The Free Car/iPad scam at Airport Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep

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My wife got the mail 4 days ago and one of the letters was from Airport Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Orlando.  The letter referred to a contest the dealership was running.  Simply match the provided number to one of three scratch off numbers and you are ‘guaranteed’ to win one of four prizes: a $250 gift card, a PT Cruiser, an iPad, or $100 cash.  I usually throw these things away, but in this case, I decided to take the time to read the fine print.  Amazingly, the fine print did not have any of the usual caveats.

Back in the day, the local news had an investigative consumer fraud reporter named Ellen McFarlane.  One of Ellen’s basic tenets was “If something sounds too good to be true…it probably is.”  One thing Ellen was passionate about was fighting scams that promised something for nothing.  With that in mind, I wanted to see just how shady and manipulative this dishonest car dealer could be…I decided to “take the bait.”

Upon arriving at the dealer,   the first thing that struck me was that you have to go through a whole layer of salespeople just to get into the showroom, only to then be harassed by another several layers of dealers.  And once you make it past these dealers, you can look at the vehicles.  Armed with the letter, we went in.  We went straight to the information desk, but got tackled by the young “Angelo” who was (you guessed it!) “new” on the job.

I produced the letter.  I showed it to Angelo.  He didn’t even break a smile.  He whisked us straightaway to a “conference” table.  At the table, he was matter-of-fact.  “Are you even in the market for a car?”  My answer: “Not really.  We came in for the letter.”  “No problem” he said.  He took us over to a large display board.  “So what this letter is about is you get a $2900 check to put towards a new car.  And you can compare against the dealer board to see if you’ve won something.”  And of course, we didn’t win the car, nor the iPad.  Nor the $100 cash.  But we did “win” the $250 gift card.

Now let me stop here for a moment.  So far, according to the terms of the flyer, we DID win something. And according to the dealer, we DID win something.  So far, everything seemed legal to me.  And as an aside, I was really prepared to duke it out with them, thinking the whole thing was a scam, but more on that later.

According to Angelo, the next step toward claiming the prize was to “have a look around” at some of the cars.  Angelo was green.  He had no idea how to sell a car.  No idea how to motivate a buyer.  He just sort of walked about, showing me Jeep Laredo’s when I asked to see SUVs and Trucks.  But whatever…I didn’t mind seeing them.  After looking at a few nice vehicles, we decided to go claim the prize.  Angelo did the right thing and got us some flyers and contact information.  After that, he said “let me go get your prize.”  Shortly thereafter, he came back with the gift card.  He said “Simply log on to the website listed on the card to claim your prize.”

When we got home, I went to the card’s website, entered the username and PIN.  We were then told that we had “$250 to spend.”  The problem:  everything to choose from on the site was pure junk.  These were items that the dollar store would reject!  Undeterred, I still decided to get a few pen sets for emergency gift reserves.  At $99.99 each, I got 2 pen sets.  Then I went to check out.  The checkout process said I needed to pay $39.99 shipping.  No problem, I thought.  The GC had $50 left on it… Unfortunately, the website said “gift card value cannot be used to pay for shipping.  Shipping must be via a major credit card.”

So that’s the scam.  Lure you in and have you “win” a $250 gift card.  Then find out that the $250 can only be redeemed for worthless junk IF you pay upwards of $40 of your own money for “shipping and handling.”

So what did I learn?  Like Ellen said – you can’t get something for nothing.  I also solidified my belief that this car dealer is unfair.  They are the worst lot of people, pun intended.  I bet these scoundrels would sell their own mothers for profit.  And guess what:  I will NEVER, EVER do business with them.  Imagine that…give a man a raw deal and then expect his future business!  That $250 gift card just cost them untold amounts of money on a future purchase + service calls.  The last laugh is on me.

And guess what…I am not finished with them yet.  My original mission was to expose their scam.  So I have forwarded a report to all of the major news stations – consumer fraud department.  There may not be a legal leg to stand on here…but there certainly is an ethical one.

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19 responses »

  1. Today Tuesday March 8, 2011 I received one of those big play & win flyers from a company called myAutoCredit out of Sorrento, Fl. It advertises a hugh tent sale for all different kinds of cars. There is also a scratch off contest. This one just like John’s, you scratch off the middle box which in this case is $25,000 which lo & behold matches the other 2 boxes of $25,000. So now it’s shows that I’ve one either $25,000 or a his or her Dodge Challenger or a Apple Ipad or a Walmart gift card for up to $3,500.
    Just like John, i read the fine print & didn’t really see anything or any disclaimers. But in my head was a little voice telling me if it’s too good there is something wrong. so I figured I would check it out on the internet & I found John’s blog. So now the flyer is where it belongs, IN THE GARBAGE!!! Thanks John

