Monday, February 8, 2010



Celebrate the 201st anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday this Friday with a copper engraving of our 16th President for only $10 plus a nominal shipping and handling fee and the engraved image honoring one of our Country’s most respected presidents will be sent to you by return mail.

But we’re not done!

Respond by midnight tonight and we’ll double your order. That’s right. You’ll get TWO detailed and specially-machined copper engravings and all you pay is the small shipping and handling fee for each engraving.

But wait, there’s more!

We’ll also include at no cost, a silver-tone alloyed engraving of our third President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, we’ll include TWO free engravings and you only pay shipping and handling for each.

And the specials aren’t over yet!

Call in the next 30 minutes, ‘cause we can’t do this forever, and we’ll add two more clad engravings to your presidents collection Set. George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first and 32nd presidents will become part of this previously unheard of superstar presidential engraved portraits series. Tell us to “double down” and we’ll send you TWO of each engraving FREE. You pay only separate shipping and handling.

Have your credit card or checking account number handy when you call and we’ll rush you your Free Superstar Presidents Engraved Collection, that’s EIGHT engraved portraits, and all you’ll pay is the nominal separate shipping and handling for each one.

Don’t Wait. CALL NOW!

Well, I didn’t wait. Of course I didn’t call either because my brain is not sludge and my logic is not “mush and such”. Even with shipping and handling fees of $2.25 per engraving, that’ll still cost you $18.00 for those “nominal” S/H fees, plus the original $10 for the first Lincoln. But before you get too excited over paying less than $30 for eight “collectible” engravings of four noteworthy presidents, you might want to know what you would have actually received.

In one envelope, you would have found two pennies, two nickels, two quarters and finally, two dimes. Loose change upon which you will find the engraved images of the coins respective presidents so honored. That’s right. For only $28, they would have sent you 82-cents in U.S. currency. A mere $27.18 overpayment of stuff you probably already have in your pocket or ashtray.

It is a marketing ploy that is once again raising its very ugly head. People are selling a lot of cheaply made but overpriced and useless crap, then offering to DOUBLE your order, for only the additional cost of “shipping and handling”. Too often, the stuff they’re selling costs less than the fee they’re charging for “processing”, which means even when they’re offering money-back guarantees (MINUS S/H), they still make money. And they must make more than enough money because they also have to pay for the advertising.

So here are my tips to avoid paying too much for those “free” things.

One. If you don’t really need one, you definitely don’t need two. I knew a guy who bought a pair of car seat covers with a sharp looking red dragon embroidered on it during one those buy one get one free sales. Problem was, he didn’t own bucket seats. He justified it by saying that the price would likely go up over time and when he did own a car with bucket seats he would save money by having bought them early. Problem was, by the time he finally bought a car with bucket seats he had outgrown his “red dragons are so cool” mindset. Making matters even more poignant, the price had actually gone down by the time he wanted to give them to someone else, and then couldn’t find them anyway.

Whether you get one or two, if you don’t use it, you didn’t need it. If you didn’t need it, you shouldn’t have bought it.

Two. Look a gift-horse in the mouth. The old saying is, “Never look a gift-horse in the mouth.” I say, just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out. At a time when I thought I really needed a car, a generous acquaintance gave me an old Cadillac. I was thrilled with the opportunity to drive anywhere I wanted to go, instead of relying on public transportation, I happily accepted. Problem was, the cost to feed (gas and oil) and maintain the car, plus insurance, parking fees, etc. had never been considered and within the first month took a very huge chunk out of a very small budget. I had to “give it away” to someone else but a few months later because I just couldn’t afford it.

Whether it’s a gift-horse or an old Cadillac, there’s likely some costs to keep and maintain it. Never be afraid to check it out and then say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Three. If you really, really, really, really want it, wait a week or two before buying it. Chances are good that the manipulation of your emotions that triggered the impulse to own it, will likely pass within a short period of time. This seems especially true when confronted with “limited time offers” (which tend not to be all that limited).

Consider this tale of woe too often re-told. You buy that kitchen widget that will make oven cleaning seem like a wave of a magical wand, because you’re so tired of spending an hour every month or so cleaning your mess by hand and that infomercial “promised” an end to that “dirty, messy, back-breaking drudgery.” You send your hard-earned money. Six weeks later the widget arrives. Unfortunately, gone is the excitement you first felt. In its place: the realization that cleaning the oven isn’t all that hard or needed all that often. And that $39.95 widget that works like a magic wand (plus $8.95 shipping and handling)? Yea-a-a-h, not so much. And that 30-day money back guarantee (minus shipping and handling)? Yea-a-a-h, that passed two weeks ago.

Whether the advertising has convinced you, or you’ve convinced yourself, let your heightened emotions wane before you plunk down your cash or card. You’ll often discover that your wallet will remain fuller, the emptier you maintain your clutter closet.

If an advertiser is giving away something for nothing, look for the cost, the conditions, the strings or obligations. While it is possible to discover “free” stuff, even free stuff that you might actually want, need and use, be smart. Don’t get sucked into marketing’s maw of manipulated emotions (it’s true, I really like alliteration) and you can avoid joining the suckers chorus of “My Free Cost How Much?”

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