Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill is pursuing legal action against another dealership promotions company over allegations of deceptive advertising that included thousands of dollars in prizes and promotions of special financing connected with monthly payments of less than $100.
In a civil lawsuit filed April 4 in Morgan County, Hill alleged that Texas-based Hopkins and Raines sent mailings to 2.1 million Indiana consumers as part of 56 different promotions for dealers in Indiana between March of 2016 and March of 2018.
The complaint alleged that all the mailings contained game pieces purporting to determine whether recipients had won prizes, which included such valuable items as vehicles, TVs or $1,000 in cash. Hill’s office said each mailing, however, contained identical game pieces with winning numbers. Thus, each mailing allegedly communicated to all recipients that they had won significant prizes when they had not.
The Hoosier State AG continued in a news release that recipients who went to dealerships to claim winnings were awarded “prizes” much less valuable than those advertised — typically such items as a $5 Walmart gift card, a scratch-off lottery ticket, a “cheap” MP3 player or a mail-in rebate coupon for $10 off the purchase of a turkey.
In the lawsuit, Hill alleged that the true reason for the mailing was to lure recipients to events where they would be subjected to sales pitches for vehicles.
In addition to the alleged deceptive nature of the mailings, the Indiana AG claimed the mailings violated the Promotional Gifts and Contests Act in various ways. These promotions allegedly included:
— Uniformly failing to identify the name and address of the promoter
— Failing to state the odds of winning each prize in the appropriate place and size
— Failing to include the verifiable retail value of each prize in the appropriate place and size
— Failing to include any disclosure that the recipients may be subjected to a sales pitch
— Failing to properly identify the retail value of prizes
Hill has filed similar complaints within recent months against five other promotional firms, including:
— DBR Integrity Promotions
— Dealer Direct Services
— Prophecy Marketing
— Traffic Jam Events
— Xcel Media Group
To date, Hill has obtained judgments against Traffic Jam Events and Prophecy Marketing.
“Always be skeptical of anything that seems too good to be true,” Hill said. “Typically, the announcement that ‘you’re a winner’ is merely a ploy to entice you to go listen to someone's sales pitch. We want Hoosiers to be alert to all varieties of misleading advertising so they can avoid wasting their time or, even worse, getting talked into making ill-advised purchases.”