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Congratulations, You’ve Won (NOTHING) at Car Dealer

Have you ever noticed the way some car dealers advertise to get you into the showroom? They often promote a variety of sweepstakes with terrific prizes.

One such car dealer in North Carolina recently ran a “$25,000 Monte Carlo Game.” They sent out lottery-like tickets inviting recipients to scratch off the boxes and if they got a match, they would win between $100 and $25,000.

Buick Scratch Off

A consumer who got the mailing scratched off the various boxes as shown above, and the second row matched with three 7’s on both sides. It looked like he won $5,000, so he called the dealer and was told to come right down to the showroom. When he got there, there were a whole lot of other people huddled around a prize table that had been set up. The consumer was then told that he had to check the confirmation code on the board to see if it matched, and of course, it did not. He was then given the bad news that he did not win the $5,000. And they pointed to a small asterisked disclosure that said as much:



Our consumer rightly felt that he had been scammed and complained to the state Attoney General and the consumer reporter at the local TV station. WRAL ran a story about the promotion. They spoke to a lawyer representing the car dealer who asserted that the mailing was not misleading, but could have been misunderstood by recipients.

Right now, the North Carolina Attorney General is investigating seven dealerships in the area who are promising everything from cash to new cars.

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11 thoughts on “Congratulations, You’ve Won (NOTHING) at Car Dealer”

  1. I’m an very wary of things like this, and something similar came around in TN this year and it even caught me for a minute. I read through the fine print a few times before I figured it out and only because I knew there must be some reason I didn’t just accidentally win $1000. Sure enough, after three or four readings, I properly understood the section in the fine print that essentially said ‘symbols on the chart above do not correlate with the prizes shown next to them, matching three symbols guarantees you have won something please stop into the dealership to find out what your prize is.’

    These types of things are very misleading.

  2. I hate getting these things, once every three months or so. sometimes with a key sometimes scratch offs, the fine print is so small and practically hidden when compared to all the big print and casino colors. I know who I’m not ever buying a car from.

  3. Car dealers are crooks. Always have been and always will be. Just toss this type of advertising in the trash. Have you ever heard of anyone winning a car or money from an auto dealership? They will do anything to get you into the dealership. (Google Joe Gibson Suzuki and read about that fiasco.) My local Kia dealership advertises the Kia Soul for $179 a month alluding that it is a purchase and not a lease. And who can read that fine print at the bottom. Some southwest Kia dealerships got in trouble with the FTC for this type of advertising (https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2016/08/ftc-says-car-dealer-took-consumers-ride-again).

  4. If the car dealership is not going to check the confirmation code over the phone then this contest is a very crappy one.

    They are just using the game to get people in the dealership to try to increase car sales.

    I would guess that most everyone won a hundred bucks in that game if the confirmation code was never used.

  5. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

    Read the fine print.

    You can quote me.

  6. I’m in central NY, and there is a dealer in Oneonta that sends one of these out at least twice a year, every year. I don’t know how many turnips fall for this, but THIS turnip is still on the truck. The other variation on this scheme is when I get mailed a key! Yup…stop in at the dealership and see if YOURS unlocks some safe or other. Har-Dee-Har-Har.

  7. It’s like those prank lottery tickets at the dollar store….everyone is a winner but they hold no value when you read the fine print.

  8. While I don’t endorse misleading behavior nor like this type of scam, I find it hard to sue someone for damages if I didn’t make any monetary or other effort to enter myself into a sweepstakes.

  9. It’s not the car dealers that are sending these bogus sweepstakes out to you, but rather a third party company who sold their services to that dealership with the promise of bringing more people into their showroom.

  10. used to get those from a local dealer who,always crowed anout if yiur not happy i want to know. since i WAS a loyal customer and bought 7 vehicles from them in anout 12 years i we t a d checked it out. since i ecame good friend swith all the sa.es people they actually told me no,one ever won anything. they did not say it was a scam..wanted to,keep their jobs..but hinted it was not really right.

    on my last vehicle purchase the G scammed me and when i complained to,the owner ..if your not happy i want to,know a d got no,reply.

    so between fake promotions and scamming me i no longer dealt with them. however as a result of buying an extended warranty i got free oil changes for life. so for over 10 years, till they went out of business, I brought all my vehicles in every 3000 miles for free oil changes and every time they tried telling me something else needed to be done that was not free i brouhht it to my local gargae who,did it for 1/3 the price the dealer wanted. as for him wanting to know if you were not hapoy..yep he wanted to,laugh that he got your money and you got screwed.

  11. I did one of these. It was a Ford dealership. They stated on the T&C that the minimum prize was a $25 Walmart gift card. Well it took weeks to get the gift card which was actually a rebate check. You have to send off the voucher to get a claim form and provide a stamped self-addressed envelope. When you get the claim form, you have to spend a minimum of $25 and then send the form and receipt in another self-address stamped envelope. All of this took about 8 weeks but I did get the check. The prize agency makes it as difficult as possible to get anything. All those numbers on the car mailers will all match but none of them will match the leaderboard for a prize. when you get into the dealership they try and talk you into buying their cars which of course, is the whole point of the mailer.

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