Sunday, January 09, 2005

Amazing Stories

I don't have Television.

Oh, yeah, I have A television. It's just not hooked up to a cable, dish, antenna or any other source of outside signals. I have a VCR and a DVD player, but that's it. As a consequence, I don't see a lot of commercials on my TV.

This weekend, though, I was watching cable with SWMBO on her television and I saw some commercials which absolutely blew my mind. I was so impressed, I just had to comment.

Here are the four most "interesting" television commercials I saw:

Ths commercial advertisement exhorts you to send in your "old gold, just laying around collecting dust". (Actual quote.) The deal is, you send them your dirty old jewelry, gold fillings, or other 'scrap gold'. [Or 'scrap platinum', if that's what you have. Nice of them to include this kind of 'junk'.]

In return, they will send you "top cash prices" for whatever you send in, after you have received their 'gold kit' ... apparently a list of instructions for you to follow when you send in your 'scrap'.

Sound too good to be true? Well, they offer this guarantee. They don't actually call it a 'guarantee' but:

Customer's Statement of Total Satisfaction

If for any reason you feel that any of your items have not been fairly evaluated by Lippincott, simply return our check within ten (10) days of the day on the check. Lippincott will promptly return your items without any charge to you.
I'm thinking ... my mother's wedding ring. Yeah, I can get a better price through GoldKit than I could from a local jeweler. Now, if I can just figure how to get my mother's wedding ring off her finger, I could be a rich man within 24 hours ....


surprisingly, there is more than one program on the Internet making this offer. A NetScape search on the phrase "Free Medicine" results in THREE PAGES of compasionate and generous companies who are willing to give of their time and efforts to get free medicine to you. I don't know which one is sponsoring the commercial, but I do know they include they include the incredible (literally) comment: "Sound too good to be true?"

My dear mother, before I stole her wedding ring, use to say "If it sounds too good to be true ... it is!"

However, I note that their website does have links to some interesting discussions of medical interest.

"Ionizing Filter-less Air Purifiers"
A company called "Sharper Image" is offering you an air purifier that doesn't even have filters to replace ... just wipe off the "ionizing surfaces" from time to time, and it removes smoke residue, dust, dandruff, pollen, other alergens etc. from the air which your family breathes every day.

Consumer Report comments (subscription required ... $26/year or $4.95/month) that the $399.95 version of this

Ionic Breeze Quadra Silent Air Purifier

... doesn't clean your air as well as you may expect for the price:

The champion of air-cleaner marketing is The Sharper Image. In four years, its Ionic Breeze line, led by the midpriced $350 Quadra, has soared from less than 1 percent of the market to about 25 percent. Sharper Image is now the leading brand, with a growing list of imitators, including Honeywell and Hoover.

Air cleaners like these are a type of electrostatic precipitator: They impart an electrical charge to particles that stick to oppositely charged collectors. Sharper Image, Honeywell, and Hoover precipitators are quiet and cost little to run. However, our tests show that they are not effective.

(Emphasis added.)
I bought the Consumer's Report annual subsciption. Consumer's Report's conclusion; it doesn't work.

Randy C. from The True Sella Awards (link or text to follow) notes that Sharper Image sued C.S. and this has not yet resulted in a satisfactory *(to Sharper Image)* change in the report.
But you can still buy the filterless air purifier.
Unfortunately for Sharper Image, their suit didn't go very far. In fact, the judge threw it out of court.

(Hat-tip to

"Buy Your Own Computer for $35 a week"

This last one ... I have no idea where to search for such a deal.

Let me see. $35/week at 52 weeks a year equals something like $1770 for a new computer.

The television ad doesn't provide technical specifications on the "new computer" that you can expect to receive. However, I note that the television advertisement doesn't mention a monitor, keyboard, mouse, sound system, printer or any details about HD, memory or modem.

Given that minimum of "options", you should be aware that Yahoo offers a 'barebones competer at under $185, RefurbDepot offers a
AMD Athlon XP 3200+ 2.2GHz, 512MB DDRAM, 160GB Hard Drive, DVD+/-RW combo drive, 10/100 NIC, 56K Modem, NVIDIA GeForce4 , 8-in-1 reader, Windows® XP
Tiger Direct offers for $299.99 a

Asus A8V Deluxe Socket 939 Barebone Kit / AMD Athlon 64 3400+ / CPU Fan / Mid-Tower Case / Keyboard / Mouse / Speakers

Last month I bought a much more powerful 'puter, with speakers, mouse and keyboard Plus XP for the home, for $549 less $75 rebate. I'm not unhappy with it, although (of course) I didn't understand the terms of the rebate and didn't get my form in on time.

Bottom line:
  • you can get a lot of computer for under $550 if you don't need a monitor.
  • Monitors don't have to be that expensive, either.
  • if you just buy "a computer", with no more technical specifications, you may end up with jsut the CPU.
  • buying at "$X/week" with no more information may sound attractive to people who have no experience buying computers, but you may end up with a $1700+ obligation and still not have a computer that you can acutally USE!

You can't help but wonder who would find himself a prey to this kind of snake-oil salesmen, but sure as hell somebody will drop the penny and find out they've paid too much ... or received too little ... for a bargain that they could have earned a LT more for their investement if they only knew a little bit more about the market.

None of these television advertisements really offer anything of value, but still the FCC and the FTC doesn't protect them against their perhaps-fraudelent solicititations.

I wonder how these people stay in business? Or is it that, like the sagee claims or the Cortisol and Cortislim claims there is so much dreck being promulgated on the media that it's almost impssible for federal commissions to deal with them all in a timely manner.

It's just so much snake oil to us.

Oh ... a note on Cortislim:

OK, let's get to the bottom line...

Cortislim may indeed be able to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol through the effects of Magnolia bark contained in its formulation. However, that's a far cry from saying you're actually going to lose weight with this stuff.

So why are you buying this stuff?

You're buying this stuff because the ads USE to say "you can lose weight with this stuff". But since the FTC objected (finally!) they can't say that any more. So now the makers say their product, combined with exercise etc will help you to reduce stress, and that may help you to lose weight. Listen to their advertisements ... they've changed a LOT. But you haven't. You're still overweight unhappy, and willing to spend your hard-earned bucks on ANYTHING that suggests it will be a magic weight-loss pill. Or hair restoration pill.

Listen, if there was a magic pill that would help you to lose weight or regain your hair or whatever, you would read about it in the newspapers under NOBEL PRIZE AWARDED FOR MAGIC PILL

Until then, and until the television tells you exactly what you're getting for your hard-earned bucks, and it sounds like a better deal than you're likely to get from, say the front page (not to mention the "WANT TO SELL" ads in the classified section) of the newspapers ...

.... don't go there. Okay?


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