More than 1,700 Oregon residents who say they were fooled by auto dealership mailers into thinking they had won a prize will be getting money after all.
The state's attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, last week announced settlements with four dealerships that call for distributing $148,517 to consumers who claimed they were shortchanged. The stores also have to pay at least $329,006 in costs and penalties, and several of the dealerships have been ordered to reimburse consumers who didn't receive the minimum trade-in price guaranteed as part of their promotions.
Sheppard Motors, which has Volkswagen, Hyundai and Volvo franchises, has agreed to send $50 checks to 392 people who thought they had won $750. They actually won a $29 smartwatch.
Ray Schultens Motors, which has Ford and Nissan franchises, must send $30 checks to 1,346 people who showed up thinking they had won $5,000 but instead received a one-night stay at a hotel that gave the dealership a commission.
Brad's Cottage Grove Chevrolet made consumers think they won $3,500 cash, the state said, but their actual winnings were only $5.
Another store, Newberg Ford, sent out 35,000 scratch-off mailers. "Every single mailer was a 'winner,' " the state said in a news release.
"Many of the 'prizes' indicated that you had won hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars," Rosenblum said. "But when the consumers went to redeem the prize in the dealership, they quickly learned it was all a ploy to get them in the door. No real money was on the line."