We've won a new car! Or did we...
February 1, 2008 3:52 PM   Subscribe

We've won a new car! Or did we...

A few months ago our local movie theater (Texas) was having a drawing to win a motorcycle or a large amount of money, and we entered into the drawing. Today my husband received a call stating that he had won and is scheduled to meet with the company next week.

Apparently there is no motorcycle, but we will be given a game card to scratch off, where he will win one of four things (cars, money, or a trip), plus we will automatically be given a one week trip.

The scratch card sounds sketchy, plus they require the winner to make a certain amount of money per year (we do qualify). The whole thing sounds a bit shady to me. How likely is it that we'll actually walk out of there with something?
posted by Sufi to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Required to make a certain amount of money? This has got to be a time-share "sweepstakes". The whole object is to derive a list of potential customers, and induce them to come into their office for a sales presentation. It's hard sell, and they've (the industry) been known to pull things like "win a boat" and give you a toy plastic boat. AVOID.
posted by dhartung at 3:58 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by zerobyproxy at 4:00 PM on February 1, 2008

Get all the company information and report them to your State Attorney General's office.
posted by 45moore45 at 4:04 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, former next-door neighbors won one of those inflatable boats, which they discovered after driving 4 hours to Oklahoma City to pick up their new fishing boat.

But hey, I was 12, and they had a pool, so it was all good.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:05 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

save your time.... I concur that it is probably a time share, hard sell event....

You'll walk out annoyed, with the possibility of a trip to Fla. where they will do ANOTHER hard sell...
posted by HuronBob at 4:05 PM on February 1, 2008

I agree with what's been said. I just yessed them, told them I'd DEFINITELY be there, then didn't show up.
posted by clh at 4:07 PM on February 1, 2008

I concur. Worst free trip you'll ever take. FAIL.
posted by mboszko at 4:14 PM on February 1, 2008

Yep, sounds like a time-share fishing for customers. The free 'trip' might provide the accommodation (unsold week at time-share resort), but you'd likely need to provide airfare and everything else. Been there. Did actually buy into the time-share, and haven't regretted it, but skipped the free 'trip', and can spot the other lures in the water.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 4:15 PM on February 1, 2008

Unless there are outstanding warrants for your arrest (yes, they do this to catch felons) this is certainly a time-share hard sell. Stay away. Actually, stay away if you have outstanding warrants, too.
posted by The Bellman at 4:17 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

he will win one of four things (cars, money, or a trip),

The fourth thing will be a battery-powered fan.
posted by rhizome at 4:25 PM on February 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

Scam. The car dealership we live next to sent out a scratch card and we "won" a cruise. For shits and giggles, we went next door to claim our prize, which was a trip on a cruise liner after a day-long timeshare conference that we would have to kick in $200 to attend. I looked up the cruise info online and happened upon pages and pages of people ripped off in the same way. Apparently, they go to the conference, and afterwards, the boat never even shows up and you get sent home.
posted by sian at 4:28 PM on February 1, 2008

Try to refrain from sweepstakes entries that require you to list contact information. Besides the obvious marketing ploy, the sweepstakes is likely run by a company in the direct marketing list rental business.

Entering a sweepstakes is like loudly announcing "please send me spam and junk mail!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:38 PM on February 1, 2008

When I was a student I briefly worked at a very dodgy call centre. We would tear a page from the phonebook and work down it phoning people and telling them we got their details from a questionnaire they or their family must have filled out recently - like a lot of people do - then when they bought that lie we'd "just confirm a few details" by reading them their name from the phonebook and asking them if they made a £30k a year. We had to make sure that the people we lured to our offices with lies could actually afford the holidays we were going to pressurise them into buying during 5hr "presentations." Didn't last long there, and this is 110% scam you are dealing with. This salary "qualification" is the mother of all alarm bells, believe me. They want your money and nothing more.
posted by fire&wings at 5:08 PM on February 1, 2008

Waste of your time. Don't bother.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:15 PM on February 1, 2008

I believe this scam was featured on Season 4, Episode 6 of The Real Hustle.
posted by glibhamdreck at 5:34 PM on February 1, 2008

I have a grandmother who used to enjoy going to time-share presentations. I think she enjoyed it because she enjoys being snide and argumentative and mean.

