Sweepstakes Clearinghouse Sends Latest Deceptive Mailing
The latest dirt bags sending a deceptive mailing to my house is an outfit going by the name of Sweepstakes Clearinghouse with an address of 1555 Regal Row, PO Box 569600, Dallas, Texas 75356-9931.
Notice the old trick they use by showing the ‘To The Order Of’ through the address window to make it look like a check is enclosed. That, combined with the ‘DEPARTMENT OF NOTIFICATIONS’ and the official-looking red info box to the right is obviously designed to make the recipient think that they are the winner of some sweepstakes. That is the way they get people to open something that is otherwise going to be judged (accurately) as junk mail and tossed in the trash.
The $400 vouchers they have so generously enclosed do their best to make the recipient believe they are getting a good deal on the merchandise they are trying to unload. In my opinion, however, the stuff they are selling is a bunch of low-quality, no-quality or hopelessly outdated merchandise. Let’s take a look.
As you can see, each item they are advertising has a price listed next to it in an effort to make potential buyers believe this stuff is actually worth that much. And, with your $400 voucher that you can use towards the purchase of each item, you can purchase each one of the items for the listed price minus $400. What a deal! Actually, I would be more accurate to say what a joke!
I know a little bit about digital video cameras and I have never heard of DVC brand. When one shops for something like a video camera or other electronic equipment, it’s pretty obvious that you want a well-known brand that has a reputation for quality. Brands like Sony, Canon, JVC and others that you are familiar with. The bottom line is that they are selling you a digital video camcorder/camera/MP3 player/whatever for $169 and that’s probably about what it is worth.
At least the stereo system has a name I recognize, although I certainly don’t think of RCA when I think about going out to buy high-quality stereo components myself. It may in fact be a decent system for the money. But again, that is the key. It’s probably worth the $179 they are selling it for. Not top-of-the-line by any stretch.
I really know little or nothing about watches and luggage, so at the risk of repeating myself, those items are probably worth what you would pay for them also. I guess it is up to each consumer to decide if a cheap diamond watch is worth $169 or cheesy luggage is worth $179. I surely know what my answer is and I bet you can guess.
Now computers are another matter entirely and something I do happen to know a little bit about. Firstly, both those systems they are selling are hopelessly outdated. I have a 400-MHz PC around here that was current technology about seven or so years ago when I bought it. To be listing these systems with price tags of $699 and $679 is so ridiculous, I could nearly fall out of my chair laughing over it.
I cannot believe any retailer still has stuff like this hanging around collecting dust. The 128 MB of memory they list for both systems is a laughable amount of memory and useless for running anything better than the Windows-95 or Windows-98 they are supplying with them. I can hardly believe they are still selling systems with Windows-98, to say nothing of Windows-95!
For those who may not know what the 98 or 95 in the names Windows-98 and Windows-95 stand for, well, yes, you guessed it. The year 1998 and 1995. A 11-year-old operating system and an 8-year-old operating system. Can these people be serious?
If you have heard stories of Windows computers crashing and getting hung up all the time, these are the old, outdated operating systems that are likely being talked about. Microsoft’s current operating system of choice is Windows-XP which has been around for a number of years and is light-years ahead of Windows-98 or Windows-95!
And don’t assume you can buy one of these cheap systems and load Windows-XP on it yourself. The 128 MB of memory would be a show-stopper for Windows-XP and even if you were able to add more memory to these systems, a 300-MHz or 400-MHz system will run as slow as molasses with Windows-XP installed.
To advertise these systems with ‘National Reference Retail’ prices like these is pure fantasy. Perhaps they are referring to the prices of systems like this about six or seven years ago and just forgot to mention that.
The 15-inch monitor for the desktop and 12-inch screen on the laptop are nothing to get excited about either. Make sure you have your reading glasses or perhaps a magnifying glass handy when you sit down to work on one of these cinematic beauties! And those hard drives! My, my, whatever will you do with all that disk space? Good luck locating a disk drive you can buy new that is less than 20GB these days!
Most of the software included in their $500+ Software Package is stuff I have never heard of and it’s a pretty safe bet that it is just a bunch of old software that is no longer being sold. It’s highly unlikely that it is worth $500 these days, but perhaps this stuff was somehow lost in the mail for six or seven years and only made its way to my mailbox today. That certainly would explain a lot!
To make the deal even sweeter, the fine print reveals that the laptop is ‘remanufactured.’ For heaven’s sake, if it’s one thing I would avoid like the plague, it would be a remanufactured laptop! I would not even buy a current model that was remanufactured due to the quirky nature of laptops compared to desktop systems. To buy a remanufactured model from an era when laptops where even less reliable and more quirky than current models would be insanity.
Heck, I have a Toshiba laptop I bought brand-new almost 2 years ago that died on me about 6 months ago. After the warranty period, of course! Since I will not attempt to work on a laptop myself, it has been sitting around until I feel that I need it bad enough to get it fixed. I fix all my desktop systems myself very easily, but with the tiny closely-packed insides of a laptop, I will not even attempt it.
Laptops have come a long way in recent years but I still believe desktop systems are a lot more reliable. My advice is that unless you really need a PC that is portable, stay away from the laptops and stick with a desktop system. I’m sure there are differing opinions out there and I speak only from my own experience.
Getting back to the utterly ridiculous prices they have endowed these two geriatric systems with, let’s take a look at what you can get for your money these days and end up with brand-new, brand-name current computer systems.
For comparison, consider that you can get a brand-new and current-technology desktop system with the following specifications: Celeron D 2.53-GHx Processor, 256 MB memory, 80 GB hard drive, 17-inch monitor and Windows XP installed for $299.
You’re likely to pay around $400 for a low-end current laptop, but the extra $121 will be well worth it to have a new system with a current operating system like Windows XP installed on it that will run a lot faster than the antique featured in this mail-order miracle.
If the computers are any indication of the quality and value of the other products, this is not any kind of ‘deal’ in any way, shape or form. The $400 voucher idea is just intended to make people believe they are getting something for nothing when nothing could be further from the truth.
[tags]sweepstakes clearinghouse, vouchers[/tags]
Posted: 13 June, 2006 in Consumer.