Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is issuing a warning to consumers about mail-out automobile dealership promotions containing lottery-style game pieces that trick Arkansans into thinking they’ve won a high value prize.
Upon arrival at the dealership to collect the prize, the consumer learns there is no prize and that it is just a ploy to try to sell a car, according to a news release from the attorney general.
The mail-out promotions contain what appear to be lottery scratch-off tickets that indicate that the recipient is a winner of a prize, such as a television, a trip, a boat, cash, and other big prizes. These promotions entice recipients into a false belief that they have won the prize, as if the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery sold the actual scratch-off ticket.
“These promotions with phony lottery scratch-off games are just a trick to try to sell cars.” Rutledge said. “I support and encourage a competitive business environment in Arkansas, but businesses must be fair and honest with consumers.”
The Attorney General’s Office has conducted an investigative review of these mail-outs and could find no evidence that anyone had ever actually received any of the high value prizes promised. Rather, consumers report that their names were placed in a drawing for another prize or that they received an item of nominal value, but all were subjected to a high-pressure sales pitch to buy a car, according to the release.
The Arkansas Prize Promotion Act prohibits sending a prize notice representing that a person is a winner when in fact it is only a promotional scheme designed to make contact with prospective customers.
On July 3, Rutledge issued an Enforcement Advisory to Arkansas Automobile Dealers to immediately cease and desist from using bogus lottery-style games (e.g., scratch-off instant ticket, pull tabs, etc.), or any similar bogus devices, in advertisements or promotions to Arkansas consumers or face legal action for violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and the Arkansas Prize Promotion Act. The ADTPA specifically prohibits the use of deception, fraud, or false pretenses in advertising, including the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact.
To ensure that dealers were aware of the enforcement advisory, it was issued in coordination with the Arkansas Motor Vehicles Commission and the Arkansas State Police Used Car Division – two agencies that license new and used automobile dealers in the state, as well as the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association and the Arkansas Independent Automobile Dealers Association. Rutledge also issued cease and desist directives to the marketing companies known to be involved in the production and distribution of these promotional materials mailed to Arkansas consumers on behalf of automobile dealerships.
Consumers who receive a promotion in the mail containing lottery-style games are encouraged to contact the Consumer Hotline at 800-482-8982 or file a consumer complaint at www.ArkansasAG.gov.