How not to advertise your dealership

File this one under the heading of “Auto retailing steps to avoid.”

Earlier this year, Paul Verdecchia, a North Carolina man who plays the occasional round of golf, entered a charity tournament at Southern Pines Golf and Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C., hosted by the local Elks Lodge.

Like a lot of tournaments, this one dangled the image of a free car before the eyes of participants. It was a new Nissan Altima, sitting pretty on the course with balloons on top, supplied by local dealer Pinehurst Nissan.

Golf tournaments often promise a free car to whoever lands a hole-in-one on a specific hole. It is academic, of course, because the odds of landing a hole in one anywhere -- let alone on a specified hole on a specified day -- are probably the same as winning the Powerball jackpot. It’s theoretically possible. But it’s not going to happen.

Or so someone must have assumed.

By sheer luck and the circumstances of wind conditions, Verdecchia aced a hole in one on the 14th hole, the advertised free-car hole. No one was more surprised than he. And no one was more surprised than he when he received a phone call Pinehurst Nissan soon after, informing him:

• There would be no free Altima;

• There never was a free Altima;

• And contrary to tournament promotions, the dealership had never agreed to give one away.

The Altima, he claims they informed him, was simply sitting there with balloons for advertising purposes.

The Elks Lodge organizers disagreed. The country club disagreed. Verdecchia disagreed, and he has filed a lawsuit to get his Altima.

All begging the question: This is advertising?

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