Car dealer fails to deliver free lift tickets

A local car dealer failed to deliver on a promotional offer for free ski lift tickets until 7 On Your Side looked into it.

April 12, 2011 8:05:00 PM PDT
Several Cadillac dealerships launched a tempting promotion recently -- test drive a car, get two free lift tickets. However, one customer who took them up on it says things went downhill from there.

The promotion worked on one end. The customer tried a car he says he wouldn't have considered otherwise, but the lift tickets weren't exactly waiting in the glove compartment.

Rad Kessler of San Rafael was planning his family's annual ski trip to Lake Tahoe at the same time he was shopping for a new SUV. That's why a promotion by Cadillac caught his eye.

"It said, 'Come on in, test drive the car, we'll give you two free ski tickets,'" said Kessler.

Kessler figured, why not? So he drove 40 minutes up the road to the nearest participating dealer--Victory Chevrolet Cadillac in Petaluma.

"They had a dozen banners all over the dealership, bright colors, pictures of people skiing," said Kessler.

Kessler test drove a Cadillac SRX then told the salesman he'd think about the car -- now what about those ski tickets?

"He comes back and says, 'Oh, they're locked up in the general manager's office. I can't get them. Can I mail them to you?' OK," said Kessler.

This was back in November. Kessler's family trip wasn't until New Year's Day, so he waited for the tickets. Weeks later, there were still no tickets in sight, so he called and emailed the dealer.

"I said, 'Look guys, I'm leaving on the trip in a couple of weeks. I'd like to have the tickets I was promised a month before.' And they just kept putting me off, putting me off," said Kessler.

New Year's came. Kessler and his family were headed for the slopes and he wanted to know if he could stop by the dealership on the way to Tahoe and get his lift tickets.

"They're like, 'Oh, the tickets? We should have them any day now, we'll send them out to you,'" said Kessler.

No time for that, instead, Kessler paid $184 at Northstar for lift tickets he didn't get for free. Then, he contacted 7 On Your Side.

"I feel led on. I never would have gone and test drove a Cadillac if it weren't for the ski promotion," said Kessler.

We contacted Victory Cadillac and weeks later, the dealer finally sent Kessler those lift tickets, but it was too late. The tickets expire next month and the family had already gone on their once-a-year ski trip. So we got involved again, and this time, the sales manager reimbursed Kessler $184 for the tickets he had to buy.

"7 On Your Side was the saving grace of this whole experience," said Kessler.

Victory owner Victor Gonella did not respond to our request for an on-camera interview, but he said the promotion was so popular, there were no tickets left when Kessler came in. The dealer did obtain more tickets, however, and Gonella couldn't say why it took so long to send them out.

Kessler never did buy that caddy, but in spite of the difficulty, he said skiing was great.

"The snow was fabulous. The kids had a great time. I'm looking forward to going again next year, hopefully in our new luxury SUV, whatever that will be," said Kessler.

Victory Cadillac says many customers did get their tickets with no problem. The difficulty came in tracking down who was entitled to the one-day passes and getting them sent out.

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