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.