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Issue 93 - July 2009 - Page 5

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Bristol Zoo Car Park Attendant Hoax
  2. Michael Jackson Died Years Ago Hoax
  3. ATM Security Advise Message : Enter PIN In Reverse to Call Police
  4. B737 Mid Air Collision Photos Hoax
  5. Woolworths Two Hundred And Fifty Rand Cookie Recipe Hoax
  6. Australian Tax Refund Scam Email
  7. Missouri Teacher's Letter To Obama
  8. Friend Stranded in Foreign Country Scam Emails
  9. F-35 Fighter Jet Vertical Take-Off Flip Video
  10. Commonwealth Bank Phishing Scam Emails

Issue 93 Start Menu

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Woolworths Two Hundred And Fifty Rand Cookie Recipe Hoax

Summary:
Message claims that after Woolworths (South Africa) effectively tricked a customer into paying the "outrageous" price of 250 rand for a cookie recipe, the customer began circulating free copies of the recipe via email as a means of protesting the company's tactics (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, July 2009)
Subject: FW: Cookie Recipe from Woolies

Woolworths, if you don't know already, is a very expensive clothing and supermarket outlet (they sell a typical r50 t-shirt for r150).

My daughter and i had just finished lunch at a Woolies cafe in Hyde park, Johannesburg. because both of us are such biscuit lovers, we decided to try the 'Woolies Cookie'. It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe.

The waitress said with a small frown, 'I'm afraid not, but you can buy the recipe.'

I asked how much, and she responded; 'only two fifty - it's a great deal'
I agreed to that, and told her to add it to my bill.

Thirty days later, i got my visa statement, and the Woolworths charge was R485. I looked at it again, and I remembered I had only spent R49.95 for two sandwiches and about R120 for a scarf. At the bottom of the statement, it said, 'cookie recipe - R250.00'. That was outrageous!

I called Woolworths accounting department and told them the waitress had said it was 'two fifty', which clearly does not mean 'two hundred and fifty rands' by any reasonable interpretation of the phrase. Woolworths refused to budge. They would not refund my money because according to them; 'what the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe. we absolutely will not refund your money.

I explained to the accounting department lady the criminal statutes which govern fraud in the state of Gauteng. I threatened to report them to the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General's office. I was basically told: do what you want. Don't bother thinking of how you can get even, and don't bother trying to get any of your money back'

I said, OK, you've got my R250, and now I'm going to have R250 worth of fun.. I told her that i was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the world with an e-mail account gets a r250 cookie recipe from Woolies for free. She replied, 'I wish you wouldn't do that.' I said, 'well, perhaps you should have thought of that before you ripped me off!' and slammed down the phone.

So here it is! Please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid R250 for this, and I don't want Woolworths to ever make another cent from this recipe!

WOOLIES COOKIES (RECIPE MAY BE HALVED AS THIS MAKES HEAPS)

2 (500 ML) CUPS BUTTER
680 G CHOCOLATE CHIPS
4 (1000 ML) CUPS FLOUR
2 (500 ML) CUPS BROWN SUGAR
2 TSP. (10 ML) BICARBONATE OF SODA
1 TSP. (5 ML) SALT
2 (500 ML) CUPS SUGAR
500 G GRATED CADBURY CHOCOLATE
5 (1250 ML) CUPS BLENDED OATMEAL
4 EGGS
2 TSP. (10 ML) BAKING POWDER
2 TSP. (10 ML) VANILLA
3 CUPS (375 ML) CHOPPED NUTS (OPTIONAL)

MEASURE OATMEAL, AND BLEND IN A BLENDER TO A FINE POWDER. CREAM THE BUTTER AND BOTH SUGARS. ADD EGGS AND VANILLA, MIX TOGETHER WITH FLOUR, OATMEAL, SALT, BAKING POWDER, AND BICARBONATE OF SODA. ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS, GRATED CHOCOLATE AND NUTS. ROLL INTO BALLS, AND PLACE TWO INCHES APART ON A COOKIE SHEET. BAKE FOR 10 MINUTES AT 180 C..

THE ABOVE QUANTITIES MAKE 112 COOKIES. ENJOY!

PLEASE KEEP THE RECIPE AND SEND IT TO EVERY PERSON YOU KNOW WHO HAS AN E-MAIL ADDRESS!

THIS IS NOT A JOKE-IT'S A TRUE STORY.




