Monday, February 15, 2010

#30 How much is trust worth?

How much is trust worth?

Prison Talk about trust

Well, as the snow melts around here, we get ready for the rain that will no doubt wash away the snow we got over the weekend. Our winter wonderland will be gone, and not much of a chance of seeing any more this year. It was nice while it lasted.

To those reading my blogs, I encourage you to take a moment to email me if you are curious about other prison matters, or have a question that I might be able to address. I do answer my emails when I can, and I definitely answer sincere (and nice) comments.

But to do that, you have to believe what I am blogging about, and trust me enough that this is no con game. If there are 100 people reading this blog right now, I am sure about 95% at least is thinking, “I don’t trust no con man”…

Without even knowing me at all…nor giving me a chance.

But it’s something about that word, “trust” and “ex felon” that people are not willing to associate together. Its like an oxymoron, or like “hot ice” or “cold flame”. They just don’t go together.

Why is that?

To that extent, what is trust worth to you? How much is it worth to you to believe, or to ASSUME that one is trustworthy. You know, there is a hairline difference between the two. Let me give you an example, using myself.

As an ex felon, I am trying to create a venue of revenue by my writing. It seems to be the only thing I am gifted at, and I really do enjoy writing. People always whine about how they want ex felons to contribute back to society, to make amends and all that jazz, well, you tell me a better way than writing for those with loved ones in prison. But some of those same people get all bent out of shape when an ex felon gets a job, because they feel that they don’t deserve a job, give it to a “regular” citizen.

Sometimes we are so stupid.

Or, if an ex felon opens a business, people shy away from it as if he carried the plague. I remember once on a prison support site one lady came up with this silly idea of creating a list of businesses owned by ex felons so people can support them. I personally thought it was the DUMBEST idea I have heard. Do you realize that even if she may have been thinking in a right way, the immediate effect of such a list would be immediate persecution to all those businesses? There is no good that comes out of that.

In both situations, people don’t trust an ex felon, but for the only reason being that people are too lazy to use their heart to determine if a person is trying to scam them or not. We go on preconceived prejudice, and to the average American, that works just fine.

We seem to be experts on that, and you don’t have to go much further than the Winter Olympics opening ceremony they had Friday night. If you saw it, you know how much Canada values their past, which had strong influence on what we call “Native American” influence. I looked at that and marveled at how Canada embraced it, while at the same time thinking what this country did, almost eradicating them off the face of the country… for what? Greed and prejudice.

Vancouver has a heavy Chinese and asian population too, a result of many fleeing the United States when we came up with stupid laws to persecute them…and we don’t need to even begin talking about African American persecutions.

Yet all this is based on foolish thoughts that were wrong to begin with, and wrong now. It is makes the foundation for lack of trust. Its not that much different with ex felons, although if you had to push the issue, you could argue that a person who breaks the law ought not be trusted.

I would disagree on many counts.

Now I am not saying that every guy that walks out of prison is a saint, and you should spend all your money with him or her, to be sure, some people are out to con you out of you last dollar. While I was in prison, I knew a number of guys that I did not trust at all, because they tried to run a “game” on you, to get something from you…preferably money.

But does that mean every ex felon is a con man…not at all. But the very idea of trust that people use to condemn ex felons like me, they toss aside for a complete stranger in the name of business. Example:

How many of you have seen those “infomercials” on tv? Or better yet, how about those 30 or 60 second commercials that are selling you stuff if you call right now? If you ever take the time to watch it closely, you may well see that many (not all) of those commercials is a scam.

There are two signs that are in question, one is the “call now and we’ll double” scam, and the apparent lack of telling the consumer how much shipping will be. Most people don’t consider that, because they “trust” that this business is legit… I mean, its not like they are ex cons…right?

So we are fooled to think that just because they are doubling the order, we are getting something for free…nope. If you notice, their generous act of doubling your order is not an option…it is mandatory. Even if you called and asked not to double the order, they can’t do that. It’s fixed. Why? To validate you paying for BOTH.

Now follow me here folks because although it seems I am off track, I am proving a point to how blindly we can trust a scam on tv, but won’t trust an ex felon trying to make a difference.

Many of those television commercials like that try to convince you that their product is worth more than it is, and they are “giving” you a great deal at a cheap price. Then they make it even better by saying that if you call now, they will double it. They like to tell you how much it is worth to them…then tell you how much YOU are saving by calling and making that order.

But most times, at the end of the commercial, when they put that info up for you to order, you notice many times the price of the shipping and handling is not posted…why?

Because that’s where the charge you more.

If you get an opportunity to watch channels like ESPN Classic or ESPNU, they carry a lot of these commercials. I am sure there are other channels but I watch sports a lot so I see it there.

We put a lot of trust in these businesses, which has jumped quickly into multi million dollar businesses, but on the backs of your trust. Imagine that….many people won’t spend a dollar with a man or woman who has a past, but will plunk millions on products seen on television and end up paying more than they thought. What’s your trust worth?

An example I will share is one called “Wonder Hanger”. Now I am not saying this is a bad product, I am giving you an example of how this works. I just watched it a few minutes ago, and without getting into what it is about, it is a set of 5 hangars with loops on them for you to actually save more space. Ok, that’s cool.

If you order, you get 5 of those hangars, 2 special bendy hangars and a LED closet stick up light, all for the low, low price of $9.99. BUT WAIT, there’s more!

If you call now, they will DOUBLE your order for free…just pay the additional shipping and handling. They claim it is a $50 value, and all yours for just $9.99. What a deal! And surely you can trust them right? They aren’t ex felons!

But what you miss in that commercial is the sucker move they did. First off, why do these commercials always overhype the value of their products? They always try to make you think that you are getting a real deal because what…they want to SAVE you money? And you trust that?

