Be Kind To The Indian Scammer

I might not have written this a year ago, but this has been an unusual time for us all.

Much more for the Indian population than for the Australian one – and particularly for the people of Western Australia. Sealed away from most of the infection as we are, we can afford to be kind to those who are more exposed…as long as that sealed border exists.

The Indian call scammers are always going to be with us in some form or other. Amazon, Telstra, ATO, DHL…all these names have been used as ploys for scam calls. There will be many more as local business changes. The one constant in the calls seems to be the steam-room noise behind the caller’s voice, the South Asian accent, and the false name given. It is always vaguely European in nature but pronounced so quickly that you cannot be sure you heard it.

The calls dropped dramatically as the Covid 19 virus hit India and some form of quarantine or lockdown happened there. They have now started again, and I fielded my second one just recently. I was not angry at receiving it, nor did I treat the caller with derision. Their plight is bad enough without me adding scorn to it.

Perhaps they will get angry – if they can recover from the Chinese biological weapon that hit them. I suspect they were one of the main targets for this virus, and I cannot imagine that they do not feel the same way. I wonder what the travel time for an IRBM would be over the Himalayas?

Losing A Tooth

Relax. Not me. None of mine are loose and I haven’t lost one since I was 10 or 11.

But my suburb is gapping up somewhat horrid.

The suburb where I keep my studio – a house I inherited – is going through re-development. Some people who have seen their children through school or their parents into aged care are selling the 60’s and 70’s houses so that the large blocks can be subdivided.  Others lose single-storey dwellings and put up massive block-fillers with two storeys. All grey slabs and modernism.

I’m always getting cards from urging real estate dealers in the studio post box promising big sales – and recently the next-door neighbour tried to offer money for a quarter of the block. The fact that his proposition would have cut off the door to the house is neither here nor there…I wasn’t selling.

Some day someone will come along with a real offer…but I don’t know quite what a real offer would be. It would be an offer that deprives me of my hobby space – that erases the memory of my parents – that makes me disappear. All attractive pieces of sadness and despair, as you can tell. I can’t wait to hit my feet with hammers…

My parents dodged the question by willing the place to me and I may be able to dodge it by doing the same for my daughter. We shall wait and see.

 

Modifying A Hoax – A Modest Proposal

The Facebook Hoax No. 135 has just surfaced again. You know, the one that tells you that you need to copy and paste something that looks like a legal document to prevent Facebook doing something. In this case it has been rigged to make you afraid that all your postings from the past -including pictures – will become the property of Facebook and that they can sell them off with no mercy.

Don’t be sad if you fell for it…people do fall for these sorts of thing. They come so close to our fears of either missing out or being targeted for lawsuit that we instinctively panic. The hoax – and hoax it is – then circulates further when the frightened individual cuts, pastes, posts, or does whatever other ritual the thing suggests. It is a good thing that the hoaxes do not involve hot soldering irons and ears or the emergency rooms would be full in a day.

Mind you, Weller would probably approve…and that’s where the BGA steps in. Note: the BGA frequently steps in it.

What we propose is that the maker of any product enter into a contract with us. ( pentacle, candles, dagger, etc. ) to promote their product. Whatever it is we analyse it and devise a way to tie it into the primitive portion of the reader’s brain. Then we craft a suitable meme or notice and start it out with our team of influenzers*. They insert it into their Facebook pages and direct it to the most gullible of their friends. From there it is transmitted for free  throughout the world, frightening people into buying and using the selected product.

It is not so much an advertising campaign as a form of social media terror. People will go faster if driven than lured and the faster they will go to the store with their wallet open, the better for the client. And remember that the BGA is ethical in this – we do not take a cut of the profits. Our fees are substantial, but one-time. In this we hold a higher moral position than the mafia.

*  So named because we spread internet hoaxes like a debilitating virus. You’re soaking in one now.

” I Regret…”

a. Meeting you. You have proved a disappointment. I laid it all out for you – the mask, the pistol, the map of the bank. Did you take advantage of this? You did not. Begone…

b. Not buying Nedlands land when it was £ 1.00 an acre. Of course this was before I was in the country or even born. But when I see the price that house lots sell for now…my organ of greed swells painfully.

c. Not following the teenage girl into the woods. Well, actually I did follow her into the woods, but I had no idea why she wanted me to go in there, being a stupid teenager at the time. The deserted log cabin she wanted to show me was just an old shack. I looked at it from the outside. I now appreciate her annoyance.

d. Selling the Renault 10. If I had put the damn car up on blocks in a barn with the tyres thrown away and 6 quarts of oil in the crankcase I could pass a cheerful retirement pottering with it. As it was, the 1972 buyer wrapped it around a light pole within six months of the purchase and I can’t bear the thought.

e. Not packing up my first profession and taking up my second one ten years earlier. I was on a hiding to nothing for a decade and it was only my pride that kept me at it. You can be too prissy for your own good.

f. Selling my Leica cameras. Even laid up in ordinary, they would have proved a far better investment than gold.

