Honda Dealer Sends Out Scratch-Off Tickets Where Everyone Is a Winner

Here’s a typo you don’t see every day. A Honda dealer contracted the services of a direct mail marketing and promotions agency. The agency was supposed to send out 50,000 scratch-off tickets, one of which was the grand prize winner—entitling the customer to a cash prize of $1,000.

Sadly for the promotions agency… every ticket was a winner. They sent out about 30,000 of the tickets before anyone noticed the mistake.

No one is quite sure how Force Events Direct Marketing is going to make good on a $30 million mistake. We imagine it’s a little tense around the office this morning.

Too Many Winning Tickets [ABC 6 via Ad Age]
(Photo:Ian Muttoo)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Buran says:

    And I’m pretty sure they have to honor them, too, or be sued for false advertising or breach of contract, whatever is appropriate.

  2. iamgibson says:

    Hmmm I believe this would fall on the agency for negligence. that made the mistake good thing for insurance.

  3. Melov says:

    I think they’d rather be sued for false advertisement because it’d be cheaper.

  4. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Yeah, there’s no way I’d take “Sorry, it was a printing error” as an excuse if I had a winning card. Even if the odds aren’t in my favor, there’s no way they could argue that I don’t have any reasonable expectation of winning.

  5. CreativeLinks says:

    Oh gosh, I bet a car dealership will find a way of out it.

  6. quagmire0 says:

    @creativelinks: Yeah, they won’t only get out of it, they’ll end up selling the winners a new car at ‘cost’. ;)

  7. DashTheHand says:

    Anyone have an image of the mailer in question? I believe I got one of these also, but it was for a Chevy Dealership. Reading all of the info, it was exactly as you describe in this post, although some of the fine print was misleading as well. It read that the ticket scratch off was in itself was a winner by matching the numbers, but then apparently there was a second part where it was a scam to get you into the dealership to have to match a second number.

  8. Kornkob says:

    Of course the car dealership will ‘get out of it’— it’s NOT their fault. They contracted a marketing outfit to do a promotion. The marketing people flubbed the ball.

    Now whether the marketing company can dodge the bullet, that’s another matter entirely.

  9. joopiter says:

    I’m guessing that the files were marked wrong and 49,999 of the winning ticket were printed, while only one losing ticket was printed. I’d love to hear how this turns out…

  10. bliss says:

    I’ve got a Honda. It’s my first new car in 10 years and the payments are kinda kicking my tail. How come MY dealership didn’t send out those tix??

  11. scoobydoo says:


    Looks like they are behind a lot of the shitty ad’s car dealers send out. Serves them right.

  12. bonzombiekitty says:

    Depends on what was in the fine print. If they say “not responsible for printing errors” or something, which they would be smart to do anyways, then they’re probably off the hook as well.

  13. foghat81 says:

    It probably won’t end up being quite that big of a deal. not only do many people just throw these away, but i’ve seen some with crazy stipulations like “you have scratch it off in the presence of a dealership employee” or you just scratch off a code and then go to the dealership to match the code with the prize or something. Don’t get me wrong, 30,000 mailers out there is a BIG problem, but IMO maybe half of them will actually be turned into $$$ after the BS fine print stuff is handled.

  14. winnabago says:

    I doubt that they will have any need to pay. It is plainly obvious that it was a printing error, once someone sees more than one card.

    If Wal-Mart accidentally says that a plasma TV is on sale for $45 instead of $4500, it is reasonable that they don’t have to sell them at the price. I don’t know if this would stand up in court, but it seems like there is a defense.

  15. davere says:

    Something like that happened at my dad’s job. They were supposed to print several of those type of tickets and the prices included something like “5 TVs” and “100 Tshirts”. Whoever entered the numbers in the computer that randomized the tickets flipped the numbers. His company had to eat up the cost of buyin the extra 95 TVs.

  16. emax4 says:

    Not only that, but the recipients of the mail might consider it daily junk mail and toss it. Plus those that do keep it might scratch it off, think they’re a winner, then throw it away not reading the fine print.

  17. NoNamesLeft says:

    A mistake makes the contract voidable. You can’t sue them, this was an obvious mistake. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  18. bbbici says:

    i’m pretty sure this same scenario occured with a mcdonald’s monopoly game. mcdonald’s was merely required to split the grand prize equally among all claimants.

  19. Chaosium says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: This is why we can’t have nice things.

  20. Hawkins says:

    NONAMESLEFT is correct: legally, you’re allowed to make a mistake, as long as you try to fix it.

    But I’m betting that this is NOT a mistake, and that it’s a deliberate ploy by a bottom-feeding car dealership to get free publicity and stupid people in the door.

