616 No Purchase Necessary
The fast food joints want you to play board games on line or by cell phone texting (normal text message rates apply.) But you don't have to buy anything to play. Of course, if you don't buy anything, chances are you don't know about the game -- or, if you do -- how to play it.
Monopoly, Scrabble and on and on.
And if you don't buy something, you don't get to learn how to play without buying something. As a public service, here's how it works:
1. Log on to the company's No Purchase Necessary website. (Not always easy to find, but you can call the toll-free customer service number and they will let you know.)
2. Register for the contest.
3. Take a "brief" survey on why you didn't buy anything.
4. Fill out your name, address, e-mail, phone number and the store number of the branch in which you chose not to buy. (This is usually listed in small type somewhere inside the store. It may require an inquiry of the manager in some cases.)
5. At this point, the company will find a way to crash your computer and lose all the data. You can either start all over again or go back and buy a burger or sandwich or magazine subscription or whatever it is that this particular merchant sells.
There's a way around this, of course. You can buy something and return it, giving you a proof of purchase. (see shrapnel below.) But this doesn't work in every case. For example, have you ever tried to get a cash refund at a fast food joint? They'll replace what you don't like with something you do like -- but generally, money-back is not an option.
This is second in complexity only to figuring out the unemployment rate accurately (it's never been done) and filing a state income tax report on internet purchases where local taxes weren't collected.
Then, we get to the "void where prohibited by law" part for both cash customers and those of us who believe "no purchase necessary."
Many of these contests are forbidden in Guam and Puerto Rico. But does anyone know where else? Meridian, Mississippi? Clover Garden, Kentucky? And, come to think of it, why are they illegal anywhere? Is it gambling? Maybe. But not nearly as risky as LEGAL gambling in Vegas, Atlantic City or on Wall Street.
--How to save money: Buy something in a distant location. A week later, decide you don't like it and return it, which means two round trips or a total of 180 miles and about four hours traveling. Plus gasoline for this "money saver" is $2.70 a gallon.
--Who will be Bernie Kerik's cell mate? Some hope for Bernie Madoff. Others prefer Vito Corleone.
--Righties are worried that salary reductions will force the "best and the brightest" in banking to look for more remunerative work overseas, leaving a void at their former companies. They did a great job stateside, no? Good riddance to bad rubbish.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®