Spinning Around Corporateworld

Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you way out into the wobbly orbit of product promotions, a CorporateWorld where reality is a fuzzy concept at best. Our navigator is Consumer Reports magazine, which covers this territory monthly.

Our first visit is to the fast-spinning sphere of Citibank, which recently was asked on its Web site this very straightforward question about its Platinum Select credit card: "Are there late payment fees?" Citibank responded: "There are no late payment fees if your payment is received on or before the due date." Well, one would hope not! However, continued Citibank, if your check arrives after the due date, "a $29 late payment fee will be added." In other words, "yes."

Meanwhile, let's visit The Original Pancake House, which recently distributed special flyers saying "Bring Mom in for Mother's Day." To sweeten the pitch, a coupon was included: "$2.00 OFF our Famous Dutch Baby Pancakes." In the small print, however, the coupon read: "Not valid on Mother's Day."

Then there's a fellow who responded to a Time magazine subscription solicitation, sending in his check for $29.97. But instead of getting the magazine, he got a note: "The promotion to which you responded was part of a special test to determine the best price we might offer our future subscribers. Therefore, the price you subscribed at it is not currently available. For this reason, we have canceled your order."

Perhaps the fuzziest promotion, though, is a flyer from SMC Corporation hawking its Riata motorhome. It includes what appears to be an article that praises the Riata, quoting four sources, including a consumer reporter and a satisfied customer. In tiny print, however, the article has this disclaimer: "Not all of the people quoted actually exist."

This is Jim Hightower saying ... And that's the truth in CorporateWorld.

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