    We have an old saying my my country: never imagine any behavior to be so dirty as to be beneath the average auto dealership.

  21. crackblind says:

    This happened a year or so ago in NY with a scratch off contest by the Daily News. The Post went to town with it and encouraged all the “winners” to go to the Daily News office to demand the prize. Legally, the Daily News was off the hook as it was a printing error but I think they made some sort of restitution for PR sake

    Here’s a link to an article about it:


  22. LTS! says:

    @joopiter: “I’m guessing that the files were marked wrong and 49,999 of the winning ticket were printed, while only one losing ticket was printed. I’d love to hear how this turns out…”

    So true.. now what does that do for someone’s ego when they find out that the one time they beat the odds it was only to confirm that they are indeed… a loser.

  23. andros says:

    From time to time, I get those. Oh, yes, it’s definitely a $$$$ cash prize if you win… but only as cashback if you actually buy their gorram car.

    I did, however, turn it to my advantage when buying my Matrix. We started at ~$16000. I traded in my old car for ~$3000. Then we haggled. Got it down another $1500 to $11500. I agreed that’s a fair price, agreed to it, got it signed, and whipped out a $2500 cashback coupon they sent me in the mail.

    I seriously thought the sales guy would start crying.

  24. enm4r says:

    @Hawkins: We have an old saying my my country: never imagine any behavior to be so dirty as to be beneath the average auto dealership.

    Is this true?

    That is simultaneously the most ridiculous and amusing saying I think I’ve ever heard.

  25. oneswellfoop says:

    Time for the company to declare bankruptcy and open under a new name tomorrow.

  26. Hawkins says:

    Mr. ENM4R: Yes, it’s true: auto dealerships are sleazy.

    The part about it being an old saying in my country is, in fact, a regrettable fabrication.

    This conversation reminds me of Ghostbusters:

    Dr Ray Stantz: Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.
    Walter Peck: They caused an explosion!
    Mayor: Is this true?
    Dr. Peter Venkman: Yes it’s true. This man has no dick.

  27. Echodork says:

    Oh, you have a winning ticket? Well ok, the way we’re going to handle the payment is… well let me just divide this sheet of paper into four parts…

  28. Ausoleil says:

    This sounds exactly like one of the shadier travel scams that one runs into in the Caribbean. You get a free “lottery” ticket, you scratch it off, and of course, “You’re a winner!” All you have to do to collect your prize is attend a free sales presentation. If you do, the fine print gets you. You suddenly notice that you’ve won $1000 OR something far less than what you hoped for.

  29. ganzhimself says:

    If this is like any of the many car dealership scratch offs I’ve received in the mail before, everyone wins, but to claim your prize you have to buy a car. The prize is usually cash, but in the fine print you see that it is cash off or cash back on a new car.

  30. not_seth_brundle says:

    A promise without consideration is not a contract.

  31. jamesdenver says:

    Some companies that do crazy promotions often have an insurer behind them. i.e. If the Broncos score X by the 4thQ everyone gets a free fridge – and if it actually happens they don’t have an enormous loss.

    But in this case I doubt it. They expected to have one winner. Of course I barely even acknowledge ads and fliers in the mail so it would have blew right past my head.

  32. FromThisSoil says:

    My guess is that about 90% of them ended up in the trash without being scratched off.

  33. frogman31680 says:

    Can I just trade the ticket in for one worth $15,000. A little old lady only scratched it on Sundays.

  34. nequam says:

    @NoNamesLeft: @Hawkins: You both have fallen victim to the danger of having a little knowledge. This is not the type of mistake that renders a contract voidable.

  35. Charles Duffy says:

    @not_seth_brundle: While not a contract, unilateral promises of a gift can be otherwise enforceable. My business law classes were much too long ago to remember the name or limitations of the common law principal involved, but it’s the same one that prevents one from publicly offering a donation to a charity, and then privately withdrawing the offer after the fact.

  36. Iron_Dragon_2.0 says:

    I think all these people should be entitled to is a second proper scratch card with the correct odds of winning. Anyone who honestly thinks they deserve $1000 because of a mistake is a greedy ***hole.

    Then again this is just my opinion and not law. The world is a pretty ****ed up place so they could be forced to dish out 30 million.

  37. TinaT says:

    @jamesdenver: The ‘win a prize if x event occurs’ is insured under ‘Prize and Indemnity’ insurance, commonly known in the trade as a ‘Hole in One’ policy.

    There are other types of insurance for marketing promotions, such as insuring against the probability of your rebate being redeemed at higher than expected percentages. A promotion with a $1000 grand prize is probably not insured individually, but it could fall under the marketing company’s Errors and Omissions insurance.