State warns Hoosiers to think twice about car dealership ads claiming you won big prize

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Attorney General’s Office filed complaints against two marketing companies, alleging the companies tricked Hoosiers using advertisements that made them think they won a big prize from a local car dealership.

The advertisements, mailed to thousands of potential customers in Bartholomew and Lake counties, looked like lottery scratch off games. According to the complaints, people who received the ads thought they won prizes like cash and TV’s, but when they went to claim the prizes at the car dealerships, they were subjected to a sales pitch and given either a $5 gift card or low-end smart watch.

“You’re being drawn … to a dealership, to a specific place, with the expectation that you’re going to get something that either doesn’t exist or that they don’t have,” said Scott Barnhart, Director of Consumer Protection at the Attorney General’s Office.

Barnhart said Hoosiers should be wary of mail from car dealerships that makes it seem like you already won a prize.

“(If it) sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do research before you drive to a dealership. Pick up the phone, ask questions,” Barnhart said.

FOX59 reached out to the companies named in the complaints, Rush Hour Events and Budget Direct Mail Promotions. Rush Hour Events did not return a request for comment.

Loren White, owner of Budget Direct Mail Promotions and Heritage Automotive Sales in Columbus, sent a statement via email:

“After speaking with the Attorney General on this we have learned a lot about Indiana advertising law. We did not intentionally try to deceive people. We are a local family business that takes pride in making sure every customer that comes on our lot is happy whether they buy a vehicle or not. Everyone that came to our sales event understood that there were only six mailers that won the bigger prizes and to our knowledge nobody left unhappy and was appreciative of us giving them $5 for Kroger or Walmart just for coming in. We understand the Attorney General wants direct mailings like this to stop in Indiana and we will abide by their wishes.

Loren White, Budget Direct Mail Promotions & Heritage Automotive Sales owner

If you think you have been deceived by a mailed advertisement like this, file a consumer complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office at the link here.

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