OK, “almost” is probably too strong of a word, but still. If after reading this you decide I’m a complete idiot and my blog doesn’t deserve your patronage, I don’t blame you.
So, the other day I get a phone call. The guy on the other side sounds pleasant enough. Here is how conversation went:
Him: We are calling to notify homeowners that they might be eligible for a rebate on their power bills.
Me: Hmm, this sounds like a scam.
Him: Not at all! We are a licensed agency and have been authorized by the State of Florida to check homeowners’ eligibility.
(I should have hung up at that point but I didn’t. In my defense, our county has all kinds of programs going on due to overall poverty of local population. In fact, all school children here get free lunches regardless of parents’ income. )
Me: OK, go ahead.
Him: We send out a guy to check your power bills, you fill out an application and we get back to you to let you know if you qualify.
Me: OK, I guess you can send someone.
Him: How does tomorrow at 9:00 AM sound?
Me: Actually, that time won’t work. We are leaving on a trip.
Him: Can you put it off for just 30 minutes? That’s all it would take.
Me: Not really. It would have to be another day.
Him: Here is the thing. The state has only apportioned a certain amount of funds, and once they are gone, they are gone. Are you sure you can’t be there at 9:00 AM?
(Obviously, my alarm bells are going off like craaaaazy at that point!)
Me: Can you leave me a number and I will call you back.
Him: Sorry, we are not allowed to give out numbers.
That’s what I thought. At that point, I just hung up. But how stupid could I be to keep talking to this obnoxious clown for as long as I did? A quick search on Google turned up this popular scam. A guy comes to your house, takes your social security number, personal details and then steals your identity. Scammers are getting bold. I really can’t believe how gullible I am. I think this hobby made me used to getting something for nothing. Logic would dictate that if such a rebate was legit, it would make much more sense to administer it through power company rather than hire a separate agency.
I’d like to think that I wouldn’t just hand over my sensitive data to a random stranger, no matter how legitimate they looked, but I’m not so sure anymore. No to mention, inviting a guy over and telling him on the phone that we are leaving on a trip so they can rob our house? It just doesn’t get more dense.
So, how does this apply to miles and points hobby? First, let me say that bloggers (all of us) are definitely not scammers. True, some can be sleazy, manipulative and deceptive. Many are only looking out for their own bottom line while claiming to the contrary. But even if readers get bad advice, they are still getting something in the end.
Sure, waiting for 50K offer on Southwest card is far preferable to settling for 25K points due to blogger who is eager to receive his/her commission. But remember, you aren’t losing anything, you just made a bad deal due to being uninformed and new in the hobby. The blogger took advantage of you, sure. But you still came out ahead, all things considered.
Also, notice how this guy kept trying to commit me to having him at my house the next morning? Remember ABC’s of sales: Always Be Closing. Because scammers are essentially salesmen. So when you see “Limited time offer! Get it now! Ends soon!” verbage, keep in mind that there is probably something in it for the blogger.
There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, you can bet there is a carrot dangling on the other side. How do you combat that? Education. You have to do your own research and not just rely on bloggers. I realize everyone is busy which is why you are reading my post right now. Still, Google is your friend.
The other thing to remember. Just because you see photos of a blogger on their site and they respond to you in the comments section or talk to you at the seminar, it doesn’t mean you truly know them or their motives. Honestly, this involves anything you see on the internet, including my blog. Notice how scammer didn’t ask for my SSN over the phone? Instead, he wanted to come to my house. He needed to gain my trust. The same applies to most salesmen.
Last but not least. You can’t go through life not ever trusting anyone, and that includes this hobby. Many of us in the miles and points industry truly want to help readers. Yes, we want to make money too because there is a lot of work involved. That doesn’t automatically make us sleazy or untrustworthy.
And I do honestly hope that you view me as your ally and not just another salesman.
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.