 

 

The Trolling Net

I check my net every week to see if I have caught my troll. Some weeks are disappointing but some are a bonanza if he snaps at the bait. I’ve gotten three bites a week in the high season.

You generally hear only bad things about trolls, but that is if they are only popping up on social media and writing irksome things to upset people. Of course that is what they always do, but you can convert the energy they put into nastiness to your own purposes.

Mine is advertising for a shop. I write three weekly columns for it with news of the goods and services that they sell. I get to put in humour as well and the occasional flight of fancy.

[Aside} Never stand under a Fancy when they are flying, particularly if they have had a greasy meal. You’ll never get the stains out.

Well, my troll reads the columns religiously – possibly between human sacrifice days. He erupts in a comment whenever some particular statement attracts his combative nature. The comment can come back as a return to the dashboard – which is an internal thing and not so useful – or it can be splashed on the Facebook page that repeats the column. That’s pay dirt.

You see, I get to see the figures for the readership hits on the main column and they spike whenever Trolly bleats. More people read the column, looking for the controversy, and more people then go on to browse the rest of the store’s website. This is a store that wants on-line trade and every time someone wanders down their electronic aisle it’s money in the bank.

I must confess, I have written a few columns in such a way as to provoke Trolly for just this purpose. Not many, but every so often…

He may be a nasty piece of work at home – I don’t know. He may be a sweetie, and the social star of his street. I just hope for his continued good health and bad digestion – he is the best straight man I have, troll or not.

Adapted From The Novel Of A Different Name

With an entirely new plot. And characters that the original author would have been ashamed to think up. Now brought to you on any screen that will take it by an actor who cannot get hired by anyone else other than himself.

If you thought that ” singer-songwriter ” were the most frightening words in the English language, let me horrify you further.

” actor-director “.

Or worse…

” actor-director-producer “…with their own studio and the backing of a semi-religious organisation. Let us hope the film is about the making of sausages because with a business and artistic model like this one can certainly expect the wurst.

I am accustomed to seeing real writers lured to Holly, Dolly, or Bollywood to churn for the studios. Churn out novels, scripts, re-writes, butter, stomachs…whatever. They have long wailed their piteous complaints about it as they pocketed the cash and we’ve seen some reasonable novels and a funny movie made about it. But so far we haven’t an actor-director-producer-studio combination with the nerve to admit their sins that clearly. It needs another Spinal Tap fake doco to put the put the wunderkindern and wunderaltern in real perspective.

Or at least CGI them smooth…

 

Re Tales – Part Eight – Essential Or Luxury?

Which to sell – essential goods or luxury ones?

Aye, there’s the rub – and it’s either with a velvet glove or a bastard file. You choose which division of commerce you think will be likeliest to pay and go with that. If you are right you  rake in the cash and if you are wrong you rake leaves in the park.

Essential items are food, water, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, and security. Thus we see sellers of prepackaged truffles, designer water, silk underwear, bespoke serviced appartments, day facelift spas, and bouncers doing very well indeed.

Luxury items are every blessed thing else. And not every venture selling these succeeds. However, when they do take off – the camera shop or the hobby shop come to mind – the sky is the limit. People will stint themselves of luxuries to buy essentials but that is called skimping and saving pennies – when it is the other way it works with hundreds and thousand of dollars. The trick of retailing is to be where the money ends up – not where it starts.

Re Tales – Part Seven – The Sale

Every shop has a sale some time. Not the regular sales over the counter of everyday commerce – a SALE that involves vast quantities – of many different things:

a. Time. Even a small impromptu sale that the owner thinks up the last minute before going on holiday involves days and hours of preparation, conduct, and accounting. Fortunately they are on holiday and have left their phone at home. The staff will cope…

b. Advertising. No good trying to get more customers in the door if they do not know where the door is or why they might want to come in. So the retailer spends money with the newspapers, phone book company, on-line IT experts ( the ones that are out of the asylum that week ) and leaflet distributors. The richer retailers use radio and television to blow the trumpet – the more frugal ones just buy trumpets and blow them themselves. 3:00 AM in the car park of the shopping centre is a trying time…

c. Preparation. Re-tagging all the sale stock is a pain. Particularly if you need to re-re-tag it after it hasn’t sold. And you need to be accurate in your pricing. ” Whatever ” is not a price tag that will make a profit for the shop.

