Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Fuck You to PlayTV Canada

UPDATE (Dec. 5 2009): There is some fruitful discussion of this scam going on over at, um, "another blog": See Play TV Canada is a Scam and Play TV Canada Has No Legs.

I see this "show" on sometimes when I flip on the TV before bed, and I can't turn away. It's the most boring thing you could think of: this guy stands there, with some sort of "puzzle" on the screen, and he says that time is running out for someone to call in, give the solution to the puzzle, and win $500. That's it. He stands there, babbling, waiting for the phone to ring.

The thing is, it's a blatant scam. These people use subtle and not-so-subtle psychological tricks to persuade people to dial a number that costs $2.00 to call. For example, there is constant time pressure. The guy will put a countdown on the screen until the end of the contest. When it runs out he'll pretend he's fighting the producers to extend the deadline. The whole time, his phone sits there, not ringing. So you feel like, wow, this seems fishy, but I gotta decide right now, nobody else is calling, and the puzzle is easy (see above), so I'm guaranteed $500!

Another variation on the scam is putting up a "puzzle" with the terms of the solution so vague that it's pretty much guessing at random answers. Then, even if you get through, you'll get it wrong. Last night they showed a picture, and the puzzle was "how many hearts are in the picture?" But there were hearts within hearts, partial hearts, hearts that were covered but could be inferred, hearts too small to see, etc. Depending on which assumptions you include or exclude, there is a very large number of reasonable answers. So you hear people getting through occasionally, but they're all wrong.

The underlying scam is in fine text at the bottom: "calling in enters you into a random draw to give a guess on the air." So they arbitrarily decide when to air someone's guess. They no doubt time it for the maximum illusion that not many people are calling, so if you call, you will surely win. Meanwhile, thousands of people are calling in at $2.00 a call. At the end of the show, they finally allow someone to get through on the easy puzzle, give them $500, then these assholes walk away with a profit of tens of thousands of dollars.

Yet, even knowing it's a scam, I can't turn away. Hearing the poor (probably literally poor) confused people get on the air, falling for the greedy tricks, it's like witnessing a crime. So bottom line: fuck you, PlayTV Canada. And a bonus fuck you to Global Television for allowing this morally bankrupt shit to air.


Dan said...

Well put indeed

Fred said...

Not to mention them outright having ridiculous answers...Their questions of 'Add these numbers together' questions, where there is no way the question or numbers could have been interpreted in a way to get their answer.

The CRTC needs to step in and punish global for allowing this shit (disclaimer or no disclaimer)

MrGameShow said...

I only discovered this show last night and I could not tear myself away - simply cause I was interested in seeing what the CORRECT answer was! I took a picture of the puzzle on the screen and waited - the hearts one was 107 "apparently".

Tonight's show they had submarine dive sirens and everything going in the last 10 minutes of the show in another one of those "which picture is different" grid games and it being the FINAL MOMENTS OF THE SHOW! (with 7 minutes to go).

I'd love to know how much they line their pockets with every night!

Candice said...

Some countries have entire CHANNELS for this garbage, apparently ( ). I used to watch one here in the states, and you're right, it's impossible to turn it off. There's just so many insane audio and video effects going on, not to mention that I'm fairly certain the hosts were all on speed.

Sometimes it was possible to figure out the correct answer for certain (word jumbles, etc.) and I'd punch in my number online, because hell, it was easy and free (you only have to pay to enter if you're dumb enough to enter by text message), but best that ever happened was I got the call back to wait on hold to try to answer. I assume they call a number of extra people in case some don't answer or bother to stay on the line. And yes, they actually call YOU, not the other way around. At least, that's how this one worked.

tornwordo said...

HAven't seen it, but sounds very misleading.

Blondie said...

WHAT?! I'm so outraged! In advertising class, I remember my teacher saying the the National Enquirer had the largest audience in the world. People look at it on others' coffee tables, in the lineup at the checkout, buy it, subscribe to it, etc. So a scam "psychic" ad in National Enquirer that asks for money is the most profitable thing you can do. Even if the response rate is 0.0001%, you'll make hundreds of thousands of dollars. So sad.

carissajaded said...

You can't turn away.. but have you actually tried to call?

I just thought maybe you had lost a little bit on the gamble bc you have such a passionate opinion on this matter..

Not that I blame you either way.

I hate shit like this. I don't really understand how anyone even allows you these shows to exist.

Phronk said...

Dan: Thanks.

Fred: Yeah, I saw a number one a few nights ago. A bunch of numbers on the screen, and the "question" was something like: "count the numbers on the screen?" And aside from the butchering of the English language, the answer clearly involved adding up number in some random way, not just counting.

MrGameShow: Yeah it's strangely compelling. I bet they are more successful than they deserve to be. Even if they're driven from the air, they'll have made a killing.

Candice: Ugh, whole channels? Yeah there's a free online one for this too, which makes them call you. I'm sure that's only there because it legally has to be.

