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Occasionally, the mail brings something useful, like a check. I like checks. They help to pay the bills. More often, however, it brings useless stuff. For instance, those bills I just mentioned. Also, various opportunities to impoverish myself, in case I seek a life of asceticism and eventual starvation.

I receive a fair number of advertisements, promoting everything from hardware (which I use) to, well, some very odd stuff. The trick for someone outside of an existing business relationship is that he has to get my attention. He must convince me not only that I need whatever he is pushing, but also that I should have it from him.

It is not easy.

So, along comes this anonymous envelope, with the third-class frank disguised as a meter mark. Through the window, I see the words “pay to the order of,” and the faint wavy background common to many business checks. There are some digits and letters, which might be an invoice or account reference code.

Inside, a different story. Wow, the big print says “the sum of $1,000!” That would be nice. Unfortunately, the smaller print says “this is not a check.”

It is a misleading advertisement. It comes designed to appear as a check in order that I should open the envelope and regard its contents. Well, I did, though my regard is less than hoped for.

Frankly, if you are seeking to establish a new business relationship, it is probably bad form to start with dishonesty. It taints any possibility of trusting someone calling themselves “Hometown Hearing Centers.”

They start with a fake meter mark and a visible fake check. At best, we have a coupon. As well, in very small print indeed, it explains that it may actually be worth only half the face amount.

The correct fictitious name, “Hometown Hearing,” no “Centers,” is printed far down the page. Oddly enough, the real name of the registrant appears nowhere at all.

The missing bits present no problem. A quick check with sunbiz.org provides the information. The problem is the sheer dishonesty of sending a fake check in an anonymous envelope.

There may be benefits to dishonest advertising. Maybe I need a hearing aid to understand them. Alternatively, I can guess what Hometown Hearing is thinking — lying is a good way to draw customers, as long as no one hears about it!

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.


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