Give me money or I'll hurt you! My name is, "My Mother-In-Law"!

I have, of late, discovered that titling a blog post "You have money you didn't know about! Give us some of it!", and/or mentioning unclaimed money recovery services in that post, will attract a constant flow of spam-comments.

Spam-comments are aimed at the other 828 posts on this blog (829, counting this one) from time to time, but the unclaimed-money post gets way more than all of the others put together.

(It'll be interesting to see if the spammers now start aiming at this post as well, since I've used some of the same magical scam-attracting words.)

Akismet catches very nearly all of the spam-comments, so they never make it to the actual visible page and all I have to do is occasionally click the "empty" button for the spam-bin in my WordPress control panel. But still they come. Some are for the dodgy financial services you'd expect, but there are also many for other things, like the inevitable pharmacies, knockoff couture and wristwatches and, for some reason, at least one spammer monomaniacally obsessed with coupons for replacement heads for Swiffer floor cleaners.

This comment's an absolute star, though:

10 April 2012 at 12:23 am



Akismet caught this one too, but it's so funny that I approved it anyway.

(Actually it's a trackback, not a comment. It purports to be a trackback from a post on, but that site does not actually exist; the extremely desirable domain name isn't even registered. The trackback was, instead, probably sent from purpose-built comment-spamming software.)

This distinctive wording can be found on a few other pages. In this thread, someone who probably actually does represent Scraped Media says that this is some guy trying to frame them. It's a joe job, in other words; making someone else look bad by spamming ads for your competitors' products, or pretending to be your enemy and making threats, or blowing up your own shop, et cetera.

I wonder if this could actually work, though, and get Scrapebox's PayPal account frozen. A result like that wouldn't really stand out among the world's many dismal tales of PayPal dysfunction.

(To be fair, I did get my money back that one time, but it was because the seller didn't contest my claim.)

Since Scraped Media appear to be, via their ScrapeBox software, in the comment-spam business themselves, in this particular conflict I think it's a damn shame somebody has to win. (And yes, ScrapeBox can fire off fake trackbacks just like this one.)

I'll check back on this in a few weeks, and see who actually ends up doing what to whom.

Catches fire, would buy again, AAA+++!

I bought a couple of sets of red LED lights on eBay; two ten-metre 100-LED strings for $US15.96 delivered.

You know the ones. Little lightweight controller box that always starts in cycle-through-all-modes mode, with a button that has to be pressed seven, or is it eight, times to get the darn things to just stay on constantly (or as close to it as the flickery PWM controller can manage).

Generally these cheap lights seem great. I've been very pleased with the others I've bought in the past, most recently the 220V-rated multicoloured ones from this seller, which seem to work very nicely from Australian power.

So I bought some red ones, alleged to work from 110 to 220 volts, from this other seller.

I plugged these new ones in while holding the wound-up lights in my hand, just to see if they worked at all, and they seemed OK.

And then, there was a pain.

In my hand.

A... burning pain, restricted to a few very small spots.

This puzzled me.

I adjusted my grip to avoid the ouchy spots, and observed a few thin trails of smoke rising from the wound-up lights.

I unplugged them.

I tried the other set.

Same deal.

These sorts of LED lights are configured as several long series strings, with a single inline current-limiting resistor (which, being one resistor at the start of a long series string of LEDs, probably doesn't actually limit current very well at all) in series with the first LED in each string.

[UPDATE: Now that I'm peeling one of the lights apart, it's apparent that they've actually got resistors on several of the LEDs early in each string. Here's a great analysis of these things and how to stop them flashing and flickering, forever.]

These resistors were getting very hot, very fast, and raising smoke from the clear PVC insulation over them.

Seizing the opportunity to use my variac and its delightfully mad-scientist-ish giant knob, I tried feeding the lights 110V instead of Australia's nominal-230V mains.

Now, they worked fine. The resistors got a bit warm, but not unduly so.

Fault located, then.

Next, like a damn fool, I told the seller that they were selling devices that were a fire hazard in 200V+ countries, and they should probably stop doing that, and could I have my money back, please?

Anybody who's ever filed an eBay/PayPal dispute over a defective item of low dollar value sold by some dude in China knows what happened next.

I opened a Dispute, I asked for a refund, they told me to get lost. I escalated the Dispute to a Claim, and eBay/PayPal in their wisdom told me to send the items back to the seller via registered mail to get my refund, which would of course be five bucks less than it'd cost to send the goods back.

