Thursday, June 10, 2004

Lately I've been looking around online to see if there are any freelance telecommuting-type things that I could do for extra pocket change.

I ran across something on, of all places, that looked intriguing. Monster is a legitimate company, not some fly-by-night organization, so I wondered if the company offering the work was legit, as well. You pay a registration fee of $29.95, which to me is a red flag that something might be up, but supposedly you get the registration fee back once you send them 200 names. And that's what your job is: providing them lists of names and snail-mail addresses. You send them the info, they send you $1/name. All I could think was, "OK, that sounds way too simple. What's the catch?"

LOTS and LOTS of search-engine research later, I have come up with about fifty zillion sites bearing ads including this work-from-home company's name and "Send a long, self-addressed stamped envelope to...". What piqued my curiosity was that rarely were the snail-mail addresses alike. I wondered how in the heck many locations one company could HAVE. I also found several homepages with the same ad on them, but instead of requesting a SASE, they wanted the user to e-mail them with their name and snail-mail address for free information. "Just put [work-from-home company's name] in the subject line of your e-mail". Hmm. Interesting.

But I kept looking, and I hit on one website that, I think, explains everything.

The person who wrote was disgruntled because what the ads DON'T say is that this company only accepts their mailing-address info on a SASE. You're not just sending names and addresses, you're sending them a bunch of SASEs so they can mail out their ads to the people who wanted the work-at-home information.

THAT'S why I saw the same ad on so many websites with so many different mailing addresses! Those people all were in search of SASEs that they could forward back to the work-at-home company, and get their $1/name fee.

I guess the people who were requesting e-mailed names and addresses were going to fill out a SASE themselves and mail it in. That kind of cuts into the $1/name fee they'd be earning, since they're now supplying their own envelopes and stamps, but I suppose it's cost-effective in its own right.

I'm dying of curiosity to know how this company can stop someone from harvesting a ton of addresses from the internet, matching any old name to said addresses, and mailing it off to collect payment. How does the company prevent itself from being scammed? Or does the company even CARE, as long as they're getting their name out there to other potential subscribers?

What I'm not sure I am, though, is $29.95 worth of curious to see how they manage to keep from being shortchanged by people who are sending them anything they jolly well please.

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