Error on tickets gives away 50,000 grand prizes
By MEGHA RAJAGOPALAN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/19/07
In Roswell, N.M., this week, everyone was a winner.
Hundreds of residents thought they had won the $1,000 grand prize in a Honda dealership's scratch-off sweepstakes — the result of a typographical error by an Atlanta marketing company.
Fifty thousand scratch-off tickets were slated to be mailed, and only one of them should have been marked as the grand prize. Instead, all 50,000 were, though small type explained the odds of winning were one in 50,000.
Luckily for the Honda dealership 20,000 tickets were retrieved at the post office before being mailed.
Still, for Jeff Kohn, Roswell Honda's general manager, the week has been a public relations nightmare. He said 1,300 would-be winners have called in Thursday alone, and 800 more visited the dealership this week demanding their money.
"They're very angry," Kohn said. "The last thing I wanted to do is upset the general public."
Atlanta-based Force Events Direct Marketing was at fault, both businesses said.
"We ship about 3 million pieces of mail a month and this is the first time anything like this has happened," said Jim Fitzpatrick, Force Events president.
Because the flub was accidental, neither company expects to be legally obligated to honor the "winning" tickets. Disappointed consumers can enter a $5,000 dealership drawing. They also can reach into a box to draw a Wal-Mart gift card valued at between $5 and $100 — "to offset the gas expense" for their drive to the dealership, Fitzpatrick said.