After successfully eluding the tentacles of Publishers Clearing House for years, I recently received a solicitation from that company suggesting I could “win $5,000 a week for life!” six times on the front and back of a thick envelope which contained many flyers offering “fantastic savings” and a “convenient 4-part pay plan.” As I looked at the merchandise being offered for less than $20.00 I wondered, “Convenient for whom?”
The small print indicates a “shipping and handling charge and processing fee” of $5.99 to $17.99 will be added to all orders. Let’s say Jane Doe orders the heart-shaped birthstone pendant priced at $15.96. Adding postage of $5.99 means that Jane will have to write four checks for a petty amount of $5.74, which she might understandably consider a nuisance. If Jane happens to miss a payment, she “may be subject to a late fee of $4.99,” a very inconvenient truth.
And Jane had better stick with featherweight items. The fragranced three-candle set comes with three additional candles, each weighing 3.5 ounces, thus qualifying for a “heavy item shipping charge of $3.99.” All of a sudden what Jane smells when she looks at the total gives off an unpleasant odor: $19.96 + $7.99 regular shipping + $3.99 heavy item charge=4 payments of $7.99 each. Candles purchased locally will burn a smaller hole in Jane’s billfold.
If Jane needs a new handbag to keep her money safe, she might choose the Santa Fe fringe handbag made of “100% patchwork leather.” Let’s hope the seams do not unravel before her patience does. The small print needs no further comment: “Cleaned by Professional.”
If the dough Ms. Doe likes by her side is the jingling of coins, the folks at PCH can help with any denomination which contains no silver or gold: three Indian head pennies ($19.96), three pre-1946 nickels ($15.96), two Kennedy half dollars ($15.96), and three Native American dollars ($19.96). Jane might as well spend the coins as save them for she will find the numismatic value of the pennies and nickels to be under $8.00, the half dollars less than $4.00, and the dollars at face value.
Eyes not strained from reading the dates on the coins and the PCH fine print may be further challenged by ordering the little measuring cups or the pyramid color-changing alarm clock. The cups are 2¼” high with “easy-to-read” markings so one “doesn’t lose a drop of liquids or solids.” 2¼” is about the size of your little finger. Imagine trying to read six separate teaspoon markings along that digit. The alarm clock is 3.62” high with “easy-to-read digital display.” Because the numbers are about one-fourth the height of the clock and displayed against cloudy colors like purple and pinkish-red, guessing the time will be easier than telling time with this gewgaw.
The round symbol on the base of the Chinese dragon does seem big enough to see without squinting even though the characters are foreign to most of us. “Symbol on base translates to ‘Fortune.’” By now most of know who is making the fortune. It is not the customers paying $19.96 for dragons made of polyresin. Or the power shaper made of plastic, rubber, and bungee. Or the easy reach plant pulley made of plastic, metal, and tpr. I would almost be willing to pay $11.96 to find out what tpr is. Or find out how to get the plant down from its perch 30 inches over my head.
My curiosity would not extend to ordering the Robo Stir, a tool that stirs “every inch of the bottom of the pan so you don’t have to.” Just what the cook should be doing while the gimcrack is on the job at the stove is not stated. Perhaps he or she is sitting in the living room wondering if the three AAA batteries inside the device that looks like a miniature version of the spaceships used by the Martian invaders in War of the Worlds are powerful enough to keep lobster bisque from scorching the best pan in the house.
Perhaps PCH’s best seller is the DVD 101 Advanced Sexual Positions for Lovers that promises to “take your sexuality to the next level.” I wonder if that next level means receiving an offer to purchase the sequel 101 Really Advanced Positions for Experienced Lovers. The small print reads “Will be shipped discreetly” which I presume means the there will be no stickers on the mailing box with the wording “Win love dolls and vibrators every week for life!”
After I studied the Sweepstakes Facts and learned that my chances of winning the weekly $5,000 prize are 1 in 1,750,000,000, I decided that those are the same odds of PCH receiving an order from me. However, I did find one item of interest: the ultrasonic pest repeller. Unfortunately, it is for indoor use only and thus would do nothing to keep vermin out of my mailbox.