Again it says it is a FINAL NOTICE to extend the Factory Warranty Coverage on the Desk's Vehicle.
     Hold it right there.
     Not only does the Desk not own a 2004 Chrysler, it does not own ANYTHING still covered by a factory warranty except perhaps the microwave in the kitchen... it's still fairly new.
     And now comes where that magical Registered Owner number came from- They assigned it when they pre-selected the Desk for this program.
     Well thank you Dealer Services, the Desk always wanted a Registered Owner ID Number! And now it has one.
     Next paragraph.

     AHHHH.... here's the hook.
     They would like the Desk to call them with the Exact Miles and VIN number on the vehicle.
     If they knew the Desk had a 2004 Chrysler shouldn't they already know the VIN number if they were in any way affiliated with Chrysler LLC?
     Oh Shoot. The Desk thought it was special. The next line blows that all to bits. "Now everyone in America gets our employee pricing...."

     And then you have the high pressure urgency push to get you to move Right Now.
     "Due to the extreme nature of this program.... for 72 hours only."
     'Extreme nature'? What's so extreme about an auto warranty?
     And to carry it further, it came first class business mail, not certified with return receipt, so they have no idea as to when Uncle's postman delivered it as -
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
From Herodotus 500 BC
US Postal Service unofficial motto

     In any case, the 72 hours thing is totally bogus and one of the hallmarks of a high pressure sales pitch.

     Then they have their high pressure sales pitch. You can chose to 'continue' your non-existent policy for six years or another 125,000 miles, evidently without regard for the current condition of your ride, whatever it may be. And they will warranty the engine, suspension, brake system, and even, with the Platinum Coverage "practically all mechanical parts!"

     The whole this is signed off on by one Mister Russell Garland who is a Senior V.P. ... ... as to exactly what he is a senior VP of is a mystery that we will get to in a minute.

     Oh, and to get this wonderful coverage there is no credit check! Absolutely terrific, no?


     On the back of the letter down in the fine print it admits that they are not affiliated with any manufacturer, and they skimmed your name and address from something they call "your consumer report or other data". Translation: they bought a mailing list.

     And now for the debunking and recriminations of a potential scam.

     First off.... There is no "Dealer Services".
     The Warranty is administered by "National Auto Warranty and 'Dealer Services'", which is a front group for a laundry list of warranty companies such as American Guardian, Ultimate Warranty, Advantage, and even our old friends- Mercury Select, among others.
     You don't have to look very far to find serious complaints registered with various consumer protection groups on any of them.
     None of these outfits are affiliated in any way with any dealership or manufacturer of anything. Most of the time they make their bread and butter by DENYING claims until they are hauled into court and forced to honor the paper they all issue saying that everything is covered, unless its not, and normal wear and tear voids it all anyway.

     Even with everybody EXCEPT dealers (who get a percentage of the profit) and the warranty companies themselves recommending AGAINST extended warranties, people still buy them and get taken to the cleaners when they try to file a claim.
     Don't think it's a BIG business... Here's how Business Week stated it.

If you've done your homework, you'll just say no. For what is largely an afterthought in the buying process, extended warranties -- or more accurately, service contracts -- have become a huge $15 billion annual business. Typically, at least half of that goes into the seller's pocket as profit, with less than 20% spent on the repair or replacement of products. To put that in gambling terms: The house has set the odds so that for every $100 it takes in, it pays out only $20. You're betting against the house. Guess who wins.

     The Consumer's Union puts it somewhat more strongly:

For years, Consumer Reports has advised shoppers to avoid purchasing an extended warranty for most products. We feel so strongly about the issue that we recently took out a full-page ad in USA Today.

Consumer Reports

     And then there is the Better Business Bureau whose pages are chock full of everything from complaints against warranty companies, lawsuits against them, actions by various states attorney generals against them, and even notices that various companies have gone out of business or are in receivership or bankruptcy or other pleasant news.

     Bottom Line Time:
     Don't Buy ANYTHING from a spam email, US Mail, or flier stuck under the windshield wiper of your car at the mall.
     It isn't worth it.

     If something looks like a bill for something you've never seen before or have a question about. Don't call the number on the bill, call your service provider. The odds are, they've never heard of whatever the bill claims it is for.

     ALSO, Don't buy an extended warranty no matter how much the sales bunny pushes it. And if they say you can't get financing unless you do buy it, walk out, that is illegal.

For More Information on Extended Warranties
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The Better Business Bureau The Consumers Union of the US extended warranty page.

An article about them on MSN -

More on scams and spams in general:
The Media Desk's Urban Legend and SPAM Info Page




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