Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Free" Stuff

A poster on the TT forum asked why fire trucks show up when you call an ambulance (because they are usually closer and can begin treatment before the paramedics show up in the ambulance, btw), which morphed into a discussion of the different types of fire and ambulance service - many people live in areas where fire protection and ambulance service are "fee-based" offerings. You pay a subscription fee each year to assure that you will get that ambulance when you need it.

A few people tried to assert that if you aren't a "member", you won't get the service and the fire truck won't show up when you have a fire. That's not true, of course, you just need to agree to pay the bills before they'll do anything.

Everyone bemoaned the the cost of joining the service and then someone came up with, "I live in a rural area, but my ambulance and fire are free. I don't subscribe to anything."

No. Your fire service and ambulance service are not "free". You are paying for them via taxes (usually a levy on property taxes). You just don't get a bill for the service. Government services are not "free" - roads and Medicare and the CIA and whatever else...we do pay for these things with taxes. Government money is not "free" money.

But there is apparently a contingent of people who do think that some things are "free" - and marketing has glommed on to the idea. Take for example, US Fidelity Auto Repair Insurance. Have you seen the ads? It's an insurance offering that pays for car repairs when your car is past its warranty period. Have an old car? Buy this in insurance an never pay for repairs again!

"Bob and Joe", intones the commercial, showing two men sitting in a repair shop, "own the same make, model and year of car." A make andmodel that apparently needs a new transmission or something. "Bob" paid almost three thousand dollars for a new repair...and "Joe", according ot the ad, "didn't pay a penny!"

Oh, yes, he did. In fact, he probably paid more than 3K for his repair since he's been paying a monthly premium for the insurance for umpty-years until he needed it. He just didn't see a bill for this particular incident. Do people forget that? I can't believe anyone falls for this sort of scam insurance. I suppose people figure they will "beat the system" nd be the ones who pay in a teeny amount and then have a huge claim -- but it's just like gambling....and the player rarely wins.

I just cringe every time I see the ad - because I know that someone, somewhere, will think this is the best thing ever and will save them thousands of dollars. Do the math, people! Do the math!

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