Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

The land of bilk and money

Utah has been on my mind quite a lot these past few months. Actually you might say Utah has been on my mind for more than ten years, as I have had a recurring dream during this time that Ron and I are on a road trip West, headed into the mountains. In the dream I get the idea that we're relocating to Utah for Goddess-only-knows what reason. It doesn't seem religious, but it does seem profound, in the way that things in recurring dreams often do, and there is an atmosphere of excitement mingled with a tinge of sadness in the dream.

In more recent times, however, I've been thinking about Utah for other reasons -- not the least of which are the many blog posts my pal Salty Droid has written about the Beehive State. He's paid homage in his own inimitable way to Utah's status as the telemarketing boiler-room capital of the U.S. (if not the world) -- and to the complicity of Utah's dodgy Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff. Salty has done a fine job of exposing the ruthless machine behind the slick promotions of some of the slimiest hustledorks on the Internet -- and for that matter, on the TV infomercials.

"As we’ve discussed here dozens of times :: much/most of 'Internet Marketing' is in fact just lead generation for old fashioned phone room scamming," said Salty in a recent post. Same goes with those ubiquitous infomercials, of course.

There are several boiler-room companies in business-friendly Utah, whose state motto is "Industry." That's "industry" in the sense of hard work, for which both bees and Mormons are known, and which is also one of the traditional American values that politicians and preachers alike love to jaw about. Honeybees play a key part in Mormon and Utah history, and Utah is famous for its honey. But the boiler-room folks spit in the face of all those fine apian/Mormon/American values of industriousness and sacrifice for the greater good. Granted, the boiler roomers work hard -- they work to bilk ordinary citizens out of more honestly earned money. In the process, I suppose, they sacrifice their integrity and their conscience.

The boiler rooms "strategically partner" with New-Wage gurus who are too busy creating new frauducts and flopportunities, and engaging in aggressive self-promotion, to actually interact with paying customers at length. On behalf of the busy gurus, the boiler rooms push pricey stuff such as branded "coaching" services that are often marketed to the customers as "investments."

In order to determine the best "coaching" services (or other forced-continuity, money-draining scheme) for the individual customer, the boiler-room rep asks the person helpful questions about his or her credit card debts and credit limit. Then the rep uses his or her expertise and precision sales training to help the customer max out that credit limit on the "investment." Some of the boiler-room people even call credit cards "investment cards." Way to boost the economy, guys!

Here, courtesy of Salty Droid, is an example of one of those economy-boosting boiler room scripts. That script is just one small sample. Salty has audios too, recordings of boiler-room hucksters closing in for the kill, and he's already begun sharing them. In another blog post earlier this month he embedded a disturbing audio of a conversation between a woman named Debbie and a closer working on behalf of Mark "Chicken Soup" Hansen and a young flimflammer named Anthony Morrison. The Hansen/Morrison infomercials have been playing on TV nonstop, pandering to desperate out-of-work people, and they are apparently very effective.

On second thought, maybe Salty is correct when he says that "conversation" isn't the right word to describe the exchange between the Morrison/Hansen rep and Debbie. In his August 15, 2011 post (in which he once again shared that audio) he wrote:

It’s a snow job :: not a conversation.

It’s a criminal conspiracy :: not a “coaching floor”.

Thousands of Debbies :: year after year :: industrial scale brutality.

The marketing hucksters love to hate Salty, and probably for good reason. Still, he's not the only blogger who has written about the hard-sell tactics. As I've noted on this blog before, Jonathan Timar at the In the Limelight blog has written a couple of times about his experience with one of the Utah boiler rooms, Prosper Inc. The more recent post is here, and there's a link to a previous post about the same topic.

I'm not telling you anything new here, and if you're a frequent visitor to Salty's blog you already know this stuff. But I did want to formally recognize Salty for the work he's doing. This post was originally part of a longer one that also has a Utah theme, but I changed directions because I felt the "Mormon boiler rooms" deserved a post of their own.

It appears that Salty will be sharing a lot more in the days and weeks to come. The boiler rooms just may start boiling over, and the shady businesses in the Beehive State -- and the hustledorks who benefit from them -- may be attracting some pretty angry buzz.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great - and true - post, Connie - from one who has been "bilked and honeyed" by the boiler room Utah beehive drones. I gather they don't look at "outsiders" as full humans with rights, hearts, minds, and deserving respect.

Sunday, September 04, 2011 1:27:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Sorry to hear about your bilking, Anon. That tendency to dehumanize the marks seems to be a common thread with the bilkers.

Sunday, September 04, 2011 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Kyle K. said...

Hey Cosmic Connie!

I just finished reading several of your articles concerning Utah and boiler room companies. It is my opinion that these types of companies are attracted to Utah and are not so much born out of the traditions of Utah. From my observations there is a certain degree of naivety inherit in the people of Utah. Partly because of the predominant religion and partly due to the culture of the people that reside here. People here tend to be trusting and with a great deal of pride in Utah as a state. We're generally proud of Utah companies and industry. Because of all of this Utahn's are targeted. We make an easy mark with the combination of trust and belief that a Utah company wouldn't knowingly defraud us. I've been duped before by extravagant claims of wealth and prosperity. I've learned that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, and that anything worth having is worth working for.

On a side note: Thanks for the link to my honey website listed in this article!

Monday, October 10, 2011 7:55:00 PM  

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