One born every minute

Ed Smith
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

"It really is free!" Seeing something like that makes you sit up and take notice. I mean, nothing is free these days. Even your soul cleansing, uproarious gospel singalong in your favourite gospel tent isn't free. Either they'll take up a collection or ask for a silent offering in the white beef pail sitting on a chair by the door.
Silent means all bills, no coins. They figure they'll get more that way. So, here you are, stuck with no bills and all change. This is embarrassing, man. So you dig down in your pocket and come up with three toonies and a loony and you try to drop it in the bucket on a pile of bills. All of them $5 bills.
You miss, of course, and they rattle around as though they were in a steel drum. But that's when it hits you. You just dropped $7 in coins, out of the depths of your poverty and embarrassment, into that salt beef bucket while everyone else is proudly depositing one five dollar bill each.
Sometimes they ask for a free will offering. That means you can drop something in the bucket if you want to, or not if you don't want to. Thing is, I am absolutely certain there is someone somewhere, and I don't mean up above the clouds somewhere, with a long-distance lens marking each person who puts in nothing of his own free will.
I'm too chicken to try it because I know the next time I go down the street people will be pointing me out to their mainland cousins and friends.
Not, "Look, there goes the guy in the wheelchair!"
Not, "Look, there goes Ed Smith, the guy in the wheelchair!"
Not, "Look, there goes Ed Smith, the writer, the guy in the wheelchair!"
But, "Look, there goes Ed Smith, the writer, the guy in the wheelchair who was too cheap to put anything in the free will bucket at the gospel concert last week!"
Nothing is free, but still from sheer curiosity I followed up on that line in the advertisement I saw on Yahoo. "It really is free!"
I skipped on past other, more boring computer headlines on the computer news, such as "Better sex tonight: 10 simple ways." It didn't say free. Went straight down to:
Now I wanted to know my credit score really badly. Some people want to know their IQ. Some people want to know their family tree. Some people want to know how good they are in - you know - just how good they are.
I wanted to know my credit score. I've never known it. Maybe I've never had one. But it seemed to me to have a direct bearing on my overall worth. Not just financial but moral, intellectual and spiritual.
So, I turn the page. There's the beginning, looking for personal information. Makes sense, if they're looking to give a credit rating. They want my first name. I give it. They want my surname. I give it. Then they want my e-mail and postal code. I give them that, too. Freely.
Underneath this request for information is a big sign which says, and I quote, "Get it now." I assume they're talking about my credit score and soldier on. I do want it now. I turn the page. Seems I'm only now getting to Step 1 even though they want the same information over again. But there is that yellow sign again. Very clear.
It really is free!
Seven day trial … Free.
Unlimited Access To Your Report And Score … Free.
Credit Bureau Monitoring … Free.
Total … $0.00.
You have to admit it looks good. Step 1 wants a little more information in addition to what I've already given. They want my address, my hometown, my province and my postal code. I give it all. Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.
Time for Step 2. I turn the page and find a surprise. They tell me in little red letters that I've entered my postal code incorrectly. I glance back. Looks good to me. AOJ 1T0. What is the problem? After an hour or so I realize something doesn't look right. Aha! Got it! One round figure is a letter of the alphabet, the other is a zero. Make no wonder it wasn't accepted.
I correct the mistake and turn the page. I'm asked to give the name of my province by identifying the correct one from a list of provinces and territories. I look down the list - not there. I look back up - not there. No NL. What's going on? My sight is supposed to be 20-20. No doubt about it. It ain't there.
It was then I saw the line at the bottom of the page: "Not available in Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia or P.E.I."
Should have known. Stephen Harper's clutches are everywhere. I turn off the computer in disgust.
Next morning I'm in for another surprise. It's an e-mail.
"Dear Ed Smith, you have accepted a special offer of Privacy Protection Plus …" Seems that when you get your credit score you'll also get this special offer at $29.95 a month. To be honest, when I checked back over the "free credit score" thing, there were little notes to the effect that when you got your free score you were also signing up for Privacy Protection Plus at $29.95 a month. Little notes cunningly written so that they don't exactly leap up at you from the "It really is free" signs.
Not only is this stuff not free, I fell for an old, old, come on. Well, gentlemen, you know what you can do with your Privacy Protection Plus.
And you can stop shoving when I get my credit score.

Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is

Organizations: Yahoo, Step 2, 20-20

Geographic location: CANADA, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia Springdale

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page