Commentary:
This message supposedly tells the delicious tale of how one ordinary customer takes revenge on an unscrupulous company by distributing free copies of a cookie recipe for which he or she was charged an exorbitant fee because of a misunderstanding about the price. This version of the story targets South African retailer Woolworths and claims that the customer was charged 250 rand for the recipe. According to the message, when asked the price of the recipe, the waitress replied "only two fifty" which the customer assumed meant 2.50 rand. The story claims that the customer was outraged to later discover that Woolworths had actually charged 250 rand for the recipe rather than only 2.50 rand, especially when the company adamantly refused to offer a refund.

It's a great little tale, but in spite of the assurance at the bottom of the message it is certainly not a true story. In fact, it is simply a recycled version of an earlier hoax that targeted US entity Neiman Marcus. As the following example illustrates, the above "Woolies" version is virtually identical to earlier Neiman Marcus versions:
THIS IS A TRUE STORY!

My daughter and I had just finished a salad at a Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas, and we decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus cookie." It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe, and the waitress said with a small frown, "I'm afraid not, but you can buy the recipe."

Well, I asked how much, and she responded, "Only two fifty-it's a great deal!" I agreed to that, and told her to just add it to my tab.

Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement, and the Neiman-Marcus charge was $285.00! I looked again, and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe-$250.00". That was outrageous!

I called Neiman's Accounting Department and told them the waitress said it was "two fifty", which clearly does not mean "two hundred and fifty dollars" by any reasonable interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge. They would not refund my money because, according to them, "What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe. We absolutely will not refund your money at this point."

I explained to the Accounting Department lady the criminal statutes which govern fraud in the state of Texas. I threatened to report them to the Better Business Bureau and the Texas Attorney General's office for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, "Do what you want. Don't bother thinking of how you can get even, and don't bother trying to get any of your money back."

I just said, "Okay, you folks got my $250, and now I'm going to have $250 worth of fun." I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the United States with an e-mail account has a $250 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus...for free. She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this." I said, "Well, perhaps you should have thought of that before you ripped off!" and slammed down the phone.

So here it is!

Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250 for this, and I don't want Neiman-Marcus to EVER make another penny from this recipe!
Thus, it seems clear that some prankster has created a South African version of the hoax by simply replacing "Neiman Marcus" with "Woolworths" and changing the currency to rands. In reality, the incident described never took place and neither Woolworths nor Neiman Marcus has ever sold the cookie recipe attached to the messages. Moreover, even the Neiman Marcus version is a recycled variant of earlier stories that go back decades. During the 1920's there was a popular urban legend involving the unintended purchase of an exorbitantly priced Red Velvet Cake recipe from New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Another equally untrue version of the story targeted the Mrs Fields company during the 1980's.

The cookie recipes used in these hoaxes tend to vary from version to version. To counter the claims in the earlier Neiman Marcus version of the hoax, the company actually published the recipe on its own website and invited visitors to use it freely and pass it on to family and friends as much as they liked. Later Neiman Marcus versions of the hoax have used different recipes including the one shown in the Woolworths example above. Very similar recipes with variations of the same story have been published on many different websites including one that simply identifies the entity supposedly selling the recipe as a "posh cafe in Dallas". And, one enterprising blogger even took the time to make both the "official" Neiman Marcus cookie recipe included in an earlier version of the hoax with another cookie recipe that came with some later versions of the hoax. Both recipes apparently make great cookies.

Thus, while the recipes that come with these hoax messages may well be worthwhile inclusions for your recipe folder, keep in mind that the stories that they arrive with are simply reworkings of an old urban legend and have no basis in fact.





References:
NM Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Neiman Marcus Cookie Hoax - $250 Cookie Recipe
Yummy American Biscuits
C is for Cookie

Previous Article            Next Article

Issue 93 Start Menu

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Bristol Zoo Car Park Attendant Hoax
  2. Michael Jackson Died Years Ago Hoax
  3. ATM Security Advise Message : Enter PIN In Reverse to Call Police
  4. B737 Mid Air Collision Photos Hoax
  5. Woolworths Two Hundred And Fifty Rand Cookie Recipe Hoax
  6. Australian Tax Refund Scam Email
  7. Missouri Teacher's Letter To Obama
  8. Friend Stranded in Foreign Country Scam Emails
  9. F-35 Fighter Jet Vertical Take-Off Flip Video
  10. Commonwealth Bank Phishing Scam Emails