Poker jackpot cards distributed through area newspapers recently had a headline in eye-popping green on a slick black background. A patch of silver on the left hand side indicated an area to scratch off to determine if the card was a winner.
Several St. Louis area residents who called the Better Business Bureau said they thought the cards were misleading because they appeared to indicate that the recipients had won the top prize of $10,000.
When the residents called a phone number on the cards to collect their prizes, however, they were told that a representative of Good Clean Living LLC would have to come to their homes to verify their winnings. They also would have to sit through a product demonstration that could last up to an hour and a half.
Each of the residents who complained to the BBB had the same poker hand showing on the card after scratching off the silver coating.
The owner of Good Clean Living, Joseph Herrick, said the cards are a marketing tool to generate sales leads for his company. The firm is a distributor for a company called Health-Mor, which sells FilterQueen brand vacuum cleaners and air cleaners.
Herrick formerly worked for a company in Minnesota that used similar cards to market products. The Minnesota BBB has revoked the BBB Accreditation of that firm, Environmental Systems Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn. More details on the companies are available in today’s BBB press release.
The BBB has several concerns about the cards. For one, the cards are designed so that it appears a recipient has won the top prize when they have not. Second, the language indicating that recipients will have to endure a product demonstration is in very small print on the back of the cards. And finally, we don’t think it’s good business practice to say that there is “no obligation required” to get a prize when the company does require consumers to sit through a sales pitch.
The BBB has tips for consumers to consider if they are solicited for in-home demonstrations:
- If a business offers prizes to induce you into a home visit, understand that your odds of winning a top prize are remote. The odds usually are printed on the solicitation.
- Before agreeing to let a salesman into your home, ask exactly what is being sold. If you are not interested, you probably should pass on the offer.
- If you do agree to a sales pitch, ask how long it will take and then try to hold the salesperson to that time limit.
- Before allowing salespeople into your home, check to see whether they represent a real company. Confirm the appointment with the business beforehand. Ask the salesperson for identification before allowing him or her into your home.
- If you feel uncomfortable with a presentation, ask the salesperson to leave. If he or she refuses, call police.
- Check the company out by requesting a BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.