Tuesday, July 29, 2003

RIP-OFF ROUNDUP. As of last week:

  • A certain prominent pest-control company had taken our money for installation and maintenance of a termite-baiting system and then disappeared, refusing to return phone calls.

  • A certain Virginia-based mortgage broker had promised to refinance our mortgage at a very impressive 5 percent over 30 years, and then stalled and stalled and stalled and refused to return phone calls, or even answer the phone, as rates rose and rose.

  • A certain federal district and a certain automobile dealership had both taken my money in exchange for securing personalized license plates that never arrived.

  • A certain podiatrist had taken my money for orthotic shoe inserts that never arrived.

    Last Friday, I called the termite people again and was told -- well, whadda ya know? -- the technician was scheduled to come the very next day. Nobody had mentioned that before, of course, and we would be out of town for the weekend. So he came about two hours after my call. His pronouncement that there was no sign of termite activity left me more suspicious of the baiting system than relieved.

    Today, more progress, if you can call it that.

    The mortgage broker answered the phone and assured me that we would close this week and that our rate "lock" had been extended. When I asked how that could be true, with rates so much higher than they were when we agreed to the deal, he continued to use the word "lock" while describing an entirely different deal. I told him that was unacceptable. Now what? I hope to file a report with The Authorities. Fat lot of good that will do.

    Could the day get any worse? Why, yeeeeesss! Thanks for asking!

    I spent the next few hours trying to get in touch with a company that was selling the perfect surprise birthday present for my wife. After multiple no-answers, I filled out a form on the company's Web site requesting a call-back at work.

    That request was ignored, but sure enough some boob at the company randomly started calling numbers she found on her caller ID and succeeded in reaching Jacqueline at home and spoiling everything.

    All of which wouldn't be so bad if the big-surprise idea hadn't been (a) very, very expensive, and (b) my only idea.

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