City of prognosticators has TV psychics, too

Feb 5, 2002 7:03 AM

Though the court action against those so-called TV psychics came down in Pennsylvania last week with pending action against the Florida companies that run them, they may have ties to this city as well.

And it has nothing to do with our own sports book soothsayers and seers. (OK, I heard that crack about the won-lost records of a few of our local bookmakers!)

For years, those psychic hot lines ads that are splashed all over local TV, have always had an 800 (or 900) numbers to call and not local numbers. But, it so happens that despite the fact that the local ads don’t have local numbers, when you call those 800 numbers, you may actually be talking to someone right around the block here in Vegas.

A few years ago, my cousin’s ex-wife, Rachel, worked for one of those psychic hotline outfits that supposedly uses only “real” psychics. But, in her own words: “I have as much psychic ability as a bowling ball!”

She told me how she went on an interview after seeing a help-wanted ad in a local paper. The ad was rather vague, but she had two kids, was getting a divorce and needed a job, and this one promised she could work out of her own home and earn big money.

During the interview, the guy whipped out a deck of tarot cards and told her to read them. She said she was confused that the cards were so big, since she thought he said “narrow cards.”

She proceeded to describe what was on each card without the slightest idea of what she was talking about. It didn’t seem to matter, because, as she told me, the guy doing the overseeing of her reading wasn’t even paying attention. Nevertheless, before you could say “Miss Cleo,” she was told she was great and had the job.

A special phone line was installed in her home that was to be used for receiving calls that would be diverted right to that phone. The people making the incoming call would be expecting to find out if their fiancee really was cheating or, as one supposed psychic does on TV, tell them they dyed their hair red recently. (Why would anyone need a psychic to tell them that? Can hairdressers do that without a person knowing?) Where those calls were diverted from, is anyone’s guess, but the home office of the company was in Hollywood, Florida, according to her payroll info. (The companies named in the recent action in Pennsylvania are also based in Florida. A coincidence, I’m sure.)

She was instructed to keep the people on the phone as long as she could, because that’s how she’d make her commissions. The longer she kept them on the line, the more she’d make. She was instructed to make what she said as positive as possible ”” people want you to tell them what they want to hear. (That part Rachel knew, even without a bowling ball!)

So, for two weeks she did just that.

Then that cursed conscience thing set in and she admitted to herself that what she was doing was ridiculous. It was nothing more than a telemarketing scam, by another name.

I don’t know if the psychic hotline company (which was officially listed as a “counseling” firm) is still operating here, but for years I’ve had a copy of her first commission statement from them.

In two weeks, she handled 70 calls, averaging 8.85 minutes each. She totaled 620 minutes and was paid $124.55. (Apparently both the caller and the pseudo-psychics were getting taken to the cleaners!) There was also a little note of admonishment at the bottom of her statement that read: “Important! Your call average dropped below 10 minutes”¦”

So, when people call those 800 numbers and think they’re talking to some Reggae queen in the Caribbean, they may actually be talking to another gal right here in Las Vegas”¦who has as much psychic ability as a bowling ball.