After receiving numerous "final" warnings that the factory warranty on my vehicle "may have expired and should be reactivated," I decided to contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint. It seemed like the right thing to do.
The FTC's answering service required me to report the telephone number of the company that called me and the time the call was made. I was pretty sure the most recent call came on Saturday, July 26. As for the number, I was clueless.
An Internet search on warranty scams showed one number this type of call originates from is 973-328-7372. So I entered that information, hoping it would lead a human being from the FTC to contact me about this. No such luck.
Then, at the carefully documented time of Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 12:38 p.m., there was a break in the case. I received another final warning call from the warranty scammers, and was home to answer. I decided to press 1 to speak to a representative.
"Warranty Activation Department," the female voice said. "May I have the year, make and model of the vehicle?"
"I'm wondering how many of these final warnings I'm going to get," I said in all sincerity.
"Sir, did you need a warranty on your vehicle? Yes or no," she replied sternly.
"I'm asking you a question. How many of these final warnings am I going to get?" I asked again.
Before I could finish repeating my question, she hung up. Any notion that I could have a future as a hostage negotiator was quickly shattered. I had no new information for the FTC.
Then, one week later, my answering machine recorded a new scam:
"Don't be alarmed, but this is your final notice for lower interest rates on your current account," the message said. "This offer expires today. Press 1 and speak to your account manager and reduce your rates. Again, press 1 now; this is the last offer of the season. Or, press 2 to discontinue further notices. Thank you, and have a great day."
This time, I decided to go ahead and pay 95 cents and use my phone company's last-call-return service to get the number that called me. Armed with the proper digits (954-925-0717) I could now file an accurate report with the FTC.
That's right, now I'm spending money to keep people from trying to rip me off.
Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul @ geekprom.com.