Alissa Brem's dreams of a free trip to Disneyland from a drawing she entered at last week's 10,000 Lakes Music Festival ended on a sour note.
The 23-year-old West Fargo woman said she received a call informing her that, in order to receive her "free" trip, she first would have to pay $249.
The call, from an agent of We Tour America, left Brem feeling as though she was the target of a misleading promotion, offered at a kiosk in the vending area of the music festival grounds near Detroit Lakes, Minn.
A representative of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota said the solicitation is a reminder that people should be careful when signing up for promotions.
Nationwide, the Better Business Bureau has received 32 complaints involving We Tour America offers in the past three years, one of which it deemed "serious."
The Better Business Bureau gives We Tour America a "D" rating.
Tom Meehan of We Tour America in Daytona Beach, Fla., said that number of complaints is "microscopic" given the thousands of promotional trips to Florida resorts it sells each year.
Requests from any customers who want refunds or trip cancellations are honored, he said.
Sales agents read a verification script explaining that customers have not won a contest, lottery or drawing, and record the telephone conversations, Meehan said.
But Brem said she signed up for a free trip, and felt the offer she received back was a bait and switch.
"She told me I won a trip to Disneyland," Brem said.
"Certainly our apologies go out to this individual," Meehan said. Most inquiries come from people who thought they'd received "something for nothing, he said.
"Everything we do is tape-recorded and tape-verified," Meehan added.
J.W. Worm of the 10,000 Lakes Music Festival said his organization is not involved in the solicitations, except to rent space to a travel promoter who in turn uses a third party.
"We really have nothing to do with that," he said. Worm said he checked into the offers and is convinced any complaints stem from misunderstandings.
"I truly don't believe this is a scam," he said. "We've gone through this before," he added, saying he'd received several complaints in the past. "This really is a small issue."
Barb Grieman, vice president of the Better Business Bureau in Minnesota and North Dakota, said consumers should be cautious about "free trip" promotions, which often are available in venues that draw large crowds.
"Sometimes you see this at a grocery store or a mall," she said. Before supplying contact information, such as a phone number, address or e-mail, people should be wary.
"There's a reason they want you to sign up," Grieman said of contest offers. "They're looking for information."
In the end, Brem opted not to proceed with the offer.
"At first, I almost fell for it," she said.