Fine print missing from Six Flags TV ad

July 1, 2009 7:15:07 PM PDT
With summer here and the economy down, families are looking for good deals on summer fun. There are some bargains out there but you've got to look at them closely.

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You've probably seen these promotions where you buy something and get something else free. Usually they come with a bunch of restrictions which should be spelled out in the ads, but sometimes they're not.

Bryan Oliver wanted to give his son, Noah, the party of his dreams for his eighth birthday -- a day with his friends at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo.

"Every time it's his birthday, it's this big thing and he wants to invite all his friends," said Oliver.

But buying a ticket for each party guest seemed way too expensive. Until Oliver saw an ad on TV that was offering season passes for $49.99 and the clincher-- the ad said each pass came with five free tickets for friends.

That gave Oliver an idea. If he bought three season passes, he could get enough tickets for everybody.

"For $150 I get 15 tickets plus the three, which makes 18 total and that would be enough for the party," said Oliver.

So Oliver bought the season passes at Lucky Supermarket. There, he was told to pick up the free tickets at the park. When he went online to find out more information, which he should have done before purchasing the passes, he got a big letdown.

"So when you go to the season pass section of their website, there it says you can only use the tickets on select days," said Oliver.

It turned out the tickets come with a lot of restrictions. They can only be used one at a time and only on certain days. Those days are Mother's Day, Father's Day and a Sunday in September.

But the ad just says five free tickets and there is no mention of any restrictions. Oliver said he took it at face value, so he called Six Flags.

"The first person told me I misunderstood. I said there's nothing to misunderstand, the commercial says you get five free tickets for friends," said Oliver.

Six Flags offered him extra tickets at half price, but Oliver said they were supposed to be free.

"It was a big disappointment. I started to worry what we were going to do for his birthday," said Oliver.

So Oliver called 7 On Your Side. We talked to Six Flags spokesperson Nancy Chan and she says there are limits on those tickets.

"This is a program that's been going on for 10 years and it's been very successful, and certainly people are apt to interpret it the way they want to interpret it but the intention was not to be misleading," said Chan.

But Six Flags wanted Oliver to be satisfied. So the park allowed him to use all of his tickets on Noah's birthday.

"While we disagree with how he interpreted the offering, we were able to accommodate him and we're happy he was able to have a good time with his family here," said Chan.

Noah had a great birthday on the bumper cars, with the characters, on the roller coasters and at the animal shows.

"He loved it. The kids had a good time and that's all that matters, the kids have a good time," said Oliver. "They were exhausted, but nobody wanted to leave. Thanks 7 on your side."

In spite of the dispute Chan says the passes are a good deal.

"It includes unlimited visits to the park, unlimited visits to all the Six Flags parks in the system and it's only a few dollars over the day pass," said Chan.

That particular promotion is no longer running and advertisements should notify you about restrictions. But as with other purchases, it's wise to read the fine print before you buy.

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