Toyota Central misleading advertising??


I’m sure you have been tricked to show up at a car dealership after reading some of the junk mail they regularly send. Flyers, incentives and marketing materials are common. Some include scratches or gimmicks of all kinds such as prize opportunities and ruffles. Maybe you will trash all their mail after you read this, or maybe the story below is not an example but an exemption. 

On the week of November, 14th 2011, Toyota Central sent a notification for what they called a Used Car Red Tag Sales Event with a prize incentive to attend from Friday to Sunday, November 18th to 20th. Most of the time I don’t even open these type of mail but this time I did. The flyer said that  EVERYONE WINS A PRIZE! And the small print said: “Odds for winner of prizes are: 50” Flat Screen TV 1 in 15,000; Xoom Tablet 1 in 1,500; Target Gift Card valued at $300 1 in 15,000; Target Gift Card valued at $10 14,997 in 15,000.” 

I wouldn’t have even bothered in reading through if it hadn’t been because this dealer is right around the corner from the Nokia Theater in Downtown Los Angeles, which was the venue for the American Music Awards, which I was attending that weekend. Since the small print seemed to make clear that there were three top prizes and then, everyone else would get a $10 Target Gift Card, I decided to stop by the dealer before getting ready for the AMA, just for fun.
They had the winning numbers on a card at the reception desk. My number was the third on the list of three, right underneath the numbers awarded with the 50” Flat Screen TV and the Xoom Tablet; so I assumed that I had won the third prize: a $300 Target Gift Card!  However, to my disappointment, the receptionist only gave me a Target Gift card for $10. When I asked about it, I was simply told “It’s card up to $300”, and the manager onsite said the same. 
Maybe I should have made a big fuss about it and said that I am a reporter. However I don’t want to be treated differently because I write for an outlet that reaches +1 million people a day and is partners with Thomson Reuters, Facebook and Google. I want to be treated as you would have been, so I can write this article with full knowledge of how this dealer treats their customers, all of us!  If a dealer cannot be honest about something like this, one can’t help  wondering how they would treat you as a customer during a car purchase and a card financing deal. Therefore I decided to call during the following week to give them the chance to explain. After leaving several voicemails for the managers and general manager, nobody called me back

Photo credits: Josie Roman


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