Torn: It's terrible. Hopefully it's limited to Ontario.

Blondie: It is sad. Especially because the .0001% who do call are probably the ones who can afford it least.

Carissa: Hehe, you'd think I'd been scammed myself eh? But nah, I just hate seeing people taken advantage of.

Everyone: I'll probably send Global a link to this post and keep the blog updated on their reply / non-reply.

MrGameShow said...

Out of curiousity, I decided to email the show to ask for the solution for the "Season 09" puzzle from the Hallowe'en episode, and here's the reply I got from them:

thanks for your mail but please consider that the "audited methodology" does not mean we are allowed to give away the formula of counting our puzzles, but means that the puzzle has only one correct answer and the way of getting to that solution is checked, audited.

Nevertheless, having a formula for counting does not mean that there is a trickery or anything is hidden in the puzzle. It would be unfair to other participants to give away the formula of the puzzle.

Our puzzles are checked by both show directors and computer programs before entering the show."

So obviously there is an alternative method to solving these puzzles - would be interesting to find out in the long run.

Phronk said...

Thanks for updating me. Wow! That's a new low. I thought it was strange that they didn't reveal how they got the answer on the air, but not even sharing it with people who mail in? Terrible.

The way they word it makes it sound like there is some complicated algorithm to get the answer. Clearly not the simple counting or math problem that they imply it is with the question.

I'm going to email Global. I'll add this to the list of complaints. Thanks again.

D said...

So, wait, Canada is NOT the Utopia on Earth we're told it is?
Inconceivable. Canceling my moving plans. Next you'll tell me your health care system is riddled with Death Panels and it takes 6 weeks to see a doctor about your sore throat.
And this reminds me... as a proud Liberal Democrat-minded dude in Seattle, I listen occasionally to my liberally-minded talk radio station. One person called in and stated his opposition to any and all health care reform quite plainly: "It already takes me two weeks to get in to see my doctor; if all these millions of people suddenly get coverage, then that wait time will triple, and I don't want THAT!" I had never thought of that perspective.
This guy's rant was probably what a LOT of folks were thinking, but didn't have the stones to say. Same folks who have "God Bless America" bumper stickers on their cars, yet don't want regular poor folk to have access to health care outside of the state-run urine-smelling emergency rooms.
-rant concluded-

Phronk said...

Haha, excellent out of nowhere rant, sir. :)

Oh yes, it would be terrible to wait a few extra minutes with a sore throat. Much better that people who can't afford health care die or have their lives destroyed than wait a few extra minutes.

Personally, I've never waited more than a day to see a doctor with an appointment. Emergency room waits can be long, but only because the people who need care the most get seen first, no matter how much money they make. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys great blog. ...Just a curious thing I noticed. You posted on Oct 31st that the puzzle was "how many hearts are in this picture". A lady posted taht she saw taht episode and the answer was 107. Well I LOVE math problems and puzzles so I saw it yesterday or rather early this morning at 2:30am Nov 08,2009 in Ontario.

Anyway the picture was of lucy and shroder from charlie brown and there was 4cards of hearts above them. Just wondering if it was the same picture cause if it was this morning's answer was 152 and no one got it right. I've been going over it and over it and there is no way to get 152. If it is the same picture then it obviously is a scam as a few weeks ago the answer was 107 and last night it was 152.

The other picture was a find the differences puzzle. Seemed like no one was calling in and there was only 5 min left of the show. Then at the very end some guy got the right answer (it was very obvious) and he won $500.Not sure if he actually will get his money.

I've never ever seen this before but then again i've never been up that late before (sick) but it was scary I actually thought about caling boyfriend forbid me and thank GOD because it is a scam! Now I know.

Anyway great blog!

Anonymous said...

Yeh the Charle Brown puzzle was odd answer for sure....I thought 109 was right but I guess not - how do they get to 150 or 152 it was?

Unknown said...

i had the misfortune of haveing insomnia one night and came across this show and was lured in by the seemingly easy questions and no phones ringing on the show, and i called in, actually i called in several times, i thought i read or heard "you will not be charged unless you get through" but as my phone bill stated today , that was not the case, my lesson cost me 40.00

Anonymous said...

its disgusting. it makes no sense. currently they are doing "guess the sum of all the numbers." the numbers are 2, 1, 12, 12, 75, 21 and 112. why cant anyone guess and why isnt anyone calling, however someone just called and said "10" is it not 235? this is fucking retarded.

Phronk said...

Thanks for sharing your stories, everyone.

I uploaded a screen capture of last night's 'puzzle' here, and more dicussion is going on at my other blog.

Anonymous said...

How is it possible to have an odd numbers of legs when counting human legs and cats' legs???? That's what I saw tonight... hilarious money making scam!!!!

Anonymous said...

cant believe i called in and wasted 8.00 doing so. The girl host is annoying and wow they lead you on wow what a scam. I agree with the poster about the human legs and cat legs that was wth and ridiculous

Anonymous said...

