I don’t know if there is something similar in the rest of the world, but in North America, everyone with a mailbox has at some (or many) point(s) received a giant, colourful envelope from Reader’s Digest bursting with the good news that they are a guaranteed winner to receive a grand prize, as soon as a bunch of stuff happens.
Inside the envelope is a long letter from the President of the Company himself, telling you the amazing news over and over whilst carefully not telling you that you are an actual winner.
Also in the envelope is a reply form that wants you to search through the myriad of other documents in the envelope for secret stickers and super prize number guarantee labels which you have to affix to the reply form.
Then there are pages and pages of advertisements for magazines or gadgets which you have the golden opportunity to purchase at deep, deep discounts through this offer only. There are usually more stickers included with this. You just paste the sticker related to whatever you want to buy on the reply form.
Then there are 2 return envelopes. One with a big red YES and one with a big, black NO. If you’re buying something you stuff everything into the YES envelope. If you’re not buying anything you stuff everything into the NO envelope. It’s a fun 10 minutes of pre-school entertainment. And then maybe you’ll actually remember to mail the thing away. And maybe you won’t. Nothing could be simpler. Barrels of fun for the cost of a stamp.
Of course, some people find these things so annoying they just pitch the whole tree-killing mess into the recycling bin as soon as they see it crammed in their mailbox.
And then there are the people belonging to the Slack-Jawed Yokel family tree who always choose option “D” (“D”for D’uh, I wish they wouldn’t lick the envelope so tight)
Option “D” apparently involves believing Reader’s Digest is secretly hypnotizing them with their shiny array of stickers, forcing them to buy thousands of dollars worth of products to prove their worthiness or something before Reader’s Digest will give them the thousands of dollars that are already theirs according to the big bright envelopes with the “fancy cipherin” they keep getting in the mail. After a few years of not winning, Part II of Option “D” involves one or more Slack-Jawed Yokels getting “real riled” and instigating a law suit.
I didn’t even know there was an Option “D” until Canada’s dubious “investigative consumer show,” Marketplace, uncovered Reader’s Digest’s diabolical plot to fleece the fantastically stupid.
As with most things, the US was already way ahead of us and has settled Reader’s Digest v. Slack-Jawed Yokel law suits in 32 states to the tune of $6 million. Canadian Slack-Jawed Yokels now want their 15 minutes of look-at-me-I’m-a-moron pie.
Reader’s Digest says over 75% of people respond with the NO envelope. They have awarded over 22 million dollars in prizes to more than 105,000 winners across Canada through its Sweepstakes since 1962. And, 75% of those winners responded with NO envelopes.
Most of the other 25% probably really wanted the stuff they bought because they do offer some good deals on subscriptions. But, if you’re one of those who accidentally bought 8 or 9 thousand dollars worth of magazines and are waiting for Ed McMahon to show up with your big cheque, please call Marketplace’s Wendy Mesley. You may already be a Goler. (Please, please click the Goler link — the Golers are the funnest Nova Scotia thing ever).