The girls and I enjoyed an interesting experience at a local car dealership, following a contest brochure we received in the mail. We scratched the circles and matched three $25,000 symbols, proclaiming that we "won."
I explained to the girls that there was almost no chance that we won anything of value and that this was just a scam to get us into the dealership to buy a car. "But maybe it's a good scam," Olivia offered, as she and her sister continued to urge me to call the number and find out what we won.
Fine, I called, and the person who answered confirmed that we were a "winner," but that we would need to go to the dealership to claim our prize. On the inside of the glossy brochure, they featured an iPad, wads of cash, a new car, etc. I asked what was the least valuable "prize" we might have won. She declined to elaborate.
The girls insisted we go down there and find out. Maureen was out of town so I figured it would be a good learning experience to show them how marketing works, especially since the dealership was right near our house.
So we drive up and we see all these couples wandering around the lot, some with kids, carrying this brochure. Lots of winners, apparently! Shocking. I asked one gal what she won and she showed me a $2 bill. "You were right!" said Olivia. Actually, I did say we probably won two bucks.
We proceeded in nonetheless and within a few minutes a sales guy introduces himself and has us sit down by a desk. He needs some information before he can check on our prize. He was an older gentleman with a very friendly personality and not nearly as pushy as I imagined. He wants to know what cars we have now, how old they are, how many miles, my birth date (declined), etc.
Since he had no luck with convincing us to buy a car right then and there, he had to send in reinforcements. The next guy made his pitch, quite respectfully, but more insistent. While he's talking to me, Olivia, clad in dark sun glasses long past sunset, blurts out: "We're not buying a car." The guy just glared at her. Funny! In fact, the girls reenacted the scene during breakfast this morning.
Twenty minutes later, Olivia gets to put the key in the magic car door. If the door opens, we get the car. [Buzzer sound] OK, on to the prize we won. Our number matches a lottery ticket, which we must scratch. [Buzzer] Finally, the sales guy pulls out a wad of bills and places a $2 bill in Olivia's palm. Hey, this was worthwhile! I gave Serena $2 so they could each "win."
We were there anyway, so I said I'd be willing to look at a KIA sedan. I was curious because I know absolutely nothing about that brand. The girls were not happy about this and at one point, Olivia says, "We better go because we have to pick up mom." Interesting, how she instinctively knew to tell a white lie to get out of a sales situation. Serena is too young, though. She blurted out, "No, we don't!"
Ultimately, we chose not to spend $32,000 on a whim and we came back $24,998 short of what the brochure seemed to suggest we had won. All in all, not the worst way to teach your kids about the world.