Column: How About an Off-Peak Nose Job?

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I'm considering breast enlargement. One heck of a bargain on the procedure arrived via spam in my e-mail box recently with the subject line, "It's more affordable than you think ..."

Opening the pitch revealed an HTML e-mail featuring an attractive woman next to copy that said, "Think you can't afford Cosmetic Surgery? With Physicians Marketing Group it's more affordable than you think. We work with top Board Certified Plastic Surgeons across the country to fill unscheduled or cancelled surgery time. If you're ready to have the procedure you've always wanted within the next 90 days, our program offers you:

· Significant cost savings

· Low monthly payment plan (even if your credit is less than perfect!)

· Highly qualified Board Certified Plastic Surgeons."

The pitch offers a free consultation valued at $200.

Clicking through the e-mail results in a landing page that advertises "Below Market Negotiated Prices."

Responders to this pitch belong on the as-yet-nonexistent "Darwin Disk," a co-op database available on CD of names and addresses of people who are so stupid they've naturally selected themselves out of the legitimate marketing universe.

I first advanced the Darwin Disk idea a year ago thinking it would be beneficial if some big data company maintained the disk free for spammers so they could reach the idiots that respond to unbelievable and just plain wacky pitches, and leave the rest of the Internet free for legitimate, permission-based e-mail marketing.

Rest easy, Abacus. I've had no bites from potential participants yet.

But in this case we wouldn't even need Physicians Marketing Group's help to add their responders to the Darwin Disk. After all, they likely would be very easy to spot with their mismatched breasts, or possibly really large ones attached to unusual places like the backs of their heads.

Now, don't take this as critical of women who opt for breast augmentation, a perfectly reasonable choice made by thousands. But shouldn't "bargain" be low on the things to check off when looking for a plastic surgeon?

Moreover, Physicians Marketing Group spammed me, a guy, looking for new business. Shouldn't that ring a few warning bells?

Did the name "Ken" in my e-mail address not tip them off that a man owned it?

And what's with the spam? Was DRTV on "Jerry Springer" too high-end for them?

Maybe all elective surgery should make appointments available on an unsold-inventory basis. Better yet, maybe should get into this game and consider name-your-own-price breast augmentation. Rather than "Round-trip tickets at one-way prices!" its home page could read "Two-breast operations at one-breast prices!"

Is it any wonder that we who are affiliated with direct marketing often mumble when asked at cocktail parties what we do?


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