Man Labeled 'Winner!' Via Pop-Up Ad Did Not Actually Win Anything
46 year-old Gerold Plummer reported being "shocked and disappointed" when, after clicking on a pop-up window that proclaimed him as the "Winner!" of some mysterious prize, he failed to qualify to win anything at all.
"I just keep pinching myself, trying to see if this is all some kind of horrible nightmare," he said, shaking his head in defeat. "But the more that time passes, the more I realize that it's real life. Horrible, unfair, suicide-inducing real life."
The window, says Plummer, seemed simple enough: flashing through a cycle of colors that ranged from bright red to bright yellow, the pop-up window had the exclamation "Winner!" in it, with smaller text underneath that reading, "Click here to see what you've won!"
"I didn't know what I did to be a winner, exactly," Plummer admitted. "I mean, all I did was visit some website."
But he reasoned that perhaps he was a winner for something he had done at an earlier time, or for simply visiting the website during a time when they were having a "people visiting sweepstakes".
"I even thought that maybe they meant I was a winner in the sense that I'm a nice, moderately successful person," he said. "You know -- like, the opposite of loser."
Even though he did not determine why he was a winner, Plummer clicked the window, led on by the allure of the mystery prize.
"My brain flashed through the possibilities as the webpage loaded," he said, his eyes gleaming as he relived those glorious moments. "A 60 inch plasma television? Millions of dollars? Sexy Russian brides? Heck, at that time, I thought it could be all of that and more."
Plummer's wild imagination, however, served to increase his disappointment, when he arrived at a webpage that seemed to have nothing to do with prize-winning at all.
"It was just trying to get me to sign up for some credit card," he said, tears forming in his hurt eyes. "I mean...that's not winning. I didn't get anything."
After the hurt, rage set in, and Plummer wanted justice. Accordingly, he called the local police station, but quickly found out that he was dealing with people who were "above the law".
"The police basically told me that they really had no jurisdiction over pop-up advertisements," he said bitterly. "I wonder how a rape victim would feel if she was informed that the police didn't have any jurisdiction over sexual assault cases, either?"
After trying unsuccessfully for several minutes to get the phone numbers for the FBI, CIA, and the Pentagon -- all of which he felt could be of assistance to him -- from his local Yellow Pages, Plummer fell into a deep depression.
"I just felt like such a loser," he said. "In a way, I was -- I didn't win anything. And if I can't win something by clicking on a freaking window that says 'Winner' on it, I must be a pretty big loser."
Dr. Janice Hill, a sociologist professor at Yale University, explained that Plummer's feelings of inadequacy and failure are actually quite common in instances like this one.
"The pop-up window promises a victory of some kind, but none ever comes," she said. "This can cause deep social anxiety in the subject as they try to comprehend their perceived failure, and in some, it can even destroy their entire lives."
"I cannot believe that someone pays me to say this crap," she added, laughing and throwing money around the room.
For Plummer, continued life is taken one day at a time. He calls himself "a victim of the modern age."
"In this fast-paced, multi-colored flashing world of quick winners, some of us just fall through the cracks," he said. "I guess I'm one of the unlucky ones."