Monday, August 20, 2012

The test for a scam - a google search

The world needs a lesson about buying things on the internet, though that lesson is probably really useful for buying things anywhere in meatspace too, to be honest.  The lesson is simple:  Before you put your money down for anything you type "(Name of company and product) scam" into Google.  If you are immediately directed to a host of sites with people complaining about being scammed by a company selling the product you are considering you can safely assume that they are evil bad nasty thief types and save yourself some grief.  If there are no hits or if the hits lead to sites where everybody talks about the magnetic covariance of the product sending their thoughts to the aliens then you are probably quite safe.  After all, there is always some lunatic who hates a product no matter how good it is.  Or, you know, you could use the ancient and very respectable maxim "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

This time the offender is a program that theoretically will teach you a new language in 5 hours.  That is, 10 sessions of 30 minutes each which you can do while you are performing other activities.  How wonderful!  I can become a functional speaker of Japanese with zero accent by listening to audio recordings for 5 hours?  How come I didn't know about this before?!?

Maybe because it's bloody ridiculous?

I have to give credit where credit is due.  They have a very nice presentation that makes fun of all the usual suspects (public education, expensive alternatives that actually work) and references all kinds of nonspecific but glowing reviews.  Come on, it is a presentation made on an erasable whiteboard.  You can't fake that!  Respectable sites really need to get their asses in gear and start editing out these obvious scam ads.  Anything that starts with "Respectable professionals HATE this person" or "One old tip that has miraculous and unlikely superpowers" is a scam and it isn't remotely difficult to notice.

In case you are curious this particular language scam is of the variety where you get charged for tons of crap you didn't want after you buy the original item for a pittance.  At least you don't end up working for the mob?

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