Negativity surrounds new scratchcard

The Poorhouse is no stranger to the odd flutter, laying down bets a plenty around the place and more recently playing a decent amount of casino blackjack - however, that's fine when you can use mathematics to guarantee a profit. Scams such as the UK National Lottery are held in much lower regard - there being a reason why it is often termed "a tax on the stupid".

Some, it might seem, more stupid than you might even expect.

In the good old days you could only really lose the odd quid on a Saturday. Then it became Wednesday, then the Thunderball, then a stack of scratchcards and who knows what else. It must be easy enough to lose a hundreds of pounds a week on these silly follies in innumerate ways, but nonetheless they remain popular.

Well, with an exception or two. Take for example the "Cool Cash" scratchcard, which has recently been officially withdrawn by Scamalot Camelot. "Why so?" you might ask, "Was it really that much of a scam it was deemed illegal?". Umm...no. It was found to be too complicated for many of the denizens of the scratchcard loving fraterntiy. On the first day at least "dozens" of customers were so angry and confused over it that they bothered lodging official complaints.

So the hardship? Well, the Poorhouse is himself rather sketchy on, say, the fine details of the Thunderball, Hot Picks, Dream Numbers et al. but the problem here is nothing propriety like that, oh no. More like pre-primary-school level innumeracy.

To win, one had to scratch away panels on the card relating to temperature. If your temperature was lower than the one printed elsewhere on the card - ding ding, we have a winner. Now, it being a penguinny-snowy type themed card, the temperatures were indeed quite low for Britain, some venturing into the apparently-mysterious world of negative numbers.

Here, for the bizarrely-uninitiated, numbers such as -8 are lower than say -2. A temperature of minus 10 is colder than that of minus 3.

A stack of people complained to Camelot that a card saying something like -3 vs a temperature of -7 should win, because 3 was clearly lower than 7. Oops. Bear doubly in mind that the lottery can only be played by those who are at least 18 years old.

The Manchester Evening News managed to find a specific upset punter, Tina Farrell from Levenshulme no less. Let's hope she's ex-directory. Check out these quotes that are just so damn hilarious the Poorhouse won't even bother spoofing them upwards to further idiocy. Just listen to the indignant tone.

I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having it... Six is a lower number than 8. Imagine how many people have been misled.

Yes, imagine.

Fortunately Camelot's story is the same one that the Poorhouse's maths teacher also fobbed him off with years and years ago, so he was immune to such revelations.

Much as it is funny to laugh and point at these cases there is perhaps a more serious message here if so many people had a problem with the scratchcards that they had to be withdrawn. In these days where, apart from anything else, loans are being forced into your face (yes, still, despite looming economic disasters all over the place), so many jobs require reasonable numeracy, consumption is king, money is all and there are an abundance of people willing to rip you off if you can just be persuaded, clearly there are still a large amount of people who haven't had the necessary education to understand anywhere near the level of mathematics one would ideally have as a tool to make sensible life decisions. Rather than Camelot and its ilk taking advantage of these people it would be nice to see them helped - although there are of course few immediate commercial incentives to do so. The uninformed consumer is surely every corporate entity's favourite type.

PS: If you must play the lottery, at least do it through Quidco and get a tiny percentage of your impending losses back as cashback


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