A Waipahu man won a free trip to Las Vegas at a fundraising event, but by the time he was ready to go, the travel company had already shut down.
It’s a hard-luck story that was brought to us by a viewer who contacted KHON2 through the Report It feature on our website.
The prize winner got a hold of the former owner of the travel company, but that didn’t go anywhere. So what are the rules when it comes to raffle prizes?
It’s tricky because the prize was from a fundraiser for a non-profit organization. At the same time, if you win a prize, somebody should take responsibility that you actually get it.
Reggie Daguman had planned to use the free trip to Vegas to go to a wedding in March after his friend won the prize at a raffle during a fundraiser that was held at the Pagoda Hotel. He called the number on the voucher and got the run around.
“We gave him the dates from the first day that we got there, and and I was wondering you know, we gave you the dates, why can’t you just tell us there’s a tour on that date? Is there a tour or there’s not a tour?” Daguman said.
He later found out that the travel company no longer exists, so he wanted to know if someone else can make good on the trip or is he just out of luck.
The State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs says there’s not a whole lot you can do to the owner of the business if it has shut down, but you might be able to go after the people who organized the fundraising event.
“There may be individuals in the company who promoted it and there may be some recourse against those people if there were misrepresentations associated with offering the voucher prize or something like that,” said Steve Levins with the DCCA’s Office Of Consumer Protection.
That’s not what happened in Daguman’s case, but Levins says if you feel that you’re misled in any way the DCCA can investigate. Otherwise you can also take matters on your own.
“They can go to small claims court here in Hawaii and there are people at small claims court who are very good at helping the people walk through the process,” Levins said.
Non-profit groups have to walk a fine line when handing out prizes, because they’re normally donated by businesses.
“Make sure you know the state laws on gambling. Stay away from raffles and things like that,” said Don Weisman of the American Heart Association.
Weisman says the organization stays away from raffles because they can be considered gambling and illegal if participants have to pay to enter, so at their annual Heart Ball fundraiser, all the donated prizes are auctioned off.
He says they’ve never had this problem, but if they did, the Heart Association would work with the prize winner to come to some agreement.