'Winning' Comes With a Catch

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 19:00

Last summer my daughter won a Kindle Fire from Alaska USA. It was from one of those booths at fairs and community events on post. Then last fall my son won a gift card at a welcome back 4-25 event put on by Mark Begich. Between those events, my faith in being able to win raffles and drawings hit an all time high.

So this summer I went by every booth at the Bear Paw Festival and put my name on every list hoping we could get lucky one more time.

A couple weeks ago I got a phone call from one of those Bear Paw vendors. They were going to give me $1,000 worth of groceries. Didn’t remember signing up for groceries from anyone, but a thousand dollars is a thousand dollars. I saw nothing odd when they wanted my husband and I to both be there when they presented us with our certificate. However, the fact that they wanted an hour of our time was a little fishy. I began to get the feeling that we didn’t win anything, but instead were being given an opportunity to purchase something. It reminded me of those vacations that we “won” from a business once. The vacation was free, we just had to sit through the time share presentation, and they would need our credit card number before we booked, but it was free. Never did take them up on that offer.

At the decided upon time a car drove up to the house. The driver got out and pulled a large bag from his trunk. My husband looked at me and said, “That’s the sales kit.”

The salesman was very nice and gave us our prize first thing: a $1,000 grocery savings certificate. The small print read that the certificate granted membership to a savings website. It also read that membership did not guarantee savings; we had to work their program.

Then we got our product demonstration. It was a very nice vacuum. In fact when shown how much dirt was in the water reserve after cleaning a small patch of carpet my husband said, “Wow.” I suddenly felt like I was in a popular sit-com from the 90’s. However, the demonstration did not convince me this high priced machine was that much better than my own vacuum. I was only convinced that I need to make vacuuming a higher priority.

After the salesman left, I raced to my computer to look at the website. It was for coupons. Now, I like coupons, but membership to a coupon website and $1,000 worth of groceries are two different things. Trying to make the best of my wasted time I tried to print off a few coupons. The website uses that coupon printing software that doesn’t like my printer. I followed all the instructions and unchecked all the right boxes and the coupons still won’t print.

I will continue to sign up for all the giveaways and raffles I can. I can’t win if I don’t play. However, when I get the call saying I’m getting something, I’ll have a few questions to ask before I get excited about my “win.”


Lori Spears is the wife of U.S. Army captain. Her opinion column appears twice a month in the Star.

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