(And if the seller decided to tell eBay that what I'd sent them was a box of newspaper, I probably wouldn't even get that.)

Perhaps if I'd lied and said the goods never showed up at all, I might have had a chance. Since I tried to warn the seller about maybe setting their customers' houses on fire, though, I got to pay the price.

Which is not in itself a big deal, of course, besides THE PRINCIPLE OF THE THING GRRR. It's not a dead loss, either; I can always chop the LED strings off the controller box and run them from some appropriate non-flickery DC power supply. This is not very difficult to do, and involves a lot less soldering than building an LED array used to.

I feel such a tit, though. Every time, I go through this idiotic routine, like Charlie Brown with Lucy's damn football.

Sometimes there's a bit of variety, like when I was trying to get a refund for an item described as new which turned out to be used, and the Hong Kong seller seemed to sincerely believe that "but if I give you a refund, I will lose money!" was an ironclad reason why he need not do so.

(Eventually he tried "OK, we'll give you a few bucks back, provided you lie in your feedback and say there wasn't a problem.")

I love the PayPal replies, too. You've proved that sending the item back will cost more than the refund? Well, now apparently it's a "judgement call" whether you should do so!

And then, "We know situations like this can be difficult and appreciate your patience and cooperation as we work toward resolution."

I really wish eBay/PayPal would be realistic in these exchanges and just say "hey, it's a flea market, almost always it works OK, but you got ripped off this time, it happens". Instead, just to twist the knife, when you give up and Cancel a PayPal claim, " agree that this complaint has been resolved to your satisfaction"!

(The only alternative is to wait until the clock runs out, whereupon PayPal tell you that the lack of resolution of your complaint is entirely due to your tardiness.)

So, in summation: EBay/PayPal aren't getting any better about this stuff.

And, if you're in Australia and want cheap twinkly LED lights in many colours, try these.

And don't buy stuff from this dickhead.

UPDATE: Lo, a message has arrived from the dickhead him or her self!

I'm sorry for that that our product make you no happy,
anyway, can you help to revise the feedback to positive and we'll refund

Yeaahhh... no. Product still fire hazard. Bad seller! Bad!

The amazing power-saving box of nothing!

I wrote, in 2010, about the miraculous Keseco Current Improvement System. It's a power-saving device that's claimed to work because of, in brief, technologies unknown to science.

I like this kind of power-saving box. Most power-savers are claimed to be some sort of power-factor corrector. Ones like the Keseco devices that're supposed to work by "rotating electromagnetic waves" or "non-Hertzian frequencies" are more fun. They still don't work, but at least they're more original.

When I saw a new comment on the Keseco post today, I presumed it'd be one of the spammers who occasionally get through the net and spray ads for handbags or wristwatches all over my old posts.

I was wrong, though. It was this:

We are representing Ultra device, made by Keseco in EU market.
We do agree that claims to achieve superconductivity in wires seem to be unrealistic. And we partly agree with that. However we confirm that we have tested Ultra in various cases: domestic and industrial. We have used Chauvin Arnoux ca 8335 power analyzer to measure w,kva,kvar,Amps, U, harmonics, cos fi, etc. We confirm that Ultra device really works in reducing active power, reactive power, slightly improving cos fi.It reduces total consumption by 5-12%. The saving % depends on a number of factors.It does not turn wires into superconductors, but reduces energy loses in them.Detailed reports can be send upon request. Currently Keseco obtained SGS, TGM reports on saving. The patent they have for energy saving device is real.It is not for design, it is for energy saving.See: . Ultra device really saves energy For more information on research works we have done with ultra,please, send request to


If it's all the same to you, unnamed Energita representative, I'll just wait for this miraculous device to make you the billions of dollars you so richly deserve. Then I'll be able to learn about it from, say, the paperwork for the Nobel Prize the Keseco designers have won, or the sticker on the side of the Keseco box that I, like everyone else in the world, will have purchased.

Just look at that patent. It's for a box...

Keseco power-saving device

...with some busbars in it, the busbars only being connected to power at one end, and the inside of the box provided with some mysterious ceramic coating and "conductive plates" that aren't electrically connected to anything.

And that's it.

Conventional electrophysics says that this box, plugged in parallel with household mains power, will do nothing. It's not even part of a circuit.

You allege that you have real evidence that it's a power saver.

