I just love a good scam! No, I’ve never perpetrated one but I enjoy dissecting them to find out how they work. There have been a few recent TV commercials that have set my skeptical radar a’hummin so let’s slice them up to see what’s inside, shall we?
Directbuy.com. Surely you’ve seen the TV ads promising savings of 70% for the type of stuff you typically find at a local building supply megastore. What they don’t tell you is that, to gain access to their showroom or website, you have to pay thousands of dollars for a three year contract. My advanced Alabama math tells me that even if you were able to save as much as 25% off everything you buy, you’d have to spend more than $20,000 to recoup the typical initial “membership fee.” A review of a few consumer-oriented sources reveals that actual prices are about the same as everywhere else.
Beezid.com. You can evidently purchase a brand new Lexus for as little as $427.00. It sounds too good to be true, no? Well, yes and no. This is not a standard eBay-type auction site. It’s closer to legalized gambling. The way it works is: The people at Beezid purchase a product and list the item on their website. The consumer (that’s you) purchases a block of “bids.” Bids are available in packs of 30, to 500 and range in price from $0.60 - $0.90 per bid. The more bids you buy, the cheaper it gets. Each bid costs you .60 to .90 cents. Once you place a bid, here is what happens: 1. The price of the item goes up by a penny, 2. The timer resets itself to allow other users to place a bid not unlike a physical auction where the host yells: "Going Once, Going Twice . . . Sold!" 3. You are now the highest bidder. If it stays that way once the timer runs out, you win the auction. One person walks away with a deal, all the other bidders walk away empty handed and Beezid makes out like a bandit. I wouldn’t necessarily call Beezid a scam but just researching them made me want to take a shower.
Mylife.com (formerly reunion.com). This TV commercial claims to let you know who is searching for you on the internet. Find lost friends, acquaintances, and lost loves. Once you sign up for the “free” account, you will receive barrages of emails claiming that people are searching for you. To find out who they are, you have to pay. They claim it’s only $5 per month but once you sign up, you are charged the full $60 per year. Unless you read the fine print very carefully and opt-out, you are also automatically enrolled in a program called “saveace.” My research indicates that no one really knows what that this company does besides charge your credit card $4.95 to $19.95 per month. An exhaustive search of the web only reveals thousands of people complaining about charges from this company.