Date Added: Sept. 25, 2002
Ah, the lure (or should I say "lore") of free money. Most of us suspect it's a load of bunk, but, since e-mail is so easy to forward, we try it anyway. We're so predictable, and this one proves the hoaxters have given up on originality. But even a recycled hoax is still a hoax.
Subject: Gift Certificate from Applebees
My name is Bill Palmer, founder of Applebees. In an attempt to get our name out to more people in the rural communities where we are not currently located, we are offering a $50 gift certificate to anyone who forwards this email to 9 of their friends. Just send this email to them and you will receive an email back with a confirmation number to claim your gift certificate.
Sincerely Bill Palmer
Visit us at: www.applebees.com
Before you get your mouth set on that sizzling steak fajita or riblet platter, consider this chain's near identical resemblance to earlier "offers" supposedly from Cracker Barrel and Victoria's Secret.
Yes, Bill Palmer was one of the founders of Applebees, but that's the only accurate item in this chain. Applebees has prominently posted a notice on their web site since at least 2002 that denies the company has any involvement in any such offer:
I received an email that said I should forward the message to receive free Applebee’s® gift certificates. Is this for real?
No. A fraudulent email chain message promising Applebee’s® gift certificates for forwarding the message is currently making its way around the Internet. The message promises a gift certificate and a confirmation number after forwarding the message to a specific number of email addresses. Applebee’s® International, Inc. does not sponsor or endorse this activity and is unable to fulfill these requests.
Similarly, any inquiry to their customer service department through their web site is confirmed with an e-mail that contains further denial of the chain letter's claims:
If you are contacting us about an e-mail you received promising a free $50 gift certificate for forwarding it to nine other people, please be advised that the e-mail is a hoax. It was not started by Applebee's and there is no validity to its false promise. Unfortunately, it is extremely easy for someone to begin this type of scam. We know of several other large companies (i.e. Microsoft, Cracker Barrel) who have had similar e-mails started without their knowledge too.
Companies do not give things away via e-mail. There is simply no return on the investment. Restaurants like Applebees want to get you into their neighborhood eateries, thus they've designed an attractive web site that highlights their menu, features and services. They've spent a good amount of money on this site and want you to visit. Any e-mail you get purporting to be from a recognizable company that doesn't invite you to their web site can safely be dismissed as a hoax. The whole of the Internet is a powerful marketing tool, but e-mail alone is relatively ineffective. Break this Chain.
References: Applebees FAQ