Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I won! I won!

Today I received a letter, in a hand-addressed envelope and signed in ink, stating that I "have qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip airline tickets." It was addressed March 29th, postmarked on April 2, and says I must respond by April 7 (as an aside, the post office did a very poor job of postmarking this letter: I could very easily remove the stamp from the envelope, remove a corner of the stamp, and most likely reuse the stamp; however, being an honest person, I will not do such a thing). It has a very fancy letterhead proclaiming the company: Zimmerman & Cain. According to their website, they are "currently the leading awards management agency in the nation" - but, on the "about us" tab, it says they are "the country’s leader in incentive management" and that they "[assist] companies of all types with marketing and activities utilizing promotional gifts and sales incentives."

Hmm... sounds like a marketing gimmick company to me; you know, the kind where they offer "free vacation" as long as you listen to their "no obligation [i.e., 'high pressure'] opportunity [i.e., 'sales pitch'], with no obligation to purchase whatsoever [except that you'll then likely become liable for 'included' incentives that you thought were free with whatever 'free' thing you 'won' from them]" - that kind of thing. In fact, if you search Zimmerman & Cain, you'll find inquiries about them (and companies with other names) in the Tuscon, AZ BBB (Zimmerman & Cain, and the other "companies," are based out of Arizona).

A little more research shows that the person who signed my letter, Sara Bush (who claims to be the VP of the Travel Awards Division), has "published" various articles on articlesnatch.com, which, near as I can tell, is a big "link exchange" place (i.e., you post your links, and your links will be displayed on others' articles as their links are displayed in conjunction with your article(s)). She has "written" articles on "Who Is Afraid Of Stress," "Designing Your Childs [sic] Room," and "The Wonders Of Potatoes" - all of which are FULL of typographical, grammatical, and spelling errors, and, quite honestly, look like they are poor translations of Asian to English or written by someone Asian with a minimal command of the English language. In other words, they're designed to attract readers on a web search, provide links to the company, and advertise the company's services and/or perhaps legitimize the company. I doubt this "Sara Bush" is even an employee of Zimmerman & Cain, but would expect that if I called I might be able to talk to someone claiming that name.

The overall point I'm trying to make is this: this is a legitimate looking (on the face of it) letter, but research shows it is likely to be an advertising scam or promotion of some sort. I don't think I'll be responding, and I hope that you, if you get a similar "offer" of award, take the time to investigate before you provide any personal information (or even a response indicating that you are the type of person who will respond to such offers, making you a more likely target for future "attacks" of this nature).

Then again, with airlines starting to charge for carry on luggage, maybe I should attempt to take advantage of this free airfare.

In a related airline story, these women tried to get their dead relative a seat on a flight out of London. The 91-year old deceased German man, seated in a wheelchair and wearing sunglasses, was not allowed to board the plane. Next time you're flying, imagine if you happened to be seated next to that guy!

In an unrelated story, the Aral Sea is drying up. And this IS anthropogenic ("human caused"). Check out the video:

You can read more about it on the Huffington Post. In short, it used to be the fourth largest fresh water lake in the world. A Russian project to divert rivers to provide irrigation to cotton farms have removed the supply source to the Aral Sea (click link for Google Map of the area), and 90% of the sea has disappeared since the project began. The video mentions that pesticides found in the now-Aral-desert have been found in penguins in Antarctica. Yeah, it's having a global impact. And it's human induced. Wonder if we could divert any "climate change" money in this direction?
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