Junk mail for the dead, or, YOU CANNOT BE TURNED DOWN!
Sometimes a piece of junk mail can really make your day. Widowed people are pretty used to receiving mail, email, and phone calls for their late spouses. At first, these situations can hurt, and be another occasion to "break the news" yet again… but as time goes on, the picture gets a little funnier: the dumbest marketers are the last to catch on. And once in a while, it's downright HILARIOUS.
Like the other day, when my late husband received a bulky envelope from United of Omaha Life Insurance Company. On the envelope there was no question who was being addressed — or what they wanted from him:
"Here's that second chance you hoped for, Gavin O'Shaunnessy!"
I open it up to find a direct and engaging, yet serious letter. There are lots of small official looking bits of paper, some that look like certificates, an easy card to fill out, and oh my — a prepaid business reply envelope. As a widow, I can really use that 44 cents somewhere else. It's just so hard not to talk back to this solicitation, which often puts words into my mouth, like:
"Why didn't I get more life insurance when I was younger?…. "
Or maybe when I was alive?
"… And when it was cheaper?"
Well, um, gee, err… it probably won't get any cheaper than THIS.
"Now you've got the opportunity to get up to $10,000.00 graded benefit whole life insurance protection at an affordable cost… Your acceptance is guaranteed and your application is pre-approved."
Should I laugh or cry? When he was diagnosed with cancer, I would have killed for some life insurance -- he had just a tiny bit, because he'd lived with a heart valve defect and was self-employed. We couldn't find any that he qualified for. We kept our eyes peeled for envelopes like this. Too bad this offer arrived more than four years after he died. So, you know, I'm skeptical when the letter intones, in green gothic type,
"You can't be turned down."
RILLY? I say. Wannabet?
So I strongly considered filling the policy out. After all, as the letter states, "this insurance does not require a medical examination." And they make it so easy… that envelope was really (I had no IDEA) an IMMEDIATE ACTION ENVELOPE. The application was a big piece of paper, legal sized, two colors, but I only needed to fill out a few fields, and read the attached Post-it with Gavin's special preapproved authorization number: 519 858 890.
The forms were peppered with grown-up (if not senior-citizen) phrases like "beneficiary," "estate," "protection," "cash value," and an assurance that he'd be protected till age 121. (Suicide, of course, was excluded.) One table contained the word "GUARANTEED!" nine times in a row.
The whole package just left me feeling… I don't know. Confident. Comforted. Covered. Except for the fact, of course, that it was addressed to someone who couldn't, um, read.
Such a simple offer, a no brainer, with practically no effort required: payments could be made via "Easy Pay Option." I mean, even a dead guy could fill this out, right?
I laughed for a day solid, and so did my new husband, and I wondered if it would be even more fun if I applied, filed a claim, and had the requisite phone calls: this time, finally, with me at an advantage. Aren't they asking for it?
I mean, this is a company that bought a very very cheap mailing list. How careful could they be? They might even pay!
Then I realized that they would probably, at some point in the process, and possibly before issuing my check, ask for a death certificate. They'd probably notice that he was dead before the postmark date on my reply OR their offer.
It would probably be fun, but even United of Omaha was probably not dumb enough to fall for it.
And you know what? I've got better things to do with my time.
But it's hard to get this good a laugh out of a mailbox these days.