Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Help Me Howard: Car Giveaway
Some say work is its own reward, others need a bit more motivation. One South Florida mom got just that, a promise of a free car just for doing her job well. But instead of getting the car, she says she's just been driven crazy. Here's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Darlene Plummer: "I'm proud of all three of them. They are home. They are well behaved."
Darlene has three sons that she adores.
Darlene Plummer: "And I don't have any problems with them. Except for the one that thinks he's old enough to run this house but not old enough to pay my bills."
Of course, at one time, she wanted a daughter and her husband had a simple solution.
Darlene Plummer: "My husband, he says, 'We'll try one more time, baby, just one more time, we will get that girl.' And I told him, 'I am not a machine.' Three strikes and he is out."
Darlene can joke about that, but, if you want to wipe away her smile, mention a contest she entered at work.
Darlene Plummer: "'We'll give it to the person who does the most tax returns.'"
Darlene works for the school district full time. To earn extra money at tax time she does tax returns, and the company she worked for promised a car to the best person who did the most returns.
Darlene Plummer : "I did over 200, and I did the most tax returns. Nobody was even close to me. I was at least 85 tax returns ahead of everyone."
Darlene was more motivated than the other preparers for a reason. She wanted the car for her son.
Darlene Plummer: "He needs to get to college. I don't want him to have to catch the bus."
Even more motivation for Darlene, the car was parked in front of the business.
Darlene Plummer: "We'd come in everyday, and I'd wave to my car and everything."
And, when the tax-filing deadline passed in April, it became official.
Darlene Plummer: "At the meeting, everybody applauded because he had announced that I had won the car. I was just ecstatic. I was so happy."
Well, that ecstasy was in April. It's now July.
Darlene Plummer: "Some of my clients call me, 'How are you doing? I heard you won the car.' Yeah, I won the car, but I don't have the car."
Not that she hasn't tried calling her boss over and over, and not only does he owe her a car but $900 in back pay.
Darlene Plummer: "He made me all these promises. He didn't deliver. I was crushed."
Crushed but curious, can she claim a car from a contest if nothing was in writing, just the boss promising a prize? Let's bring in the guy whose family sometimes considers him a prize, Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "A contract doesn't have to be a 25-page document signed by everyone. A binding contract can be spoken over a radio or TV station or at an office meeting. And, if someone relies on that promise, for example: win the contest, that's a binding contract, and they are entitled to their prize."
When we spoke to Darlene's boss, he says, he's surprised to hear this is even an issue. He says he didn't give the car to Darlene because he couldn't transfer the title to her. Turns out her license had expired.
She renewed it and not only did he give her the $900 in back pay, he paid the $550 in taxes on the car that she would have had to pay, and, one more thing, he gave her the keys to her car.
Darlene Plummer: "Got our car!"
Actually, I should say her son's car.
Darlene Plummer: "Graduate on time, no failing, good GPA. He deserves this, he deserves this."
He may deserve it, but Darlene worked hard to earn it.
Darlene Plummer: "I do not believe I would have this car today if it were not for Help Me Howard because I tried by myself, and all I did was got aggravated."
Patrick Fraser: "Now, if you don't have a contract with a company that shows there was a contest, how do you prove you won the prize? If it's your job, you have your co-workers. If it's a radio or TV station, you have the other listeners or viewers to prove there was a contest. Bottom line, when you hold a contest, a lot of people enter, so proving it won't be that difficult.
Contesting a confounding situation? Need some prize-winning legal help? Contact us, we've never won a prize, but we are game, and our advice is free.
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