So, what happens when you try to enter the Publishers Clearing House (PCH) sweepstakes online?
If you respond to the saturation media campaign by Publishers Clearinghouse on radio and TV to enter its “$5,000 A Week Forever” sweepstakes, just what are you opening yourself to?
Lots of emails, that’s for sure.
I signed up. I entered.
And now I receive daily emails urgently advising me to enter the sweepstakes each day.
I’m told if I don’t respond, I’ll lose a chance to enter the sweepstakes.
Is that true? If I don’t respond to the email, do I lose a chance to enter?
I decided to click the “enter” link on a PCH email I received four days earlier.
Instead of a “Sorry, your chance to enter has passed,” I was able to enter the sweepstakes in the format described by the email.
In fact, if I clicked on the email ad again, it appeared as if I was able to enter again.
But I can’t. PCH states in its rules, “A limit of one online entry per day is allowed per individual and per e-mail address for each separate online promotion unless otherwise specified.”
Which seems to suggest I can still enter all the past email promotions I’ve received from PCH. I just can’t enter the same email promotion more than once.
After you click the “enter” link in the email, you’re taken to the PCH website, where you must scroll through at least three web pages of ads trying to get you to make a purchase from one or more of the 60 or so ads for gadgets, products and subscriptions before you get to the button to submit your entry.
If you don’t elect to buy something, you are virtually begged to do so through a popup screen or page before you get to hit the entry “submit” button.
Once you’ve submitted your entry, you are presented with 37 additional sweepstakes you can enter — drawings for everything from outright cash, trucks, homes, vacations, kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels and more.
Many of the links take you to product ads you have to watch before you get to any opportunities to enter the particular sweepstakes.
Entering any of these sweepstakes involves going through video ads, registering for yet more games to play and more ads.
Notice a pattern here? A key mission of Publishers Clearing House and the businesses, products and services associated with PCH is to expose you to product ads and get you to buy things.
And in that respect, they are very good at mercilessly bombarding you with opportunities to buy something through relentless calls to action.
But are the deals they’re offering in their numerous web ads good deals?
It’s hard to say.
Many of the items available at the PCH site differ slightly from similar items on Amazon.con, Walmart.com and others in size, included items and composition (plastic versus stainless steel, for example).
A number of the offerings claim you can save 50 percent off on the listed price. For example, a 12-piece measuring cup and spoon set is listed for $9.95. The “savings” of 50 percent comes from the wording, “similar items sell elsewhere for $19.95.”
But PCH doesn’t tell you what places constitute “elsewhere.”
A web search for “similar items” to the 12-piece measuring cup, for example, produces items that are stainless steel or in different configurations than the ones at PCH. And the prices vary from $6.98 to $27.99, but there’s little in the way of a one-to-one comparison.
A DVD collection of “Ma and Pa Kettle” films (ask your grandparents) sells for $19.95 on the PCH site. You can get the same collection on Amazon.com or Walmart.com for $10.94.
A book, “How To Do (Just About) Anything On The Internet,” is offered for $17.95 at the PCH site. The same book is available on Amazon.com for $15.54.
Still, there are many other items that appear to be cheaper through the PCH site than through other online retail sites although, again, one-to-one comparisons between sites on specific PCH offerings are often difficult to find.
So here’s the bottom line: Publishers Clearing House is in business to get you to respond to the items offered for sale through its site. It does a very good job in that respect.
In many cases, items for sale appear to be good deals. In other cases, prices are better at other online retail sites.
If you just want to enter the sweepstakes and not buy anything, you can do that, too. Whether you buy or not, the odds of winning in the “$5,000 A Day Forever” sweepstakes are the same: 1 in 6.2 billion, according to the PCH website.
You have a better chance of being struck by lightning, killed by fireworks or attacked by a shark.
But it’s your call.