Over the last year or so, I have faithfully participated in two different Reader’s Digest sweepstakes contests. There is promise of cars, sums of cash, and more. Now I know Reader’s Digest is a legitimate organization, but they do seem to use their literary skills in a technical way to sell you products unknowingly.
We all realize that the printed magazine industry is hurting with the internet these days. Naturally Reader’s Digest is constantly on the hunt to obtain more magazine subscriptions. By offering a sweepstakes or free giveaway, it really helps their marketing efforts. The problem I have, is that the way the sweepstakes is conducted can be misleading to many people. I’ll create an example below which will explain further.
DISCLAIMER: Not actual statements by Reader’s Digest. I created these examples to express my point.
|“Affix this gold seal to have a chance at Winning $40,000 and also receive our free-gift**”|
Then buried ten paragraphs down, it could say something like this:
|“**Not only will we send you our special free gift, but we will also send exciting new books to you each month. There’s no obligation, simply return the unwanted purchases. In the event you do not return them, we’ll assume you want them, and you’ll be automatically charged on your credit card”|
But you get the point. Read their fine print. Actually, it’s not really “fine print” either. There is just pages and pages of print. It gets confusing and information overload takes over. Soon, you find yourself peeling off the gold seal sticker, and affixing it and mailing it back without fully understanding what you are committing yourself to…
I also find the YES and NO envelopes they send quite amusing. If you want the extra chance at the larger prize (and a magazine subscription), mail back the YES envelope. Otherwise, mail your contest entry in the NO envelope. Hmmm… I wonder which envelopes will get opened back at headquarters?
I do appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes. What I don’t appreciate is my grandmother might get confused by the overwhelming fine details and information overload. My grandmother might innocently get caught up receiving tons of unwanted purchases by mail without realizing she “opted in”
Have you, yourself participated in one of these Reader’s Digest sweepstakes free contests before?