Over the summer, Lipton ran a promotion on their iced tea in which the bottle caps contained a code to be entered on their website to determine if a prize was won. The promotion was called “Lipton SUN/day.” Each winning cap was worth a certain number of “minutes” and the “minutes” were then redeemable for personal services, with the top prize being $6,000 worth of house cleaning (or $6,000 in cash). The advertised goal was that by winning a certain amount of service minutes, the winner thereby had freed up that much of their Sunday chore time, to be used for other, more fun activities.
I drink Lipton Ice Tea anyway because I can no longer drink coffee every day, and I really need that caffeine jolt in the morning. The promotion sounded good, so I registered on the Lipton website.
Every morning I would open my bottle of Lipton Iced Tea and then dutifully enter the cap code onto the Lipton website, never really expecting to win anything, but what the hey, you gotta be in it to win it – imagine my surprise when one of the caps won me “30 minutes” of services.
Immediately I checked the list of prizes, and discovered that 30 minutes wouldn’t buy me much of anything that I couldn’t simply do myself – for instance, 30 minutes would allow me to have someone else order a pizza for me, make a dinner reservation, arrange for a hotel room, etc. Hell, I can order my own pizza if I want one, and can probably do it way faster than someone in some foreign call center who might not even understand what pizza is.
The website said the minutes could be accumulated to qualify for a larger prize, so I continued to check those caps. And lo and behold, I got a second 30-minute winner – woo-hoo, I now had 60 minutes accumulated! But I kinda wanted that $6,000 in cash instead. So, I decided to wait.
Once I got within a month or so of the contest deadline, and it became apparent that I was not likely to win any additional minutes, I decided to redeem what I had. At the 60-minute level, I was entitled to (among other things) 60 minutes of dog-walking or 60-minutes of household cleaning (dusting, mopping, etc.)
What a dilemma – what should I choose? Puppy Cody definitely needs daily walking, and having someone else do it for a change was somewhat attractive – except that Puppy Cody is still a little skittish around strangers, and we can’t walk her down our own street due to the goofy neighbors, so each night we put her in the car and take her to the outside track at the school a few blocks away. In order to redeem my 60 minutes of dog-walking, I would likely have to take both Cody AND the dog-walker in the car over to the track. Way too much effort.
As for cleaning – I don’t want anyone coming to my house when it’s dirty! I would have to thoroughly clean the house before the cleaner got there, which seemed pointless.
Well, I’m not one to waste a prize, no matter how insignificant, so I decided to pass the winnings on to Cordelia. Again, dog-walking was not really do-able, so I opted for someone to go to her house for the 60 minutes of cleaning. She was all for it.
I submitted my request to Lipton, and immediately got an acknowledgment. Subsequently, every few days I would receive a notice that said, in effect: “I have contacted a contractor and am awaiting a reply.” I would get two of these notices a day – they were apparently working very hard to accommodate my request.
I think I received something like 20 notices that various contractors had been contacted, with no reply. Really? NO ONE was willing to provide that 60 minutes of cleaning, or wasn’t Lipton trying hard enough? I began to wonder if there really was a “personal assistant” working on my request, as Lipton claimed.
Finally, on September 15, I received my umpteenth notice that a contractor had been contacted and the reply was awaited. At that point, I decided I’d rather just have the cash instead of whatever the contractor would be paid, so I went on the website to try to relay that.
The website was closed – the contest had ended on September 13, and there was no Lipton contact information anywhere on the page that I could find.
I emailed Lipton by replying to one of my “contractor contacted” notifications – it was no real surprise that the email was returned as undeliverable.
[Come on, Lipton – I drank the damn tea and entered the damn codes. You told me I won something. You strung me along, and now you tell me there’s no way to collect?! I think the least you can do is to send me an Amazon certificate for the monetary amount of the prize you told me I won.]
I still had one of the caps, which actually had a phone number on it. Without any expectations, I called the number – and it was answered by a live, non-foreign person! I was informed that the website was back up, and that they were still working very hard to find a contractor for me. They assured me that it was not abnormal to have contacted so many contractors without response.
That call was followed by two more “I have contacted a contractor” emails. And then an email, ” I have contacted several contractors …”
[Well, that’s a little different anyway]
Finally, I received the much-awaited, “We have found a contractor who is available on [date] at [time]. Will that work for you?“
But guess what, the time was bad for Cordelia. At least this time, I was able to reply to Lipton through their website.
And, finally, the contractor was scheduled, and the work completed. Woo-hoo!
So I guess I don’t have to organize a Lipton-Iced-Tea-dumping party after all. It’s so nice to finally be a winner!