So now all you have to do is send these patented boxes to universities, technical colleges and appropriate governmental bodies until someone takes notice, and then here comes all that money and that definite Nobel Prize, for the staggering discovery of how "rotating electromagnetic waves" make the magic happen.

(Or the people who invented it could, after patenting their discovery, have written it up as a scientific paper. Get it published and the results replicated, then sell licenses, and you could become billionaires without having to actually manufacture anything at all.)

You'd think that in the several years the Keseco device has been around, they'd have managed to do this. But instead, just like every other magic power saver or magic gasoline pill, the devices are sold piecemeal to whatever end-users can be persuaded to buy one.

Electrical components that aren't connected to anything are strangely popular in scientifically... novel... devices and talismans.

Inside the "EMPower Modulator", for instance...

EMPower Modulator interior

...are three aluminium plates that aren't connected to anything.

The "Q-Link Pendant"...

Q-Link pendant similarly electrically innovative. And now we've got this Keseco box-of-nothing, too.

Energita sell a few other odd devices (machine-translated English version).

This power-monitoring system (translated) seems kosher, as do these light bulbs (translated), and I think this gadget (translated) may be OK too; it seems to be some sort of improved thermostat for freezers.

But then there's something called a "Fuel Activator" (translated), magnetic fuel improvers (translated) and, of course, the Keseco doodad (translated).

I'm never sure what to think when someone who sells these sorts of products remonstrates with me. I presume they quite often, especially when they're a reseller instead of the originator of the product, actually believe what they're saying. They're seldom abusive or clearly mentally peculiar.

There but for the grace of critical thinking, I suppose.

You have money you didn't know about! Give us some of it!

I love it when I don't have to go looking for an interestingly fishy business proposal, because some obliging organisation mails it to me.

(It's even better than unsolicited crank e-mail.)

Fishy letter

Strictly speaking, this one wasn't actually mailed to me, but to my partner Anne. It wasn't precisely aimed at her, either; they had our old address right, but if the recipient's name had been Norma Jeane Baker, the letter would have been addressed to Jeane Norma Baker.

So anyway, it's from an outfit called "CollectionPoint", and they're pleased to tell Anne that there's $AU887.50 waiting for her in an undisclosed location. Apparently CollectionPoint do debt recovery too, for a fee of 25% plus GST. They don't quote a fee for this other kind of money recovery, but I think it's safe to say it's not small.

We're not exactly rolling in dough at the moment, so a forgotten nest-egg could be quite handy.

(Do send me some money if you feel like it. We're hardly on the bread-line, though; I assure you that the lights will stay on, the cats will still get their little tins of fancy fish and the freeloading cockatoos will get their seed without your kind assistance.)

The questions that immediately occurred to me were, of course, "does this money actually exist?", and "is this outfit charging a fee for something you can do quite easily yourself?"

The answers to these questions are surprising and unsurprising, respectively.

"Unclaimed money" has been a scam-artist favourite for a long, long time. Unexpected inheritances. Prizes in lotteries you never even entered. A permutation in which the money may not actually strictly speaking be yours, but a morally upstanding person says you can still get hold of it, for a price. Some sort of purported government involvement. The list goes on.

The unclaimed-money business has even spawned meta-scams, in which the sucker pays for an information pack or franchise opportunity or something so they can start a work-at-home business finding unclaimed judicial judgements, or whatever, and creaming off a fat commission.

But CollectionPoint actually are telling us about money we really can claim. We'll claim it as soon as we can make a big enough pile of ID documents.

CollectionPoint are also, however, offering to take people's money to help them do something that is not actually difficult to do - or at least not significantly more difficult to do - by yourself.

The Australian government has a site called "Moneysmart" that'll point you at various unclaimed-money searches. Anne found the money CollectionPoint are talking about via the NSW Office of State Revenue site. Which is presumably the same way CollectionPoint found it.

So CollectionPoint do provide a helpful service. They alert you to the existence of money you probably can actually collect. And then you can throw the CollectionPoint letter away and go and collect your money the free way. CollectionPoint do not appear to be breaking any laws.

Well, they're not breaking any laws right now, anyway. The Australian Government's Department of Veterans' Affairs are happy to list CollectionPoint on their scam information page - apparently CollectionPoint sent letters to war widows claiming to be acting on behalf of that Department. And it's not hard to find other people talking about CollectionPoint in not-entirely-complimentary terms.

