The True Cost of Winning, sponsored by iWits

My parents play the lotto religiously. I think that there is a deeply-ingrained desire in the modern human to better and build the world around him. To improve our situations and have all [the media told us] we ever wanted seems to still be the general life goal of the still early 2000s.

Making it rain seldom leads to drought relief
Making it rain seldom leads to drought relief

Even so, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting. And in most cases it’s a blessing unto humanity to wish to build and create where there was only scarcity before. There was a time in early human history where everything was so limited that having anything above the stock of one’s peers held a significantly greater chance for the survival for the individual: the ultimate* human need.

It’s unfortunate to see, however, how the modern-day equivalent of this need has perpetuated itself. To see people who have so viciously identified with the idea of monetary acquisition that it comes at the expense of their values, their lives and, more often than not, the well-being of fellow beings.

War would be the ultimate example of this idea: A few good men** who sit around a board room table and send brothers and sons out onto a battlefield like pawns on a chess board, all for the grand aim of filling numbers on a ledger. War isn’t hell, dear boy; it’s business! And business is booming according to Reuters.

One of my dearest friend’s stepdad was fatally stabbed in South Africa a few years back over a R300 TV set. While I can never claim to understand what the situation of the killer was like leading up to the incident, I use it to help convey a very troubling thought:

That right now, lurking in certain individuals among us, is the belief that money has greater value than human life.

joker curning money

The True Cost of Playing

On Monday 13 October 2014, iWits – local social marketing and web dev company – launched an awareness campaign sneakily disguised as an online scavenger hunt.

The scavenger hunt was a (legitimate) competition for N$1,000; however, some of the tactics employed in the competition were less than dignified.

To enter the competition, eager contestants were required to fill out an online form, read some terms and conditions, click “I agree” and start their journey towards winning that cool N$1,000!

Today (27 October 2014), over 250 Namibians are receiving emails from iWits informing them that they have been conned! Duped and swindled out of their hard-earned money and assets…

The email goes on to explain that hidden within the terms and conditions, which a staggering 83% of entrants failed to read carefully enough, had the following clauses hidden within them:

  • By entering this competition, the entrant agrees to pay iWits a monthly fee, totalling their full salary, allowance or retirement package for a total of 48 months.
  • By entering this competition, entrants agree that all property owned by the entrant or the entrant’s parents will be signed over to iWits within 30 days after the competition has closed.
  • By entering this competition, the entrant agrees that iWits may select one family member of the entrant to use in any and all advertising materials for iWits for a total of 12 months, furthermore agreeing that no compensation will be provided to the entrant or the family member that is being used in the advertising promotion.
undignified baby in an owl costume
“You did this to me!”

The average time the non-reader (a.k.a “sucker”) spent on the terms and conditions page was 1 minute 7 seconds, compared to those who followed the hidden links to the legitimate terms (14% of entrants) who spent an average of 9 minutes 6 seconds reading. 3% of potential entrants (this one included) opted to simply eject from the competition entirely.

It’s scary!

It’s scary because it has real-world implications. People sign contracts every day, and every day people are cheated out of their money. When I was still posted at Ogilvy, I handled the NAMFISA Consumer Education Bulletin and almost every edition there would be some article or paragraph outlining the importance of reading contracts. People will literally sign their salaries and houses away for a thousand bucks without a second thought!

Scarier than that is the fact that there are people who do this for a living! People who spend hours crafting and perfecting ways to trick you out of the money you spend all day earning. And he’ll get it right if you aren’t vigilant.

I personally at least scan through terms and conditions. I’m particularly interested in how a company or website wishes to use my information, as I’m equal parts paranoia and spam hater, but even I missed the first crazy clause. Had it been the only one, I too, may have been suckered.

But I encourage you keep dreaming, Namibia, because there’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life for yourself. Just always a) ensure that whatever you want in life does not come at the cost of your fellow man and b) don’t be so blinded by what you want that you are taken for all you have.

View the official iWits release with all the stats here


EDIT: Lastly, iWits wishes to inform the public that the offending clauses have been invalidated and no entrants will be held liable for them – this was only an awareness campaign, after all.


*secondary to reading waynekirtonwriter
** Isn’t Jack Nicholson just dreamy?

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