Stupid Contests & Giveaways Selling Your Personal Info

When was the last time you saw a car sitting in your local mall with a big “Win this Car Free!” sign above it? I have a presentation in my local mall right now! Then on each corner it has four stations to fill out entry forms. Ever wonder why people are just randomly giving cars and huge cash prizes away? I’m sure as a marketer you already understand the concept, but for everyone else it just seems like an amazing opportunity. The truth is, it’s usually anything but.

The idea for this post was inspired by a call my sister got on her phone today, and from other upsell crap I’ve wrote about in the past. She entered a contest at Hershey Park in PA a few weeks ago to win a free car or $50,000 in cash. Today a voice mail was left on her phone that basically said the following:

Hi, my name is Sandy. I am calling in regards to the contest you entered to win $50,000 or a luxury car while at a Sundance Concert . I have GREAT NEWS!!” regarding your contest entry. Please call back as soon as possible as we are waiting to hear from you.

This sounds pretty awesome at first. To get an actual call with the possibility that you have won a huge cash prize or a luxury is just amazing! However, as marketers we almost know it’s too good to be true. My sister came over, we listened to the voice mail, then looked at the number it came from and did a quick Google search.

The number was listed as 800-309-7000, and Google came up with a whole selection of relevant sites. I went to one of the first listings, which was and it was a page full of complaints and people with the same exact call and experience.

As expected, it’s some trash company collecting/selling all of their content entry information then trying to upsell them some garbage that no one wants… another shady business. However, thanks to the power of the internet and people taking action against these scummy promotion companies, you can easily save yourself a lot of time, money and stress by doing your research and not calling these idiots back.

Other great sites for researching promotional companies and random calls you may receive are, and

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  1. Nobody said Marketing was godly, honest, pretty or easy…

    I hate the Cruises calling every month to tell me I won a trip. I will just try to use a old number or make up one when playing around on gpt websites lol lol…

  2. That's the advantage of the internet 🙂 Do you have a Telephone Preference Service like we have in the UK? i.e. if you sign up to it and you get cold called they are breaking the law and you can have the pleasure of reporting their number.

  3. Yea, we do have those in the US as well. Unfortunately if you give your info to one bad company, they can sell/spread it around to others quickly. Then you are screwed.

  4. Another place this happens regularly and horrendously is internet loan sites. Almost any of them aside for the ones with large reputations to uphold, they literally take your info and disperse it around to third parties, not sure if your sister looked close enough but its possible the company that called was an entirely different one that was doing the contest. Most of them are truly shady.

  5. The thing is if you report one site they'll probably just open up under another name. it's a continual process that we can't win!

  6. Yo Zac

    I always wonder why those nice cars was sitting in the middle of the mall, and to be honest with never heard of anyone winning..hum

    "TrafficColeman "Signing Off"

  7. Here in the UK you don't even need to enter a prize draw or fill in a form to get these scum companies calling at all hours of the day and night.

  8. Zac, I have seen a lot of this crap marketing strategy and I found out that some people are interested in it. I don't know if it's real or fake but I haven't heard anyone who won those cars..


  9. I really agree with you. Heck even here in Philippines, which is a third world country, has lots of those scam offers too.

    Anyways, how about the results/winners of you six figure blogging affiliate contest? Haven't heard anything from it yet.

  10. Haha, so true. The first "marketing" job I had was for a sunroom company, working conventions and fairs trying to get people to enter to win a free sunroom. The managers would then take the submission forms and the salesmen would contact each one trying to get them to buy a sunroom. I worked for them for 6 months and never saw one winner. Complete BS, got outta that quick.

  11. Thare are a lot of such spammy messages in my mailbox and it is time consuming too. Thanks

  12. @Melvin:Well, it looks like we all are on the same boat. I thought that it only happened in third world countries, but I guess it is just the nature of human being and these scumbags understand this fact very much and take advantage of our weaknesses anytime they could.

    How about those so called 'auction' for electronic gadget with a massive discounted price that we see in tv. They normally encourage viewers to place bids via text message (which is almost always charged at a premium rate). Imagine how much profit that they make!

  13. Everything is a scam today. Kind of a shame that you must be very suspicious of everything and everybody at all times, and not just IM Gurus!

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