I obviously have a large invitation on my forehead: come on over it says, and gives a seductive wink, or maybe it’s just the dampness of my forehead, gleaming with sweat from the desert heat that entices the scammers.
This week I went to fill up the car with gas and decided to wash the front windshield. It took a few attempts but finally it sparkled and then it made the car look dingy, so I drove from the gas station to the car wash (less than a mile) and pulled into a bay. Four men dashed out and buzzed around me, two from the carwash, two wearing shirts that alluded to removing chips from windshields. Nobody asked me if they could examine my car, and as I spoke with the carwash attendant, one man rubbed a rag over my windshield and the other checked the body. I asked the attendant what they were doing.
Man with the rag said, “Ma’am you have a chip in your windshield. I can fix it for you, right here.”
“No I don’t,” I said, with a scowl. The other dude handed me their business card and walked away.
Rag man beckoned me to the front of my car. “See,” he said, and ran his finger over a tiny chip. “It could crack. I can fill it, or you could replace the window. Your insurance will cover it.”
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“Oh yes,” the carwash attendant said. “Your insurance will cover it.”
I give him my best narrow-eyed look. “How do you know that? Besides, I just washed this windshield and there was no damn chip.” Then I shoved my fist against my hip. “This smacks of a scam to me.”
Both guys blanched. “I’ll have my car service person check it out,” I said, and grabbed the car wash ticket and stomped inside to pay, reminding myself that I sometimes I forget I’m an old lady and I should learn to keep my big mouth shut.
Twenty minutes later I pulled into my garage. There were now five small chips visible. I drove to the police station and made a report. The cop was very happy with my description of the chip guys, and I gave him their business card. He said a couple of guys in a mobile unit would pull into a WalMart, or Costco parking lot, or a shopping mall, and use a similar tactic to do on the spot repairs. They said he moved around a lot and so far they’d been unable to catch him in the act. Hope they do catch them because nobody wants or needs to be taken advantage of in this economy.
Today I went to WalMart for a new portable fish aquarium so my two buddies could go on a road trip with me. : ) I ran through the pharmacy area and grabbed a box of Claritin as it was an excellent price. I hurriedly checked out, and drove home. The box of Claritin had been opened and re-sealed…it was empty of all medication. It was almost noon and the temperature was well over 104 degrees as I huffed and puffed back to WalMart and into Customer Service. But hell, that was my $20, and besides that I had no Claritin left. They gave me a new box, and I questioned the employee. She said this type of scam has been on the rise. An hour later I got back home and with a raging headache put the new aquarium together, and then took a nap. I promised the fish we’d leave tomorrow.
At first I was disgusted and angry, and indignant about these scams, and also the loss of time involved in trying to right them. But then I realized these are sad and difficult times for so many, and it breaks my heart that people have to resort to doing these things to pay their bills, or gain medications they can’t afford. While scams have been around for a long time, and probably will always exist, I think sometimes sheer necessity drives people to take advantage of others. And those thoughts made me want to do something, especially for the children. Every week between now and the holidays I’m buying one small gift. I’ll stockpile them and then donate them to a local shelter.