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Post date: July 8 2004

Cvs To Amend Sweepstakes Promotions

Attorney General Spitzer said today that his office and a major pharmacy chain have reached a settlement that makes it easier for consumers who do not purchase a product to enter the company's sweepstakes.

CVS Corporation - which operates over 400 stores in New York - settled allegations that its sweepstakes violated consumer protection laws by failing to provide an in-store method of entering the sweepstakes for customers who did not make a purchase. Under state law, consumers must be given an opportunity to enter and win a sweepstakes even if they do not purchase a product.

CVS, based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island - conducted a recent sweepstakes offering a "Trip of a Lifetime" to Oahu, Hawaii as the grand prize. Consumers who visited a CVS store, purchased digital camera prints, and used their CVS ExtraCare Card were automatically entered in the sweepstakes. However, CVS did not make entry forms available at its stores for any other consumers. The only method of entering the sweepstakes made available to people who did not purchase digital camera prints with a CVS ExtraCare Card was on-line, through the company's website at CVS.com.

"Companies that conduct in-store sweepstakes must, according to state law, provide a level playing field for those customers who do not make purchases," Spitzer said.

Pursuant to the settlement, CVS will in the future:

  • Make entry forms readily available at participating CVS retail locations, regardless of whether the consumer has made a purchase;

  • Conspicuously post contest rules and regulations at participating CVS retail stores;

  • Ensure that staff at participating retail locations are familiar with ongoing sweepstakes promotions and are capable of directing consumers to non-purchase methods of entry; and

  • Set forth with equal prominence an alternate non-purchase method of entry in any advertisement that promotes a sweepstakes which affords automatic entry to a consumer who makes an in-store purchase.

CVS also agreed to pay $77,000 in civil penalties and costs.

The settlement with CVS follows a May 2004 settlement with The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc., d/b/a A&P Food Stores, which also agreed to settle allegations that
it failed to provide sweepstakes entry procedures for customers who did not purchase items from its stores.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Doris K. Morin under the supervision of Gary S. Brown, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Westchester Regional Office.

Consumers can obtain information regarding sweepstakes tips on the Attorney General's web site at www.ag.ny.gov. To file a complaint about a sweepstakes, individuals are directed to call the consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.