I recently wrote a post asking if we were weird, now I’m asking if we’re idiots. A lot of companies seem to think so, the latest being Lulu, the book publishers. They’re giving away free money.
Read on to find out how you can get free money. In fact, not even free money: FREE MONEY!
Except like all offers of this kind it’s isn’t really free. They’ll give you their money if you give them a larger amount of yours. The deal is spend £30 on books and they’ll give you £10 back, free. But to make things simple, instead of handing you the cash, they’ll knock it off your bill for the books, you know like a . . . well, like a discount, I suppose.
This morning I got a letter from Wyevale Garden Centres. Once upon a time their rewards scheme amassed points until you had, say, £5 or £10. And then you’d spend the money on a pot plant or bag of manure or something. But the scheme has changed.
Now the reward is £5 if you spend over £25 or some such temptation. Again, give us your money and we’ll give you something for free in return.
Companies do this because they know we look at these schemes and think ‘hey, I’m getting something free and it’ll only cost me. . . .’ If I’m looking to buy £25 worth of manure then the Wyevale offer comes at an opportune moment. Lucky me. But everything else is an illusion. And we often fall for it.
The best ruse, and possibly borderline psychopathic in its sadistic genius, is the internet phenomenon where authors are invited to pay good money to advertise books being given away for free. So instead of a garden centre or Lulu pretending to be giving money away for free, authors are paying money to really give something away for free.
How did it come to this? This inability to spot when you’re being taken for a very long ride. I suppose because the ‘pay to give away your book’ scam is new we haven’t yet cottoned on to what’s really taking place here. We read the disclaimers: treat it like publicity/a loss leader/exposure/discoverability. What we don’t read is ‘millions of authors are doing this and making us incredibly wealthy; unlike you lot. Ha ha!’
It’s one thing to give something away, it’s quite another to pay someone else to tell people you’re giving something away. Lulu didn’t pay anyone to tell me they’re giving away a ten pound note in exchange for thirty pounds in used fivers. It didn’t cost them anything to let me know.
And it won’t cost me anything to say I’ll think about it.
Chris Harrison is the pseudonym of Bernie Chancer, Investment Adviser for Bob Wallet Financial Services. “Give me a £1 packet of seeds and I’ll grow you a multi-million pound money tree.”