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Sunday, July 10, 2011


AARP promotes its work to uncover scams. Does AARP care when it's doing the scamming? Not so much.

As part of our attempt to build up some good karma, we've been assisting some older people. We regularly pick up the mail for one neighbor who does not get out many days and we noticed that she's getting two copies of the AARP magazine.

We asked her about it and she said she didn't know why, that they must have something messed up in her membership. Then we realized that we had been throwing away mail from the AARP along with our junk mail. Some closer examination revealed that we're getting frequent membership solicitations from AARP at both our PO Box and our street address. And we're already members. And these solicitations are written so that a quick read, or when read by someone not as sharp as they once were, might imply that the mailing is a renewal.

So we fired off a whining email to AARP. This is an excerpt from the reply:

Members who move or change their names as a result of marriage or divorce may receive additional mailings.  Also, variations in a name or address in our mailing lists may not match the information in our membership files.  For example, "John T. Smith" may be listed as a member however; the same individual may be included in one or more mailing lists as "J. Smith."  

At least they didn't try to tell us that some people choose to join twice because they like AARP so much.

The bottom line is that they happily send out membership mailings and will sign up as many members as they can from one address. I have plenty of experience with producing mailings and the sophistication of databases so roll my eyes at the AARP excuse.

But it's also clear that AARP will respond when confronted with the dual membership situation so I urge you to act if you are one of those people receiving multiple copies of AARP magazines.

Yesterday we were visiting my wife's parents and, guess what, there were two copies of the latest AARP magazine. One for him and one for her. It took some discussion, and a review of their check register, to show that they each had a membership.  My father-in-law (age 86) simply did not remember mailing a check to AARP for his membership when the solicitation that probably looked like a renewal came in addressed to his wife.  In this case, there is no excuse for AARP - no name change, no address change.

Remember this, an AARP membership includes a spouse or partner without an extra charge.

We're not going overboard and cancelling our AARP membership in protest. We like a lot of what they do and the services and information they provide. But, as with everything you purchase, we advocate a great deal of care before opening your wallet.

Author: Tom Ferrio