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2:02pm on Friday, 28th November, 2014:

One in a Million


This fell out of my copy of Viz earlier this week:

Whenever I get these things, I try to figure out what prize they're going to give you. The way these things work, to claim your prize you have to call the premium phone number or text the premium text message number or fill in a form and send it by post. The company makes no money from the postal claim, but for the phone call receives (in this particular case) 5 minutes and 40 seconds at £1.53 a minute; for the text, it receives six times £1.50 . So, basically it costs you £9 to find out what you've won.

There is no point in the company's not giving you winning tickets when you open the sealed envelope, because if you don't have a winning ticket you won't phone them. However, if you do get a winning ticket then you are entitled to a prize — well, to a one in three chance of a prize, if you look carefully at the lower section of the white-on-black print on the ticket. So: you've paid £9; the company has to make sure that it doesn't give out more in prizes than it takes from all those £9s; they actually take £27 for every prize they give out; all the prizes look as if they are worth more than £27; what prize are you going to win?

Well, that's why I look at these things: to figure it out.

My guess here is that for the 3-symbol tickets there will be a significant number of people who will win the week at an exclusive Canary Island Sun Resort. The reason is that you are always responsible for your own travel costs for these things. You win a week in Tenerife, but not the means to get there. The Tiger Moth Dam Buster Flight will also feature, because even if you choose the Cmapagne Dinner for 2 option you'll have to go somewhere inconvenient to take it. Sorry if you were wondering how a WW1 aircraft would fare undertaking a WW2 operation...

The 2-symbol ticket is easy to guess: the £15 prize will dominate. This is for the obvious reason that the company takes £27 for each £15 they give out.

One of the delights of setting myself this task is that I get to find out whether I was right or wrong. The companies are required by law to state how many of each prize there is on offer, so all I have to do is read the small print (which is a block of text 29 lines long in the same sized font as the line in dark blue on this scan) and look at the numbers.

So, out with the magnifying glass!

[A minute or so later.]

Ah, yes, I was right. There's 1x£1,000,000 prize, 1x£100,000 prize, 3x£30,000-or-a-cruise prizes, 6x£15,000-at-PCW prizes, 200x£500-at-Amazon prizes, 300xiPad Air prizes, 9,999,000xCanary-Island-Sun-Resort prizes, 50x£2,500-supermarket-spend prizes, 5,000xDambusters-or-Dinner prizes, 4x£20,000 prizes, 4,999,000x£15 prizes, ...

The sad thing is, these people can actually run a business doing this.

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).