Tue | May 23, 2017

Tricks or treats? Some Christmas promotions might just be too good to be true

Published:Sunday | December 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Tyrone Thompson, Gleaner Staff
Reporter

With several businesses trying to grab
last-minute Christmas shoppers with promotions, giveaways, and
competitions with "attractive prizes", local consumer-protection
agencies are urging members of the public to be on the lookout for
tricksters.

According to director of the western
region of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Pash Fuller, dubious
prize competitions are widespread.

"A simple example
of these is that some companies will have attractive promoters walking
around in the supermarket saying if you buy three of these products you
get a chance to win a gift basket, and so you get caught up and end up
spending more than you had planned to on a product you probably didn't
want," Fuller told The Sunday
Gleaner
.

"Then as time passes, you hear
nothing about who won that competition or if and when it was even
drawn," said Fuller.

Numerous
complaints

Citing the numerous complaints received by
the CAC this year, Fuller urged consumers to report situations where
they felt they had been tricked by shady prize
promotions.

"So far this financial year we have
received over 1,000 complaints for a variety of issues consumers have
had, and we have been able to settle 919 of them," said
Fuller.

"But we still want to urge consumers not to
just sit on their verandahs and complain, they need to come forward and
report these incidents, so that they can be fully
investigated."

There is a similar warning from the
Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), which must approve any
promotion that requires individuals to make a payment, purchase or
entrance fee, for the chance to win a prize without a specific skill set
or knowledge.

The BGLC last week reported that since
the start of the year it has received 223 applications for promotions
with more than 60 of these requests coming since the start of Christmas
season.

According to manager of communications and
research at the BGLC, Jana Bent, Jamaicans can avoid being scammed by
these fake promotions by participating in only those which are approved
by her agency.

"The public has been advised on
numerous occasions to look or listen for the part of the advertisement
that highlights the requirement under Section 58 of the BGLC. They can
also call the commission at any time if they have any concerns about the
legitimacy of these prize competitions," said
Bent.

While noting that the BGLC was yet to receive a
single complaint this year, Bent warned that shady operators could face
heavy sanction.

"Failure to conduct prize competitions
in accordance with Section 58 of the BGLC can lead to a fine of
$250,000," stressed Bent

"Persons can also be fined
$250,000 for conducting prize competitions without the approval of the
commission," added Bent.

Was I
scammed?

An angry Corporate Area resident has been
left wondering if he was scammed by a local mobile
provider.

"The company sent a text to my phone saying
that the first 100 persons to top up with $3,000 would win a prize. I
topped up at 10:30 a.m. and at 4 p.m. the company's website was still
saying the first 100 persons will win," said the frustrated
consumer.

"So I thought I must win. But when I called,
all they told me is that if they don't contact me, I don't win, and
nothing about who actually won and if those winners topped up before or
after me," added the consumer.

The consumer has
indicated that he will be taking his complaint to the Consumer Affairs
Commission.