CollectionPoint come off pretty well in this blog post, for instance, until several allegedly separate people show up in the comments, all loudly defending CollectionPoint and all suffering from a suspiciously similar inability to construct a sentence, or in many cases even a word.

CollectionPoint also score themselves a mention in this Age article; apparently CollectionPoint have sent out follow-up letters implying - but not exactly actionably saying - that if you don't use their services, you'll miss out on the money altogether.

A commenter here says that after a CollectionPoint letter put him onto some money he could claim, and he claimed it himself without using CollectionPoint's services, CollectionPoint sent him a bill.

This bloke says CollectionPoint offered to collect $500 owing to him for a mere $160 - a 32% fee. Even Today Tonight doesn't like them.

Oh, and according (PDF) to the Consumer Action Law Centre, CollectionPoint charged a 25% fee for recovering some unclaimed superannuation money for an elderly client after he provided them with the identifying information he could have used to get the money back for free. But then CollectionPoint jacked up the 25% fee by adding another 10% GST charge (so 27.5%, altogether). The Consumer Action Law Centre took the case to court, and (another PDF) the Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal decided that CollectionPoint were indeed gouging their client, and reduced the fee payable to CollectionPoint by 45%.

The funny part, though, was that in response to this lawsuit CollectionPoint filed their own, in the same court, against the Consumer Action Law Centre's lawyers. They alleged "misleading and deceptive conduct" and an obscure kind of defamation, "injurious falsehood", which is becoming less obscure after recent reforms to defamation law in Australia.

In my non-lawyerly estimation, I think the result of this counter-suit can fairly be described as "widespread puzzlement".

So anyway, we're getting our eight hundred and something bucks.

CollectionPoint won't see a penny of it.


A reader writes:

I was wondering if you have come across "Water Ion Technologies" before. My skills tend towards electronics or I.T., and about the most interesting thing I ever did with chemicals probably wasn't that good for me at the time. I know you're not really a chemical science site, although, in fairness, you seem to derive some small amounts of schadenfreude from debunking some of the more obvious pseudoscience shysters that inhabit the 'net. God knows I do when you do it.

So... Should I be super excited about what they're saying, or do I need to take more of those chemicals before their vision will fit into my reality?


Usually, purveyors of magic water at least somewhat restrict their claims.

Usually, it's good for what ails you. Either it's treated with magnets or dual overhead quantum recipulating sprines, or it's just some mildly alkaline spring water that the seller declares to be Water Of Gladness or whatever. And away they go selling the stuff, come what may.

Or perhaps it's not of medical value, but you can run your car on it.

Or it's not water at all, but separated hydrogen and oxygen that for ill-described reasons has properties far more useful than the hydrogen and oxygen dealt with by boring old scientists.

Water Ion Technologies seem to have opted for "all of the above".

Their main discovery, you see, is a mystic substance called "SG Gas", which is not H2O but "O-HH", and has a long list of properties that'll pretty much overturn the entirety of molecular chemistry if they turn out to be real.

(The Water Ion Technologies "science" page also, according to ancient psychoceramic tradition, rambles on about the patents they've applied for, as if having a patent on something means that the thing works.)

But wait! If you "infuse" water with SG Gas, you get "Ultra-Pure Polarized Water", also known as the "AquaNew" product Aqua Cura "Watt-Ahh", which combines at least five forms of pseudoscience to provide 100% of your daily requirements of whatever the hell it is they're talking about.

(Actual scientists may find the Watt-Ahh "Studies" page particularly entertaining. Watt-Ahh doesn't have anything but water in it, oxyhydrogen doesn't kill cells, capacitance testing somehow proves they're really making "clustered water", now suddenly their nothing-but-water product is supposed to kill germs although that's not actually what they did with it to reach this conclusion, and now, surprise, it's a treatment for autism! And good for cut flowers. And on it goes.)

If this were the first miracle hydrogen-oxygen gas, or the first miracle water, promoted with a well-tossed salad of quantum flapdoodle, crackpot physics and claims about "hydration", "cellular communication", "detoxification", and so on, then I might be inclined to give them slightly longer shrift. Heck, they've even got one study done by a real scientist at a real university... using their own odd in-vitro protocol. But c'mon, it beats the heck out of the tests in which they forget to tell you the results.

The thing is, though, that mysterious hydrogen-oxygen gases are a long-term crank favourite. Often described as "HHO" or "Brown's Gas", they're forever allowing people to get a thousand miles per gallon or burn the gas to get back more energy than they used making it, except when some tiresome empiricist shows up and tries to actually test these claims.

