It started innocently enough. I got a fat envelope in the mail sometime in November from Publishers Clearing House so I opened it. What the heck I thought, I’ll just fill out the entry form and forget it. Once I waded through all the promotions and found the correct stamps to put on the form which wasn’t easy, I entered. I stuck it in the mail the next day and that was that. Or so I thought. This is not your Publishers Clearing House of old. A few days later it started.
It started with one email: Stephanie! Just One More Step To Complete! Really? I thought my entry was complete. So I opened the email and looked at the four pages of promotions. You don’t get to submit your entry until you’ve gone through all four pages. In tiny print it says a purchase does not enhance your chances of winning. That’s good I thought. I’m done. All I have to do is wait until February 23 to see if I win anything. I did not know how PCH in today’s world works. I was about to find out.
That one email turned into two a day, then three and then four. They are marketing geniuses at PHC. The more I opened them and went through their promotions and their searches, the more tokens I accumulated and the more chances I had to win. Then I got in deeper and deeper, once you’ve gotten all these tokens, you can’t quit now! I know they have a tiny room at PHC where they’ve locked in psychologists and sprinkled in a few con men or women to figure out how to prey on the vulnerable shlubs who actually open their emails.
I complained to my husband about how every single day I had just One More Step to Complete! or I was in danger of losing it all. I dreaded going to my email, I was depressed. Why wouldn’t they leave me alone? Tom said I was an idiot and how could I have fallen for this in the first place? “Just stop” he said. He added “I have as much chance of winning as you do and I haven’t entered.” Did he realize what he was saying? I had hundreds of thousands of tokens, how could I just stop?! What if I won? My brother-in-law told me to just unsubscribe.
“You didn’t actually buy anything did you?” he asked? “Of course not!” I replied indiginantly. “I’m not a complete moron.” But PCH has that covered too. If you reach the end of their offers without buying anything they start feeding on your guilt. It’s like the homeless guy with the on the street corner with the sign “Homeless vet desperate to feed his family, will do anything. God Bless.” I think they hired a few of them to lock in the room with the psychologists and con artists.
“Stephanie, your cart is empty. Won’t you please reconsider. Just one purchase could get you to super VIP status.” Really? Super VIP status? That’s got to be good, right? I couldn’t wait until February 23. I wanted the emails to stop!
Here I am in my car cleaning the dashboard with the very clever dust block I bought. I even got another one thrown in for free so we have one for each car. Then I got a magazine subscription to a magazine I was thinking about subscribing to anyway. The last thing I bought and I can hardly wait until it gets here is a mesh laundry bag to put your dirty tennis shoes in. Now here’s the genius part. It has straps on the back to hang on your dryer door so you don’t have to send the shoes through the dryer. Really clever!
The big day came. The PCH email said the truck was on it’s way, you could follow it like you can follow when a package will arrive. Would it stop in Portland? the email said. Geez, you just never know. I stayed home. A friend called and I told her if I hung up on her it was because The Prize Patrol was at my front door. “What?” she laughed.
No one knocked at my door that day. Deep down I knew that and was relieved that I wouldn’t be thrown into a higher tax bracket and that now those emails would finally stop.
Several days later the emails have not stopped. Now they are awarding prizes through March 3. Don’t Lose Out! You are now a VIP as you’ve been so loyal.
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Tell me that you too fell for PCH. Lesson learned.