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Chances Of Winning Cardboard Box Giveaway: 0%

The other day my friends, my wife (who is also friend but unless I give her a shout out I get shouted at), went to the 16th Annual Safeway BBQ Battle [3] (official site [4]) down in Washington D.C. and had a marvelous time. The annual event is a ton of fun, only $10, and part of the proceeds goes to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington’s Metropolitan Police Club Houses – so it’s a win-win-win. Besides gorging ourselves on free samples and celebrity chef demonstration food, one of the interesting things I saw was a table giving away a $500 Target gift card. I wish we had taken a picture since the sign was distinctly unprofessional and the table was even less so.

If you’ve ever gone to a mall and seen the tiny stands announcing a sweepstakes giveaway of a car or incredible vacation, then you’d recognize the tell-tale cardboard boxes with the pictures of the vacation or car. Instead of a picture of a fancy new Prius or a beach in Aruba, picture a Target gift card with a big $500 on it. That’s what the table consisted of, about a dozen of these with plenty of people signing up.

Despite the convincing sign, I bet there there is a 0% chance (ok ok, maybe a 0.0001% chance) that you’d win a $500 gift card to Target if you entered. Many of those sweepstakes contests are affordable techniques to capture your name, phone number, and address for a mailing list. The surprisingly thing is that they often tell you right on the box (they are required to). By entering, you are subscribing to the XYZ Product/Timeshare Mailing list and allow XYZ Product/Timeshare to contact you even if you are the Do Not Call list.

The chances of you winning that cardboard box giveaway: 0%.
The chances of you receiving annoying phone calls during dinner offering a fantastic timeshare vacation offer or test trial of some crazy new product: 100%.

There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. [5]