The L.A. Times’ David Lazarus looked into it after a reader brought the mailer to his attention.
It was all very confusing. There’s the check-looking item included in the letter, complete with the SeaWorld logo.
Then on the back of the envelope it reads: “this promotion is sponsored by and is not affiliated with, nor an agent of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.”
As Lazarus points out, this is hopefully a typo, because it would be kinda difficult for SeaWorld to sponsor a promotion but not be affiliated with it.
And since no other company than SeaWorld is mentioned, who is actually behind the promotion?
Even calling the number on the envelope just led to the vaguely described “Promotions department,” which ultimately revealed itself to be a DirectBuy club in Long Beach, CA.
The phone rep told Lazarus that people are eligible for the three-day vacation if they attend a 90-minute sales pitch seminar for DirectBuy, which charges thousands of dollars for memberships access to supposedly low prices on brand-name furnishings, but which longtime readers of Consumerist know doesn’t always live up to its promise.
Pressed about which hotel in San Diego would be included in the vacation package, the DirectBuy rep mentioned two of the city’s nicer hotels, “or many others.” Of course, when Lazarus checked with the two named hotels, neither had any idea of any such deal with DirectBuy.
While the hotels were merely befuddled at being mentioned in association with the promotion, the folks at SeaWorld are not amused in the slightest.
“SeaWorld is not connected with this promotion,” a company rep tells Lazarus. “We are currently looking into the matter, as we take our brand and our trademarks very seriously.”
No one at the DirectBuy club supposedly attached to this promotion would return the Times’ calls, but DirectBuy HQ admits this mailer should not have gone out.
“We have reviewed the direct-mail piece in question and determined that it did not go through our direct-mail compliance protocol, is in violation of our ad policy and was not approved by our corporate marketing team,” a company rep explains.
This isn’t the first time DirectBuy has been connected with a questionable direct-mail promotion.
Back in 2011, a DirectBuy club sent out mailers with the Microsoft logo, saying “Final Notice” and offering either a Windows laptop or an Android tablet.