It’s Time For Change In The Psychic Medium Industry—A Request For Your Assistance
by Bob Olson (founder of OfSpirit.com Magazine, BestPsychicMediums.com & BestPsychicDirectory.com)
I recently got a call from a highly influential man who presented me with an exciting opportunity. I was immediately enthusiastic because he and I instantly connected, meaning that I felt we were aligned in both purpose and principles.
He sent me a proposal in the mail that outlined the project and all the people involved, all of whom have impressive resumes. As I read the proposal, the whole venture seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity; that is, until I read that one of the people with whom I’d be working side-by-side—which meant that our reputations would be publicly intermingled—was associated with a psychic hotline. This caused me to take pause.
I called the man who sent me the proposal and learned that the person associated with the psychic hotline had already signed a contract to be part of the project. Although my involvement promised many potential benefits, there was no way to work around the issue of my reputation being mixed with this other person’s. Therefore, I regrettably had no choice but to bow out of this otherwise amazing opportunity.
Before this experience, I had given the psychic hotline industry little consideration. I’m referring to those psychic telephone services where you call a 1-800 or 1-900 number to get a psychic or psychic medium reading while getting charged by the minute via your credit card or telephone bill. To me, these services were never to be taken seriously; they should be used for entertainment purposes only, like the neon-sign psychics on the side of the road. But as I perused the various psychic hotlines on the Internet after missing out on this promising business venture because of them, I became gravely concerned by what I saw.
I quickly understood why so many people are skeptical and suspicious of psychics and psychic mediums—including myself before I began investigating psychics and psychic mediums in 1999. What was most obvious was that the psychics and psychic mediums whom I write about on my websites have very little in common with the psychics and psychic mediums doing business on these psychic hotlines. Yet it occurred to me that it’s likely that few people are aware of the differences. So I’d like to point them out right now.
There are two very different and distinct categories of psychics and psychic mediums in our world. Let’s just call them the Purposeful Category and the Entertainment Category. My investigations into this field have led me to support and write about the Purposeful Category in order to educate the public about their differences from the Entertainment Category. Here is how I would describe each one in a nutshell:
The Purposeful Category of Psychics & Psychic Mediums
In the Purposeful Category, there are the legitimately gifted psychics and psychic mediums who use their real first and last names, present themselves with a real photograph of themselves, charge by the session so that you know ahead of time how long the reading will last and how much it will cost, and genuinely want to use their gifted abilities to help people in a purposeful way.
The psychics (who read energy) in this Purposeful Category present themselves professionally, do not ask leading questions, do not want you to become dependent upon their guidance or advice, and offer their readings to help you confirm what your own intuition is already telling you—thereby teaching you to trust your own inner guidance so that you don’t need to keep returning for more readings.
The psychic mediums (who communicate with spirits) in this Purposeful Category present themselves professionally, do not ask leading questions, do not want you to become dependent upon them for numerous readings, and primarily provide as much evidence as possible to help you overcome your skepticism about spirit communication and the afterlife and know (through this evidence) that your deceased loved ones are truly communicating through this psychic medium in order to convey messages to you.
The Entertainment Category of Psychics & Psychic Mediums
In the Entertainment Category, there are the psychics and psychic mediums who basically present themselves anonymously (fake names or first names only), often show no photo of themselves, offer readings filled with vague generalities, ask you a lot of leading questions, provide little or no evidence of spirit communication, have a financial incentive to keep the reading going (by charging by the minute), and are likely to encourage you to return for several readings per year.
While I have pointed out the psychic hotlines in my introduction to this writing, I want to point out that this Entertainment Category of psychics and psychic mediums is by no means limited to those associated with these hotlines. There are also many psychics and psychic mediums who work on their own with no association to the hotlines. Nonetheless, they too tend to mimic the standards and ways of doing business (even how they present themselves with anonymity) as the psychics and psychic mediums doing business via the psychic hotlines. You’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em, even when you visit their websites.
Below is a list of what I consider the lower standards and outlandish business practices of the “Entertainment Category” of psychics and mediums, which, in my opinion, lower the image and reputation of the psychics and psychic mediums in the “Purposeful Category.”
Unfortunately, these lower standards and outlandish business practices are not limited to the Entertainment Category. I’ll be the first to admit that too many psychics and psychic mediums within the Purposeful Category also falter in some of the areas I describe below. I suspect that this field as a whole has been getting away with these inadequate standards and practices for so long that even some of the most gifted and professional psychics and psychic mediums have somehow failed to recognize the absurdity in it. It’s also likely that they never gave it much thought and are simply doing business like so many other psychics and psychic mediums have been doing business for years. This is just another reason why I’m writing this piece and encouraging you, the public consumer, to force a change by no longer being tolerant of such preposterous ways of doing business.
Bob Olson’s “Top 5 Areas That Need Change In The Psychic & Medium Field”
Here is my list of the common business practices in the psychic and psychic medium field that need change:
1) Phony Names or First Names Only: Many of the psychics, psychic mediums, tarot readers, numerologists and astrologers doing business via the psychic hotlines and elsewhere present themselves with anonymity. The worst cases actually use a fake name. However, these aren’t fake names like the witness protection program gives you; these are blatantly false names (usually single words) that no one would ever mistaken as a real name—often recognized as names of gemstones and crystals or words generally found in nature or the solar system, for example.
Obviously I’m not saying that people don’t have first names that were inspired from gemstones, crystals, nature or the solar system. Many people most certainly do. My friends’ daughter’s name is Daisy. Nevertheless, for years I have required many psychics to send me their driver’s license to verify their real name in order to be approved for my directory (BestPsychicDirectory.com), and only one person’s driver’s license actually matched the peculiar name she submitted because she legally had her name changed through the court system.
My key point here is not that these names are fake so much as these fake names have no last names. Unless we’re talking about Cher, Pink or Prince, most people are virtually anonymous without using a last name. And since anonymity washes down accountability, this is why I’m against it in the psychic and psychic medium industry. We need more accountability, and phony names only detract from it.
Fake names aren’t the only problem. Equally as ridiculous are the first-name-only psychics and psychic mediums on these hotlines that are usually followed by a number. Let me emphasize that they have no last names, which, once again, is precisely my issue with it. For example, one might find a Stephan43276, Evi010065 or Blaine234353. Can we find Evi010065 (or even just Evi) in the phone book? How about on a census? Is this the name she used when registering to vote? The fact is that I don’t know how many of these first names are even real. Yes, maybe these really are their first names, but what accountability is there in using only your first name? Just try locating some information about me in a Google search by searching for “Bob.” That’s my point.
With the exception of the film and music industries, what other industry tolerates this business practice? Who wants to do business with a business owner who blatantly uses a fake name or first name only? Would you trust giving your credit card number to a therapist named Milkyway with no last name? Would you feel comfortable taking health advice from a nutritional consultant named Sue45536? Most people I’ve asked say “No way.” Yet, sadly, thousands of people on a daily basis trust the advice, guidance and messages with anonymously named psychics and psychic mediums on the psychic hotlines and elsewhere.
2) Phony Photographs: This one is minor in comparison to the other 4 items on this list, but it’s important enough to mention. I’m a stickler when it comes to putting a photograph on your website. If I go to a website, I want to see the face of the person with whom I’m considering doing business. But what’s worse than having no photo at all is when someone puts up an alternate photograph where his or her headshot should be. The psychic hotline websites (as well as countless psychic medium and divination reader websites) are riddled with photos of tarot decks, rainbows and crystal balls instead a photo of the person offering us a reading.
Since the psychic hotlines only do business over the Internet and telephone, having an alternate photograph is the equivalent of my chiropractor or massage therapist wearing a Halloween mask while doing business with me. Again, I ask, in what other businesses are such silly practices considered acceptable?
I’ve had psychics and psychic mediums tell me that they want to remain anonymous because they don’t want people in their community to know what they do. My response to them is to suggest that if they are ashamed of their occupation to the level where they actually feel the need to hide their identity from everyone online, then they’re probably in the wrong occupation.
