UPDATE: Publishers Clearing House Not Cleared Yet
PCH, the magazine and sweepstakes marketer, recently announced that U.S. District Court in Ohio dismissed a case brought by a man who alleged that a PCH mailing constituted a contract to award him a $10 million prize.
Christopher L. Irving, PCH's senior director of consumer affairs, said Polster dismissed the case because there were many clear messages and directions throughout the mailing indicating that it was not a contract.
In his decision, Polster said, "Thomas apparently chose to ignore this language, the word 'DRAFT' superimposed over both pages of the letter, and the Official Rules in order to determine that the mailing constituted a contract. … Rather than establishing a contract, the mailing only shows that there was not a contract between the parties."
Irving added, "It was very clear that this was not a contract -- that it was nothing more than an opportunity to enter."
Irving said a judge has ruled in the company's favor in the past 10 cases over six years in which a consumer has sued PCH.
These lawsuits, however, are not related to the lawsuits filed earlier this year.
The states that filed suit are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Each state filed its own claims.
Among other allegations, these states said the company participated in false advertising and misled consumers into believing they had a better chance of winning if they ordered more products. The attorneys general also said PCH misrepresents that it has a personal relationship with consumers and induces people into believing that they are guaranteed winners of big prizes.
"While this action dismisses a consumer lawsuit, there are still a large number of actions still pending with these states, and it continues to be our No. 1 priority and effort to try to resolve this," Irving said. "We continue to be very optimistic that a resolution and an agreement may be forthcoming very soon."
In addition, Irving said, PCH is in full compliance with the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act. The act was signed into law by President Clinton in December and became effective April 13, except for the notification system, which will take effect Dec. 12.
The act imposes various restrictions on sweepstakes mailings; establishes a name removal notification system whereby people can request removal from mailings lists for sweepstakes; imposes heavy financial penalties on violators; and gives the U.S. Postal Service's postmaster general authority to investigate and stop deceptive mailings.