A Moment of Weakness

For those of you who know me, the idea that I'd fall into any kind of marketing scheme may seem rather ridiculous. Be assured I didn't really fall in, so much as do one of those stupid things you see generals do in WWII movies where they say, "I know this is a trap, but because I know it is a trap we shall be ready!". In many senses I was ready, but I still got suckered into something that's a little bit of a hassle.

The story follows.

I got an e-mail that hit a bullseye in something I have an interest in, Ebay. The email offered a $500 gift certificate to Ebay, free. I wasn't stupid enough to think it was actually free, and I was sure there'd be some craziness they'd fling at me to try to nail me down on buying something. However, I clicked on the linking with the plan that if it asked of me more than I was willing I'd just kill it there.

To get the gift certificate, I was first required to answer a long stream of yes or no questions (such as "Are you Christian and Single?"), answering yes to which would reveal an advertisement (such as a Christian Singles Network) related to the question. I breezed through this part rather quickly, avoiding advertisements with ease.

However, the next part was really stupid. You were forced to sign up for one of many random things in order to "complete the final step" towards getting the gift certificate. It only asked for one, so I looked to see if there was really anything worth thinking about. There was only one thing worth mentioning, and that was the Columbia House offer of 5 DVDs for ¢59 each. I checked it out.

In retrospect, I probably should have checked to see if the page even kept track of whether you signed up with any of these services it offered. Unfortunately, it was not until after I had selected six dvds (an extra one which counted towards the total of ten you're supposed to buy within a year, leaving only four left), and completed the signup that I realised that the next page required me to sign up for to others, and the page after that required another six.

I stopped there.

It was too late to turn back from the Columbia House offer, to my dismay. I had researched the company a bit to make sure I wouldn't be scammed, and the only article of concern I would was that way back before 9/11 some data had been compromised including credit card numbers.

Now I've recieved the six DVDs, and what would otherwise be a very great service for buying more DVDs if it weren't for the problem that I need to be concerned with fulfilling the pledge I made to buy another four (each of which must qualify under the terms of agreement) within a year.

It sounds simple at first. Each DVD you pay $19.95 or more for counts as one unit towards however many you pledged to buy. In fact, they're kind enough to set it up so that DVDs worth $39.95 or more are actually worth two units, and so on. Unfortunately, this is all under the ugly banner of "unless otherwise excluded". Which basically means they can randomly say that any specific DVD which would otherwise qualify, doesn't.

What makes it even more difficult are their special sales. The catalog I have cites two prices for each DVD. One is the regular, cheap price they offer. The second is the special sale price (in red), approximately %50 off. After buying one qualifying DVD at full price, all DVDs with a red price will now only cost that red price.

This makes things difficult because all the DVDs at sale price are below $19.95, and hence won't count towards your commitment. What makes things irritating is that all the DVDs that wouldn't be less than $19.95 if they were 50% off don't have a special sale price because they are alread 25%-30% off "with no prior purchase required".

Also, on a lot of the nice collections of stuff (Marx Bros., Cary Grant, Errol Flynn and anything actually worth more than $39.95) there's an asterix that notes that these don't initiate the half off sale thingy as well as something else which leads me to believe they don't count at all towards clearing my commitment.

It's not really a headache, more like an annoying bug flying around my head.

In any case, I'm not concerned so much that I'll fail to find four worthwhile DVDs and be able to finish my commitment and be in the clear. I'm more hurt in the sense that my ego when it comes to marketing immunity took a dire hit, and I'm reeling.

The selection of DVDs is actually quite good (no anime in the catalog unforunately, maybe there might be something online), and the deals are easy to figure out. It's just the crap about having to fulfil this commitment that's annoying.

Anyway, I'll just sit here nursing my bruised ego for a while.

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