Mr. Horvitz, congratulations! You are one of our prize winners. You have already won one of the following prizes:When I get this kind of mail, I imagine a vulnerable person getting their hopes up, and being disappointed or ripped off. It makes me feel bad. This time I decided to do what I'd never done before. I called.
1. Ford Mustang
2. Men's or women's gold-plated watch
3. Samsung Camera
Please call 800-888-xxxx to claim your prize. Once again, congratulations!
A man answered after just a few rings: "Sweepstakes center."
"Hi, I received a letter saying I'd won a prize."
"Okay sir, what is the number in your letter?"
"It's in red in the upper right hand corner of the letter you received."
"It says 36BGYX243."
"Okay, and can you confirm your name?"
I told him.
"Oh my, you are one of our grand prize winners! Can I put you on hold for a moment?"
In the background I heard the man say to his co-workers, loud enough for me to hear, "It's Mr. Horvitz, one of our grand prize winners!" Then I heard a jumble of voices: "It's one of our grand prize winners! It's one of the winners!" He continued "Mr. Horvitz, congratulations!"
"Thank you," I said.
"Mr. Horvitz, you have already won either the Ford Mustang, a gold-plated watch, or a camera."
"Okay, great," I said.
"Now, before we continue, there are a few questions I have to ask you. Is that Okay?"
"First, if you win the Ford Mustang, what color would you want? You can get the car in red, beige, blue, white, or grey."
"Red," I said. "Definitely red."
"Red. Okay. And would you want that to be a convertible?"
"Sure, a convertible would be great."
"Now, if you win the gold-plated watch, would you want the men's watch or the women's watch, perhaps as a gift?" I told him I'd take the men's watch for myself.
"Okay. Also, Mr. Horvitz, would you agree to have your photo taken next to your prize?"
"Yes, we print a brochure showing our grand prize winners next to their prize."
"Okay, now in order to receive your prize, which you've already won, we ask that you purchase a 3-year supply of our cosmetics, which come in men's and women's varieties."
"Well, for men that would include top-of-the-line skin care products like facial cleanser, shaving cream, after shave balm, skin toner, deep exfoliation scrub, energizing mask - "
"The thing is, I don't use much of that type of thing. How much would it cost?"
"Only $199. And don't forget, Mr. Horvitz, you've already won one of the three gifts. And even the camera, which is the least valuable, is worth over $250."
"I see," I said. "Let's see. My gift is worth at least $250?"
"And the cosmetics only cost about $200?"
"Can you just send me a check for $50?"
"Oh, I don't think we can do that Mr. Horvitz. It would be out of the question." I took him through the logic of it again, so he put the supervisor on the line.
The supervisor was unmoved by my logic. They can't send me a check. It would be out of the question. If I don't have any other questions, he'll put the prize coordinator back on the line.
"Hello Mr. Horvitz, shall we arrange for your cosmetics subscription so that we can get you your prize as soon as possible?"
I told him that I didn't think I could do that. It would be out of the question.