Phoned the bank and finally got my non-existent credit card account statements stopped. Last time I did this the CSR couldn't find the account to stop them because well, it doesn't exist. Apparently my 4c balance does exist, so they are going to transfer that to my loan and I shouldn't get any more statements. Found out the new debit card that just arrived is actually an eftpos card.
Called Porirua Library to explain that (ex-tenant) doesn't live at Mum's house any more, and could they perhaps ask him next time he's in, where he lives now?
Found out how to purify tap water for a fishpond.
I have been receiving letters from you at my property at (address), Tawa, for quite some time. I'm now getting in touch to let you know three things. First, I don't live at that address, my mother does. It is her home, we bought it for her and she will live there for the rest of her life. We can't predict how long this will be but we have absolutely no intention of listing the house on the market while she is still alive. Be assured we will contact you in the event that we choose to sell the house. Meanwhile, could you please stop sending the letters? We appreciate the intent but for my mother they amount to spam.
Secondly, the letters have been addressed to Mr M and Mrs W Allison. Now, this is an easy mistake to make, based in assumptions around societal norms. What's the mistake? I'm not a Mrs, I'm a Miss, and Malcolm is not my husband. He's my brother. So while we find it somewhat amusing to see letters addressed in such a way, it's also sort of icky. Just an FYI, possibly useful to you to not use honorifics on letters if you're not sure of the relationship between the recipients.
Thirdly, my mother received a phone call the other day, asking for me under the title 'Mrs'. I don't know if this was your office calling, but I thought I'd mention it in case it was. As you're now aware, I don't live at the property and such calls are a waste of everyone's time.
I don't wish to be rude, I'm aware that your letters have always been polite and friendly, and I appreciate the service you're offering. However, I'm not sure there's a polite and friendly way to say 'Please leave us alone' - but that's essentially what this amounts to.
So about that spam....
The other day I was walking home and was hailed by a woman on the other side of the street. She was carrying a clipboard and I thought "Oh no". But it turned out she just wanted to know the time. I told her and carried on, wondering if someone with a clipboard would turn up at my house, since she'd obviously been going door-to-door.
Sure enough, half an hour later, a very good looking young Australian man was on my doorstep trying to sell me special vouchers to Reading Cinema. They were quite cool but there is no way I'm shelling out $70 for them, when that's my total year's spending at the movies generally anyway. It just doesn't make economic sense. I told him this. He said "Yeah but.. " and carried on with his spiel.
It was at that point that I had to be rude to him to make him stop. I didn't go over the top, it was like *holds up hand* "Look, I meant what I said, I'm not going to buy this and to continue is wasting both of our time." He looked taken aback and a little offended, but he left.
He was offended. He, who had knocked on my door and disturbed me at dinner time, to try and extract money from me for a product I hadn't sought out. Who did not listen to me, who talked over the top of me, and who I had to be stern with to make him go away. He was offended, and I felt bad for being borderline rude to him.
And this is how they do it. Lots of people would hear him out for the sake of politeness, or end up giving him money to get rid of him. Some might even want the product - but for most people, movie vouchers aren't something they want to spend money on in a time of financial tightness, and as far as I know, NOBODY enjoys answering the door to find someone there who's trying to sell them something. The interaction is fraught, the people are trained to be persistent, and plenty of folk are not assertive enough to say "Please go away.", and the marketers know it. It's taking advantage of people's good nature to get their money. I know it's couched as offering a great deal, but realistically, if they didn't think they were going to get money out of it, they wouldn't pay people like the poor Australian to knock on doors offering this great deal. It's a profit strategy.
So lots of my geek friends complain about spam. I'm not so bothered about it, my filters are good, and sometimes I read it for entertainment, but mostly it's a simple *delete all spam now* button-push and it's gone.
The spam I object to is what I call real spam. The spam that uses paper and resources, like the letters I wrote to get stopped this morning (which, incidentally, I've heard back about and they apologised and won't be writing again). Spam like people phoning you up and asking if you've heard about the latest developments in sleep technology, who when asked say they aren't trying to sell you something, then launch into a spiel to get you to a seminar where they try to sell you something. Spam like people knocking on your door trying to sell you something.
In each of these instances, I have to make effort to stop it. Like most people, if I want something, I'll go and look for it. I'm very good at finding it. I may miss a few great things this way, but for the most part I'm not too worried about that. So to be approached by people with this 'great offer'*, in a way in which I have to actually be rude-ish to get rid of them, offends me.
Every time I get one of those calls, I ask to be removed from the list. I tore a strip off the Post Office for making spam opt-out on their change of address form instead of opt-in, and making you reiterate each time you move house instead of understanding "This person does not want spam" to be a permanent state of affairs. I write emails like the one above. And I send salespeople away empty-handed.
*The subtext of every one of these conversations is:
Them: I have to try and get you to give me money for something you don't want so I'm going to make it look like a good thing for you if you do, as if I'm doing you a favour.
Me: I know you're trying to get me to give you money for something I don't want so you're going to try to make it look like a good thing for me if I do. I want to keep my money and I don't want your product, please stop lying to me about your intentions.
My brother doesn't get doorstep spam because he lives in an eyrie up a goat track - but he gets lots of telemarketers. He tells them to get a better job because telemarketers are going to be abused all day by annoyed people who don't want their product and that the wages aren't good enough to make it worth it, and to please consider that while crossing him off their phone list.
(maybe it's a family thing)
So anyway, the only way to stop it is to make sure there is no money in it for the perpetrators. If it's not economically viable, they won't do it. Think about that next time you're considering letting someone finish their spiel while your dinner gets cold.
Things Still To Do:
Chase up non-responsive companies about scaffolding hire.
Phone Child Support and ask them why only partial payment has been coming through each month and what they are doing to recover the rest.
Infiltrate major world religions, seize control of Vatican.