Twelve Years Early & Fourteen Weeks Later

Monday, March 03, 2008

I received a strange piece of junk mail the other day. A membership registration mailer for AARP. AARP used to stand for American Association of Retired Persons, but they've changed their programs and image and moved away from the concept of retirement and simply focus on promoting active lifestyles for those 50 and over.

According to wikipedia:

AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, is a United States-based non-government organization (a special interest group). According to its mission statement, it is "a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people age 50 and over ... dedicated to enhancing quality of life for all as we age," which "provides a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for our members." AARP operates as a non-profit advocate for its members, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States, and also sells insurance, investment funds and other financial products. AARP claims over 38 million members, making it one of the largest membership organizations for people age 50 and over in the United States. Membership is expected to grow significantly as baby boomers age.

Needless to say, I am neither over 50, nor retired.

So I called them to correct this oversight. Because, seriously, I don't want to keep getting mail that reminds me that 50 is looming and I'm about as unprepared for retirement as one can be. Oh, I'm under no illusions: my on top hair is thinning, it's been gray since I was in my mid twenties, and I joke that I'm old and pushing 40. Getting older doesn't really bother me. But that doesn't mean I want to keep getting AARP junk mail. I can look in the mirror much easier.

So after getting past their automated phone system and through to a real human, I said, "Hi I'm Richard Fry and I received a membership registration form from you. But I'm could you take me off your mailing list, for say, oh, another 12 years?" (Yes, I really said exactly that.)

The nice woman explained that I could still join and get their Magazine and Bulletin, but the benefits would not kick in until I was 50. I politely declined. She confirmed my information and removed me from the mailing list but said it was a process and it may take up to 14 WEEKS, and that I may still receive mail from AARP in the meantime. "I just want to make sure I heard you correctly. FOURTEEN WEEKS?" I asked. Yes, she confirmed it is usually much shorter than that but sometimes the process can take that long. Okay, one thing I learned in school and retained was that there are 52 weeks in a, one of my mottos is "I was told there would be no math" but that's almost a quarter of the year! (3.7...yes, I cheated and used my cell phone calculator tool). I didn't say this but after I hang up I'm thinking, "It might take you a quarter of a year to complete the process of removing me from the mailing list?!!!" E-gads!

Now, let's be realistic. I'm sure they say that because of extreme worst case scenarios and they are just covering their bases. But...why, oh why, whether I'm 38 or 50, in this modern age of technology with systems like email and nearly instant credit card transactions at the grocery store, would I want to join a group that not only contacts me 12 YEARS too early, but would take 14 weeks to remove me from their mailing list?

From what I've heard, AARP provides some very good services for its vast membership. But based on this recent experience, I'm unconvinced. Maybe by the time I'm 50 they'll have caught up with the digital age and will have upgraded their computers. That's assuming we make it that the next decade, SkyNet could bomb us into the Apocalypse and the machines may have taken over. (Sorry...I just got done watching the Terminator TV show season finale).

Or better yet, if there's gonna be a rapture (which is debatable), I can always hope it takes place before I hit 50 and I won't have to worry about AARP. I kinda like that plan better than retirement...or Terminators...just so ya know.