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Publishers Clearing House fails to find a super prize winner again

For the fourth time in seven months, sweepstakes promoter Publishers Clearing House says they did not find a super prize winner out of more than a billion entrants.
For the fourth time in seven months, sweepstakes promoter Publishers Clearing House says they did not find a super prize winner out of more than a billion entrants.

On Thursday Danielle Lam of Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol reported that there will once again not be a super prize winner for this month's "win it all" type of drawing, according to her June 26 post on the PCH Blog.

The super prize advertised to be awarded on June 30 was supposed to be $2 million dollars in cash, a monthly payment of $10,000 for life, and a brand new Lincoln MKZ car. But as has happened for every drawing since November 2013, the company says they did not find a winner when they conducted their "Special Early Look" super prize drawing on Thursday.

The direct marketing and sweepstakes company came under fire from the United States Senate's Special Committee on Aging as reported by Consumer Reports back in April 2014, who stated that consumers should not be misled by Publishers Clearing House since the Senate committee deemed the sweepstakes solicitations by the company might be misleading.

This concerning news earlier this year pertained to elderly complaints about being mislead in mailers and online solicitations from the company, making them think they had won a prize. The investigation findings by the Senate into the practices of the sweepstakes company were made public, in this 259-page Senate report. And the Senate felt that certain practices by Publishers stretched the limits when it came to wording on their emails and mailers.

The latest inability to find a winner out of the more than one billion sweepstakes entrants the company advertises enter their super prize drawings is concerning, especially when the organization has not found such a winner for the past three consecutive drawings. Yet they continue to use the same PCH winner selection process to determine who wins their super prize, despite the lack of success in ever finding a super prize winner out of over a billion entrants.

However, Ms. Lam has made a video to share "how excited" she is to announce that at least there will be a "second chance" drawing winner (which appears to be the only kind they have had since November 2013). That winner, she says in the video, will win $1 million dollars.

But what the prize patrol team member does not say is that the $1 million dollars will be dished out to the winner in increments of $25,000 a year for 29 years, although it is in the fine print of each ad. And that means unless you read the official rules of the sweepstakes promotion, you will not know that the final balance of $275,000 will not be paid until 30 years after the person has their "winning moment" on national television.

That is a bit misleading to those who watch the televised commercial, thinking someone actually wins a million-dollar check when they do not, despite the prize patrol telling them they are winning a million dollars. But this issue was not addressed in the Senate investigation into Publishers Clearing House, as they were only focused on deceptive marketing practices as they pertained to mailers and emails.

In the latest book by the New York Times best selling Freakonomics authors, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner cite data to dissuade people from playing the lottery, as they say the odds are too much against a win, in Think Like a Freak. It is likely that they would find the odds are even worse in playing this sweepstakes, when a billion people are vying for a prize that does not ever get awarded.

Given the average age of the winners featured in the PCH national TV commercials, when someone does win, the winner could, logically, not even be alive 30 years from now, when they are due the final payment on the million-dollar prize. And this "second chance" prize is not like the ones the company often touts as the kind of winning that would go to another person at the time of your death (like the super prize win). Instead, if the winner dies after winning this prize, the company no longer has any commitment to pay any beneficiary the remaining prize money.

For complete analysis results on an informal six-month probe into the other sweepstakes prizes advertised by Publishers Clearing House from November 2013 through May 2014--and a breakdown of how many of those more than 24 prizes have never been awarded yet, check out this Examiner article.

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