Old friends and new

26Jan04

I’ve had some mail arrive for Ruddy Ruddy — three postcards from Hugo Boss — that are exhilarating on several levels. Firstly, they contain samples of Hugo, a fragrance for men. Let’s say that again: A fragrance for men. For so long, Ruddy Ruddy has been mailed stuff for women that s/he began to question his/her own gender. It’s fantastic to have his manhood validated.

Second, the return address on these postcards reads: P.P. CH-4002 Basel. A quick Google search confirms my suspicions and points to the origin of this mail as Basel, Switzerland. That’s easily the most distant origin point of any mail sent to Ruddy Ruddy thus far. Ruddy Ruddy is quickly becoming a global phenomenon.

Lastly, the upper left hand corner reads:

This postcard was sent by:
Ruddy Ruddy

What? Is Ruddy Ruddy actually mailing things to himself? Why don’t I remember this? The postcard also says “Thank you for visiting HUGO.com”, but I remember doing no such thing. Could Ruddy Ruddy be mailing himself postcards from the future? Is there another Ruddy Ruddy who mailed this? Or is it the usual Ruddy Ruddy, but with his memory erased? This is truly a mind-twisting mystery straight out of a Philip K. Dick novel.

Thus, it is with some relief that I open the second arrival, with comes from our old friends at the Reader Service, who as you may remember, sent the Harlequin novels. Harlequin novels are much easier to comprehend than Philip K. Dick novels, although I note with alarm that their official websites each feature an oddly similar indigo diamond-like logo. Nevertheless, I forge onward and read the contents.

‘STOPS’ PLACED ON CREDIT, SHIPMENTS, ANY & ALL FREE GIFTS, the invoice says, reminding me that Ruddy Ruddy still owes the princely sum of $19.09. IT’S 105 DAYS SINCE WE LAST SHIPPED YOU BOOKS. THIS IS GETTING SERIOUS. WE MUST SETTLE THIS MATTER — AND SETTLE IT SOON. SEE “URGENT” MESSAGE ENCLOSED.

I don’t feel the sense of urgency that they do — I’m the one who should be putting ironic quotation marks around the word, not them — but I’ll have a look at the message anyway. It’s from the ever-hopeful Paula Morgan, the Customer Service Manager who wrote last month, and she says:

(In “handwritten” script) When can we expect to hear from you???
Do we need to talk on the telephone???

Dear Customer:

Because your account is months past due, I wrote you recently with an extended date for payment -- for some kind of response.

But so far we have no record of any reply from you, and THAT HAS US TERRIBLY CONCERNED.

After all, we've lived up to our promises ... free gifts, no strings attached -- free examination privileges, no obligation to buy.

BUT YOU HAVEN'T RECIPROCATED. You've simply kept books we sent you on approval, without paying for them.

Now both of us know that's not proper, and it's not fair. What's more, WE'RE NOT SO BIG OR SUCCESSFUL A COMPANY THAT WE CAN SIMPLY IGNORE A JUST DEBT.

So please do what is right. Either provide us with your phone number and best day and time to call -- or call us at one of our Customer Service Center numbers -- OR MAKE PAYMENT NOW!

Remember, we do want you as a customer in good standing! WE REALLY DO!

Sincerely,
Paula Morgan (in same "handwritten" script as above)
Paula Morgan, your
Customer Service Manager

Ruddy Ruddy is such a jerk for taking advantage of poor Paula and company and not reciprocating. Clearly Ruddy Ruddy should have sent them some unasked-for pulp novels in the mail in return and demanded payment from them. But despite their concern for his well-being, he didn’t! That’s not fair! Mo-om! I can hear them whine. Ruddy Ruddy took our books and he won’t give them ba-ack! I should have known they couldn’t ignore a just debt. After all, they endlessly obsess over unjust non-debts, so could you imagine if Ruddy Ruddy really owed them money?

Anyway, accompanying this comes a rather hopefully worded slip that reads:

This is another URGENT REMINDER about your unpaid balance, and if a phone conversation is what is necessary to clear matters up, so be it.

If you are not paying now, PLEASE WRITE YOUR PHONE NUMBER IN THE SPACE AT RIGHT, ALONG WITH THE BEST DAY AND BEST TIME OF DAY TO CALL, and return with the Statement enclosed. Alternately, if you are not paying now, you may if you wish call our Customer Service Center at 1-877-22-4748 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. EST.

One way or another, company policies diccate that we determine how you plan to deal with your account.

It pretty much sums up their whole approach: Vaguely threatening bluster, with nothing to really back it up except the optimism that I might just be foolish enough to give them my phone number (which they’d surely be able to track down if a debt really were owed) in order to harass me more directly.

Of course, I’m not stupid enough to actually mail in my phone number. But I’m half-inclined to arm myself with the appropriate statutes showing that they don’t have a leg to stand on, call them up on their toll-free number (“if I wish”, indeed!), and really give them the business about this.

On the other hand, I’ll probably just let them stew a while longer.



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