The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has this cautionary tale that has me of divided mind:
An Ohio man, fed up with deceptive junk mail, made the mistake of losing his temper while on the phone with a St. Louis company pitching an extended auto-service contract. Now he finds himself behind bars, where he is charged with making a terrorist threat.
According to court documents, Charles W. Papenfus, 43, allegedly told a sales representative during a May 18 telephone call that he would burn down the building and kill the employees and their families. He was indicted for making a terrorist threat, a Class D felony; and he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison if convicted.
Overreact much in Ohio do we?
Papenfus’ wife, Tracie, said she hasn’t seen her husband since his arrest on June 27, when he was lured to a Fostoria, Ohio, police station with a false story about being suspected in a tavern fight there. Charles Papenfus, a self-employed mechanic who sometimes works on the department’s police cruisers, dropped by the station to clear his name, she said.
So the Fostoria cops knew this guy — and apparently trusted him enough to let him work on their cars — yet they had to lure him to the station with a false report of a bar fight? What the heck is going on here?!?!?
Tracie Papenfus said she still can’t understand why her husband is held 450 miles from home at the St. Louis workhouse on a $45,000 bond she can’t afford to pay. “He shouldn’t have mouthed off on the phone, but this is overkill,” Tracie Papenfus said.
So the Feds transported him across three states to a holding facility? Overkill hell — this is looking more and more like a legal lynching. (You suppose people who don’t subscribe to the Federal Health Care Plan will be treated any better?)
Court records don’t name the firm that Papenfus allegedly threatened, but they say the business is located at 300 North Tucker Boulevard. The only firm in that building that sells service contracts — popularly known as “extended warranties” — is TXEN Partners, which does business as Service Protection Direct. The firm did not respond to requests for comment.
The Better Business Bureau recently accused the firm of sending mailers to consumers that incorrectly state factory warranties on their vehicles either have expired or will run out soon. Last year, then-Attorney General Jay Nixon sued the firm for misleading consumers, and a condition of that suit’s settlement was that TXEN Partners would refer to consumers’ expiring warranties only if the company believes “in good faith” that those claims are true.
So the company — who desperately wants to keep their name out of the paper — was in violation of a state agreement not to contact customers who didn’t actually have warranties.
Tracie Papenfus said her husband called a St. Louis telemarketing firm — she didn’t know the name — after getting a mailer stating that the factory warranty had expired for the 1996 Ford Taurus driven by his 23-year-old son. The car, bought as-is for $3,000, hasn’t had a factory warranty for years.
“He wanted to know, ‘Why are you sending this when we’ve never had a warranty?'” Tracie Papenfus said.
In fact, Charles Papenfus asked that same question several times. He called the firm after receiving the mailer, then he called the company back to complain some more, said Douglas Forsyth, a local attorney representing Papenfus. The call during which Papenfus allegedly made a terrorist threat was initiated by the firm, in a response to a voice-mail message left by Papenfus, Forsyth said.
“They insulted each other,” Forsyth said, adding that Papenfus called the company “a scam” and the telemarketer called Papenfus “a jackass or (an expletive) or both.”
Tracie Papenfus said the outburst was unusual for her husband, who she described as “a cool-headed guy.” However, she said, he hadn’t quite been himself after taking prescription painkiller medication for a compound wrist fracture he received in a motorcycle accident a few days before the call occurred. Irritability can be one side effect from those drugs, Forsyth said.
As a nurse, I can also attest that having a broken wrist can cause irritability too. So can multiple calls from telemarketers. But you probably didn’t need a nurse to tell you that — although it appears the Fed might.
Christopher Thetford, a spokesman for the BBB in St. Louis, said he isn’t surprised to hear of a consumer threatening a service-contract broker.
“While it’s not something we condone, it is something we can understand,” Thetford said. “Oftentimes, consumers feel pushed and pushed. … It’s a frustration we hear from consumers every day when they talk about the extended-service contract industry.”
And then the paragraph that really, REALLY got my blood boiling — and shows that officials not familiar with the case shouldn’t make stupid statements on the record:
Authorities would not discuss facts of the case, but one official said that business practices of a telemarketing firm shouldn’t be a factor. “I think all sorts of people get frustrated with all sorts of businesses,” said Ed Postawko, chief warrant officer in the Circuit Attorney’s Office. “The solution is to don’t patronize that business, it’s not to break the law. … Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
And what happens when the business won’t quit calling the customer, Chief Warrant Officer Dumbass?
And see, here’s my problem: This predatory company can call and call and call this guy guytil he’s frustrated and angry; yet nothing happens to them. This guy can tell them to take a hike and don’t call me anymore; and they call him back to find out why???
Haven’t they ever heard of the “No-Call” list?
And when they’re calling an injured person with a compound broken writst doped up on painkillers, they’re just asking for trouble. Police arrested the wrong people on this one.