"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
June 18, 2015
A Scam Warning
by Hannah Bird

I recently figured out that I have been taken in a scam. As sad as I am about this, I am really more embarrassed. I have spent countless hours and dollars investing in this racket. My hope is that by sharing my story, I can prevent others from being taken advantage of in the future.

Back in the day, there was Colombia House. You filled out a little form to select a bunch of free albums. This enrolled you in an ongoing auto-ship situation.

Every month, they shipped you an automatic selection of music that you would never actually purchase on purpose. If you neglected to mail back “Mating Songs of the Upper Peninsula Cricket Played on Didjeridoo” in a timely manner, it was yours to keep. And pay for.

Much like the whole record scam, I fell for an introductory offer that sounded too good to be true.

My introductory product was perfect. She was tiny and pink. She had big blue eyes. She had a perfect turned-up nose. I did think to check and make sure they were really going to let me take her out of the hospital. I was clear that my husband and I knew nothing. But I was told at the hospital that not only could I take her, I was required to do so by law.

I should have watched that fine print.

This scam wears you down. The combination of sleep deprivation, scream torture, and constant require activities brainwashes you. You love the scam. This is your favorite scam.

So you get scammed again.

It is worth noting that the introductory products are positively loaded with bugs. They can’t follow simple English commands. There is no off button. They leak. They require more care than a hothouse full of orchids.

You are not paid for your work. The scam depends on you understanding that it is more work than anyone would do for money so you must do it for free.

Everyone else must be paid, though. By you. You will pay the doctor to make sure your unit is running properly. You will pay the grocer to supply it energy. You will pay the shoe store all the money you have because someone thought it would be funny for your product to constantly grow.

They fall down. So much. You must tend to the yelling and try to ascertain if there was an actual injury. There is no handbook or control panel to guide you. There is just a small hole in the face that makes tremendous amounts of noise for no good reason or because it just shattered a bone. You get to guess.

They ruin your other products. The couch you bought in a fit of optimism will get colored. Your dishes will break. Your scam units will vandalize other scam units. Apparently the programmers didn’t think to make their software compatible. This means a lot of face-hole noise about which unit is touching or looking at which other unit.

If you tell the two units that you do not care and want them to be quiet for just a minute so that you can think through some of your choices, you will be treated to all the face-hole noise in the world.

Your unit continues to grow. Rather than getting smarter, it constantly reveals how much it does not know. How to poop, for example, and where. You must hack the unit so that it will consume vegetables and accept mandatory shut-off each evening. You have to program it not to hit or bite other units.

No other product is this shabbily designed. I can put a gallon of milk in my fridge safe in the knowledge that it will not make the butter cry or start harassing the spinach. I can put coins in my purse secure in the knowledge that one coin will not grab another coin and perform the dreaded, “Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself.”

The programming doesn’t stop. Even though the product was produced in your native country by native language speakers, you will still have to teach it not to say “You was” or “ain’t.” However if you ever say a thing you should not one time you will find your little unit has perfect and eternal recall. But you will still have go over their spelling list every night.

Since the unit was not actually programmed to do anything other than leak, consume energy, and make face-hole sounds, you will spend all your time teaching it.

You will teach it to brush its teeth. You will teach it to put its dish in the dishwasher. You will teach it to mop the floor even though you could have mopped 10 hothouses full of orchids in the time it takes your unit to do a not-great job.

In return for all this care and teaching, you will also have to teach your unit not to follow other scam victims home and not to talk to people who are not their own hackers.

The good news is that with nearly 20 years of careful care, your unit will become functional. The unit can communicate in one or possibly more languages. The unit can say things that are interesting and important instead only making face-hole noise.

The unit can clean your house quickly. The unit will make you laugh. You will feel great joy and accomplishment at the programming of the unit.

Then it will leave you. That is the ugly dark secret of this scam. You will spend all your time trying to get your unit to function and when it does, it rolls out into the world to delight and entertain total strangers. You will be stuck home alone, fondly remembering their leaky noisy days. (The early brainwashing is just that good)

I am not sure what the solution is. Even if I had been told it was a scam up front, I still would have taken that introductory offer. I still would have cheerfully taken additional units. Maybe I am just not smart.

But they had sparkly eyes and smelled like summer (when they weren’t leaking). I still would have put all my time into training them. It’s better than having malfunctioning units rolling around in the basement making face-hole noise for pizza when comparable units are grown.

But still, it’s a scam. It breaks your heart.

There is no one to be mad at. You just didn’t really understand the fine print. Your units are not to blame. You just didn’t know it would go so fast. You didn’t know that once you trained them, they would be the only people you wanted to be with.

They are gone. You are proud. You are sad, but not sorry. You love them and wish them the best. But you will smile when they call and say “We’re having a baby.” You will not show them the fine print. You will not tell them this will end in tears. You will tell them the baby is beautiful.

Then you will watch it go so fast.

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About Hannah Bird

I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.

I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.

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