Price was "wrong" for game show hopefuls

January 16, 2009 7:07:28 PM PST
If you have a favorite TV game show you might wonder if you would be a big winner. 7 On Your Side found out that kind of hope left some consumers really vulnerable.

A tour company was offering people a golden opportunity to get on a popular game show and win big bucks. But all it did was burst their dreams and cost them money.

Lois Keefer of Antioch has always wanted to be a contestant on "The Price is Right," the game show that tells audience members to "come on down."

Sharletta Clement of Antioch doesn't know Lois, but she shares the same passion.

"Ever since I was five years old I've been watching it," says Sharletta.

So, both women were thrilled when signs suddenly popped up around town offering "The Price is Right" bus tours. For $89, IVM1 Entertainment was offering a bus ride to the studio in Los Angeles, a seat in the audience and the chance to win.

"Forever I've wanted to go down to the show, so I figured this would be a good way," says Lois.

"What is there not to like about 'The Price is Right'? The prizes, the energy," says Sharletta.

"They advertise on the Web site that they have a lot of winners," says Lois.

So, Lois bought tickets online for herself and her daughter-in-law. Sharletta marched right down to the tour company office and paid cash for herself and a friend.

"We were both getting excited about going on the show," says Sharletta.

"I was going to have a t-shirt made and have my son who's in the Air Force, his Air Force picture [on it]," says Lois.

Lois was supposed to go in Augus; Sharletta in July. But as the dates got closer, both women got phone calls from tour operator Blake Kerenton.

"They were going to have to postpone the trip," says Lois.

"He said, 'Well, I don't feel like I can bring home a winner.' I said, 'What does that mean?" explains Sharletta. "The next month he said there was a death in the family."

After postponing several times, Kerenton simply stopped calling.

"I left messages on his cell phone and he never returned my calls," says Lois.

"Every phone number, every bit of communication and every link to this company is a dead end," says Sharletta.

Both women called 7 On Your Side. We went to the IVM1 offices with Sharletta. There was nobody there. But other tenants in the building sure remembered Kerenton and other unhappy customers.

"That guy finally moved out. He had so many people coming in here," says Pat Moss.

"People just coming in looking for him wanting refunds, money, what happened to their trip," says Alice Bartley.

We called the IVM1 phone numbers and got no response. What's more, his Web site is now advertising another "Price is Right" tour on Feb. 9 and the site is still active and still taking money through PayPal.

However, CBS Television which airs "The Price is Right" tells 7 On Your Side that Kerenton has not booked any tickets for the February 9th show or any other show. CBS said Kerenton did bring some tours to the show in the past, but CBS is not affiliated with Kerenton and it was investigating the complaints.

"I don't want this to happen to somebody else," says Sharletta.

"You sit there and you think, 'Oh man, I could have been there. Oh, I could have won that," says Lois.

One bright note. PayPal did agree to refund Lois's money even though her claim was made after its 45-day limit for refunds. However, PayPal still has not shut off Kerenton's account saying it would only do so if there is a pattern of complaints.

You can protect yourself by making sure your tour operator is registered as "seller of travel." To find out how, visit the links below.

Office of the Attorney General: Seller of Travel information

Office of the Attorney General: Seller Search