Even though foot traffic has slowed considerably since the beginning of the pandemic, there are still people that are willing to hit the department stores (while wearing a mask of course). While I was in Coralville, Iowa I stopped at a mall to do some window shopping and I noticed a store that had one of those big, colorful sweepstake displays. I couldn’t resist taking a closer look to see what kind of prize was up for grabs. In this case, it was a trip to the Bahamas which enticed me enough to enter the drawing. I didn’t expect anything out of it, it was more of a “why not?” kind of situation.

But, fast forward to a month after entering the giveaway, I was notified via text that I had apparently won.


I wasn’t planning on going since

“winners will be responsible for all normal travel expenses.”

But I figured I’d still respond to the message. I thanked them and confirmed it was me to then receive this text:

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Of course, I was excited at first glance, but it seems like things like this always have some kind of catch and this one was especially fishy. Originally, the flyer on the display advertised a "free 4 day 3-night trip.” But, the text message I received described it as a “free 5-day 4-night trip." Already things were not adding up and I had a hunch that this was just a full-blown scam. Despite my suspicions, I still wanted to learn more. After doing some digging and further communicating with whoever had sent me the text message, I realized that while it wasn’t a total scam, it was definitely a little misleading. Companies that partake in contests like this like to draw in participants with big promises, but the fine print is where all the exceptions and technicalities can be found.

This giveaway in particular was an example of upselling. Winners do get the free rooms which is awesome, but allegedly the company will try to persuade you to accept a deal where they provide you with an even better room for a discounted price. You will still end up spending a decent amount of cash, just not as much as you would have without the special offer.

So, while the prize offered for this giveaway was a free trip to the Bahamas, the actual price would be the money saved from the discount offered. This is still a decent takeaway but this contest seems more like a glorified coupon to me. But, on the bright side at least it didn’t end up being some kind of timeshare package.

If this sweepstake is something you are interested in, hit up your local shopping malls to see what kinds of contests are available for you to enter. There are tons of contests that give away other prizes like cars, washers/dryers, etc. (just make sure you read the fine print.)

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