Moron mail shots hit the mark

See the happy moron

See the happy moron

He doesn’t give a damn

I wish I were a moron

By God, perhaps I am!

A few weeks ago, when I reproached a mail order company for offering me a cure for baldness, I was gently castigated for doubting the precision of the industry’s targeting. All right, said the apologists of junk mail, it may look as if a mistake was made, but it’s really a matter of timing. You may not be bald now, but one of these days…

So last week, when I received two mail shots that read suspiciously as though they had been drafted with morons in mind, I thought very carefully about the implications. Perhaps these mail order boys had the measure of me after all. Maybe what hair I have is sitting atop a cranium whose contents are from the same biological family as the turnip. So I read the messages again.

“Dear Colleague,” began the first, “My name is David Rhodes. In September, my car was repossessed and debt collectors were hounding me like you would not believe, having been made redundant.” (I think what Mr Rhodes means to say is that he had been made redundant, not the debt collectors, who were fully employed hounding him.) “In October I received a letter telling me how to earn 50,000 at a time. Of course I was sceptical, but I was also desperate and had nothing to lose. I gave it a try.”

By the very next sentence, two months have flown past in the hectic life of Mr David Rhodes and my, what a transformation. “In January my family and I went on a ten day cruise, I have bought a Mercedes with cash and I am currently building a 100,000 home and will never have to worry about money again. I have earned over 300,000 to date and will become a millionaire in the next four to five months.”

Lucky old Rhodes. Down and out one minute, cruising the oceans the next, with millionairedom on the glittering horizon. How I envy him. But wait, there’s more. “I am sincere and forthright in my believe [sic] that this program [sic] will work for you as an opportunity seeker just as it has for me. It works perfectly every time for everybody. I have never failed to receive less than 50,000. This is a legitimate business opportunity… It does not require you to sell anything or come into direct contact with people. Best of all, you only have to leave home to post some letters.”

This appeals to the moron in me. I, too, would like to pay for a new car in cash, preferably a Vauxhall Vectra with a sun roof. I, too, would like to take my family on the high seas. And yes, I don’t want to come into contact with people, or leave my home (unless it’s to board the QE2). And yes, yes, yes, I want to be a millionaire by Christmas, or sooner if possible.

There are, explains Mr Rhodes, six simple steps. “One, immediately send a 1 coin to each of the five names listed. Sellotape the coin to a note saying, ‘Please add my name and address to your mailing list of opportunity seekers.’ Two, remove the name which is currently number one of the list and move the other fours [sic] names up one place, adding your name and address in position number five. Three, photocopy 200 or more copies of this letter. Four obtain a list of 200 or more opportunity seekers from a mailing list company (the names and addresses of three are listed below). Five, when the list arrives, stick one adhesive label on each envelope and put them in the post immediately. Six, wait for your 50,000 to arrive.”

The next day I received a letter from someone called Sally Brooker. She too had lost her job and been at her wit’s end until she received a letter from, guess who, David Rhodes. She’s since been on a holiday in Spain, bought a car with cash, owns the house of her dreams and will become a millionaire within the next six to twelve months.

She explains how it works. “At a very conservative 7.5 response rate from 200 letters, 15 people will each send you 1. These 15 will send out 200 letters each and a further 225 people will send you 1 each. They will all send out 200 letters and a further 3,375 people will send you 1. They will each send out 200 letters and a further 50,625 people will each send you 1. And finally they will each do a mail shot of 200 letters and you will receive 759,375 replies.” By which time you will have the letter box of your dreams and a postman with a hernia.

Just suppose, however, that David’s and Sally’s letters fall into the hands of an unspecified number of greedy non-morons who decide to follow the system to the letter but with one crucial exception – they miss out Step One and send no money to anyone, gambling that fully-qualified morons will nevertheless send money to them. That alters the arithmetic considerably and holds out the possibility that you will not be a millionaire after all but your postman will need a truss all the same.

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