Island Life by David Slack


Take that, evil scammers!

The world is full of cheats. They take the carparks for the disabled at the mall, they don't leave money in the honesty box, they run telemarketing businesses, and they pretend they didn't see you waiting at the bar. They just love the internet.

Yesterday morning, a Google ad caught my eye. It looked like a gimmick site. I make the odd internet gimmick site myself; I'll always stop to look. This one was plainly all sizzle and no sausage. "Welcome all," it says, "My name is Zoltar and I can grant you 1 wish and 1 wish only."

Okay, here's my wish: I wish that people wouldn't use cellphone text language in other media.

Following the instructions, I enter the wish and click the button.

Step 2. Enter your name.
Sure! "David Farrar".

Step 3. David Farrar, Please choose your sign, and I can predict your future
I make a guess. "Libra".

Step 4. David Farrar, tell me your cell phone number so that I may text message you your future.
I look up Farrar's number and punch it in. Just kidding. I enter 021 3333 3333 and get this:

David Farrar, I have text messaged you your secret wish number, you should receive it shortly. Please enter it below so I may send you your fortune.

It's all too clear now. Or at least, it's clear if you squint hard and read the fine print at the bottom of the page:

Summary terms:
By signing up for this service and by entering your personal PIN Code which will be sent to the mobile phone number supplied by you on this website, you acknowledge that you are subscribing to our service. All plans are subject to the Terms and Conditions. You may stop this subscription service at any time by sending a text message with STOP, to short code 4212. Your phone must be polyphonic compatible, be Internet-enabled and have text messaging capability. You must be the owner of this device and either be at least sixteen years old or have the permission of your parent or guardian. Vodafone and Telecom customers will receive the Destiny Horoscopes club at $5 twice per wk. Standard/other text messaging rates may apply. For Information text HELP to 4212 or call 0800440619. Please click here to see

It's another of those phone scammers that Juha wrote about a while ago. In fact, it looks as though it might be the same one.

I email a message across the street to Juha. It's there in a flash. He sees it for what it is and drops the Commerce Commission a line. Take that, evil scammers! Or not. You drop a nuclear device, ten minutes later, the cockroaches are scurrying around again. All you can really do is keep the spotlight trained on them.

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