A couple of weeks ago we made a regular visit to an elderly lady friend who excitedly told us she had won a million dollars — and thrust a piece of elaborately decorated thick paper similar to the one shown at us.

Of course, she hadn’t, but it took us a while to convince her of that.

These devices used by companies like Readers Digest, Windsor and this one, Magnamail, to encourage people to buy more of their stuff are nothing new.

Do they have any intention of paying anyone a million bucks?  Probably not, despite the fact it is actually an offence under Section 17 of the Fair Trading Act to offer a prize with no intention of paying it.

Offers of small prize amounts are credible, if the organisation is a sizeable one, but the likelihood of winning them is miniscule.

In America, people get routinely subjected to this type of thing; an article about Publishers Clearing House, a company registered in Delaware, which has the slackest commercial laws of any American state, begins:-

As millions of Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes envelopes begin to arrive in mailboxes across the country, you should know that your odds of winning big are pretty small: Only a 1 in 1.2 billion chance of snagging the top prize of $1 million a year for life, according to the company. Even getting a one-time prize of $2,500 has odds of 1 in 130 million.

Full article

Unfortunately, this is another area where the elderly are vulnerable to being sucked in by the hype, and as Waikanae has a high population of over 65’s, we expect that more than a few are every year.

As ever more people feel the financial pinch from the massive regular increases in power bills and KCDC rates, the temptation to try to win prizes increases proportionately; Lotto etc. outlets always do best in the poorest areas.

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