with Hamilton Blather, 2/4/00
DC: This is DCR, a news program that is so obviously
preposterous, it should not fool anyone. Ever. A growing number of states
are filing suit against companies that mail sweepstakes entries to millions
of Americans. The states are critical of the mailings, contending that
the language gives a mistaken impression, especially to elderly citizens,
that if they buy magazines their chances of winning a big cash prize
Having seen the effective results of several states working together
to get big cash settlements from the tobacco industry and more recent
but less successful attempts to do the same with gun manufacturers,
the sweepstakes companies are turning on the charm to convince lawmakers
that they will "clean up their act." Let's listen to a recent
exchange in the Senate subcommittee on Bald Faced Lying ... where subcommittee
chair Lois Flunkey quizzed Hamilton Blather of Gullible Reader's Clearinghouse.
Blather: (fade up) ... in the space where it says "Albert Fletcher
of LaTrobe Pennsylvania ... we put 20 million different names there
for our various mailings. And everybody knows that.
Senator: Are you saying, Mr. Blather, that you don't believe your sweepstakes
mailings TO Mr. Fletcher fooled him into thinking you were writing to
Blather: Senator ... we're a big company at Gullible Reader's Clearninghouse,
and the measley $12.95 that Mr. Fletcher is willing to fork over for
his annual subscription to "Fly Fishergal" Magazine barely
covers the cost of the two dozen or so mailings we send him each year.
Cheapskates like Mr. Fletcher are bleeding us dry. Why doesn't he load
up on some of the expensive magazines we keep encouraging him to buy?
That's the real tragedy here, not some misunderstanding about wording.
Senator: Still, you have to admit the wording is deceptive.
Blather: These mailings don't fool anybody. When we said "CONGRATULATIONS
ALBERT FLETCHER, YOU'VE WON 11 MILLION DOLLARS" he knew what that
meant. He knew he would only win IF we picked his name.
Senator: It says right there in the large print that he's won.
Blather: Yes, and in the small print it says IF THE CONDITIONS ARE MET.
Senator: Mr. Fletcher is 89 years old and the small print is hard to
Blather: Yes, well, an old goat like him has been around long enough
to know there's no free ride. He shouldn't have to read the small print
to figure that out.
Senator: I find these tactics underhanded and very troubling, Mr. Blather,
and I think you owe Mr. Fletcher and the thousands like him a very sincere
Blather: And we have an apology, Senator. In fact, we have a LAVISH,
ALL EXPENSES PAID APOLOGY that includes AIRFARE AND HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS
FOR FOUR AT THE MAUI ROYAL AMBASSADOR LUXURY SUITES TOWERS AND FIVE
HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS IN SPENDING MONEY! And this apology HAS BEEN
RESERVED IN THE NAME OF ALBERT M. FLETCHER OF LATROBE, PENNSYLVANIA
AND WILL BE SENT TO HIM IMMEDIATELY if his name is the one chosen to
Senator: That sounds like a generous offer, Mr. Blather. So you'll fly
Mr. Fletcher and three of his friends to Hawaii?
Blather: YES, ABSOLUTELY WE WILL ... if he's the winner.
Senator: And you'll change your tactics?
Blather: Senator, we will IMMEDIATELY CHANGE OUR APPROACH, TURNING OUR
BACKS FOREVER ON THE OVER INFLATED HYPER CHARGED PHONEY BALONEY VERBIAGE
THAT HAS BEEN SO OFTEN CRITICIZED ... AND WE'LL IMMEDIATELY CEASE AND
DESIST OUR RELENTLESS PEDDLING OF OVERPRICED MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS
AND TURN ALL OUR ATTENTION AND MARKETING SAVVY TO RAISING MONEY FOR
CHARITY INCLUDING RESEARCH ON FIGHTING BIG DISEASES AND BUYING EQUIPMENT
FOR CHILDREN'S HOSPITALS, FEEDING THE POOR AND THE LAME AND TENDING
TO THE HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE, AND WE'LL DO IT ALL
IN YOUR NAME, SENATOR LOIS FLUNKEY, if it meets with the approval of
our board of directors.
Senator: Well that sounds pretty good. My name will be on it?
Blather: Your name is on it right here on this paper.
Senator: I'd like to see this happen as soon as possible.
Blather: All you have to do is put the gold sticker in the blue box,
Senator, then move the stickers representing the magazines you're most
interested to the shaded area below the gold sticker, enclose a check
and get it IN THE MAIL BY MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!
Senator: I'll have my staff see to that right away.
Blather: Be sure TO ENCLOSE YOUR PERSONAL CHECK OR MONEY ORDER! DON'T
(sfx: crowd sound up)
Senator: (fades) This sounds like a pretty good deal, eh? I think I
put 'em in their place!
DC: An excerpt from Senate hearings on the Direct Mail Sweepstakes Industry.
Senator Flunkey's office later issued a clarification, asserting that
she knew all along she was being misled and only wanted to see how deep
a hole Hamilton Blather would dig for himself.
A spokesman for Gullible Reader's Clearinghouse said Senator Flunkey's
comments will NOT adversely effect her chance at winning the big prize.
Dale Connelly Reporting Home