I couldn’t stand it anymore. For years I’ve watched TV ads for Publisher’s Clearing House, showing people jumping up and down on their porches at the news that they had won from $1,000 to $5,000 a week for the rest of their lives.
With money like that, I could open a nationwide chain of ping pong/macramé parlors or buy a semi-expensive green sports car with heated, leather seats, or a new, antique velveteen waist coat with sequins. With shoes to match.
Publisher’s Clearing House? Weren’t they the people behind all the magazine subscription hustlers at your front door over the decades? With alluring titles such as Miniature Donkey Talk, Fencepost, Portable Restroom Operator, or the most popular publication, featuring quadruped ruminants, Sheep.
How could you resist subscribing?
In the interests of full disclosure, all these are real magazines that are currently published, but I’m not sure they’re being marketed by Publisher’s Clearing House. Yet.
Anyway, I decided to visit the Publisher’s Clearing House website, a truly unique experience. I couldn’t find a magazine title anywhere. I did find an encyclopedic listing of every infomercial product that has ever appeared on TV.
For small, multiple installment payments, I could become the proud owner of knife slicers and sharpeners, non-stick roaster pans, a dozen bronzed acorns in a display case, a collection of rare jukebox hits of the 1960s, a pot lid holder and utensil rest or a snoring chin strap.
All for four easy payments of $4.99. I guess the total price of $19.96 plus shipping was just too scary to quote in full.
Another thing I didn’t know about Publisher’s Clearing House is that the organization sponsors approximately 193 drawings, contests, raffles, lotteries and sweepstakes ongoing each year. And these are just the ones I know about.
Having spent some 30 seconds registering for the big sweepstakes and my new weekly income check, I assumed I was done with the heavy lifting. I sat back and waited for the patter of motivated feet on the front porch and the doorbell to ring telling me that I was at last wealthy.
But the ringing doorbell was preempted by six emails the following day, telling me that I needed to complete my registration by confirming one more step, that I wasn’t yet in full compliance for the drawing, that I needed to validate a letter of intent, that my attention was needed immediately and that an important message awaited me.
Each time I clicked on the link in the email, I was instructed to click a link that said “ACT NOW!”, “RESPOND NOW!”, “SEARCH NOW!”, “CONTINUE NOW!”, “CLAIM NOW!” AND “FORFEITURE WARNING ENCLOSED!”
For some reason, the concept of classic conditioning and the name Pavlov entered my mind.
The pressure was mounting, and I still hadn’t ordered anything from the treasure trove of items offered by the Clearing House.
Since registering and entering my name and email address last week, I’ve received an estimated 2,184 solicitations that have offered everything from a 51/2-inch authentic, hand-blown glass butterfly to a complete set of seasonal tweezers, each tastefully engraved with a quote from one of our 19th century presidents.
I’ve never known anyone who actually won a PCH drawing. But then I’ve never met anyone who participated in a political telephone poll of 1,300 respondents, either.
Today’s tasks include paying the rent, going to Safeway for a half-gallon of milk and searching the couch cushions for loose change. But first, I need to answer eleven more urgent emails from Publisher’s Clearing House.
Wil Williams, a resident of Chino Valley, is a retired advertising agency executive who served in the U.S. Army. Contact him at email@example.com.