My junk folder fills up with new, different and imaginative forms of Spam every. Phishers take to recently-unveiled technologies – Skype, for example, or the latest superhipcool networking site – in the blink of an electronic eye. Trolls still toll their tiresome way on message boards and listserves across teh Intertubes. So it is sometimes difficult to remember that jerkitude is not, in fact, confined to the digital world.

Let’s call it Analog Spamming: tricks to separate you from your money, no computer needed. If these folks had skipped just one less programming classes, they’d be online and a Nigerian Finance Minister at this very moment.

1) Disturbing The Natural Order. Here in the States, everyone knows that the order of Gas Quality on Gas Pump goes (left to right): Cheapest; Mid-Range; Premium. Right? It’s part of the natural order of things. Like Salt and Vinegar crisps being in blue packets, and Cheese and Onion being green.

Oh. Wait.

Anyhoo, the other day, I was at the gas station at Rimrock Road (a “Stop and Rob,” I believe), pumping away on the far-left nozzle, when I noticed they had switched the order of the gas. NOW, it went: Mid-Range; Cheapest; Premium. Yes, I was filling my tank for $.10 a gallon more, because some pointdexter decided to pull a switcheroo on the gas positions.

I was angry at myself at first for not even checking, but for goodness sakes, why should I have to? Lambs don’t lie down with lions, the cowboys and the farmers CAN’T be friends, and gas does NOT go Mid-Cheapest-Premium. There is no order or symmetry to a Mid-Cheapest-Premium distribution. If there was even some artistic or scientific beauty behind it, I might forgive it, but no. Hell, it’s not even ALPHABETICAL. It’s a ticky-tacky trick to get folks who are used to the Proper Order of Things to drop ever so slightly more cash on their gas.

Analog Spamming.

2) Two For The Price Of, Well, Two The Copps grocery store on Fish Hatchery road lists several of their items as “2 for $3,” without listing how much an individual item would be. This seems like a small thing, but the trick is to get people thinking they’re saving by buying in bulk. “Let’s pick up TWO bags or carrots because they’re only $3.” “How much is one bag of carrots?” “I’m not sure, BUT THINK WHAT WE MUST BE SAVING!”

Only needing one bag of carrots, and curious as to the price of a single item, I threw one in the shopping cart. My gut feeling was that it would be $1.50, which would have been sneaky enough. But…WAIT for it…

When I checked the receipt, the single bag of carrots was $1.49.

Penny-ante, yes. And that penny is probably unintentional. But for trying to get people to buy two of something, it’s Analog Spamming, nevertheless.

I think the thing that gets me about these kinds of tricks that they’re such nickel-and-dime, tu’penny-ha’penny affairs. Where’s the initiative” say I. Where’s the PRIDE in your work? Dream big! SPAM big!

I’m sure you could sell carrots for “Three for $4.50″ if you really put your mind to it…

- John

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