Its like someone once said about Nike shoes…those shoes are made in third world countries for like $10 to $20 each, but sold here for over $100...and we are stupid enough to keep buying it.

Anyway, if you bought that Wonder Hanger, you would be paying what? Well the commercial said only $9.99.… but that’s not what you will be paying. If you made that order, you pay first the $9.99, then the shipping and handling of NOT ONE, but TWO separate items. That’s what they mean when they say “just pay separate shipping and handling”. So ask yourself this question…why don’t they list the price of shipping?

Because it might be different depending on where you live? Not true. If a person in Oregon orders this Wonder Hanger, and one in Florida, one in New York, one in Texas and one in Detroit, the shipping is ALL THE SAME. The same identical item shipped anywhere in the continental US would be the same and would not differ unless the company shipping chooses to use a different and unique delivery, which would not make sense because it would cost them more.

Remember the Fed X commercial about those boxes that ship anywhere for the same price…that’s how companies ship their products, even if not with Fed X. Most products shop in the continental US for the same price if it is the same product.

So go back to this Wonder Hanger and ask again…why aren’t they sharing the shipping costs? They told you everything else…why not that? Because that is the scam, based on your trust in them.

Consider folks, how much would it cost to put 7 hangars and a small LED light in a box to ship? I might imagine anywhere from $3 to $7 to ship. I have a little experience in shipping, since I ship my “Grades of Honor” books, as well as cards and other items. If I sent a book to someone in Texas and one to California, the prices are about the same. Now, if I sent one to Canada, the price changes dramatically. But generally it costs me I think about $3 to ship a book…at least it did months ago.

The same should be said for these hangars. But I am willing to bet you that you will pay big time on this “secret charge”. One report online from a customer said they ended up paying $85.00 total for those hangars. See, they can charge you anything for that, since they never told you how much the shipping would be. Think about it, you can buy that set of hangars for $9.99, and then get hit with an additional $20 shipping! Now you’re paying $29.99...and that’s only HALF of it!

Because you trusted them to double your order, they will now double the shipping charge! Remember, they DID say, “just pay separate processing and handling”. And you trusted them to do just that, thinking it won’t cost but another dollar or two…if that was true, they would have told you. So now, if the shipping for one costs $20, then the shipping for 2 will cost about $40. All snatched from your credit card, since they don’t take money orders or checks.

Imagine that…paying almost $60 for something they said was only $9.99.…

But we trust these “as seen on tv” commercials, and fall for them often. Why? Because we are willing to trust them. I mean, they can’t be like ex cons, right?

Now, I said all that with examples to show you how easily our trust can be taken for granted. To me, if a tv ad tells you the product, and gives you all the info you need, INCLUDING shipping and handling, then they are being as honest as they can be with their product. I don’t care if the product isn’t as great as they advertise, if they at least told you exactly what you would be paying, then to me that is trustworthy. They didn’t hide anything as far as price from you, and as a consumer you deserve complete honesty in what you are paying. Anytime you see a commercial that does not tell you how much you are paying in shipping and handling…stay away from it.

When I sold my books, I always told people EXACTLY how much it was going to cost. No hidden fees, no jacked up prices, and in addition, I always added something free to it, whether I told them or not. It was my way of saying “thanks” for helping me do something. Anybody who has ordered my books in the past can easily attest to that.

Often times I ship on my dime…when I had one. For example, when I offered the free “Prison Encouragement Certificates” I told people that it was free…what that meant was that it was free.

Meaning it was free.

That means it is free.

You get it?


I had a number of those items ready to go to anyone who asked for it, for a limited time. I can’t give them away all the time, I just don’t have that kinda support. But they were free to whomever wanted one. Yet in all my promotion, all it took was one jackass, who didn’t even KNOW ME, to jump on the site and bear false witness that I was out to get people’s address for something.

I blogged on this before, so some of you may have read it, but that one vote of untrust was more accepted than my sincere attempt to help. Not everybody fell for the lie that person said, but enough of them did for me to see that this prison support site was full of idiots. So I honored my offer to those that sincerely took me up on it, and left the site.

So….what’s your trust worth? What’s it worth for me to try to convince you I really do want to help, and I have many things I can share to help you. I also have many products I want to make available, in an attempt to try to create a revenue for myself, and support this writing. Many people are willing to make multi-million dollar businesses out of “as seen on tv” ads without even knowing who is selling the product, or even how much it will cost. We are willing to let con artists on television take tens of millions from us because we blindly trusted them when we made that phone call with our credit card in hand.

But when it comes to an ex felon, we build the moat and the castle walls as high as the sky, and refuse to even take time to understand them. Folks, that what this blog is about, for you to get to know me. If you have read all my blogs to this point, and still feel that you can’t trust me, I can live with that. But if you feel that way, don’t ever contact me, because you will be doing it only from a self-serving stand point. Don’t ask me to send you anything, don’t ask me to help you with your son in prison…don’t ask me for anything. I can’t prevent you from reading my blogs, because I make them freely available to anybody who can access this site, but I don’t have to answer a person who does not trust me, nor am I going to fight tooth and nail to prove that.

But if you DO trust me, then we have a starting point. Email me, ask me about prison, tell me something you want me to discuss, if I can. Ask me about my books, cards and other products. Ask me about supporting my blogs. I am not perfect folks, but I am willing to do my best. I have not been writing for the last 7+ years just to give my fingers some exercise. There is much we can discuss about prison issues, and I want to help, if you will let me.

So, what is your trust worth to me? Its worth writing thousands of pages to help someone with a loved one in prison. So tell me, what’s it worth to YOU?

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