February 19, 2011


BMW Buy Back letterLast month, we looked at how to fight cynicism. This week, I've seen too many reasons to question intent, to treat as guilty until proven innocent. We'll look at BMW, a Mastermind and seven emails.

The Vehicle Exchange Event

We'll start with an email from a BMW dealership. Click on the graphic enlarge it.

Here are highlights.
  • my vehicle is in a "preferred status"
  • this dealership did the research and selected themselves as the test location
  • another test "will not take place again until investigation data has been assessed"
This email felt fake. It's addressed "Dear Customer" though this dealership has my contact details. There's a typo ("sight" [as in eyesight] instead of "site" [as in location]). The content doesn't make much sense. The entire message is a graphic, which seems spammy. There's no mention of the vehicle I got from them, which their records would show.

Here's the big flaw. I returned my leased BMW three years ago. They have computers and databases. Why don't they know that? I doubt they want my current Mercedes.

A Mastermind

Through someone who knows someone who knows someone, I got invited to join a speaker's Mastermind. I was interested because I'm
Pixels are free but thee invitation had very little information. I figured the group would be like Toastmasters: members helping members. The organizer (a fourth someone) phoned me. At my prompting, he revealed that this group was a business targeting amateurs who want to become full-time paid speakers. Those who join this "lifestyle" pay over $2,000 a year and meet each weekend during prime family time.

The write-up implied the group was a real Napoleon Hill Mastermind and free. The reply? Nothing explicitly said the group was free and there's nothing wrong with making money. When you infer what a salesperson implies, are you entirely to blame?

Here's the sad part. I'd already told others about the group. A lawyer and a friend (yes, they're two different people) expressed interest. I filled them in and apologized for not investigating better.

Seven Emails

This week, I got added to four email lists without permission. The senders implied that we'd met but we hadn't. That's sneaky. That's spam. I unsubscribed.

Finally, I got three disguised sales pitches from people I thought were above trickery:
  1. one asked about weaknesses to develop a course … and sell it to me
  2. one speaker was back by popular demand … to sell a seminar
  3. one with typos asked me to explain why I hadn't attended previous seminars
I've seen enough movies to know that "anything you say can and will be used against you".

Fighting Back

Why are tricks being used? They must work and be reasonably legal. Our trusting natures get used against us. Buyer Beware instead of Seller Inform.

Horoscopes and sales pitches show that creating ambiguity takes extra skill. Why can't they be clear instead? We eventually see the tricks and be tougher to fool again.


Podcast 105 (4:36)

direct download | Internet Archive page

PS What do you do when you feel fooled?

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