May 11, 2004
PROTECTION DIVISION REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH AUTO DEALERSHIP
COMPANY OVER SWEEPSTAKES
J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection
Division reached an agreement with S&S
Management Services, Inc. (“S&S”), that settles
allegations of misrepresentation in a sweepstakes held at a White
Marsh, Maryland automotive dealership in 2001.
S& S, located at 4212 Ridge Road, Baltimore, owns and operates
automotive dealerships in Maryland. The Consumer Protection Division
accused S&S of violating the Consumer Protection Act by failing
to provide statements and disclosures required by law, and misrepresenting
the conditions for winning prizes in a sweepstakes. The sweepstakes
were held April 26 through April 30, 2001 at the company’s
Schaefer & Strohminger White Marsh Dodge dealership and were
advertised as having prizes of $25,000, $15,000, $5,000, $1,000,
$500 and $5. The Consumer Protection Division alleged that consumers
received mailings that led them to believe they had won one of
the prizes, but the consumers found out after they visited the
dealership that there were additional undisclosed requirements
they would have to meet to qualify to win. The Division further
alleged that there was no record of any of the prizes being awarded.
denied that it intentionally violated the Consumer Protection
Act and said that it relied on Autoups.com, Inc., a California
marketing company, to conduct the sweepstakes in accordance
with the law and to award the prizes. Autoups.com, Inc. has since
out of business.
settlement requires S&S to disclose all conditions for
winning prizes and to provide all disclosures required by law in
future sweepstakes, and to ensure that all prizes offered in sweepstakes
are actually awarded. In addition, S&S will pay the Division
$5,000 for penalties and costs and will provide $5,100 for the
purpose of providing restitution to consumers who participated
in the sweepstakes promotion. Consumers who are eligible to receive
restitution will be contacted by the Attorney General’s Office.
Businesses who conduct sweepstakes must conduct them fairly and
with all required disclosures,” said Attorney General Curran.