I found the epitome of junk mail

... once you get on the list ....

from Don Norris


Well, almost Everything.

All of us are on some mailing list, somewhere in the U.S.A. -- just how active it is remains to be seen.

But I think I've hit the obvious example. All I did was to respond to an ad in my National Geographic magazine, and now (not really suddenly) I seem to be on the sucker list. Suddenly I am getting buckets of offers for a zillion different products -- a good portion of which comes from what I had regarded as reliable, steady, upper class firm -- after all, National Geographic magazine accepts their full-page, full-color ads.

Our family has been getting National Geographic since my father ordered it in 1936. It is a delightful, informative, spot-honest upright outfit.

The company I point to is Stauer, which sells good stuff at very attractive prices. And in a recent full page ad in National Geographic, they were selling a beautiful man's wrist watch for a mere $29 -- marked down from $200. So I called Stauer and talked with a sales rep. He needed my name and address and some other references, but after he and I became friends(!), he said the price would be $39.95 -- to account for costs of shipping and handling.

Ooooph da. The price now is not $30, but $40 -- up 33 percent. But the sales guy wasn't done with me yet. He said that I should consider getting the all-encompassing guarantee which goes on forever, he said. It's only ten dollars, he said, and if anything ever breaks down on this watch, it will be replaced with another brand new one.

Sounds good, but now my $30 watch is fifty bucks. That's 66 percent!

Baloney, I said. I said to the friendly sales guy, "My thirty dollar purchase is now fifty? Forget it! I don't want it."

In the meantime the guy has my name, my address, my charge card number -- and maybe my soul. Regardless, I told him to cancel the order, nice to talk to you, and see ya later, bub.

A week later our mailbox runneth over. The offers from all sorts of outfits filled our rather large mailbox. Not just from Stauer, but from endless other outfits who make their living by selling via mail. I'm not saying there is some collusion here, but this is stretching coincidence pretty far.

So I'm on the that preferred list of readers of National Geographic magazine -- which is the best publication in the world. Other subscribers are likewise on that list, having responded to ads in this classy magazine.

I can't say there's anything illegal here, not at all. Not even unethical, for how is National Geographic supposed to rate its advertisers. After all, advertising is the prime source of income for just about every publisher in the world.

Stauer probably is a reliable company, but in a really competitive market, one must be innovative and pushy to make a buck -- before he goes out of business. Just count the number of newspapers that have gone down the tube with the advent of the internet. And count the zillions of sellers (good, bad and somewhere in between) that operate via your computer.

The only thing that is free these days in Free Speech. And sometimes I wonder about that.

February 6, 2015

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