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May 7, 2018

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

Filed under: Autos,Sweepstakes — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:07 am

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:

*MOUSE PRINT:

asterisk

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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August 31, 2015

Hotels.com Rewards Readers of Fine Print

Filed under: Humor,Internet,Sweepstakes — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:19 am

  In a twist, an Internet company is rewarding TV viewers who take the time to read the fine print in one of its commercials.

Last month, Hotels.com decided it has high time that TV viewers stopped fast forwarding their DVRs through their commercials. So it created a sweepstakes that required people to pause the recorded program so they could read the rules of the contest including how to enter.

*MOUSE PRINT:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2NbtHAzNnU

The commercial only ran for a week. During that time, how many people do you think paused the commercial and actually entered the sweepstakes for a free trip?

350.




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February 9, 2015

McDonald’s Pay with Lovin’ Promotion

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail,Sweepstakes — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:40 am

  McDonald’s unveiled a new promotion at the Super Bowl whereby random customers entering each of their restaurants will be selected to have their meal on the house if they demonstrate a bit of “lovin'” such as by hugging their kids, calling their mother to say I love you, doing a dance, etc.

McDonald's

The official rules state exactly how the promotion works. Each day at the predetermined time, the first customer to enter through a designated door, will be an unofficial winner. After they place their order, they will be approached by a manager who will tell them their order is free if they perform a particular lovin’ act.

As with any sweepstakes where money might change hands, the first rule is always “no purchase necessary.” This is because most sweepstakes are played in the context of a purchase (such getting a Monopoly game piece affixed to drink cups at McDonald’s). So game promoters are required to tell customers how to play the game free such as just by asking for a game piece, or by submitting a request for one by mail.

Paying a price for the chance of a prize is the definition of a lottery, which only the state and charitable organizations are allowed to operate. So how does McDonald’s present the “no purchase necessary” entry rules for this promotion?

*MOUSE PRINT:

The unofficial winner will be notified by the Lovin’ Lead that they are an unofficial winner after placing an order at the counter [emphasis added] or if the unofficial winner begins to leave the restaurant without placing an order at the counter. Participants do not need to make a McDonald’s purchase of any kind to be deemed an unofficial or official winner.

That is certainly a little bit awkward for the person not intending to make a purchase. So to play without paying, you have to go up to the counter, and loiter a little, or place a really big order (since it will be free if you win) but then tell the cashier you were just kidding, and begin to walk out?

From a practical standpoint what non-purchaser is going to go through this ridiculous charade for a chance at a prize? No, not even MrConsumer.

This is a fun and imaginative promotion. And it certainly is understandable why they don’t want to tell a customer when they first walk in that they have won for fear the customer will place an order for dozens of free meals. But McDonald’s really should be offering a more practical no purchase necessary method for playing the game.

Oh, incidentally, just by walking into the store, you have pre-agreed to resolve any disputes by arbitration. What, you didn’t go online before ordering your Big Mac to learn this? And some would (rightfully) say that this part of the rules is more troublesome and surprising than the no purchase necessary part.




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April 16, 2012

Follow-up: Deal or No Deal’s Surprise Texting Charges

Filed under: Internet,Sweepstakes — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:36 am

deal or no deal Five years ago, Mouse Print* railed against a promotion run on NBC’s Deal or No Deal game show (see original story) whereby viewers could win $10,000 or $20,000 if they correctly guessed which of six briefcases the money was hidden in.

The problem was this: in order to play, you had to text in your answer with your cellphone, and only in fine print was it disclosed that each guess would cost you 99 cents as a premium text message charge. NBC raked in some $45 million from this promotion.

Under the laws of most states, any private venture where you have to pay a price for the chance of a prize is considered an illegal lottery. There was also an inconspicuously disclosed means to play for free. However, since that method required Internet access, and at that time about a third of homes did not have Internat at home, such a free means of entry might not have been sufficient to take the promotion out the realm of being a lottery.

Now, five years later, after NBC and the show’s producers were sued (as well as Fox for its lottery-like promotion on American Idol), the companies have settled the cases.

Everyone who paid 99 cents per call is now entitled to a refund.

*MOUSE PRINT:

For the Deal or No Deal Lucky Case Game, which aired between December 2005 and February 2008, you can file your claim here.

For American Idol’s Challenge Game, which aired Feb. – May 2007, you can file your claim here.

The filing deadline is August 10, 2012.




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October 6, 2008

The Reality of Reality TV Show Top Prizes

Filed under: Sweepstakes,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:21 am

America's Got TalentLast week, Neal E. Boyd won the top prize on NBC’s America’s Got Talent program.  In addition to headlining one show at a Las Vegas hotel, he also won a much ballyhooed $1,000,000, or so it seemed.

Throughout the season, host Jerry Springer reminded contestants of the big prize and the chance to become America’s most talented winner.

Let’s hope that Mr. Boyd wiped the stars out of his eyes long enough to read his contract with the program, and the fine print that rolled by during the credits at the end of the show.

*MOUSE PRINT:

annuity

Translation:  Like the lottery, the big prize is doled out in small increments over decades.  In this case, the winner would wind up getting less than $500 a week for 40 years.  That’s a mere $25,000 a year.  Hardly an amount that would change one’s life.  The alternative lump sum amount is not stated, but after taxes, it is likely to be in the $300,000 range. 

The million dollar prize certainly was an attention getter for the thousands that tried out for the show, and to create excitement amongst viewers.  The winner got his shot at fame, which he might say was priceless, and worth more than the somewhat illusory million dollar cash prize.

It appears that other reality shows have also touted big top prizes that were never quite what they appeared, and sometimes, they were not even awarded.  (See end of this story.)




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