The Prize Money Is Only For Those Who Can Prove They Don’t Need It

, , , , , , , | Working | February 7, 2020

(A while back, I went to an event in my city, and with admission to that event, I got a free raffle ticket to use at the booth of my choice. I entered a drawing for a $250 gift card and a three-night resort vacation. I’m used to never winning anything, so I basically forgot about it after that day. That was in late June; it is now early December. I get a letter from the company claiming they’ve tried to reach me by telephone and to call them back to arrange picking up my prizes, so I call that evening after work.)

Employee #1: “I just wanted to congratulate you again on winning! Now, in addition to that gift card, you’ve also won a three-night stay at one of our resorts, [Resort #1] or [Resort #2]. Have you been to either of those before?”

Me: “I have not. Can you tell me a little about them?”

(The employee gives a very long, detailed explanation of both resorts, one of which sounds great for my kids.)

Employee #1: “Do you know which one you’d be more interested in?”

Me: “The second one sounds great!”

Employee #1: “Great choice. I just have to ask you a few more questions. What is your household size?”

Me: “Three.”

Employee #1: “All right, and are you married, unmarried, separated, or engaged?”

Me: “Single.”

Employee #1: “Okay, and is your total annual income over [amount that is fairly modest, but more than what I make currently]?”

Me: “It is not.”

Employee #1: “I’m sorry, but you are not eligible to claim this prize.”

Me: “What? I have to have a certain income to claim a prize I’ve already been selected for? That makes no sense.”

Employee #1: “Yes, part of this vacation is that we require you to attend a short seminar about our time-share options. While a purchase is not necessary, we do require that you have enough income to purchase a time-share in order to attend.”

Me: “You could have saved me a lot of time if you’d started off with that.”

Employee #1: *cheerily, as though this is a great consolation prize* “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but I can keep you on our mailing list in case we have any events with a lower income requirement, though!”

Me: “No. Do not contact me.”

(The employee starts to say something, but I’m so annoyed about the twenty minutes that I wasted on this call, his cheerful attitude about baiting and switching me, and — oh, yeah — apparently being too poor to even WIN a vacation, I just hang up on him without bothering to ask if I’m still wealthy enough to get the $250 gift card. The next day, when my temper has cooled off, I call back; a tiny part of me hopes that the guy told me the wrong information, but mostly I just want to see if there’s anyone in this company who is actually capable of expressing empathy before I go stirring the pot online. I get a different employee this time.)

Me: “Hi. I called yesterday about a prize I had won, and I just want to be extra sure I have the correct information. Can you help me out?”

Employee #2: “Sure, how can I help?”

Me: “I see on the letter here that all terms and conditions still apply, but it has been around six months and I was never given an actual copy, so I can’t say I remember what those terms are. Can you email that to me?”

Employee #2: “I can do that for you. Did you have other questions today?”

Me: “Yes. So, when I take this vacation, I have to attend a seminar about time-shares, correct?”

Employee #2: “That is correct.”

Me: “Am I obligated to purchase a time-share that day?”

Employee #2: “No, absolutely not!”

Me: “Am I obligated to purchase down the road?”

Employee #2: “No, it really is no obligation!”

Me: “So, I just have to listen to this seminar, I don’t have to purchase anything that day, and I won’t be penalized for not purchasing anything later on? I can really just listen to your presentation and then never be forced to look at or think about this ever again?”

Employee #2: “Well, if you decide it’s not for you, that’s fine, but I think you will be very interested in this program!”

Me: “Perhaps… I’m not looking to purchase immediately, but I have been researching different vacation time-share companies.”

Employee #2: “Oh, perfect! You will find we offer better rewards than many other companies!”

Me: “That’s great! The problem is, though, the employee I spoke to yesterday said I need to make over [amount] per year to attend the seminar.”

Employee #2: “Yes, we do require that guests who attend our seminars have the means to actually purchase a time-share.”

Me: “But you said there was no requirement to purchase?”

Employee #2: “There is no requirement, yes.”

Me: “So, someone with no intentions of ever purchasing a time-share can attend the seminar and then enjoy their free vacation, as long as their income is over [amount]?”

Employee #2: “Well… yes…”

Me: “But someone who does have an interest in time-shares, but doesn’t have the income right this second, is not allowed to attend the seminar and therefore not eligible to take the vacation they entered to win?”

Employee #2: “…”

Me: “Do you see why this may not be a great way to get business?”

Employee #2: “Ma’am, I’m very sorry, but those are the terms and conditions that go along with this offer. I cannot make any exception.”

Me: “Gotcha. Thanks anyway.”

(Of course, I have no intention of owning a timeshare at all, especially not with a company I’d never heard of before. But at least now I know to avoid hotels that are associated with this company. Yes, I did forget to ask about the gift card. And no, I did not receive my copy of the terms and conditions… probably because there was no income requirement mentioned at time of entry. Lucky me; it was the first time in my life I’ve ever won anything worth more than $20, and I couldn’t actually have it.)

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