Undercover: Whose Essay Is It Anyway?

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Words || Max Lewis

We’ve all been there, right? You finally get to sleep after a night of self-loathing and watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? YouTube compilations for six hours. You’ve drifted off for mere seconds before you remember you have an essay due the next day, or a week away.  As the threat of menial assessments makes the sweet siren-song of death sound more appealing than it used to, you think, “I’d rather slowly cook and eat myself while being forced to watch The Big Bang Theory in a Saw-esque death trap than write this essay. Can’t someone else do it?” Well, dear reader, I, and Grapeshot’s minuscule budget are taking one for the team to see just how easy it is to buy an essay. Is it legit? Is it safe? Should you simply use all the time you would waste searching for the perfect website and waiting for the essay to be written to just write the fucking essay?

My first stop on this journey was studentsassignmenthelp.com, shared multiple times on the Macquarie University Facebook group. Visiting the site was like peeing in the bathrooms at Ivy: I was afraid to touch anything for fear of viruses, and I was hit on by a man named Andy. Several tabs, like ‘Assignment Help’, ‘Essay Help’, and ‘Dissertation Help’, lead to dead ends with recycled text detailing how they will help, in comically broken English. My favourite was a link simply titled ‘It’s Others’, which revealed an empty page with the word ‘hello’ and nothing more. I felt a sinister aura coming from this website, but this greeting gave me the bravery I needed to talk to an allegedly human entity via the 24/7 chat line.

“Welcome Guest_d52aca27, how can I help you today?”

“I would like to buy an essay,” I replied.

Yes can you pls send us on [redacted email],“ replied ‘Admin’ minutes later. For a 2,000 word essay due in a week, the price would be $125AUD. “Quality guaranteed,” assured Admin.

I fought tooth and nail for a better deal.

“$100 as final, Dear.”

“Why did you call me dear, that’s creepy,” I replied, beginning to sweat.

Ignoring my protests, Admin pasted a paypal.me link to a man named Brian located in Gurugram, India.

“Who is Brian?” I asked. “Is he nice?”

“Company owner,” replied Admin.

“Are you Brian?

“I am Chat Operator. I am Andy.”

Within the chat were pictures of a lady in business attire and a headset, smiling. I asked Andy if this was him, adding that he was very pretty.

“Thank you,” came the reply.

“I love you, Andy.”

“Thanks for your order.”

I was heartbroken. Had he been leading me on this whole time?

“You were calling me dear, don’t you love me?”

‘I am chat operator my friend.”

“You operated my heart, that’s for sure.”

“Thanks.”

Chewed up and spit out by Andy, I instead tried to go for the source: Brian. Andy became increasingly agitated as I demanded to speak to this mysterious figure.

“He is not free… he may be engaged in other projects.”

“Is Brian ever available?”

“No.”

I tried to get some answers about the legitimacy of the website, and Andy assured me any assignments are “100% plag free” and come with a “free plag report”. Somehow, I didn’t believe him.

Still nursing emotional wounds from Andy, I decided to hit up Craigslist to see what kind of weirdo would write an essay for me. “I need an Essay, Pronto” was my title, nestled amongst the ads in Craigslist’s ‘ETC’ section asking for pictures of feet. “I need an essay about the ethics of buying essays on the internet. You will be paid $50.” Hours ticked by and I became increasingly despondent until a message appeared overnight, like a pimple, in my inbox. Someone named ‘Cosmetic Tattoo Co.’ replied asking about what referencing style I wanted, before promptly disappearing never to be heard from again. Another reply, days later, read “lol, is this a joke???” Not initially, but it was beginning to feel like one.

After resorting to searching the Deep Web and finding nothing but questionable links to buying credit cards and guns, I decided to fling twenty bucks at the website with the best English. Finally, I found one promising fair prices, expert writers, and a no plagiarism guarantee. A 1,500 word essay due in 10 days cost 70 – fucking – bucks, so I opted for $20 for 275 words, and two references, done in 7 days. An email arrived in my inbox a few days later indicating that it was done. What would I find?

What I got, for $20 of my hard earned Centrelink payment, was a 320 word essay (more than what I paid for!) with two references and in perfect English. Essentially, I paid them $20 to write an ad for themselves, as they wrote in length about the positives of essay buying while insisting that the negatives are merely “ethical”. Here’s a sample:

            These writing services serve both its clients and the companies. Students who may not have the writing skills to earn good enough grades get the chance towards better grades. Even a good student “needs professional writing help at one point or another” (Hughes 2016) especially if they are swamped with requirements and personal obligations at the same time. Meanwhile, on the part of the companies offering the service, “essay writing has become a cottage industry” (Gunderman 2012). They profit as well as provide employment for ghost writers coming mostly from English-speaking Third World countries.

            Online companies offering essay writing services has turned higher education into an industry. It benefits students, allowing them to earn good grades without the pressure of working late into the night writing the papers. However, the practice may be described as mocking the integrity of the educational system. Perhaps in order to prevent this practice, change needs to come from the institutions, too. They can give reasonable and interesting workload, while teaching students to become better writers and researchers.

While it reads a little bit like a robot wrote it, this would certainly earn you a passing grade at least. But it was at the cost of what most people working casual jobs would earn in an hour and a bit – for that hour and a bit you could have written it yourself and earned a much higher mark. For 1,500 words with a minimum of 5 references done in a week you’d be looking at over $100 on this website alone, and from what I could see that price range was par for the course. I’m one of those insane people who enjoy writing essays on topics I’m interested in, so paying someone else to do it seems like a huge waste. Given how long it took me to find a legit site amongst the scams, how long it took for it to arrive, and how freaking expensive it was, you’re better off writing it yourself no matter how daunting it seems. Start early, take it a chunk at a time, and it’ll be done in no time – and for no cost at all except your sanity.

If you do decide to go down the road of essay buying, tell Andy I said hello.