Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Sicilian School of Massage

So. I've been looking into massage therapy schools. There are three in my area. I want to be able to go to their websites, read about their programs, figure out the cost of tuition and go from there. That, of course, is way too simple and straightforward to be an option.

I can't just read about their programs. First I have to fill out a little questionnaire, including my e-mail and zip code, so they can match their offerings with my interests and send me a brochure (which is little more than pretty pictures and a mysterious lack of hard facts) from the branch that is geographically closest to me. Never mind that maybe I am interested in more than one path and I'd like to compare and choose. Never mind that where I live, the number of miles their schools are from my house is irrelevant because I have the option of bridge or ferry and it all amounts to the same number of hours commuting. For crying out loud, just let me ask the questions I want to ask and make my own determination as to which program and which of their branches is best for me!

As to clicking on a simple link that would tell me the cost of tuition? Pfffft. I am so naive to have thought it could be so uncomplicated. It's like an RPG. I have to play the game for a long time, collect special powers, work my way up level by level, find the secret codes . . . and then . . . by some magic . . . I might be let in on the first hidden clue in my search for the ultimate goal: The Bottom Line.

It's a line of work I want to pursue. What's a girl to do? I played along with their fun little system, filled out the questionnaire (including my e-mail and zip code) and waited to hear back from them. Hear back from them, I did! A barrage of useless 'brochures', an assault of phone calls that would put the most rabid creditors to shame, and the e-mails. Oh, the e-mails.

The first one, which took less than 24 hours to announce itself to my inbox, was pleasant enough. The subject line read, "Thank you letter." Okay. That's nice. Pretty much what I expected. I read on:

"XYZ College
Closest Campus

Dear Kristin,The Admissions Department at XYZ College has received your information request and has assigned it priority status. An Admissions Representative will call you shortly to answer your questions.

We want to make sure you find a career-focused program that fits your goals, your lifestyle, and your schedule. Tell us what you want from your education, and together we will create a plan that's right for you. To get your questions about class schedules and financial aid answered now, please call us at (123) 456-7890.

Sheena Houston
Director of Admissions"

I was busy. It was tax time. I didn't call right away. Plus, I thought calling them was an option I could exercise if I was interested. I was wrong. The next letter hit my inbox with a little more brute force. Subject line "You have what it takes to succeed." Whatever. They know less than zero about me, but okay. The body was less positive:

"XYZ College
Closest Campus Whether Or Not It Offers What You Want

Congratulations Kristin, you've committed to improving your life and recognized that career-training is the first step in doing so. We understand how hard it can be to get started, but we can help.

Take the next step and together, we'll map out a plan for you and make sure nothing stands in your way.

Give me a call at (123) 456-7890.

You deserve more.

Sheena Houston
By Way of Bloody Coup, Dictator of Admissions"

I'm a little offended by this one. Congratulations, I've committed to improving my life? WTF? There was nothing on their insipid little questionnaire that asked anything about how crappy my life is and whether I believe it needs "improvement."

"We understand how hard it can be to get started . . . " Yeah, that's not condescending or anything. Do they imagine I'm lying about on the couch, wearing a bathrobe, reading romance novels and just wishing I had the wherewithal to pick up the telephone and do a little research? I do NOT read romance novels!

"Give me a call. You deserve more." More than what? These people don't know jack about me.

" . . . we'll map out a plan for you and make sure nothing stands in your way." Ummm, what exactly does that mean?!

Okay, calm down. That's just their pitch. They are well accustomed to aiming their sharply honed instruments of persuasion at housewives. Just because they are well versed in what they do doesn't mean I have to buy what they're selling.

Or does it?

The next letter arrived quickly on the heels of the offensive one. The tone of this one was a little more, ummm, shall we say . . . forceful? Subject line: "Today's the day." Leaves little room for question. I gingerly clicked to open the newest missive:

"XYZ College
You Know Where We Are.
We Know Where You Are.
Get Your Ass In Here Or Guido Will Come For You.

Today's the day I
......continue to go to a meaningless job I hate
....worry about paying my bills
....wish for a better life
....do something to improve my situation.

Dear Kristin,Which of those options sounds most appealing? Is today the day that you make a commitment to improving your life? That's exactly what beginning an education is; it's making a promise to yourself and your family; it's saying, "I deserve more than this."

Prove it. Take the next step in your education. Call (123) 456-7890 now to learn if XYZ College is right for you. We'll talk about how furthering your education can improve your life. I think you'll like what you hear and realize that while pursuing an education may be difficult, we make it easier than you might think.

Call (123) 456-7890 to make sure we have your correct information.

Dominatrix of Admissions"

Is it just me or are they making me an offer I can't refuse?


whitenoise said...

I suggest you fuhggedabout 'em. ;-)

Mary said...

This sounds just like the "assistance" my daughter has received *for two years* from an art school she once made the mistake of giving her contact information to.

You two might want to get together and share some evasion strategies.

Best of luck. I think you might need it.

Laynie said...

Massage school, huh? This is my first time visiting your site, and I just thought I'd mention that I completed a 700-hour massage course in Mississippi, but have national connections/resources. I would be happy to help you evaluate some programs and might be able to assist you in getting some straight answers. Interested in a bit of assistance with this?