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  Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Caveat Emptor

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
All our lives we’ve heard the phrase….’caveat emptor’ or ‘let the buyer beware’.

You would think that every scam or ‘good deal’ would have been ferreted out by now and all of us would be wise to them and just ignore any attempts to snatch our hard earned money.

I submit to you that the bad guys are still out there, plugging away at trying one thing after another to get those bucks out of your wallets and purses.

Let me give you a few examples.

The past few weeks, I’ve been seeing advertisements in the local papers for ‘free state quarters”. You know… those new quarters, which have been minted for each state. Here’s the deal…you send in so many (I think three) postage stamps (to cover the cost of shipping and handling) and they’ll send you a brand new, uncirculated quarter. Sound like a good deal? Think again.

I sent in 3 old used, stamps and never heard a thing…..they want new, unused….or it’s no deal….so you send them $1.11 in unused postage stamps that they can sell, and you get a quarter in return. Let’s say the cost of the quarter; their return postage and packaging costs are something like $.61 total, then they made $.50 for each quarter they sold. Not a bad deal if you ask me. You wonder how many people fall for this.

Last night I sit down and am reading the paper, when I see the latest…someone has a huge advertisement giving away two-dollar bills. That’s right, free two dollar bills, yours for the asking. These are from some vault somewhere and have just been found and are yours for the asking. You can get five, brand new, uncirculated, crisp two dollar bills which are sure to ‘become collectors items’ just by calling in the toll free number and then being charged $9.00 for ‘normal processing’ along with a ‘nominal shipping and handling fee’.

This looks like same song, second verse to me.

First off, two-dollar bills aren’t rare, you can get them at the bank, you just have to ask for them. They just aren’t popular. They are still out there.

Second, I’ll give you ten dollars any day of the week if you’ll send me $15.00 to pay for the ‘processing and handling’ that I charge to send the ten dollars I owe you back to you in the mail. I’ll even give you a brand new, uncirculated ten-dollar bill hot off the press at the mint if you want one, for only fifteen dollars in handling and processing. Let me know how many you need. I do offer discounts for large volume customers. Perhaps I could start a ‘bill of the month’ club or something.

The last scam I want to discuss is the current deal on zero interest car loans. This morning I heard some local dealer yelling at me on the radio about a super new deal on a new truck for zero interest for 72 months. Folks that’s six years.

Who keeps a truck or a car for six years? What’s a truck or car look like after this much time?

If you drive an average of 20,000 miles a year like most of us…then you’d have vehicle with over 140,000 miles on it by the time you got finished paying for it…. you looked at the resale value of anything with 140,000 miles on it lately? Save yourself the time. Don’t do it.

So what do you think happens? Well, I’ll tell you, by the time you’ve had the truck or car for about three or four years, you’ll get tired of it and want a new one. Then when you go to trade it in, you’ll find out how much more you owe on it and how little it’s worth at that time. The new car dealer will add the difference into your new car loan and there you go for another four or five years. If you keep up this pace, it appears to me that in about ten years that car you want to buy for about $15,000 will cost you close to $45,000 since you kept rolling the payments on the unpaid balances forward.

What a deal.

In addition to that, you might get them to throw in five brand new two-dollar bills. You’ll probably have to shell out another ten or fifteen dollars in shipping and handling costs to have them mailed to your house.

Beware; the sharks are still out there looking for you.

© Peary Perry
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
More Letters From North America
October 3 , 2004
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