  2. I usually throw these types of fliers away, but I figured as a web developer / online marketing consultant I’d take the bait just to see what their up to. I got a very similar flier and it was worded as to make it look like you’ve won at least $250.
    (Prizes were
    1st Prize-Ram Truck,
    2nd Prize-I-Pad,
    3rd Prize-$300 in gold coins,
    4th Prize-$250 cash)
    but the catch is the gold coins prize is “up to” $300 in gold coins. They did honor the flyer by presenting me with a prize of 3 gold $1 dollar coins, but I felt very pushed around and informatically raped.
    The salesmen we’re like vultures requiring my SSN, email and other personal info before they would tell me what prize I had won, even though I told the guy I am a Spartanburg Dodge customer but it would be at least 4 months before we could be interested in a new vehicle. He insisted on trying to get me to write down my SSN and sign a release to run my credit. I just can’t believe any legitimate business would support this kind of con to try and trick people into business. The sales man even said “You must let me see if we can earn your business”. Earn?? More like Force – Trick – Con….
    Sorry Spartanburg Dodge SC you’ve lost a future customer for this

  3. Thanks for your post! I got a scratch off flyer in the mail today from a dealership and like you guys, I was always a skeptic but for some reason, I liked THIS flyer! I’m a dummy. Now the flyer is in the trash!

  4. Thanks! Got one of the flyers yesterday and they will be setting up business here for the next few days at a huge tent sale. It was the 25,000 scratch off, and if you have 25,000 on all three, you win. Thought it had to be a scam. Then I read the ‘up to’ 500 in gold/silver dollars and pretty much figured that was where the ‘trap’ lied in waiting. Thanks for this blog. Now, I can throw away the flyer without hesitation!

  5. I had a similar problem with a Toyota company in Alabama. When I arrived there I went through the questioning process as well…which is totally irrelevant to what their flyer states. I received 2 coins. I looked at the salesman as he proceeded to laugh in my face and say “well, you are $2 richer” If only they knew that the joke is on them. I serve a just God and he says vengence is his. People like them are going to pay for their trickery.

  6. Great post. I got one of these in Kissimmee and did the usual net lookup. I am putting Ben Newton in this post as he is the guy giving you a check. That way if anyone looks up this scam, they can get a name check.

    Good job, just saved me a lot of hassle

  7. The local Sisbarro dealership sends out these flyers from time to time that are at best questionable. The latest little gem is “Sun Match” where you scratch off a sun and according to the flyer “Match any 3 suns across, down, or diagonally. If they match in any direction, you are a winner! Come to the dealership to claim your prize.”

    According to their Facebook page there is actually another “game” you have to play go win anything. I’m sorry but that is NOT what the flyer says. What I am surprised about is why the state and FTC hasn’t done anything to have the claims cleaned up.

  8. These are a waste of time. Everyone wins a vacation with a $50 deposit and huge restrictions that would not favor a winner. Chances of winning any good price is 100000 to 1. Cant believe car dealerships resort to this type of promotion.

  9. Thanks for sharing your personally experience. My husband & I received a “car wars tent event” flyer with a scratch-off to be a possible grand prize winner of $25,000. But we both know the game…in fact, I received something similiar years ago where EVERYONE were winners, so you can imagine all of those people who believed the scam where victims before they even knew it. If you ever want to be sure you’re not passing up an opportunity, I suggest you dig & google for anything in connection on the notice received…that’s how I confirmation. Otherwise, know that if it sounds too good to be true…then that’s what it is…nothing is free.

  10. I caught this in the fine print of my junk mailing. The ^ symbol is by the scratch off.
    ” ^ Matching symbol only guarantees you are a prize winner, not a guarantee of what prize you have won, ”
    If the symbols match, YOU HAVE WON (something)!

  11. Thanks for writing this! I was about to blow my afternoon at a local Dodge dealer (in Dallas, GA) trying to claim my prize. Now I will do something more valuable with my time.

  12. I see Chrysler is still at it. I got a holiday flyer the other day w/a match-n-win scratch off on it. I scratched off 3 money bags in a row claiming that I won w/ no purchase necessary. A car company just giving out $20,000 to a random person who has no interest in buying a car from them…..yeah right.

  13. Pingback: Free Ipad Facebook Scam | Get Your iPad Now

  14. All this comments are true, I just wished I would of have search them first because my mistake was to have fallen for this idiotic games. Like all of you said this garbage scams go in the trash always so I’ve learned from my family, but this one caught my attention for being different. I recieved this flyer by mail which you had to match the little pictures to the winning pic which was a flat tv screen and ofcourse it matched. So here we go to the dealership and the typical thing that I had to go through the cars and the convincing into getting a new car even though I have my own 2007 jeep which is already paid for. So anyways the thing here that the letter did not explain was that they had their own little pictures in their clip board that had the same tv picture. Are any of you curious on knowing what this prize was… It was a $5 gift card from Walmart. Not to mention I gained 27 extra miles looking for this place which Cost me more gas to this BS. And they actually wanted my full paid car in return for me getting into debt with a new car. At this point ofcourse me and my mom new what was going on because they even said it in a cynical manner that the point to this games was to attract people into buying their cars. I believe this is fraud because those flyers already say you have won something and it shows you the matching pictures as well. What makes them think they are going to attract customers like that (actually the only thing they gain is my hatred and lose my respects)! Ofcourse I wouldnt recommend this place to anyone! I should of swipe that dam credit card in their butt cracks! I’m taking the time to write this review and help out others not to waste precious time on this ridiculous crap. I would just love for this places to get what they deserve and stop them from sending carbage. It nonsense .I do not need a car, how do you even get my mailing address. By the way the place is called The Sisbarro Dealership and it’s in sunland park New Mexico 159 sunland park drive sunland park .nm 88063 phone 5855246640 or 800 923 7707.

    • THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH FOR YOUR REVIEW; I TOLD MY HUSBAND IT WAS FALSE ADVERTISEMENT AND POSSIBLY WANTING YOU TO BUY ONE OF THEIR CARS; I HAD MISPLACED THE MAILER ; BUT THEN FOUND IT LAST NIGHT BUT.. ( IT WAS PAST 5:00pm and THE GAME PIECE WITH THE MATCHING SYMBOLS HAD TO BE REDEMMED BY THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS 8/02/2015) . @ SISBARRO. 159 SUNLAND PARK DRIVE; NM. 88063….. /// SO… HE WAS MAD THAT HE MISSED OUT ON HIS PRIZE ; WHICH WOULD BE EXTREMELY USEFUL AND WONDERFUL OF IT WAD TO BE TRUE AND WITHOUT A HASSLE … ANY HOW THE SCRATCH -N- MATCH TIC TAC TOE ; MAILER DEFINETLY SHOWS WE WON THE 25,000 CASH ( SYMBOLS WERE 3 MONEY BAGS IN A ROW) TOOOO GOOD TO BE TRUE…I CALLED THE DEALER AND OF COARSE, THEY SAID ” BRING THE MAILER ” AND ID AND ONE OF THE STAFF MEMBERS WILL ASSIST YOU AND TAKE CARE OF IT FOR YOU … ( NO PURCHASE NECESSARY ) . AGAIN . …TO GOOD TO BE TRUE…. BUT TO GET TO THE POINT HERE IS. ….I AM GLAD I RAN UP ON YOUR POST AND THANK YOU ; BECAUSE HE WAS WORKING MY NERVES & THINKING HE ACTUALLY WON 25,000 JUST LIKE THAT. …OUTTA THIN AIR. I WILL DEFINETLY SHOW HIM THIS POST >> TO EASE HIS MIND; BODY & SOUL …..AND THROW THIS JUNK MAIL IN THE GARBAGE ; WHERE IT SHOULD HAVE WENT iN THE FIRST PLACE. MY KIDS JUST SO HAPPEN TO SCRATCH IT OFF THAT DAY … AND CRAZY AS IT IS. ..A 12 YEAR OLD And 8 year old CONVINCED HIMTHAT WE WAS A BIG WINNER…LOL !!!!! APPRECIATE THE WARNING.

  15. July 2015, Tacoma WA dodge chrysler jeep store, win his and her cars or 100,000 or other lesser prizes…… I know it is a scam but sometimes I feel like jerking them around for a change. Too bad they feel the need to resort to this type of sales.

  16. Yes I had all those things happen to me here in Nelsons auto in Bassett Va, it was the worse experience I have ever had they are liar cheats I was treated like unfairly and because they were only mans they took me for a fool ,I spend 5 hours there while they made me look at 6 used cars of their choice and told me i could take one home if everything was good, i was soooo happy because my old van was breaking down on me a lot i had the down payment ready and i loved one of the SUV they put in so they promise me everything was great all the paper work and credit check came back good enough for me to take my car home and then i remember my flyer, so i said what about the prize i won it was or suppose to be $1,000 and they said i didn’t win it and even if it said scratch to see if 3 match and it did and still they said i didn’t win anything but i got to take home the SUV to try it out see how i like it for a day,i was sooo happy i wanted it and 😥 hours later they call me saying they had made a mistake that i have to take the vehicle back the same day that my credit wasn’t good enough and that if i wanted the SUV i needed to cough up more money for the down payment that what i had to put down on the SUV wasn’t enough anyways they treated me so nasty one of the salesman was very mean he said that woman are so stupid i was hearing everything he was saying to another new salesman they started laughing and i looked at them dirty i knew they meant for me i was so upset they had kept my old van there for me to pick up and they kept trying to get me to put down more then i could on the down payment for a 2001 Envoy this happened in 2014 and i also reported those so call salesmans to the manager which he didn’t do anything it was them against me the only woman there of course, so i took my van left and with my luck it broke down on the highway so i still to this day have my old van still breaking down on me but i will never go back i just got another flyer yesterday its in the trash going to set it on fire it says i won 2 vehicles lmao yea right im not falling for that again i cried that night because of them lying to me but never again!!!!

  17. Almost fell for this scam; been getting these things for the past few years from the Sisbarro dealership located in Sunland Park NM. About a week ago, I got one again and “won” an ipad. I felt tempted to go and claim my prize, but I had the gut feeling this was a lie so I decided to Google it and find out if anybody had experienced this. Thanks to this Blog I avoided it. From now on, I’ll just rip them and throw them in the trash.

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