City-County & ME

At 16 I opened an account at my mom's credit union and I have received their quarterly newsletter, City-County & You ever since. For many years it was printed in all one color (Reflex Blue) with a logotype inspired by the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. It should be something you toss out with the irrelevant "Low Mortgage Rates" insert, but I can't help but read every word.

At the bottom of the front page in small type reads a line, "Don't Forget! Find your account number in this newsletter and win $50. Call to claim your prize." I scour the first page. Quarter after quarter of seeking my number has taught me that the digits are always at the end of the paragraphs and in parentheses. So in word-find mode, I carefully scan each line looking for a slightly curved character.

On page two, Dean E. Nelson greets me as he has for almost 20 years. His column, The President's Corner, is something I would never read if not tempted by the allure of 50 bucks. A frustrated writer perhaps, Dean is known to stray from straight-forward financial articles and write metaphorically about life's quirks, his wife's plea for a new sofa or his favorite gas station. He's Erma Bombeck crossed with Morty Seinfeld.

I start to speed up at page three. I think, "You're wasting time, open the rest of your mail, get back to work..." But I'm driven. What if my account number is on the last page? It could happen! I gain a brief knowledge of the credit union's hours and locations, how to avoid identity theft, how to help kids learn sound money management skills and account fee changes. No mention of the newsletter prize going up to $75. Bummer.

I flip the page, completing the last leg of my journey through credit union news. Wait... there's a break in the clouds. Tucked into the "Celebrate National Credit Union Youth Week" article is an 8... yes. 2... yes 2... yes 4! no! It's supposed to be 8220... I am now left with the Equal Housing Lender logo and legal copy that brings me to the end of the page.

There's always next quarter.

paul, Apr 14 2005 8:25AM

i did the same thing, at 16 i joined my mother's credit union. but it sounds at least like your credit union gives you a reason to look through their newsletter. the newletter i get i quickly scan it a dump it in the garbage. but if there was a chance of me winning money i'd be reading it more carefully.

Sue Maxa, Apr 15 2005 10:04PM

That is precisely why I always scan from the last page to the front! They always hide the numbers in the back so you read the whole damn thing! You are not alone.

David Steadman, Apr 18 2005 2:30PM

What a clever tactic. Somehow I forgive them for only using Reflex Blue throughout their publication.

Sandie, Apr 19 2005 9:37AM

When I win the $50, I'll treat you all to a beer!

Mark Sanders, Apr 19 2005 9:46AM

It's a scam! Have you ever met or seen an actual ''winner?' I bet not. They probably have a computer program that spits out random names which are automatically inserted into the newsletter.

And does this trick foster card loyalty?