The psychics and psychic mediums who are doing the most valuable work, who gain the deepest sense of purpose from their gift, and who are most likely to make an impact on the world with their calling, are not those who are so ashamed of what they do that they feel the necessity to remain anonymous. In fact, those who do try to hide their identities in this manner are negatively affecting those who are proud of what they do because anonymity raises suspicion within a field that is already plagued by skepticism. My advice to psychics and psychic mediums: Learn to be proud of your God-given ability to help people or do something else that actually makes you proud.
3) Pay By The Minute With No Time Limitation: I guess the psychic hotlines feel that if people are naïve enough to do business with someone who only has a first name and no photograph then they are also likely to hand over their credit card info for a reading that charges a) by the minute AND b) with no time limit.
What do these customers do if the psychic or psychic medium reading goes on for two hours? Three hours? More? If you’ve ever had a reading with a psychic or psychic medium, you know how fast time passes. It’s hard to keep track of time or worry about money when someone’s spouting off details about your life, messages from your deceased loved ones, or predictions about your future.
It’s not like these pay-by-the-minute readings are cheap, either. Many psychics and psychic mediums on these hotlines get $2.99 to $5.99 per minute. That’s $179.40 per hour and $359.40 per hour, respectively. And I repeat—with no time limit! Do you think these psychics and psychic mediums have an incentive to keep the reading going as long as possible? Considering that their hotline companies are taking a hefty percentage of their fee (as much as 20 to 60 percent), there’s no doubt that the temptation is built into the pay-by-the-minute structure.
What other businesses charge by the minute with no estimate as to how long the service will take? Most practitioners in the Mind, Body & Spirit field charge by the hour, and sessions are usually set at 30 minutes, 60 minutes or 90 minutes. Visit any naturopath, acupuncturist or hypnotic regressionist and you’ll know what you’re getting and how much you’ll be paying before you begin. Even my auto mechanic calls me with a price before he makes a repair. This pay-by-the-minute practice does nothing but raise suspicion and concern, and it’s unacceptable in my opinion. Why any legitimate and reputable psychic or psychic medium would want to adopt a business practice that "adds" suspicion to the psychic medium field is unfathomable to me.
With this said, not every hotline is guilty of all 5 items on this list. I give credit to the few psychic hotlines that offer a choice of “pay by the minute” or “pay a set price for a set amount of time.” But they still offer the pay-by-the-minute option, and this is where I take issue. There are too many nice folks out there who go with the pay-by-the-minute option thinking that they’ll actually save money because they can stop the reading whenever they want. That’s true in theory but less than likely when taking into account that a) it’s difficult to keep track of time during a reading, b) readings are engaging and therefore entice one to want to keep listening, and c) unscrupulous psychics and psychic mediums will be skilled at keeping callers on the line (considering the possibility that there might be some unscrupulous psychics or psychic mediums out there).
4) Testimonials Without Full Names: Here is a practice that runs rampant throughout the entire Mind, Body & Spirit field, and it’s regrettably accepted all too often when it comes to psychics and psychic mediums. Imagine this…you go to a practitioner’s website and click on their Testimonials page. Oh, look at all the testimonials listed. How wonderful. But wait! The testimonials don’t have full names; instead they claim to be written by Sally J or B. Hollis. Worse, many list only initials. How is anyone supposed to put value or credence on a testimonial from J.K. of Massachusetts? I personally don’t know, but this anonymous testimonial practice is more common than you might expect.
Many psychics and psychic mediums (and other Mind, Body & Spirit practitioners) will tell you that they use partial names or initials in order to protect the privacy of their clients. My response? Did you ever ask your clients if they mind using their full names? When I have asked this question, the answer is most commonly “No, I wasn’t comfortable asking.”
Ironically, a lot of clients are happy to give a testimonial with their full name attached. How do I know? I have an entire directory of psychics and psychic mediums that allows the public to write reviews, but I require reviewers to include both their first and last names. Does this stop everyone from writing reviews? No way. There are well over a thousand reviews on BestPsychicDirectory.com, all of which have the reviewer’s first and last names published online.