And as for magic water, well, your one-stop shop for an overview of the surprisingly large number of magic-water products out there is "H2O dot con". Their page about water cluster quackery goes into claims like the "Watt-Ahh" ones in some detail; Watt-Ahh has its own little entry on the depressingly long list of similar products and devices.

Could this stuff be real? Sure, insofar as the claims made for it are even physically possible.

Since this is another potentially world-changing product that's mysteriously being sold piecemeal to individual consumers rather than turning into a multi-billion-dollar business, though, I see no reason to give it any more credence than any of the many, many, many other products in the same market sector.

Oh, all right. One more fuel additive.

A reader writes:

I've read all your various fuel-additive debunking pieces, and while I'm assuming that this is Just One More Of The Same, I would like your opinion:

Big, flashy web page. Graphics and embedded videos. And not only testimonials, but actual Lab Results!!!

The How It Works web page sounds awfully dodgy to me, though, and the FAQ page makes me even more skeptical. On the other hand, they go to great lengths to differentiate themselves from being just another engine cleaner, and give myriad details about how to properly do testing so you can see the results for yourself. Also, the information given in their "EPA & CARB certified Lab Results" page is big on scientific rigor, discussing the need for consistent baseline runs and blind testing so the driving habits do not affect the outcome. (Of course, it could all be made-up hooey, but that's the chance we take.)

Point is, they sound good. And the product is being sold by Canadian Tire, a very large Canadian retail outlet.

(Canadian Tire is an institution in Canada. They are a Wal-Mart like store, but have been around for some 90 years. For 50 years have a 'store loyalty' program called Canadian Tire money, where some small percentage of your purchase is refunded to you in Canadian Tire Money. This 'money' is of *very* high quality; it is, in fact, better (better paper and ink, stronger security measures) than the national currency of some countries I have travelled. It is gladly accepted by charities, frequently given in larger denominations as wedding gifts, and is often used as a sort of alternate currency, trading at par among friends or even friendly strangers. Thus endeth the lesson.)

Anyway, since Canadian Tire is endorsing the stuff, I expect that many folks are going to be trying it. I know you have seen many scams of this nature, so I beseech you to train your skeptical and knowledgeable eyes on this potential snake-oil from the Great White North.


Yeah, here we go again.

This outfit does indeed have a better spiel than most fuel-additive sellers, but there on their How It Works page is the usual claptrap about raising octane rating.

Raising a fuel's octane rating above what an engine's compression ratio and ignition timing requires will, for an absolute certainty, do nothing at all, and certainly not improve an "incomplete burn", a concept which the Eco Fuel Saver people also share with dozens, if not hundreds, of other fuel-additive companies.

Modern engines all burn very very nearly all of the fuel, or else they fail emission testing and/or set the catalytic converter on fire.

And on it goes, blah blah blah, and then there are those nifty PDF test datasheets you mentioned - which are, once again, of a quality well above the norm for these outfits, and not even from California Environmental Engineering!

This post has been sitting on my to-do pile for rather a while; when I first replied to Shane I observed that the "Gasoline" test-results document said that the tests were done in 2006. And here we were, years later, and this hundred-billion-dollar product was still being sold over the counter to individual motorists. On account, perhaps, of a Conspiracy.

Now they've got documents from 2011 on the lab-results page, though, and all they say is that their additive doesn't ruin the fuel, and in fact changes it in almost no way at all. Then, puzzled, you might try their "Results" page instead, but all you'll find there is a list of variably plausible excuses for the additive doing nothing noticeable. But don't be fooled - Eco Fuel Saver will "increase BTU, octane and lubricity in your fuel", so never mind our own PDF test results that proudly indicate an octane change, for instance, of less than half of one per cent, and the fact that even a large octane increase makes no difference unless your current fuel is causing knock or making your fancy computer-controlled engine retard its spark; just clap your hands, children, and wait for Tinkerbell.

I could dig further into this, but it's like investigating every new prophecy of the end of the world or dude who reckons he's channelling a million-year-old alien, yet is mysteriously unable to even tell you pi to ten significant digits, let alone anything of scientific interest that millions of human high-schoolers don't already know.

It's up to the makers of all of these products to demonstrate the value of their incredibly valuable, if true, claims. It's not up to us to sort through the numerous claimants and their countless claims to see whether perhaps, this time, the magical mileage elixir or perpetual-motion machine is real.

