I think we’ve all seen them – those subscription offers from various magazines that promise $1 million dollars (or more) – and perhaps even a visit from Ed McMahon…
I actually had an aunt and uncle, who received a ‘you may already be a winner’ envelope and called up their relatives to say that their ship had come in (not in those words, of course, they were prairie folk). I didn’t have the heart to burst their bubble and they found out the truth soon enough.
I recently got a note from a publisher which thanked me for subscribing by sending three ‘Treasurer’s Entry Cheques’. The first one for $500,000 and the second for $60,000 both had a stamped note saying ‘payment guaranteed to winner’. The third one for $31,000 was even more forceful: ‘imminent payment’, it proclaimed.
Now, I know better, but still I was enticed.
Even worse was the wording used in the oh so personal cover letter:
‘The fact that you are now in possession of the enclosed documents is proof that your chance of becoming a prize winner is all but confirmed.‘
Notice the words in bold: fact; now in possession; proof; becoming a prize winner; confirmed. They’re working hard to persuade you that you’ve already won.