Your Car’s Warranty Has Expired
And other crank calls.
For months now, OK, years, I’ve been getting calls about my car’s extended warranty. I answer the phone to “scam likely” and I hear something like the following message:
“We’re calling about your car’s expired warranty. This is a courtesy call and it is the last call we will make before we close your file…”
The voice is urgent in tone and pace. The message is serious. I could lose thousands of dollars in repair bills on a car I hardly ever drive anymore. I used to get these calls every day. Now, thanks to the laborious efforts of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, I get just a couple of these calls a week.
I’ve tried a variety of responses. I’d answer the call, hear the message, then press 2 to be added to the “do not call” list. But they keep calling. They can call on an infinite number of numbers. They never seem to run out. No matter how many times I block them, my phone makes it easy to block a number, they still keep calling. I’ve never actually been able to get them to stop.
So then I try to get in. I go along with it to see who they are. “Who are you?” I ask. “What’s the name of your company?”
“Warranty Services, sir.” It’s always some generic name that would be hard to pick out on Google. You’d think they’d want to distinguish themselves from other companies. Not this lot. They are like the grey goo you put on a CPU. Completely uniform, featureless, shameless. There is no way to track them back, too. For a business that claims to offer a service that people really, really want, “extended car warranties”, they’re really hard to track down.
I’ve gotten as far as 5 minutes and gave them some personal information as if I’m really going to buy their service. Believe me, I’ve tried to buy their service, but they always drop the call. What kind of business is that?
I get something similar to solar power sellers, too. I answer the phone and it sounds like a real person, with tone and pacing and everything. But then I say something that is off-script, “Can you pass the Turing Test?” And the robot just keeps going. He’s following a script and he can’t be deterred.
But with them, I can at least get through and tell them that I’m not interested. I can talk to them and say that I don’t have enough tax liability to take advantage of the tax credits. I don’t really make enough money to justify the expense. Then I tell them to call me next year when the economy is better. At least they’re selling something that I want. The car warranty ghouls are not.
I’ve read that for each violation of the law concerning unwanted calls, an enterprising attorney can rack up some good business in court at $500 a pop. If that’s so, I’d expect to see TV advertising that tells me how I can make a few bucks on the side suing the extended car warranty hawkers in a partnership with their law firm.
I don’t see that kind of advertising on TV. I’ve never seen any advertising anywhere for that kind of “hired gun for unwanted callers” service. I guess they know something that I don’t. The car warranty people are so shady, that they must operate out of a mailbox somewhere in Bermuda. Their assets are protected by layers and layers of corporations, contracts, and loose affiliations. There’s no easy way of getting at their money or there’d be a way to stop the calls.
I remember at the beginning of the Trump Administration that there were promises to crack down on those calls, to stop those calls, to fine the bejesus out of those companies that make those calls. That never happened.
So when I get a call about a warranty offer from a shady company, I don’t even bother to press two. I just hang up and tap the “block” button. Then I move on. Those guys aren’t very serious, and they’re looking for easy marks. I also know that if I really wanted an extended warranty, I can find plenty of companies that have an address and a phone number I call or text to if I need to extend the warranty on my car. They’re not that hard to find. Unless they call you out of the blue.