$10 Cash Machine Chain Letter

I called this post the $10 Cash Machine because it was the only thing online I found that remotely resembled what I remember, with some slight differences. Back when I was a kid, my mother would occasionally get these letters mailed to her from friends and family. In the letter it would start with some hype about earning money through the mail and how you can easily do the same.

The next part explained how it worked. There would be five names and addresses on the bottom of the letter. You would mail $10 to each name listed, then you would place your name in the top spot and move everyone else down a spot, dropping the last person from the list. Make copies of this new form and mail/distribute like a mad man.

The $10 Cash Machine form I found online says something about emailing a monitor for proof that you paid the people on your list, then you’d receive a marketing kit with your own flyer. That stuff wasn’t on anything I ever saw because what I saw was back before the days of the internet when nobody had email. I’m sure this so called marketing kit is simply the same form with your name inserted like I just told you, and some tips for distribution and more hype.

The idea behind this is the assumption that a bunch of people you send this to will fill your mailbox with $10 each, and also do the same by dropping your name to #2, put their name in the #1 slot, and send the flyer out to a ton more people. At each level you should make more money as there’s a lot more flyers out there with your name on it. Let’s try one for example using a fictitious 1% response rate.

You put your name and address at Level 1 and send 500 direct mail flyers out and 5 people (1%) respond by sending you $10 each.

You receive $50

Those 5 people mail out 500 direct mail flyers each for a total of 2500 flyers with your name at Level 2, and 25 people send you $10.

You receive $250

Then 25 people mail out 500 direct mail flyers each for a total of 12500 flyers with your name at Level 3, and 125 people send you $10.

You receive $1250

125 people mail out 500 direct mail flyers each for a total of 62500 flyers with your name at Level 4, and 625 people send you $10.

You receive $6250

625 people mail out 500 direct mail flyers each for a total of 312500 flyers with your name at Level 5, and 3125 people send you $10.

You receive $31250

At this point your name is dropped off the list, but not before making nearly $40000 minus your expenses of paying the initial five people, copies, envelopes, postage, etc.

What teenager wouldn’t be interested in sending letters in exchange for massive amounts of free cash? No time to figure out the math and unsustainable matrix. Time to mail letters and make money.

I didn’t just try the program. I altered it like a greedy pig. I believe I shrunk the cost to 25 cents, but doubled the levels to 10, and the payout projection was insane. You wanna know if it worked?

Free4Life ISP Reseller

Back in the days of dial up internet, there was a multilevel marketing company called Free4Life. This company was basically a reseller of internet access that rewarded its members for referrals. After so many sign ups, you’d get free internet, then after that is when the income began.

Multilevel marketing often gets a bad rap. A lot of people equate all MLM with pyramid schemes which isn’t true of most companies. Then there’s the people who tout the business opportunity over the product itself which can be misleading. I think if you believe in the product, and the payout structure is fair, it’s worth checking out. That’s been my problem with most MLM companies. There was seldom products I was enthused about selling.

Free4Life was different because internet access was something most people had or wanted, and it was a service I would personally use regardless of whether or not I was involved in a program or not. I thought this was a cool idea so I signed up to give it a try. I even recruited a couple of people before I saw the writing on the wall.

Broadband internet was coming down in price and more people were making the switch. Since Free4Life wasn’t forthcoming with communications about wholesale broadband agreements (or maybe such agreements didn’t exist yet back then), I figured it would become much more difficult in the near future to acquire new dial up customers. I like to refer to this type of scenario as shoveling shit against the tide. For every new dial up subscriber you signed up, another one would likely drop for faster broadband.

For once I was right. As far as I can tell, Free4Life hung on until sometime in 2007 when the Wayback Machine stopped getting good snapshots of the site, though it looks like they did try to continue on with the same business model for awhile with a DSL offering too.

Free4Life would state that they were not multilevel marketing because you received your entire commission, but this is a bit of a stretch. While they did say (I think) $10 of each month would go to your upline director, there were bonuses at certain, ahem, levels, so call it what you will. Maybe I misunderstood, maybe not, whatever.

As enthusiastic as I was about this program for the short time I participated, it’s funny to go back and check out the hype and exaggerated claims on the old website. The graphics and website design were oh-so-early-2000’s too.

At this point in my life, I knew enough to ignore the money fanning gifs and pictures of a yacht in crystal clear water. I still wish it was something I could have stuck with, but this one wasn’t my fault. It had a shelf life stamped right on it. I just chose to stop drinking the Kool-Aid before the actual expiration date.