I have a rule. If someone calls me or comes knocking at my door with a special deal for anything - anything at all - I send them away or hang up on them. And that goes double for the deals that are too good to be true. Like this.
Crossed lines: phone scam dudding small business
For Mr Holroyd it began late last year when a well-dressed man in his 30s appeared at his car parts and plumbing business in Ingleburn offering a package of cheaper phone calls with the added incentive of $5000 worth of free equipment for the workshop.
Mr Holroyd signed up and took delivery of a phone system and a bandsaw that did not work, and an air compressor that did.
Two months later he took a call from Macquarie Bank telling him he was in arrears and owed them $30,000. Mr Holroyd, who was not even aware he was in business with Macquarie, pleaded for more information. Finally he discovered that the documents he signed had left him tangled in a lease agreement with two other companies he had never heard of, who had taken out finance with Macquarie.
There is no suggestion that Macquarie had engaged in any wrongdoing, although the bank was unmoved by Mr Holroyd's predicament. It hired the debt collection agency, which came banging at his door.
Which bit of "we will give you $5,000 worth of equipment as a sweetener for a cut-price phone deal" failed to ring any of this bloke's warning bells? How does he imagine the world actually functions? Does he believe in magic?
These scammers are no different from the Nigerian money scams or the NZ Finance company scam or most superannuation scams, they offer something for nothing. Whenever anybody tells me that something is free I know they are lying to me and that's pretty much the end of the conversation.
Nothing is free. Somebody always pays and the problem is that everyone involved in these deals, including the banks, don't actually care who that is. It can be you, it can be the slaves that work in some Northern Marianas sweatshop, it can be the whole communities living in the midst of vile pollution that shortens their lives and damages their genes, it can be our grandchildren who will find their climate untenable. But somebody always pays. Without exception, ever.
What these con artists depend upon is that you and I are basically corrupt, we all want something for nothing and if they tie it in the appropriate bow we will look away long enough for them to profit.
I don't actually blame the scammers that much, there is plainly a market for their business, if nobody ever accepted anything for "free" it would stop.
We need to teach our kids from kindergarten the simplest of rules; if it looks too good to be true, it is, someone is laying to you and someone, probably you, is going to get hurt. How hard is that to learn?