Sunday, March 06, 2005

My scamera and the racket behind it

I have a small box camera with the brandname Inextron. It is fully manual, if you get what I mean. It does not use any battery. You have to be under a very strong sunlight to shoot with it because it does not have a flash. It has a button that you turn to advance the film one frame. There is nothing to adjust because it has one simple lens.

My sister-in-law says she's got two of the same model. And she got it the same manner we got it. Her's came through a promotional flyer delivered along with her Skycable bill. Ours was stapled to the monthly billing envelope of PLDT.

The flyer said my account was entitled to a beautiful camera. All I needed to do was present the flyer to the Perfect Health outlet at the Gaisano Country Mall. The mall is in Banilad, Cebu City. We live in Talisay, so that's around 3 separate jeepney rides one way. So I put it off until my family reminded me there were only 2 days left before the promo offer expires.

Yesterday, a Saturday, I was on overtime working on the powerpoint presentation of my boss to be given on March 10. My youngest daughter came with me to the office hen I returned in the afternoon because she wanted to make sure I would get the camera.

After my overtime, we proceeded to Gaisano Country Mall and had to walk around the place before we found Perfect Health. Some kind of suspicious feeling hit me when we entered the place. They had on display not electronics or video equipment, as one would expect a store that hands out a cameras for promo, but blenders, cooking utensils and other items that would identify with their store name.

One of the salesgirls asked us to sit down for a while which made me ask why it would take long just to verify my flyer and my PLDT proof of billing in exchange for the camera. They explained that they would still enquire if the bonus points on my bill still entitles me to another promotional item.

After 15 minutes another salesgirl came and announce that, yes, I am entitled to a raffle to see what another item I can bring home. They placed on the desk in front of me a transparent bowl filled with square strips of cardboard and told me to pick one. That's when my suspicion was aroused. I decided to play along a little bit and asked my daughter to pick out a card.

The salesgirl then peeled off a thin layer off the card and showed me what I just won. She explained that I can get it but since it is only a promo offer I need first to buy some item from them. That's when I told them I know the trick and I don't want any of their items. We just came to get our camera. The salesgirl made a fuss about their not doing anything wrong when I told them I am a member of the local ConsumerNet of the Dept. of Trade and Industry.

The racket is very simple and has been resurrected in many ways. My former officemate got a letter saying he won a water purifier. This was in another store which has long since closed down. But when he went to claim his prize he was told that what he won was only a 50% reduction in the price. He would have to pay the rest to get the purifier.

Persuasive sales talk made him think he would lose a great bargain if he did not pay. So he paid. But that is not the end of the story. The salespeople told him he was very lucky and asked for a blow-out. Which he did!

How many people fell for the trap, I can only imagine. My sister-in-law got her two cameras without buying anything. But I can only commiserate with the salesgirls. They've got managers or store owners who are petty thieves and who conduct their business through plain deceit.

And that's the story behind my scam camera. Hence scamera.