United Supermarket’s $80 Million Monopoly—Game Over

_MUUnited Supermarket ended it current Monopoly game last Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. but folks playing the game have until June 9th to redeem their winning tickets. I just wrote the CEO of United Supermarkets asking for the Winner’s List after the redemption period. But I went to United’s website and found a posted Winner’s List. You can check in out for yourself at this link: http://www.unitedtexas.com/press-room/sweepstakeswinners. The posted Winner’s List included winners for the months beginning in February 2015 through May 2015. A total of about 35 winners have won a total of around $67,000.The highest prize won was a $10,000 Family Vacation and a $10,000 Jet Ski. Several individuals won $5000 cash prizes and $1000 cash prizes. Again, as in prior years, no one won any of the large prizes—not the $1 million cash prize, the $500,000 vacation, the $100,000 Tesla, the $50,000 Home Make over, the $35,000 Vehicle. If you count all the “prizes available” for each prize almost none of these prizes were paid out. My letter to United CEO said this:

“In reviewing your game board, there were other much larger prizes that so far have not been claimed, including the $1 million cash prize, (3 available); $500,000 Vacation Home (3 available); $100,000 2015 Tesla, or cash equivalent (6 prizes available); $50,000 Home Makeover (12 prizes available); $35,000 Vehicle of Choice, (12 prizes available); $20,000 College Tuition (24 prizes available); $10,000 Family Vacation (36 prizes available); $10,000 Jet Skis (36 prizes available); $5,000 Cash, (40 prizes available); $2,500 Big Joe Grill and Groceries (36 prizes available); $1000 Cash (75 prizes available); $1,000 Romantic Weekend Getaway (75 prizes available); $50 Grocery Gift Card (4000 prizes available); $100 Grocery Gift Card (1000 prizes available); $100 Cash (1000 prizes available); $500 Apple Ipad Air (250 prizes available); $200 Cash (500 prizes available); $200 Grocery Gift Card (500 prizes available); $550 Free Redbox Movies (250 prizes available); $25 Grocery Gift Card (8000 prizes available); $25 Cash (8000 prizes available); $15 Grocery Gift Card (10,000 prizes available); $10 Grocery Gift Card (20,000 prizes available); $5 Grocery Gift Card (100,000 prizes available).

Your 2015 Monopoly Game included the promotional language, “over $80,000,000 in prizes and money saving offers.” I am requesting the following information regarding the now ended 2015 Monopoly Game. How did United calculate “over $80 million in prizes and money saving offers” and what exactly does this language mean to individuals participating in the game? What is the total amount of money paid out by United for the 2015 Monopoly Game? (I understand that you must wait until the end of the game redemption period before you can provide this information. Still when that redemption period ends I am requesting the information.) What dollar amount will United Supermarkets claim as “advertising and promotion” associated with the 2015 Monopoly Game with regard to state and federal income tax filings?

I have participated in United’s Collect and Win games for several years, and each year I have requested the Winner’s Lists. My request in this letter for the 2015 Winner’s List is no different than my requests in prior years. However, as a matter of “do the math” there seems to be something “not quite right” about a promotional game that touts that “over $80 million in prizes and offers,” and so far, based on the winner’s lists at the above website, you have paid out less than 1/10 of a percent of the amount you claimed was available in prizes and offers. More specifically, why is it that, once again, as in prior years, no one won any of the major prizes? Of course the answer is the great unknown of how many winning tickets were printed, if at all, and who may have been issued those tickets and tossed them on the parking lot. This is my continuing problem with your promotional games—not knowing what you cannot know or prove on the specific issue of whether winning tickets were actually printed or whether they were printed and tossed.

As a final matter, how is it that United Supermarkets can offer $80 million in prizes and “offers” when food prices at all United Supermarket Stores continue to increase? Why do Roma tomatoes, the bottom of the rung tomato, now cost $1.99 a pound? Why not skip the “game playing” and just give customers a break on food prices? Why is United Supermarket even participating in these “lottery” type “collect and win” games when there is no reason to attract food buying customers with this type game of chance?”

Again, as in prior years, I have serious questions about the “legitimacy” of United’s “collect and win” game, regardless of the fancy names attached to them. This year’s Monopoly game uses the same “collect and win” tickets used in prior games with a different name. I’m starting to feel that United Supermarket is “peeing” on our legs and trying to make us think it’s rain. Hey we’ve had real rain we know the difference.

I will update you on any response I receive from United Supermarket.

Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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