Now I don't remember having ever participated in a lucky draw conducted by this company. Neither do I recall accumulating points that I've redeemed but yet have forgotten to collect the gift. This sweet offer came my way without I having to "go through 100 steps on the web just to redeem it", as Chun See put it. Since the company provided its telephone number in the letter, the "curiosity in the monkey" made me decide to call them to find out what monkey tricks they were up to.
I don't know why but when you call up such companies, 9 out of 10 times you have to speak Mandarin to be understood:
Me: Hello, what is this letter mentioning the redemption of a free gift all about?
Man: 哈? (Ha?)
Me: 我搜到这封信，说我得奖. (I received a letter saying that I got a free gift.)
Man: 对吖，这是你在 Courts 买东西积分抽奖赢来的 (Correct, the gift is from points redeemed when you made purchases from Courts.)
Me: 是什么奖品？(What gift is it?)
Man: 是 camera. 你带你的身份证下来领取啦．(It's a camera. You bring your IC to redeem it.)
Me: Okay. 好，可以的．谢谢你．(Okay. Will do. Thank you.)
Now I am not that naive to really believe that I could be so lucky to have won a free gift. After all, I've heard people being tricked countless times before in a similar fashion. Therefore, I should've known all the tricks in the book. However, since I was near the shop's address (Blk 3014 Bedok North Avenue 4 #03-2158), I decided to pay them a visit despite still limping on my left foot.
When I reached the foot of the block, I removed all the cash and bank/credit cards from my pocket and locked them safely away in the car. When I reached the front door of the unit, this signboard greeted me:
Eh, I thought it should've been "Electric LLP Hub"? Moreover the name "Pine Rich" also sounded notoriously familiar but I just couldn't recall where I came across it. (I am quite sure that if you check with CASE, they will be very familiar with this company.) I plucked up enough courage to venture in.
In the shop, a man served me. He checked my driving license and then passed me my free gift. Like a shameless child who just received his angpow, I opened it in front of him. It was an "ultra-cheapo-looking" 35mm film camera with plastic body and manual winding mechanism - the type that would cost at most $1.99 and which I wouldn't even dare to present as a toy to my grandson if I had one. I wanted to return the camera to him but he insisted that I could keep it as it was my free gift. To avoid creating a scene
The man proceeded to market his other products to me. First he showed me a sound system complete with standing speakers, amplifier and DVD player, ALL FOR FREE. I just needed to give him my address to deliver the goods. (Why is this bloke asking for my address again? I thought that the company already had my address to mail the letter?) I struggled to think of a credible answer for a moment. Finally I said, "No place to put. My flat is very small." Then he showed me a set of stainless steel pots that could cook a meal for a whole football team. Again, they are ALL FREE but I need to pay a "small" advertising fee of $1499 for the steel pots.
I've had enough. I turned and slowly limped out of the shop. Outside, I met an auntie who was clutching the same letter in her hand and on her way to the company. I cautioned her to be careful about the company. Then I passed her the camera and she said, "Yes, I can give it to my grandson as a toy. Thank you."