Moms, Step Away From The Free Wine Pyramid Scheme

# Newsflash: this “gift exchange” is complete nonsense plus, illegal

Us moms are a vulnerable crew when it comes to the phrase “free wine.” Say it and we perk up like our kids when they hear us opening a snack we weren’t planning to share, and it’s that exact desperation nefarious Facebook forces are preying on with this ridiculous holiday wine gift exchange. We’re going cross-eyed trying to do the math to figure out how it would even work, but bottom line, it does not.

Ladies, back away from the pyramid scheme. There are other ways to get our mom juice that don’t include mail fraud.

In case you haven’t seen the post making the Facebook rounds, here it is in all its tricky glory.

TIS THE SEASON to really need wine, apparently. We may not be stellar math students, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that one bottle of wine does not in any world equal 6 to 36 bottles of wine. Who do we think we are, Jesus Christ himself? The only surefire ways to make wine appear out of thin air is to either become a vintner or load into your minivan and haul ass to the liquor store. And even then, the shit still won’t be free. Much like the useless seaweed body wraps that purport to smooth our cottage-cheese-like mom bellies, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

But that didn’t stop us from at least trying to do the math because hello, 36 bottles of free wine. This was pretty much us for a few hours adding up the facts and figures to see how this might shake out.

Spoiler alert: it did not. And oh my God, math sucks.

So, the post tells the hopeful user to buy one \$15 bottle of wine and that somehow, by math voodoo, you could end up with 36 as long as enough of the original poster’s wine-loving friends play along. The entire premise is about as believable as a unicorn walking down your street (please let that happen someday), but the lure of tons of free wine is big enough that plenty of women have probably tried it. So if you were thinking about trying it, picture us saying, “No, girl. Put down your iPad and listen to reason.”

And if you don’t believe us, at least believe the BBB, and no, that’s not a funky postpartum bra size, it’s The Better Business Bureau; and when it comes to debunking questionable consumer practices, they’re your boy.

Their site’s warning about the dangers of the “Secret Sister” scams (yes, there was another incarnation before the wine version involving just “gifts” of indeterminate nature) notes that another important organization, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, is not remotely down with this idea. “According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s gambling and pyramid scheme laws, gift chains like this are illegal and participants could be subject to penalties for mail fraud.”

Fraud! Happy friggin’ holidays from the inside of a jail cell. How’s that free wine taste now, girls? Bitter, right? Like your tears when you realize there’s no way your tiny wine purchase will yield a holiday miracle of several cases of it.

Oh, and P.S.: shipping wine is an absolute shitshow. I used to work for a distributor and we had special packaging for it and bottles still broke during transit on occasion, but good luck, novice wine shipper. I’m sure nothing will go wrong. Not to mention, if this involves mostly strangers on Facebook, you have no way of knowing if someone is underage when you send their magical free wine. Mailing alcohol to a minor sounds like a lovely way to also end up in jail, this time, as an aspiring Regina George’s mom.

In the end, we’ll have to get wine the old-fashioned way. Paying for it with a few screaming kids tagging along while we slowly lose our minds. Happy Holidays!