On a recent Sunday morning, a housewife named Becky was hosting a garage sale in Bluffdale, Utah. The weather was cold; it was raining; the Mormons were gathered on Temple Square to observe General Conference. As a result, Becky had few customers. Finally, one came along. He asked about the vacuum cleaner, aka the "Fairfax Cleaning System." Becky said it was missing an attachment or two but still "sucked." Five years earlier she had paid $1,400 for it. Would she take eight dollars? Sold.

Included in the package were extra bags and filters, an owner's manual, a one-year limited warranty, attached to which was a post-it note bearing the telephone number for the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau. On another slip of paper was scribbled a toll-free telephone number and the name: "Ken Beach, vice president, Fairfax Vacume Manufacture Co." There was also the telephone number of K & J Associates in Orem, Utah, the outfit that had sold the vacuum cleaner to Becky on April 14, 1998. I tried the number. It's been disconnected.

Finally, there was this letter, addressed "To Whom It May Concern"

- Menzies