Reader Ian told a Boston Symphony Orchestra representative to mail him information about donating. The orchestra somehow mistook his request for a $25 pledge, and is now accusing Ian of making a “fraudulent pledge” and demanding that he immediately pay up.
About a year and a half ago, I got a phone call on my cell phone from an unlisted number. I was busy doing something, but like an idiot I answered anyway. It was a solicitor from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, asking me to donate. I’d taken my fiancee to a concert of theirs about a month prior, and I had purchased the tickets online. I guess they thought just paying for my tickets wasn’t enough. I told him I was busy and to send me something in the mail, and that was that.
A few weeks later I got what looked like a bill from the BSO, saying I had agreed to donate $25, and please pay up. I was pretty annoyed about getting a collection notice for a donation I never actually agreed to, so I tore up the letter and forgot about it. Over the next year, I received a copy of that same notice once every couple of months. Each time, I remembered the sleaziness of the circumstances under which they got my “pledge”, so I just threw it out.
A couple of weeks ago, an unrecognized number appeared on my phone. Since this one wasn’t blocked, I answered. On the other end was an unbelievably rude woman who immediately accused me of making a fraudulent pledge to the BSO because they never received my $25. Then she goes, “So would you please give me a credit card number so we can take care of this?” I was at a loss for words. I explained to her that giving my credit card information to a random person who called my cell phone would be incredibly stupid. She said, “Oh, I assure you I’m calling from the BSO,” and went on to describe the tickets for my outing a year and a half ago–the date, the seats, the cost, etc. At this point I just wanted to get off the phone, so I told her she wasn’t getting my credit card, and to please send me something in the mail. “Impossible,” she said. “When is a good time to call back?” I said the first thing that came to my mind, which was “May”, and she hung up abruptly.
About a week later, I got another letter in the mail asking me to pay up, and last night that familiar number appeared in my caller ID. This time though, I didn’t answer it. I wonder if the BSO realizes it’s telemarketers are acting like financial bounty hunters?
Anyway, I’d advise Consumerist readers to think twice before making a BSO ticket purchase online…
We have a mini-subscription to the New York Philharmonic and used to constantly receive solicitation calls from the “Friends of the New York Philharmonic.” They had our Grandcentral number, and each time they called, we’d ask to be taken us off their lists before blocking the number. Those sneaky audiophiles, they’d call back from a different number and pretend we’d never requested anything other than another call. We must have received well over ten calls before they finally realized they were talking to a stingy blogger.
The experience was annoying enough to keep us from ever being friends with the New York Philharmonic, even if they give us their Cool Ranch Doritos and invite us over to play Grand Theft Auto. No, they blew that chance. Take note, symphony orchestras, your pushy tactics won’t win you any friends.
The broader lesson is to be very careful when donating to any organization. Donating is the fastest way to put your name, number, and address on a slew of annoying solicitation lists. If you choose to give, give anonymously.