If her experience is any indication, it's probably a good way to get a clock that's also a weather radio, or a set of tv trays, or an electric fan, or some similar cheap-ass piece of crap (the first two, and probably the last one, are real-life examples). That is, it's a good way to get these things if you enjoy conflict, and your time is worthless.
posted by box at 5:34 PM on February 1, 2008

On the bright side, if you go the car you end up with will probably be a toyoda.
posted by IronLizard at 5:55 PM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing the timeshare scam thing.
I've been to a few scams to see if I could get anything, and one did pay for 6 people's lodging and 5 day's worth of tickets at Orlando theme parks. For a 4-hour presentation, it was worth it. It is possible to come out ahead in timeshare sweepstakes, but it's not something I would ever bank on.
posted by jmd82 at 6:44 PM on February 1, 2008

Yup, it's a timeshare sales thing.

However, I did go to one once, with no intention of buying anything, and walked out with a perfectly good boom box -- not a horrendously cheap one. I used it for more than a decade, so I guess it was worth an hour or so at the sales pitch. But, warning -- if you try this, know that that they pitch HARD. I had no intention of buying, and I still had some twinges of "maybe it would be neat to buy this time share" while I was there.

Another time I got a tennis bracelet which was cheap costume jewelry, but nice enough to wear occasionally. The kind you might buy for $20 at Target. Rhinestones, etc. That time they told us they were overbooked, gave us the gift, and sent us home immediately without even having to listen to the pitch.
posted by litlnemo at 7:05 PM on February 1, 2008

I worked in a time-share-ish type business for about 3 weeks (they called it a vacation club instead of time share). I found out later the owners had been investigated by the state's attorney general for their previous business, so you can guess what caliber of people we're dealing with.

But even they were up front about the presentation thing. Everyone who came in the door knew they had to come in for the 90 minute sales pitch, and if they wanted to walk out without their gift before it even started, then no problem and have a good trip.

I would especially avoid a situation where they're trying to hide things or give you the bait and switch before you even get there. Don't bother, nothing good will come of it.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:20 PM on February 1, 2008

Oh, and they're damn good at it. I saw the most skeptical people turn around and purchase the program, even people who readily admitted to just going to several presentations during their trip to get all the free stuff. One of the salesmen said it's just a matter of time until one of the presentation sells them, because it will happen eventually.

As for qualifying on income, that was a real thing. Obviously it was just the person's word that they made $X or more, but the company didn't want to waste the time and a spot in the presentation on a person who wouldn't be able to afford the cost of the program.

Here's what it boils down to: they sell you the simple pitch. They tell you all the great things you can have, how easy and affordable it is in the long run, and how much use you'll get out of it. In reality, you don't see any hard facts. You don't see how long in advance you have to book your desired time share location before it fills up quickly. In the case of the travel club, you don't see the real cost of the hotel until the day you try to book it. The price-match guarantee, when read closely, works if you find a lower price on the same day you book, not past 24 hours after you booked. So if you find a great deal online the next day that's half of your rate, you're just out of luck.

I'm not saying its a scam, I met dozens of people who were blissfully happy with their purchase in a time share or in the travel club. But it certainly requires more research and insight than you receive in a 90 minute sales pitch and the hard sell to purchase right then and there.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:32 PM on February 1, 2008

Bait & Switch move. What is the name of the theater?
posted by mattbucher at 8:34 PM on February 1, 2008

I've sat through a few of those on purpose, to get the free tickets to a play or whatever. I'm pretty unbendable, though, and I just make it clear up front that every minute the guy spends pitching to me is wasted, and he'd be better off giving me my damn tickets and moving onto the next person to maximize his chances.

Usually works. :)
posted by rokusan at 9:46 PM on February 1, 2008

Response by poster: I'm bummed but thankful for everyone's advice. As always, you guys have been a great help!
posted by Sufi at 4:40 AM on February 2, 2008

What I want to know is how they got away with duping you into entering a draw for a motorcycle, telling you that you'd won, but there never *was* a motorcycle. I don't know about there, but here in NZ competitions are well regulated, such that this sort of deception would be illegal.
posted by girlgeeknz at 7:31 PM on February 2, 2008

They are regulated in the US as well. You must state the odds of winning upfront, and usually provide a way to enter that doesn't require paying anything. So, to get around that, these timeshare things aren't actually sweepstakes, and state that somewhere in the fine print.
posted by smackfu at 8:05 AM on February 3, 2008

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