The fact that Canadian Tire sell this product indicates, I think, that Canadian Tire reckon people will buy it. Similarly, Wal-Mart sells those magical "Power Balance" wrist bands (and several similar products, not to mention a particularly spiffy-looking magical engine potion).

And just about every pharmacy sells homeopathic remedies (as does Walmart!). And so on, and so forth.

Hurrah! Another power-saving doodad!

Thanks, once again, to all you readers and your ceaseless campaign to make me sad and irritable, I now know that a couple of days ago that jewel in Australia's investigative-reporting crown, A Current Affair, ran a story about yet another bloody "power saver".

You can see the five-minute ACA segment here.

(Pleasingly, as I write this, the comments on that page are overwhelmingly negative. I've only clicked the "10 more comments" button a couple of times, but thus far it's the sanest comment thread I've ever seen on a mainstream-media site.)

This latest magic electricity talisman is the "Oz Power Saver", the Web site for which is immensely proud of the ACA story, but oddly bereft of further information. You can't even buy one. All you can do is "register your interest".

The basic claims on the site are par for the energy-saver course, though. "Save up to 25% off your electricity bills", "reduces energy usage", and the inevitable "guarantee".

That ACA video fills in the rest of the blanks, with the same stuff we've seen over and over from other magic-box salesmen.

Like the guarantee, for instance, which this time says that they'll refund the purchase price if you don't save at least the Oz Power Saver's purchase price in three years.

It would be churlish and tendentious of me to point out that scam-gadgets, definitely including "power savers", almost always have alleged money-back guarantees, and that power-saver hucksters have a tendency to spawn new businesses rather more frequently than once every three years.

So I shall, of course, not point that out.

On goes the video, dum de dum, it's "already a huge hit in the US and Europe", here's a testimonial from the "one lucky family" in all of Australia who've had the chance to try the thing out, here's no testimonial from anybody equipped to test it properly, "big energy users like factories and hotels have been using this technology for years"... all right, I reckon we're ready for an atrociously mangled explanation of power factor, and power-factor correction, now.

Ah, there it is.

Peculiar power-factor explanation

The ACA explanation actually starts out well, with a double-sine-wave depiction of the voltage/current phase relationship, but then spears off into the bushes with some gibberish about the phase relationship getting messed up as the electricity "travels to your home". (Later on, they tell us that the further you are from a distribution transformer, the worse your power will be.)

It's actually reactive loads that mess up power factor, not the length of wire between your house and a pole-pig transformer. But, more importantly, the people who worry about power factor are the suppliers of the electricity, not its consumers.

To try to get my umpteenth repetition of this lecture out of the way as quickly as possible:

1: There are many, many "power saver" products on the market. Most are little plug-in things, but there are also versions like the Oz Power Saver that are hard-wired in the breaker box. Actually, there are some that're very, very like the Oz Power Saver, to the point of looking exactly the same, as we'll see in a moment.

2: There is no known way for devices like this to work. Power-factor correction is a real thing, but it is completely impossible for it to save a domestic power consumer any money at all, even if their house has a lousy aggregate power factor, which it almost certainly doesn't.

3: The reason why it can't save you any money is that domestic (and most commercial) power consumers aren't billed for a bad power factor. Domestic (and most commercial) power meters can't even detect a bad power factor. Promoters of these gadgets always come up with some sort of tortured pseudoscientific word-salad that suggests that your electricity meter actually measures the "bad electricity" or "dirty power" or whatever that the magic box cures, but this is not actually the case unless you're running a factory full of motors, and it's not always the case even then.

Back to the Oz Power Saver.

I applied the terrifying black-hat hacker firepower of the TinEye image search to...

Oz Power Saver picture

...this picture of the product, on the Oz Power Saver site. Whaddayaknow, there was the same image...

Power-Save 1200 picture

...being used on numerous sites selling the good old Power-Save 1200!

Now, the Oz Power Saver can't be the exact same thing as the Power-Save 1200, because the Power-Save 1200 is a US product, and Australia's mains voltage is twice that of the USA.

(Well, OK, it could be the exact same product, if it contains auto-sensing multi-voltage circuitry, or no circuitry at all, which latter situation turns out to be not far from the truth for certain products in this market sector. I don't think either is likely in this case, though.)

