Man wins free car... or does he?

HOUSTON The dealership mailed out thousands of flyers with keys attached to each one. When one of those keys actually started the car being given away, that's when the trouble started.

When the flyer from Tomball Ford arrived in Ken French's mailbox, the attached key got his attention so he followed the instructions carefully.

"It says if you scratch off this thing and it matches something in the brochure, you are a winner," said French.

The scratch window revealed the image of a key which, according to the mailer, meant French won one of the following prizes: $100 in cash, a gold coin, a Nintendo Wii or a 2005 Ford Escape hybrid. So French took the mailer to Tomball Ford.

"They put the bar code in the computer and it come out that I won a gold coin. We were on our way out and the salesman said, 'Ken, That's only half of the prize,'" said French.

French says the salesman told him to try the key that was included with the on the car being given away.

"I put my key in the door, he said it was locked, I opened the door," said French.

French said he unlocked the door three times, but was told to come back the next day. He did and even tried the ignition

"The car started, I put it in drive, drove 50 feet, backed up and stopped it right where it was," said French.

French was convinced he won the car, until a Tomball Ford manager stepped in.

"We started taking other keys and determined all the keys opened the vehicle and started the car," said Tomball Ford Used Vehicle Director Bruce Pinkerton.

He says apparently someone tampered with the car's lock and ignition. Pinkerton added the mailer never instructs anyone to use the key and the prizes were awarded based solely on a computer print out.

"The key has nothing to do with the direct mail piece. It is all computer-driven," said Pinkerton.

We spoke with University of Houston Law Professor Richard Alderman about the contest and he says the dealership did not break any laws because they followed the contest rules.

French did get the coin, but that gold coin was really just a $1 coin. Those are gold-colored, but not actual gold.

Find us on Facebook | Action 13 on Twitter | More social networking
ABC13 widget | Most popular stories | Consumer blog
Super Saver blog | Slideshow archive | Help solve crimes

Copyright © 2023 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.