Friday, February 20, 2009

There's A New Sucker Born Erry Minute.

By now, I'm sure ya'll have been inundated with Obamaphenalia. From the hats, to jackets, to cookies, wristbands, and even condoms ("Yes, We Came!") Obama Swag is about the only thing selling well in this economy. There's a stimulus joke just begging to be written here, but I'm creatively challenged at the moment.

Anyways, the most egregious example of Obamasploitation is this commercial, which seems to show up on various basic cable channels everytime I tune in after 11pm. Try not to laugh too hard as one-time talk show pimp, Montel Williams slangs dem Obama Coins.

I know what you're thinking: what kinda ignoramus would drop a solid $20 for some coins that are clearly painted on? Last time I checked, coins didn't exactly come in 256 colors. Well, a sucker is born every moment, and wouldn't you know it, these coins are selling like hotcakes. The problem: folks are finally realizing they're barely worth the nickels they're printed on.
Jerome Polk was so impressed with the special edition Obama coins he saw television star Montel Williams hawking in an infomercial, he ordered six sets for himself and some of his grandkids.

Instead of coins engraved with Obama's face, as Polk athought he'd orderedt $18 a pop, the Northeast Portland retailer received four actual U.S. coins -- a silver dollar, half dollar and two quarters -- featuring painted-on Obama images.

"This isn't an Obama coin, it's a 50-cent piece with a picture glued on," says Polk, who paid the U.S Coin Network $145.78 for five four-coin and one three-coin sets, including $25.98 in shipping.

The U.S. Mint doesn't mind if companies decorate its coins and sell them -- in this case -- for nine times their worth. However, the federal agency doesn't like it when companies offer authenticity certificates, as the Coin Network did, that may confuse consumers about who issued the coins.

The Coin Network's certificate assures, "This is to certify and authenticate that the coins used in the Barack Obama Inaugural Collection are genuine and made by the United States Mint."

Painted coins, such as Polk's set, which included a Silver Eagle dollar and a JFK half dollar, rarely hold value for collectors, said Paul Rigby, owner of Coin Cottage in Southwest Portland. In fact, he said, altering the otherwise sought-after Silver Eagle dollars detracts from their collectible value. "Even with President Obama's picture, it won't help," he said. "They usually end up sold as junk silver."

Polk's not surprised. "I knew it right away: I got bumped," says Polk, whose mother also bought a few sets. He'll pay for what he's got, but wants his $100 back for the sets he hasn't received. He called up the Coin Network this week and says he asked for a refund on the sets he was told wouldn't ship until Feb. 24. But, he says, the operator told him that wasn't policy -- even though the company's various Web sites --, and -- all promise money-back guarantees.

Polk says he plans to complain. But, he'll keep the coins.

With or without Obama, they're still worth $2.
Part of me says folks like Jerome Polk get what they have coming. Seriously, when's the last time you say a coin with that many colors in it? And just a note: with the proliferation of Obama-related crap, as well as the ubiquity of eBay, it's not likely that any of this stuff will be worth anything more than sentimental value 50 years from now. The supply is so great, it's hard to believe there will be any demand. Not in an age when folks can go on Zazzle and create their own stuff in a matter of minutes.

Let's be real, nobody is gonna want this sh*t in the future.

That said, I have a soft spot for this guy cause I've been hustled more than enough times myself, from TeeVee ads just like this one. There was The Grill Daddy, which promised to clean your grates spotless with vaporized water, but was a piece of garbage I only used once. I've bought Billy Mays household cleaner in bulk, only to find out it's no better than 409. And then there's that L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics" book. I'd rather not elaborate.

The good thing about the internet is that now you can simply Google anything you see sold on TV and read reviews from real folks who've purchased already. I don't order anything from TV anymore, but I've darn near made it a habit to checkout any product that seems too good to be true. Most of the time, the idiom proves correct.

That said, I'm proud to announce my first official foray into semi-investigative journalism. Grand Hu$tle Week is coming soon. I'll tell you all about those Debbie Meyer Green Bags, The Slap-Chop, The Snuggie, that grass seed that's posed' to grow on top of bricks, Cash-4-Gold, and lots of other scams to steal your hard earned cash.

So stay tuned, and keep your cards in your wallet like Jerome should have.

Question: Have you ever been hustled by some "As Seen On TeeVee" product?!?

Portlander finds 'Obama coins' not all that mint [OregonLive]

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