Truth or Consequences: The real cost of winning a sweepstakes!
My husband won a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He entered a contest in a local grocery store one day while I was couponing. We do this a lot. I hunt tearpads, peelies, winetags; he enters sweepstakes. So far, his efforts in sending texts have paid off. My toddler is currently watching “Bubble Guppies” on the 46″ TV he won last year from a beer promotion.
Yeah. The shiny TV is usually a toddler entertainment device. Such is life.
Last year, it all worked out pretty smoothly. He got a call that he won, filled out the papers, including a W-9, and then picked up the prize at the distribution center in March of 2010. We received a form 1099 Misc for it, and claimed it on our taxes. We didn’t have to pay taxes on it, probably due to our income bracket, but it was listed on our 1040. Kristin does not mess with Uncle Sam.
This year, not so much. We got the call in late May or early June that he had won. CJ faxed off the papers, then mailed them after. They were supposed to ship the bike to our local dealership, and he’d have it by July 4th. He took the Motorcycle Safety Course, and tried to look around for the best deals for motorcycle insurance.
The dealership (which shall remain nameless for right now) told him he’d have to pay the taxes on the bike before he could pick it up. Uh oh. We don’t keep $700 in the bank just on the off chance that he might win a big prize. So, we worked around it and just waited.
I guess waiting paid off. On last Friday, the sponsors of the contest called to ask why he hadn’t picked up the motorcycle yet. After CJ explained that we didn’t have the money for the taxes and registration that the dealership said we needed, the rep got really quiet. Then she explained that since the bike was bought in another state, there was no reason for him to pay the dealership anything. They would have to be paid before he registered the bike, though. To the county. Not the dealership.
On Saturday, at the crack of noon, we went off to the dealership to pick up the bike. It was supposed to be ready at noon.
Of course, it wasn’t.
The salesman, who had been nothing but sunshine and roses to my husband previously, was now snippy. It would take about an hour, he said. I gave him the Look of Doom™ and that hour magically became 15 minutes. It’s a good look. While they were getting the bike down from wherever, my husband signed the papers. The sales manager wouldn’t give him a temporary tag, so I followed him home, holding the paperwork in the car with me.
The dealership had held the bike for almost 2 months. They received it sometime at the end of June.
I’m really disgusted with these people. Okay, if you know me, I’m a few shades above disgusted and venturing into downright ticked. Ahem.
We’re waiting to hear back from the contest rep. I’d love to know how many other contest winners were scammed by this dealership, but I guess we’ll never know.
So, what should you do if you win a big ticket item:
1. Ask questions. Who (pays taxes), When (can I expect to receive this shiny item), What (is the exact description), and Where (am I picking it up) are your best friends.
2. Keep records. Make copies of your paperwork.
3. Be prepared to pay taxes if you win a large prize.