A class action lawsuit was filed against a major alcoholic beverage manufacturer alleging that some instant win game codes distributed in connection with the “Silver Ticket Sweepstakes” (the “Promotion”) were invalid. Plaintiffs alleged that the sponsor issued approximately five million invalid codes in connection with its Promotion. Specifically, the complaint alleges that when consumers entered the codes into the Promotion Web site, it stated that “[t]his is not a valid code” and, thereby, prevented plaintiffs from participating in the Promotion altogether. The complaint further alleges that the sponsor received complaints from consumers during the promotional period but continued to disseminate invalid Promotion codes without disclosing that some products may contain invalid instant win codes. As such, plaintiffs claim that they were unable to participate in the Promotion and had no chance of winning any of the advertised prizes. The lawsuit alleges the sponsor violated various state consumer protection laws by failing to disclose to consumers that some codes were invalid and by misrepresented that consumers could participate in the Promotion by purchasing a product and obtaining an instant win code. The complaint was filed in federal court on October 6, 2009.

TIP: When conducting a promotion, companies should ensure that all methods of entry are valid and will allow consumers to effectively participate in the promotion. If the promotion does not run in the manner in which it was planned, companies should promptly modify or suspend the promotion until further action can be taken and promptly notify consumers.