I see dead people, at £30 a pop

Downmarket tabloid newspapers can be pretty depressing things at the best of times, but it’s when you turn to the advertising that things get really appalling. Easy loans with interest rates loan sharks would be ashamed of, cheap and nasty tat, and worst of all, psychic telephone lines.

There’s a special circle of Hell reserved for the worst people in the world, and when they pop their clogs the operators of psychic phone lines will end up there. Their expensive ads promise closure or advice and offer to solve problems, but the only problem they solve is “how do we line our pockets by preying on the despairing, the depressed and the deeply troubled?”

Here’s the pitch. You call one of four numbers depending on your particular needs, so if you want to speak to a departed relative it’s the first line, if you want psychic advice on love and relationships it’s the second, and so on. All of the print is nice and large except for the price, where if you peer at the ad through the Hubble Telescope or an electron scanning microscope you’ll eventually be able to find out that calls cost £1.50 per minute, and a typical call could exceed 20 minutes. That’s £30 from people who can ill afford to spend such sums, and who almost certainly won’t realise how expensive their call will be.

Maybe I should call one of these lines with a pressing enquiry and report back on the quality of psychic insight – I’ve got a call recorder on the phone, after all, so it’ll be pretty easy to do. What do you think? Of course, it does mean that I’d have to go and purchase a downmarket Sunday tabloid next weekend, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay. Although I may solicit paypal donations to cover the cost of the phone call, heh ;-)