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McCain Food, Free Coffee, Discount Botox—Your Emails

I hope my McCain election night blogging pulled back the curtain a little on what really happens at these events.

Mike K. wrote in response to the final post, when the $15 "McCain-Palin Victory 2008" T-shirts were discounted to three for $10: "That to me sounds like a bargain. Now if only the media reported the news as factually you have done in your brief story, we wouldn't have an Obama."

From Jeff J., when I mentioned the food—nachos and pretzels, "Isn't it de rigueur to supply a buffet, salad bar, desserts, cheese + fruit trays, mimosas, wines, and top-shelf liquors? Hopefully the rest of the spread was NOT watered-down "bottom shelf" booze, grilled Spam on toothpicks, mystery meat spread on toast points, Cheez Whiz and Triscuits. No skimping on final party, please! A full blast drunken blowout is proper consolation. Imagine the McCains and Palins kicking back and rightly getting wasted (and the pics of that! think HUGE site traffic and future pay raise)."

I got a lot of traffic on the blog about Starbucks giving away coffee election day, as I tried to guesstimate the actual cost. Jim B. provided much better insight: "Having managed food service operations for a number of years, I can say with certainty that beverage costs are typically some of the lowest on a percentage basis in the industry. Coffee is one of the highest margin products around. I'd be surprised if that large cup of coffee actually costs Starbucksmore than 20 cents and probably less. So now the actual cost of that huge buzz is probably less than $200,000. Hmm. Cheaper than one TV ad. Sounds like good marketing to me."

Gayle F. writes there were much better discounts to be found: "Sure, a cup of coffee, a doughnut, or free Ben & Jerry's is nice. But there's one truly significant break that's so typical SoCal. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Mitch Goldman of La Jolla Spa MD in La Jolla, California sent the notice below out Monday to his e-mail list. (SEE IMAGE) Now, to be perfectly legal under California state law, it's on the honor system and anyone can make the request during Election Week. This takes the free coffee and treats offer for voting to a whole new level. This could be worth several hundred bucks! Dr. G. says he's doing his part to support democracy and beautify America. There's nothing else like it anywhere in the country...Get out the vote, get out the wrinkles..."

Bert F. raises a good point about the voting=free coffee: "So If I go to more than one Starbucks, does this constitute voter fraud?"

I got an email from Carol P. which made me laugh out loud regarding Monday's blog on decoding online dating lingo, "How about: 'I'm a nice guy who doesn't need a photo.' Meaning? 'Lied when I said I was 53-I'm really 68-and did I mention my disfiguring facial scare?' I've encountered that one. Or how about: 'I'm involved in the civil engineering field and need an understanding woman.' Meaning? 'I haven't held a steady job in years and am looking for a Sugar Mama to fund my next "project."' Yep, met him, too. Or lastly: 'Professional in high security engineering field wanting close personal encounter.' Meaning: 'I'm a paranoid working in the space sector who won't answer the simplest of your getting-to-know you questions but will bitch ad nauseum about my ex-wife.'

Regarding the sophisticated scam is similar to what is often called a "Nigerian" email scam, Dapo T. points out that the scam I wrote about actually has nothing to do with Nigeria:
"While I understand the reference to Nigeria in title of your Oct 31 story , the reader is left with the impression that the Alpha Group scam, is in fact, connected to Nigeria. If there is evidence linking the Alpha Group scam to Nigeria, that information should be noted. Similarly, the absence of such a connection should be made clear. While I doubt the intent of the title of the piece was to mislead, I believe a clarification is necessary." (From Jane: the Alpha Group is allegedly based out of Toronto and has nothing to do with Nigeria.)

Attorney JB explains who a recipient could deposit a bogus check and then send funds to the scammers:
"How does that happen? The hold time required by your bank to clear a deposit depends on several factors (and laws), including the check's country of origin and even unwritten policy like your relationship with the bank. Often written bank policy is misleading. People may read 3-6 days for checks to 'clear'. However, the time period to clear a valid check, reject an invalid one and then notify you of its rejection (or an extension of a hold on it), all differ. So it's easy for people to believe a check has cleared when, in fact, they simply haven't received notice of its rejection yet. They send the money to the scammers, then receive the rejection notice which triggers a debit to their account in the amount of the check. The account holder is usually responsible, not the bank...The scam operates in the spaces between a tangle of regs and laws that govern bank checking. It counts on several things that a consumer is unlikely to know like exceptions to the hold limit on a deposit, differing policies between banks and, the time honored, greed/gullibility ratio that governs all financial transactions, to wit, when thirst for money exceeds good sense."

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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