Beware of customers who shift full-price stock into the sales bins and then magically ” find ” it and rush to the till. They will then demand to have it for an imaginary price, quoting God and Magna Carta as justification. It is best to have a short club handy.

d. Staff. No-one can stand sales pressure on their own so the wise manager will arrange for extra staff to be present. They may be rostered in on a schedule or just thrown in willy-nilly as the fatalities occur. Warn them that normal meal, break and toilet amenities are suspended for the sale period – if necessary quote Magna Carta. With a bit of luck this regime will seem natural and can be extended to the rest of the year.

e. Old unsalable stock. This is the core of the sale – after all, if it all went out regularly, there would be no need for all the other extra work. Old unsalable stock may be perfectly good, but so far no-one outside of the store’s buyer and the wholesaler have ever thought so. Now is the time to convince others by lowering the price.

Make no mistake about it. People will spend money and buy anything if they think it is a screaming bargain. Discount death and give vouchers for subsequent deaths and people will line up to pay. This is the principle of a great many school holiday motion picture series.

If you have no junk to sell, contact the wholesalers and ask them to take you out to a long lunch and get you drunk. You’ll eventually wake up with loose clothing and a warehouse full of broken cartons of stock from 2003.

f. Accountancy. No matter what you get for the schmatta, you’ll still have to do the paperwork to write it off. A successful sale pays for the accountant’s time – really successful ones are where you trade old stock to the accountant instead of a fee.

Re Tales – Part Three – ” I Saw It On A Website. “

In the good old days ( Elvis, dinosaurs) the potential customer would have come in and said ” I saw it in the newspaper. ” or ” I saw it in a magazine. “. Occasionally the special ones fronted the counter and said ” I saw it written in letters of fire in the sky. “. It paid to not doubt them.

Now it is  ” I saw it on the internet. ” What they saw may have been an announcement of a new product or the discontinuation of an old one. Or a recall of exploding bed socks. Whatever, they’ve come into the shop with knowledge of something. The knowledge is valuable to them and it might be so for the shop assistant as well.

If the thing they saw was on the website of the shop where they are, the shop assistant can pray silently that the website had the correct price, image, and stock level for the goods. And that the thing that was shown is still somewhere on the premises.  Even if it is holding the loo door open, at least it exists. Unfortunately there is a gap between what the best IT department can show and what can be plonked on the counter.

If the thing they saw was on another shop’s site all hell could break loose – particularly if the ” shop ” is some vague web address in Kowloon. The customer has taken the internet information as the word of God and any attempt on the part of the shop assistant to explain that it is unrealistic here in Australia will fall on deaf ears.

Unfortunately deaf ears are sometimes attached to loud mouths and angry tempers. These are fine, as long as they can be confined within the head of the customer. Like road rage, let someone else experience it.

No shop assistant is required by any law – of God, the land, economics, or thermodynamics – to match any price that is waved at them from a mobile phone screen. That may or may not be a real offer from a real seller, but it is not a seller who is paying rent on the premises, wages to the staff, or buying paper for the shop loo. The shop price should be fair and calculated to give adequate return to the proprietor for the effort of business – it is most often just that, and any attempt to oyster-knife discounts based on a badly-spelled website can best be referred back to Kowloon.

Or Wuhan.

Permanently Wrong

Are you in danger of becoming permanently wrong? Take this simple test to find out:

a. Are you male or female or not? If you can say yes or no to any of these three, mark your scorecard with a ten.

b. Look at the colour of the skin on your right forearm. If it is any shade between palest white to deepest black mark another ten on your scorecard. Then look at your left forearm – if it is 15 shades darker than the right one you might consider not driving with your arm out the window. Reverse this in the UK, Australasia, Singapore, and Japan.

c. Are you old enough to vote? Mark another ten.

d. Did you vote? Ten again.

e. Do you hold a religious belief of any kind, or do you avoid any belief? Ten again, and now you can add up your score.

You should have 50 points. This proves that you are wrong. If you have less it proves you are wrong and dishonest, and if you have more than 50 it indicates that you are stupid.

How do we know? We have the internet, social workers, political parties, teenagers, and the leaders of think tanks to tell us so. No good you protesting that you can live your life perfectly well with whatever shape, size, colour, or ethnicity you have – you are wrong, and must be made to pay for your error.

The payment will be in guilt ( we’ll tell you what you are guilty of ) and fear ( again depend on us for this ) and money. The money will produce justice for everyone whom you have wronged. We’ll keep it in Switzerland or the Cayman islands so it is safe.

Pay up.