I can't believe eople get sucked into this scam..I tried one with a bug sitting reading a book-the obvious answer..I added it up 3 times w/calculator is 1245...they must see something we don't see...I looked at it six ways from sunday...wife did same..same answer everytime..ever try to enter by computer for free??..the entry form just keeps did not get accepted..try again...pity the suckers wasting $2 $2 $2 So Sad!!!!

Tommy said...


Joseph said...

Well Hello there...u kno tha funny was newyears eve at 3 inther morning and i jus got home drunk off my ass...and i saw this sho come on after the movie...OLDSCHOOL...with Will Farrell...anyways...thinkin' to my self drunk i thought i'd call...and low and behold i was tha first winner of 2010...tha question was a name of a female with 1 "A" in answer was AMY...and i won $55 dollars...on my first word of a lie...but i can also see how it is a scam because they wait forever to took forever to take the next caller...and i'm sure there are thousands of people calling at one time...anyways jus thought i'd share my story!!!

Phronk said...

Hahah, thanks Joseph, that is an awesome story. I usually stumble onto it when I'm hammered too. :)

I'm glad it is possible to win. The name questions are alright, because at least it's clear that it's all about guessing. Although I've heard of questions where they say it's a "common" name and it ends up being some weird combination of letters nobody has ever heard of. Amy sounds fair though.

Michael Pieczonka said...

People, please... let's get this PlayTV Canada shit off the air. I'm disgusted that Global is airing this shit and doesn't see any moral or ethical conflict in so doing. please go here to file a complaint with the Canada Broadcasters Standards Council

Samantha said...

I'm watching PlayTvCanada right now as I type. I first started watching this because the guy has a Australian accent (or British?) which I looove. Within the first 15 minutes I was convinced I had the right answer to the puzzle (the same as the hearts puzzle you described, except you have to count the numbers in the puzzle). After a bit I started second guessing myself and changing my answer when callers guessed my answer and got it wrong. A few minutes ago I started to have suspicions that this show was some sort of raud and decided to look it up on google. I found this blog, read it and found myself nodding alot. What you described is exactly what is going on, you sure do have this guy/show figured out. It's been on for about half an hour now and although I'm getting annoyed at this show, I can't seem to stop watching. Although the answer is irrelevant at this point, I have this strong desire to keep watching 'till the end.

Phronk said...

Haha, that's the thing isn't it? We can't stop looking at it even knowing how stupid it is. I'm afraid to turn a TV on when I get home and weekends because I know I'll waste half an hour on it.

Anonymous said...

O dear, I am ashamed I even fell for this crap. Last nights episode had a pic of 8 women in bikinis with random numbers throughout the puzzle. The numbers included: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12,20,50,100,500, and another 4.
Add all these added together it totals 741.
I called in (ended up costing me $50) by time I got through, but it was for $4000.00 so I convinced myself it was worth it. :(

Got in, gave them my answer and of course WRONG!

No callers got it right, the answer was *381*

WHAT??? There's a f'n ****500**** in the picture so how the hell does that work?

Anyone have any ideas?

Anonymous said...

There was also another '5', for 746. Still wondering how they got less than 500 though...

Anonymous said...

ugh i called in and guess 1,148 because i thought the girls hands were separating the numbers

so it would be 12, 3, 45, 678 instead of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

guess i was wrong ;)

Anonymous said...

Anybody know the anwswer about the "Triangle"?
What is the answer?

Anonymous said...

Well i called and the message said i had to pay if i was selected or not, and then the phone just disconnected. had i known that before calling, i would not have called. obviously i want a chance at the answer. if i go to carnival and pay for the ring toss, they'll at least give me the rings...even if they don't fit over the bottles. blatant rip off is an understatement. i called my cell provider, but they're systems were down - no doubt from all the other victims calling to complain to the cell providers for supporting this outrageous organized criminal behavior.

Anonymous said...

We should contact Global's parent company ( Canwest - information below, boycott their newspapers and 80 ' web properties ').

Also contact their advertisers and their parent companies. Who has face book? Tell your friends.

Randy, Brampton Ont.

Canwest Media Inc. is a subsidiary of Canwest Global Communications Corp. (, Canada's largest media company. In addition to owning the Global Television Network, operating 18 industry-leading specialty channels and having ownership in 5 specialty channels, Canwest is Canada's largest publisher of English language paid daily newspapers and owns and operates more than 80 online properties.

For further information: For media inquiries, please contact: Jacqueline Kendall, Publicist, Global Television, (416) 934-7850,; Deborah Lewis, Vice President, Communications, Canwest Broadcasting, (647) 291-0032,

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Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

TLN, who originally showed this a year before Global did, is now airing the show pretty much every day. How is this allowed to go on?

Anonymous said...

It's too bad this thread is dead, because PlayTV is still on TELELATINO Network, and the word should still be spread around.

Phronk said...

Still lots of discussion over here: