Publishers Clearing House Review
Publishers Clearing House, or PCH, is one of the best-known direct marketing companies on the planet. The company advertises products and magazine subscriptions using various sweepstakes.
Founded over 60 years ago, PCH is one of the oldest and most controversial marketing companies in America. Find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Publishers Clearing House today in our review.
What is Publishers Clearing House?
Publishers Clearing House is a direct marketing company which sells products and magazine subscriptions by enticing customers with sweepstakes, contests, lottery sites, and other incentives.
The company was founded in 1953 by Harold Mertz, who envisioned an end to the traditional method of door-to-door magazine subscription sales. Instead of one vendor going door-to-door selling one magazine, Mertz wanted one vendor selling multiple magazine subscriptions by mail.
Publishers Clearing House is considered one of America’s most controversial companies because of the way it advertises its contests: at some point, every state in America has sued Publishers Clearing House over allegations that the company misled customers about the odds of winning the sweepstakes – specifically in regards to how much certain purchases increased customers’ chances of winning.
As of 2010, however, Publishers Clearing House had reached settlements with all 50 states. Settlements ranged from $490,000 to $34 million.
In 2012, Publishers Clearing House claims that it earned $750 million in revenue, up from $705 million the year before. The company is headquartered in Port Washington, New York and employs 444 people.
Signing Up for PCH.com
Visiting PCH.com is like walking into a theme park of online sweepstakes. Your eyes are bombarded by different prize offers and there are an overwhelming number of sweepstakes to enter.
You start by creating an online account. You must list a valid address in the United States that can accept mail.
After signing up, you can choose to check a few boxes to receive notifications of prize draws and sweepstakes. At the next page, you’ll see a “scratch and win” ticket which claims that you can win $100,000 if you see the same three matching prize numbers appear when you scratch the card.
Every visitor sees three $100,000 prize amounts appear in the scratch card, making them think they’ve won a lot of money. In reality, you’re just one of millions of people entered into each prize draw.
At the next page, you’ll see a contest where you click on a target to “reveal the EXTRA SAVINGS!” Clicking on any target gives you a steep discount on magazine purchases. You can order an annual magazine subscription for under $10.
Sample magazine subscriptions include:
— Good Housekeeping
— Reader’s Digest
— Weight Watchers
— TV Guide
— Sports Illustrated
— Vegetarian Times
— Southern Living
— All You
— Family Circle
— Eating Well
— Woman’s Day
— And Many More Health, Wellness, Dieting, And Family Magazines
You’ll eventually click through pages and pages of magazine offers, including magazines entitled “$10 or less”, “Big Savings!”, “For You!”, and “Popular Favorites!”
At the next page, you’ll be greeted with yet another offer: typically, this is a travel offer which promises an exciting vacation to an exotic destination.
If you click through all of those offers, you’ll finally reach the homepage of PCH.com. You’ll also see a message confirming your entry into the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.
Now that you’ve completed the signup process, the PCH.com website looks a little different. You’ll see a number of offers you can complete in order to increase your chances of winning certain sweepstakes. Watching a video from certain sponsors will earn you two entries into a $15,000 draw, for example.
Publishers Clearing House Emails and Direct Mail
After signing up for Publishers Clearing House, you’ll begin receiving between 3 and 10 emails per day from PCH. These emails contain links to various products that PCH wants you to buy, or to certain games and sweepstakes.
At the same time, PCH will send 3 to 10 pieces of mail to your physical mailbox every month. Typically, this mail contains offers for cheap magazine subscriptions and reminders to visit the website.
Publishers Clearing House Tokens
Most of the PCH.com website revolves around tokens. They’re the official online currency of Publishers Clearing House.
When you make a brand new account without buying anything, you’ll start with 1,250 tokens. You can earn more tokens at PCH.com or redeem your tokens for prizes.
There’s also a token leaderboard where you can see the highest-ranking users who have won the most tokens on a daily basis.
When you try to redeem your tokens, you may be disappointed by the redeemable items available. You can’t redeem your tokens for any actual products: instead, you need to redeem your tokens to enter a contest to win certain products.
A quick glance at the PCH.com online store shows some of the following prizes:
— 150,000 Tokens Sweepstakes: 150 tokens for 1 entry
— $50 Walmart Gift Card: 500 tokens for 1 entry
— Hamilton Beach Wave Crusher Blender: 500 tokens for 1 entry
— $50 McDonald’s Gift Card: 500 tokens for 1 entry
There are about a dozen more similar prizes, including gift cards, coffee makers, tablets, TV equipment, and cooking sets. There are just one or two prize drawings per day. With thousands of people entering multiple times, your chances of winning anything are slim.
Ultimately, you’re spending your tokens just to enter into more contests which you have an extremely low percentage of winning. That’s a tough thing to see if you’ve just spent hours collecting thousands of tokens.
PCHgames is another important part of the Publishers Clearing House website. From this section, members can play games for a chance to win more cash.
Every day, you can play 3 instant win games to receive up to $1,000 cash. If you complete each game, Publishers Clearing House will double your total.
Every time you play, you’re also entered for a chance to win $10 million.
The three daily games include: Sunken Treasures, Mah Jongg Moolah, and Riverboat Poker. You need to play them in sequential order: otherwise, the final two games won’t unlock.
This is where people get hooked on Publishers Clearing House: the games are genuinely fun to play. Like many video games, they’re also addictive. When you add the incentive of playing for a chance to win real cash prizes, it’s understandable that many people visit PCH.com every day exclusively to play the daily games.
Adding to the problem is that the games are ridiculously easy: 5 seconds of clicking around in Sunken Treasure will get you 1000 points and an extra entry into a $250 prize draw.
You also receive additional token bonuses based on how many games you play: playing 5+ games will net you a 5% token bonus. 20+ games is a 10% token bonus, and 50+ games is a 25% token bonus plus access to the Pro Gamer Vault.
In addition to he three “daily win” games, there are dozens of other games in categories like Arcade, Card, Casino, Sports, Strategy, Trivia, and Word. You play these games, earn tokens based on your score, and eventually progress through the ranks.
After doing well in some games, you can take a spin of the PCHRewards Thank You Wheel. Spin the wheel, and it will slowly move past real cash prizes (making it look like you’re about to win) before settling on a smaller number of tokens.
If you have an addictive personality, I recommend staying far, far away from the PCHgames section of PCH.com. The games are too fun and have way too many incentives to continue – like free tokens and entries into real cash prize draws. If you have an addictive personality, then it could be downright dangerous.
PCH Search & Win
The PCHsearch&win section of PCH.com is simply an ad-filled search engine. If you need to search for something on the internet, Publishers Clearing House recommends doing so with their built-in search engine.
Publishers Clearing House makes commissions based on the advertisements you click on. They’re also a “Shopping” section of the search engine where you’re directed to affiliated retailers. In exchange for your loyal searching, you’re granted extra entries into a daily “SuperPrize.”
The PCHlotto section of PCH.com is where you can play virtual scratch card-like games. Different cards appear on your screen, and you “scratch off” (click on) the numbers you want to pick.
After completing 15 different scratch cards, you receive an entry into a cash draw. As you progress through each scratch card, you’ll view advertisements for different PCH sponsors.
What Do Real People Have to Say About Publishers Clearing House?
Publishers Clearing House currently holds a rating of 1.5 stars out of 5 on ConsumerAffairs.com. That’s unusually low. The review page for PCH is filled with over 1,300 reviews from people who claim to be real PCH users.
What do real users say about PCH?
Here are some of the most important comments and criticisms:
“I've been playing pch games for months now. I have over 200 thousand tokens and have yet to win ten dollars!!!”
“ I would recommend using PCH if you have a bunch of free time and an extra email address. I spend a lot of time dealing with sites like PCH and apps that say you can get free money and win big. I actually have won on PCH only once though. I won a $20 Target Gift card. I had accumulated about 1.2M tokens at this point. This took me about a week playing every single night for about 2-4 hours a night.”
“…for all of those saying PCH doesn't pay out, you're just not lucky enough to win I guess. I'm pretty sure the odds of winning the card was like 1 in 24,000 or something. So if you're really looking to win just play scratch off cards in real life.”
“I have been playing their online games. This generates about 10 emails per day. Those emails have increasingly had bad links. Usually it says something like ‘Bad Request' and ‘Your browser sent a request that this server could not understand'.”
“PCH called me and told me I could buy 5 magazines for $19.95 per month. They said I could cancel or change magazines at anytime. This was done over the phone and I never signed any kind of contract or was told that I'd have to pay any kind of balance if I did. When I tried to cancel, PCH told me that I was responsible for over $1,000 to pay for the magazines that I ordered.”
All of the above reviews were written and posted in January, 2015 and can be viewed at their original source here.
There are also a number of reviews claiming that the people who win the big cash prize draws are not real people, although that claim is difficult to verify.
Is Publishers Clearing House a Scam?
All 50 states in America have sued Publishers Clearing House at some point or another. Publishers Clearing House reached settlements with all of these states as of 2010.
PCH isn’t a traditional scam: it won’t steal your money or give you a low-quality, misrepresented product.
However, PCH has been repeatedly accused of misrepresenting the actual chances of winning anything through the size. If you devote hours of time to the site and jump through all the hoops, then you might win a $20 gift card.
The vast majority of people who sign up for the site, however, will win absolutely nothing – even the people who spend hours diligently watching ads, playing games, using the sponsored search engine, and even buying PCH-affiliated products.
If lotteries and games of chance appeal to you, then Publishers Clearing House is the site for you. If not, then you may feel like Publishers Clearing House is a scam.
Who Should Join Publishers Clearing House?
When you look at Publishers Clearing House reviews online, you’ll see two types of people: negative reviewers who claim they’ve never won any money from PCH, and suspiciously-positive reviewers who claim to have won thousands of dollars.
The fact is: the vast majority of people will never win any money on Publishers Clearing House. Those who do win money will likely win less than $10.
And even if you spend your time on PCH.com diligently collecting points, you’re going to have to save up for a long time just to win a single entry into a contest for a gift card.
With all that in mind, Publishers Clearing House is a great website for people who have lots of time on their hands and enjoy playing online games in pursuit of small rewards. Most people, however, will find little incentive to continue.