In PC Computing magazine, the April 1993 issue, I believe, Penn Jillette (of Penn + Teller

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In PC Computing magazine, the April 1993 issue, I believe, Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) posted the following apology. It was brought to my attention by a hardware engineer who recognized the potential for its falling into the venue of skeptics. - Fredric Rice, 1:102/890.0 PENN JILLETTE An Apology for Last Year's Trick _We_printed_a_phony_ad_that_got_ _us_into_a_lot_of_trouble._We're_really_ _sorry,_swear_to_God._ LAST APRIL, WE replaced the illustration on my back pahe with a phony ad, surrounded by a border that said "this is a joke." There were no jokes in the ad -- everything looked legit except for the price: only $1,278.43 for a Compaq Deskpro/M486 and an unbelieveable bunch of peripherals and free software. All you had to do was clip it and give it to a sucker. The chump would call the 800 number for the too-good-to-be-true package and get a tape of me berating them for being duped. It worked too well. You people are amazing. You handed it out, copied it, and faxed it. At least a few of you scanned it and e-mailed it all over hell. And folks down at Rosenthal Direct Reponse, In Sudbury, Massachusetts, did such a great job on the ad that all those suckers you sent the ad to swallowed it hook, line, sinker, rod, reel, and part of the dock. My editor, Carol Day, gave it to Bill Machrone, the cheese from ZD Labs and _PC_Mag_. He looked at the ad and picked up the phone. We got calls. So many that the magazine's entire voice-mail system crashed. The line rang constantly and was always busy, so people started calling the main switchboard, driving the receptionist nutty and tying up that line. Facilities telecommunications staff set up ten more answering machines, all with my berating voice. A staff person was taking calls full time, calming people down and referring them to the legal department. Some dope said he'd sold his car to buy the package, and now he was going to sue. Compaq was to innundated that it threatened to pull the plug on all future advertising with us. People wrote half-assed pseudo-legalese letters saying that "accepted the offer on page 344" -- I guess they figured that if they sounded official, the police would make us give them a computer. Our little joke got lots of national press coverage, most of it bad. It was an irresponsible, stupid joke. I think we all learned something. [] Penn & Teller's How to Play with Your Food is back in bookstores. -=[IMMEDIATLY AFTER THE APOLOGY, PENN DOES IT AGAIN BY POSTING THIS AD]=- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - This is not a real ad. This is a joke. This is not a real ad. This is a joke. This is not a real ad. This is a joke. This is not a real ad. This is a joke. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - PRICE WAR Thurman slashes thousands$ off top-line PC system! Reg. $17,032 [crossed out] Now only $978.49. OFFER ENDS APRIL 30, 1993. FREE SERVICE -- call for details We're joining the battle to win your business! Right now you can save thousands with this amazing introductory offer. Get a top-line PC system at a break-the-door-down price. We believe once you buy from Thurman, you'll be back -- for our prices, our quality, and our service. Thurmans new N486/DX50 is among the most powerful notebook PC's driven by a 50MHz 486DX, with a 200MB hard drive. It features a crisp 9.5" active matrix color display -- and boasts a remarkable 4-hour battery life. SPECIAL "GET TO KNOW THURMAN" BONUS: The first 1,000 people who order the Thurman N486/DX50 will also get the superb Tektronix Phaser IISD color printer and a desktop full of software absolutly free. Phone now! FREE TO THE FIRST 1,000 CUSTOMERS! Tecktronix Phaser IISD $9,995.00 [crossed out price - flr] Microsoft DOS 5.0 $99.00 [dit] Microsoft Windows 3.1 $149.95 [dit] Microsoft Excel 4.0 $495.00 [dit] Harvard Graphics for Windows $595.00 [dit] CorelDRAW 3.0 $399.00 [dit] ZERO RISK GUARANTEE If within 1 year of purchase, you are not totally satisfied with your products from Thurman, we'll refund your money. For full details, or to order, call our 24-hour hotline: 408-235-1973 [T]Thurman Computers, _Nobody_Beats_Team_Thurman_.

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