Win $5000 every summer for life (some restrictions on your life apply)


Back in 2003, M&M offered a chance to win $5000 every summer for life, but if you looked more carefully, the offer actually read, "Win $5000 Every Summer For Life*", and the asterisk at the bottom read, "Maximum 50 years". That fine print was filled with strange stuff. For example,

3. Sponsor responsible only for delivery of prize; not responsible for prize utility, quality or otherwise.
...
10. Sponsor: M&M/Mars, High Street, Hackettstown, NJ 07840.

One of the prizes was approximately ten pounds of M&Ms. The logical conclusion: "M&M is not responsible for the quality of M&Ms."

I was reminded of this by the recent flap over how hard it was for one person to cancel his AOL account. There was an AOL contest some years back that offered a chance to "Win free AOL dial-up service for life!", and it too had limited your life to 50 years in the fine print. That one would actually be fun, though. Imagine, in the year 2052, AOL will still have to keep one modem up and running just for this contest winner.

Comments (17)
  1. Anonymous says:

    "Imagine, in the year 2052, AOL will still have to keep one modem up and running just for this contest winner."

    I could imagine it, if other companies were as committed to their existing customers.  MSFT is the only company I’ve seen bend over backwards so far for its legacy users.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, that’s changing slowly.  For example, it looks like Vista will kill off support for MSN email’s proprietary password authentication.

  3. Garry Trinder says:

    For some reason this reminds me of a story.  I was told it as a joke involving AOL, but it’s possible it was a real con tried by some smaller ISP.

    Basically, they justified their higher price by offering 1000 free hours per month as opposed to the 750 hours offer by (the competition/themselves prior to price increase).

    You’ll note, of course, that a month has, at most, 744 hours.

  4. Anonymous says:

    While it’s more likely that AOL would just provide them with another service, there are similar cases. Back in the late 80s, the cable company in Longmont, CO scrambled all but a few basic channels. This made it difficult for people to use cable-ready TVs. The reason for this was that part of the contract with this city was that some people were given "basic cable" as long as they lived in their houses. There were only around 6 people left who qualified for free service.

  5. Anonymous says:

    >One of the prizes was approximately ten pounds of M&Ms. The logical conclusion: "M&M is not responsible for the quality of M&Ms."

    Clearly it was a catch-all phrase to prevent lawsuits.

    Utility: A diabetic wins the 10 lbs. of M&Ms.  Without the utility disclaimer, he or she could sue for a different prize because they clearly can not utilize the 10 lbs. of M&Ms

    Quality: Almost every package of M&Ms will contain some malformed product.  In my experience, I’ve seen a lot of "conjoined twins" M&Ms (two pieces of chocolate which had been coated together to form one double-lobed piece).  We can probably all imagine some ungrateful winner who sues because they found some malformed M&Ms in their prize.

    Obviously, the lawyers are the real winners of this contest.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Obviously, the lawyers are the real winners of this contest.

    Well of course – they wrote the rules.

  7. Anonymous says:

    [You’ll note, of course, that a month has, at most, 744 hours.]

    I’m not sure I’d term that a "con".  Everything is up front.  And, is it possible they allow multiple simultaneous connections, thus using 2 hours per hour?

  8. mattd says:

    Lighten up people, I think Raymond was trying to be funny. Don’t you think he knows that it was

    "a catch-all phrase to prevent lawsuits."?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Weiguo: Close; as I recall, the "1000 hour" free trial was for 45 days, not one month – meaning you could indeed use every hour of the trial  allowance within the free period (45 days being 1080 hours).

    My inner geek is now wondering (a) whether they actually enforced the 1000 hour limit, charging extra if you used the maximum possible 1080 hours, and (b) what they did about daylight savings, which could make it 1081 hours instead at the right time of year.

  10. Anonymous says:

    October has 745 hours in the parts of the US that use DST.  At least, until the DST change gets moved to November in 2006.

  11. Lauren Smith says:

    JamesCurran, I think you’re forgetting leap years.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Recently many of the cell-phone operators in India are offering "Free incoming calls for LIFE*" and in the fine print they say LIFE==15yrs .

  13. Anonymous says:

    Whenever I hear about one of those "…x for life!" promotions, I imagine elite squads of Ninja Assassins poised to terminate the winner’s life after the press goes away.

    Note to self: If the prize delivery committe is dressed all in black and equipped with katana, don’t answer the door.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Last time I tried, just out of curiosity, to see Google’s home page cached on Google, it beared the message "Google is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content." But I checked it a few seconds ago and it doesn’t happen anymore… I’m amazed they took the trouble to change this, lol…

    MSN Search still fails at this detail, lol…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Reminds me of a rating I recently saw for the sci-fi action film "Game over": Rated PG-13 for violence and some dialogue.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382178/

  16. Anonymous says:

    please pick me

  17. Anonymous says:

    Raymond Chen blogged recently about a disclaimers for a particular prize and it got me thinking…

Comments are closed.