Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Gas vouchers were a hot promotional tool last year, used to lure potential customers to dealerships, furniture stores and seminars. But as gas prices rose, so did the number of consumers fuming about these so-called free fill-ups. In fact, All Consuming readers have posted more than 220 angry comments about gas vouchers in response to a November 2008 warning about these programs.

A Vancouver, Wash., car dealer must now reimburse customers who responded to one such promotion that the Washington Attorney General’s Office says was deceptive. In an effort to boost car sales, Curt Warner Chevrolet, Inc., mailed a “Scratch and Win” promotion to Vancouver residents over April 3-6, 2008. Consumers scratched the card to reveal a number that determined their prize. The big bounty was $25,000 cash but odds were such that recipients were nearly guaranteed to win a $40 gas voucher.

In all, 211 people presented the mailers to the dealership to collect their prize but obtaining the $40 in free gas proved more difficult than they expected. Under the agreement, Curt Warner Chevrolet must make good by providing a $40 gas card – that works – to each eligible consumer.

A Florida business, Tidewater Marketing Global Consultants, Inc., was behind the rebate program. The company was sued by Florida Attorney General’s Office in February 2009 and agreed to a state takeover.

For more information, see today’s news release.

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