The promotion seemed straight forward enough. Buy at least $125 worth of Dockers at JC Penney and get a free round-trip flight. The response was overwhelming and more than 17 months later, the promotion for many consumers is still stuck on the runway.
Deanne Daly of Palo Alto could hardly wait to take her trip.
"You can choose from nine different destinations including Chicago, Miami," said Daly.
Deanne loved the choices. She bought the required $125 worth of Dockers and was all set to go to Boston.
Deanne turned in the paper work three months before this summer's deadline and then waited for her ticket which never arrived.
"I guess they were so overwhelmed and backed up, they never got to me. I made multiple phone calls. They wouldn't let me talk to a supervisor," said Daly.
Dockers is owned by San Francisco-based Levis Strauss. A company spokesman told 7 On Your Side the response exceeded all expectations and projection, but doesn't know exactly how many people participated in the promotion. Dockers said it is working with a marketing company to address all concerns. Dockers also confirmed it will handle any complaints submitted to JC Penney.
A marketing professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco says both companies have been badly hurt.
"Word of mouth plus angry customers, means they've not only hurt themselves this year, they've probably hurt themselves for years to come," said Golden Gate University Professor Michal Strahilevitz Ph.D.
The Better Business Bureau has some 900 complaints about this promotion. Most of them were against TLC, the marketing company responsible for issuing the tickets.
TLC president Walter Osterman told 7 On Your Side his company "couldn't cope" and was "overwhelmed." He said it was his mistake and promised 98 percent of the people would be taken care within two weeks.
"They're going to have to make some phone calls and they've going to have to throw a lot of money at the people who are angry. And the truth is the damage to some extent has been done," said Strahilevitz.
7 On Your Side advised Deanne to bypass TLC and called Dockers directly. She did and the company moved quickly to get her her airline ticket.
"I got my ticket," said Daly.
Anyone who submitted their paper work before the July deadline and is still in need of help can call Dockers at 1-800- Dockers. The company says its ultimate goal is to make sure its customers are treated fairly and receive the full value of the promotion.