American: 2 round-trip tickets for you, and you, and you, and you, and….

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Nampa resident Rick Youngblood  didn’t contact BBB because of his position, but rather because of his stance on deceptive advertising.Youngblood

“It certainly appears to be a scam,” the state legislator says. “Sorry for handwriting this note, but I wanted to get this to you right away.”

Representative Youngblood is just one of hundreds of people to call, fax, email or write about a deceptive marketing letter sent out under the guise of a prize giveaway from Sue Long, vice president for American. The letter has the heading “American,” but no contact information and no return address.

“I am pleased to inform you that you have qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip airline tickets,” the letter starts.

Then moves into putting a value, use and restrictive clause on the tickets, before concluding “This is our last attempt.”

The company emphasizes the need to call immediately to reserve the ticket vouchers or they’ll be passed along to an alternate recipient. If you call 866-365-5016, the person answering does not identify the company, but sets up an appointment for you to attend a meeting at a later date.

“Like you, I’m always amazed at the number of scams that come at our citizens every day,” Youngblood says.

Last summer and again in the late fall, BBB uncovered a series of letters with similar statements of prizes.

BBB says it’s called the “airline ticket scheme.” It’s one of those you just wish were true. Technically, it isn’t a “scam” because it isn’t illegal, but it’s a scheme you don’t want to get involved in.

You’re going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to get the tickets. These companies are very good at knowing what the laws are and then walking a very fine line to what language is legal versus what language is ethical.


1 Comment

Filed under Code of Advertising

One response to “American: 2 round-trip tickets for you, and you, and you, and you, and….

  1. sgneiting

    I also live in Nampa and recieved a letter with no return address, dated April 25, 2013 from an Arizona post mark and my name hand-written on the envelope. The body of the letter is exactly as Mr. Hicken and Mr. Youngblood describe, except that the phone number is 1-866-986-5955 and the VP is Eli Rey. I called and spoke with a man claiming to be from a third-party company who is working for a company called Direct Vacations in Boise and they’re drumming up word-of-mouth advertising for local travel agencies by giving away prizes to people in certain target demographics. I also found they’re accepting appointments this May 2 thru 5 (2013) at the Oxford Suites hotel in Boise 1426 S. Entertainment Ave. They gave me another number 1-866-992-7757 to confirm my appointment which would also qualify me for the additional award of a 3 day/2night stay at a hotel of my choice.They also asked that I bring a photo ID and a credit card to cover the standard taxes and fees for the tickets.

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