Ventura Associates International LLC - Ventura Associates misleads participant in Disney Contest with bad communication

Promotions / Marketing - Complaint
Review by bryand on 2013-02-19
Rating: StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- "The misleading communication on the part of Ventura Associates was a major disappointment."

"Ventura Associate's promotion went very wrong, and left me feeling cheated, despite the fact that I won something."

"Ventura Associates lifted my hopes and then stomped on them."


In October, 2012, I entered my son, Gavin, in a 'CARS TAKE FLIGHT BEST IMPRESSION CONTEST' Disney contest that was administered by Ventura Associates.

He did a fantastic job with his impressions and we were quite hopeful about the prospect of winning, despite the substantial number (742) of submissions. The contest offered a Grand Prize of a trip for four to Disneyland - a dream prize - as well as a number of secondary prizes (including five First Prizes worth $210 and five Second Prizes worth $100).

On Thursday, November 1, 2012, I received an email from an account coordinator at Ventura Associates. The email instructed me to reply with personal information, and that I was to follow the instructions so that "we may send you an affidavit of eligibility." The email did not say which prize I had potentially won, but the indication that I would be receiving an affidavit of eligibility made me wonder more closely what an affidavit of eligibility is.

So, that same evening, I Googled 'affidavit of eligibility' and after reading several definitions, my understanding of the term became clear that it was essentially used for major prize winners to sign and provide information to confirm identity as formal documentation towards eligibility to win. It seemed quite unlikely that we would be mailed an affidavit of eligibility for a secondary prize.

I decided to also Google the person who emailed me - Virginia [snip], and the following site came up - http://absolute-forum.com/contests-sw... - where someone had pasted an email that they received from her in 2011, indicating that they won a secondary prize.

You'll notice that in that 2011 correspondence, Virginia mentions that the prize is a secondary prize - a travel card. She also states "Please follow the below instructions so that we may send your child a prize." Whereas in my email she states "Please follow the below instructions so that we may send you an affidavit of eligibility." Also, in that 2011 letter, she states "Once you have provided the required information, please allow 12 weeks to receive your child's prize" and in my letter, she writes "we will send you a prize letter confirming your prize."

That night, I went a bit further, and re-reviewed the official CARS TAKE FLIGHT BEST IMPRESSION CONTEST rules - http://carstakeflight. disney. go.com/r... . In them, the only mention of affidavits is in the context of the Grand Winner, when it talks about possible disqualification if the Grand winner fails to execute and return by U.S. Mail or overnight delivery service all Sponsor-requested documents (collectively, "Affidavits") within five (5) business days after transmission. There is no mention of affidavits in relation to potential secondary prize winners.

On that Saturday afternoon, I wanted to ensure that my initial email had been received, as I did not receive any kind of receipt, and my response deadline of 5PM (ET) on November 3, 2012 was just about up. So at about 4PM ET on Saturday, November 3, I emailed Virginia [snip] a second time, indicating that I just wanted to make sure she received my initial response.

She replied back that she did receive my email, and she said "If I'm accurate, I believe you Win a $100 Disney Gift Card." It was extremely disappointing to find out I wasn't going to get an affidavit of eligibility, or the grand prize that it was associated with. I was getting a $100 gift card. The gift itself would have been very nice IF I had been told upfront, rather than lied to in such an upsetting way.

When I further explained my understanding to Virginia by email on November 3rd, mentioning that I was expecting an affidavit of eligibility as she said in her first email, she replied by email on November 4th, saying that, "No, the affidavit does not apply for your prize since the gift card is under $600." She recognized her mistake, and said she had been working from home.

The misleading communication on the part of Ventura Associates was a major disappointment. I was given messaging that indicated I had won something significant; something that required Ventura Associates to want to mail me information that would formally confirm my identity and agreement to the rules. There was only one prize in that contest that warranted such actions. Ventura Associates lifted my hopes and then stomped on them.

Ventura Associate's promotion went very wrong, and left me feeling cheated, despite the fact that I won something.
Comments:4 Replies - Latest reply on 2013-05-26
Posted by Kenneth on 2013-02-19:
I'm confused... they never told you or intimated that you won the grand prize. You seem to have talked yourself into that. I'm betting that the affadavit is pretty standard for any contest prize. You do, after all, have to prove that you are eligible to win.
Your googling then re-interpreting a two year old email does not constitute any bad behavior on their part.
Posted by bryand on 2013-02-20:
The first thing they told me was that they would be sending me an affidavit. Then, later, they told me they're not sending me an affidavit, because my prize was less than $600. I knew from the get-go they were only sending an affidavit out to the Grand prize winner, because the secondary prizes didn't need an affidavit. It's like you entering a contest for a car, the company telling you they're sending you the keys for it, then they send you a key chain instead.
Posted by Sewing on 2013-05-08:
I don't understand why you thought you'd won the grand prize when they hadn't told you what you'd won. Just because they might be sending you an affidavit of eligibility means nothing. Companies are required by law to have you fill one out for tax purposes for anything at $600.00 or above, but I've know companies who wanted them filled out, notarized and returned within a short time frame for prizes worth $25.00 or less. I just filled one out for a $599.00 win. Most of the time it is simply to make sure you really ARE eligible to receive the prize and haven't lied on your entry form. No one should ever assume they've won a grand prize just because a company wants them to fill out an affidavit.
Posted by bryand on 2013-05-26:
Their rules only mentioned affidavit in the context of the grand winner, their previous contests only used an affidavit for the grand winner, and they told me I was to receive an affidavit. Believe me, that was enough to assume I'd won. Then they told me, 'oops, sorry, you're not getting an affidavit' and told me I was winning a secondary prize (which they didn't initially mention in their first email to me). It was very poor and misleading communication.

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