One quite marked difference between the Oz Power Saver and the Power-Save 1200 is price. The Power-Save 1200 is about a $US300 product, while the Oz Power Saver, according to the cheerful distributor in the ACA story, revels in a price of eight hundred and ninety-five Australian dollars, which is about the same number of US dollars, as I write this.

But it's guaranteed to save you at least that much in three years, et cetera et cetera.

In the ACA-story demonstration of the Oz Power Saver's incredible qualities, we get to see the traditional Wooden Partition with Wires and Motors On It, and the similarly traditional Cheap 'N' Dodgy Power Meter (sometimes replaced by one or more $10 multimeters) giving its imaginative impression of the power factor of a load.

The demo load manages to achieve a truly miserable power factor of 0.39 according to said meter, which leaps to 0.87 when the Oz Power Saver's activated.

These power-factor numbers may actually be accurate, since the test load appears to be a free-spinning unloaded AC motor, which can be counted on to have a crappy power factor. AC motors that're matched passably well to their load, like most AC motors in the world, can be expected to have a much better power factor. Power tools - electric drills, angle grinders - may have a lousy PF when they're spinning free, but you'll have to spend rather a lot of time standing there grinning at a free-spinning drill bit for that load to make any significant difference to your residence's aggregate power factor.

More realistically, washing machines and tumble-dryers may sometimes have lousy power factor, because different loads of washing mean different loads on the motors. But you'd, again, have to do rather a lot of washing for this to make a significant difference to your home's aggregate power factor, and even if you do, it won't cost you any more money, because residential customers aren't billed by power factor. (Just in case you forgot that.)

Shortly after the cheap-electricity-meter demo, A Current Affair's piece on the Oz Power Saver suddenly switches to an update on a story from last year, about some blokes who make a whole different power-saving thingy, the "Futurewave Energy Saver". Which I immediately, of course, assumed would be another box of pure uncut pixie dust. But which I suspect is actually kosher.

The Futurewave device is alleged to reduce the power consumption of swimming-pool pumps, and some other similar motors. It isn't a magic power-factor box, though; it's a speed-control device, that according to the FAQ saves actual real power, instead of confusedly-described apparent power, by just running the pool pump at reduced speed for most of the pool-cleaning cycle, when full power isn't actually required.

This seems as if it might actually work. I don't know if it does, but it seems to have no arguments with the laws o' physics, or of electricity billing.

Next, the ACA story whiplashes back to the Oz Power Saver, and cheerfully informs us that the Oz Power Saver will "do the same" for "anything with a motor".

So presumably you'd be a total idiot to buy the Futurewave product, that only works for pool pumps.

God, I'd be irritated if I were the Futurewave people. It'd be like taking the time to build a comfortable and safe 80-mile-per-gallon car, and then finding yourself lost in a vast mob of hucksters selling cars that run on water.

I'm not holding my breath for a regulatory agency to do anything about the Oz Power Saver. It is, for a start, not actually on sale yet, and the regulators are overworked and understaffed. Scams that don't actively kill people often don't get a very high priority.

Here, to cheer us all up a bit, is the Australian government slapping down one of the many plug-in power savers, called the Enersonic Power Saver, which I mention here and here.

The Australian Consumers' Association were so impressed with another plug-in power saver, the "Reegen Micro-Plug" that they gave it a Shonky Award. And here are those nice people who sold one of these things until they realised it was a scam, then said sorry. They, along with some non-Australian examples are mentioned at the end of this old post.

My offer from the end of that post still stands. If the Oz Power Saver people want to contact me about installing one of their boxes at my house, preferably with a nice Frankenstein knife switch so I can switch it in and out of the circuit at will just as they do in their demo, I will test it with various household motor loads and will immediately recant all of the above if the Oz Power Saver turns out to do a damn thing.

Gimme ten grand, for some reason!

A new high point in PayPal-money-request audacity:

Audacious PayPal invoice

What, you might wonder, does "Login and Learn" have to say for themselves in the money-request message?

Note from merchant:
Please make payment in full. All sevices will continue once payment is made. A dynamic new innovation for helping thhe less fortunate.

This guy tried a strange sort of attenuated advance-fee-fraud bait; "Login and Learn" appears to have a similar strange strategy, but based around... a bogus educational charity, I guess?

I wonder if I'll ever get one of these weird requests for an even larger sum than this.

(Now you jokers'll all be sending me trillion-dollar invoices, won't you?)

Posted in Scams. 5 Comments »