Better Business Bureau warns of prize-winning scratch-offs

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Riverdale woman found out the hard way that a scratch-off promotion from a local car dealer only guaranteed she had won a prize, but did not promise to let her choose which prize. 

The Better Business Bureau has issued an alert on this brand of promotion with consumers like Alicia Graves in mind.

"We were praising God and dancing and singing and just worshiping God on the way to the dealership, thinking we're really being blessed with $30,000," she said.
Graves said she celebrated only after calling Ivory Chevrolet in Union City to confirm she was the top winner in the dealer's mailed scratch-off.

"(The salesman) told me, 'If your numbers match, then you're the winner of the money,'" she said.

The number scratched off did match the so-called lucky number on the previous page of the mailer. Graves did not know, however, she had to match one of the numbers posted in the dealership to claim one of the really big prizes.

"This is a bait and switch.  You baited me in and now you're switching everything up on me. You're changing out the numbers," she said of the dealership.
When Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland walked in to get an explanation, the dealership owner refused comment.
Atlanta Better Business Bureau President Fred Elsberry said confusion prompted the bureau to issue an alert about this very brand of promotion.
"You have got a great many consumers that their expectations are much higher than they can ever expect to fulfill," said Elsberry.

Strickland met Shedrisk Scott outside the dealership. 
"I just had big hopes and big dreams of winning something big," he said. 
His scratch-off qualified for a necklace made in China, lottery tickets and a mini tool kit. The odds in winning those items is a virtual certainty, the flier said.

The Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection examined the flier.

An official said the contest itself meets the requirements of the law, although the value of the prizes should be posted.

State lawyers will confirm with the dealership on that point, they said.