In today’s episode of “if it sounds too good to be true,” there’s a new promotion fluttering around the internet that promises to pay some lucky binge watcher $1,000 to watch two dozen Hallmark Christmas movies before Christmas. The promotion is being pitched as a “dream job,” a chance to plop down on your sofa and do nothing but mainline syrupy holiday cheer for two full days, only to sit back and collect a nice fat paycheck when it’s all over.
As is usually the case with these types of promotions, the devil (or maybe the Grinch this time) is in the details.
The first thing you should know is that this is not a job, it’s a contest, meaning only one person gets picked. It also has nothing to do with Hallmark or the Hallmark Channel. The contest is being run by a company called Internet Service Partners, which is a third-party sales agent for CenturyLink doing business as CenturyLinkQuote.com. That fact alone may give some potential participants pause, since it’s not a company many people have ever heard of.
It’s also worth pointing out that the “winner” will be required to post about his or her moving-watching experience on social media. Add that to the time spent actually watching 48 hours’ worth of movies, and the deal works out to be less than $20 an hour, so that $1,000 prize is a bit misleading. And side note: If you win, you’re agreeing to let Internet Service Partners (again, a company you’ve probably never heard of) use your name and image in “any publicity material.”
Finally, in order to enter, you’re asked to give up a lot of personal information, including your name, occupation, age, phone number, and zip code, and it’s unclear what happens to that data afterwards. The fine print says the information “will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent,” but it doesn’t say if it’s used for marketing purposes or is otherwise deleted once the contest ends.
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for CenturyLinkQuote told me the data is used for “internal purposes” and will probably be kept indefinitely. She also said the competition has already attracted 74,000 applicants in its first two days, so if you still want to enter, consider the odds.
Basically, you have to ask what the motive is here. Hallmark’s Christmas movie franchise is actually a huge TV juggernaut that reaches a sizable audience within a specific demographic. According to a Marketplace report in 2017, Hallmark Channel was the most watched cable network in November among women aged 25-49, so maybe the CenturyLink sales folks have a particular reason for wanting to connect with that demographic.
It’s probably not the worst thing in the world if you enter this contest, but it’s always a good idea to know what you’re agreeing to. And remember, just like the lottery, you probably won’t win anyway.
This post has been updated.