My point? If psychics and psychic mediums (or any Mind, Body & Spirit practitioners) simply ask their clients for permission to print their full name, they could publish testimonials using each client’s first and last names, thereby giving every testimonial accountability, credibility and value. Will every testimonial writer be willing to use their full name? Most likely not. But without this simple practice of using full names, practitioners might as well write the testimonials themselves. And who knows? Maybe some do.
You would never see this practice being accepted in the mainstream marketplace. Consumers wouldn't put up with it. The truth is that most mainstream businesses like hair salons, car dealers and carpet cleaners that post testimonials on their websites commonly even link the testimonial writer’s name to that person’s website, giving the testimonial even greater credibility because we can actually contact the person who wrote it. Again, it comes down to accountability, which is the whole point of testimonials in the first place.
I’m not even asking for the level of commitment that links testimonials to their writers' websites. Let’s just get full names first. Then, perhaps in the future, we can insist on some way to contact each testimonial writer. I understand the need to take baby steps. So let’s just do away with the "initials only" or "first names with a last initial" for now and write the full name. Otherwise, why bother with testimonials at all?
5) Phony Costumes: While this is not as prevalent as it once was, there are still many psychics and divination readers (readers of tarot cards, crystals, tea leaves and crystal balls) who dress themselves like Gypsies, despite the fact that they have no ancestral roots or connection with the Roma/Romani people. This might include silk dresses and multi-layered skirts in vibrant colors, solid-colored square bandannas on the head (known as diklos), large and dangling jewelry, and pieces of velvet or leather clothing worn as accents. In my view, such costume wearing is misleading, the equivalent of someone who is not a doctor wearing a white doctor’s smock to add credibility (however false) in order to hand out medical advice.
When I was a private investigator, I didn’t testify in court or interview a witness dressed like Sherlock Holmes. Nor did I drive around in a red Ferrari like Magnum P.I., although that might have been fun had I been able to afford one. Once our business attire moves from being a uniform to serving no other purpose than to act as a costume, professionals begin to lose credibility. I once knew a salesman who knew nothing about auto mechanics, but wore an auto mechanic’s uniform to sell auto repair discount booklets door-to-door. In truth, he was misleading the public that he was a mechanic in order to make a sale.
In a nutshell, Gypsy costumes—or costumes of any sort—detract from a psychic’s or psychic medium’s credibility and image rather than uplift it. Unless they are dressing in this manner because of their heritage or family tradition, it reeks of deception. I’m all for dressing in line with the customs of a learned practice, such as is common in the martial arts, but unless a non-Gypsy psychic has apprenticed to learn the rituals, traditions and ways of the Gypsy or Roma/Romanian people—and they haven’t merely learned how to give tarot readings—it seems out of integrity to present themselves as such simply in attempt to enhance their image or credibility.
The time has come that we hold the psychic and psychic medium industry accountable and cease tolerating unfathomable practices that we would never accept in any other business industry. Imagine consulting a lawyer online who offered his first name only, presented himself with no more than a photograph of the scales of justice, and asked for your credit card in order to charge you by the minute with no agreed upon time limitation. Most people would never be so naïve as to consult with such a lawyer. Yet numerous online psychics and psychic mediums who follow these shoddy practices—many charging more than some lawyers—are giving readings to thousands of willing clients daily.
Although I know psychics and psychic mediums will read this (and will hopefully be inspired by it), I am not writing this piece for their eyes, as I will address them more directly in other venues. Instead, I am writing to you, someone who might purchase readings from psychics and psychic mediums, because it is you who holds the power to change this industry even more than the psychics and psychic mediums themselves.
If we, the public, begin making responsible choices by not accepting the business practices outlined above, the psychic and psychic medium industry will have to change. This means that we must stop purchasing readings from the category of psychics and psychic mediums who commonly violate the 5 items listed above, which by basic economic principles alone will precipitate this necessary transformation. Most importantly, any legitimately gifted psychic or psychic medium who is serious about their work will follow these public demands for more professional business practices; and this, in turn, will change the face of an industry that, in its best light, truly and effectively helps people in times of adversity, confusion and grief.