Key Mailer Car Dealer Advertising Scam

Everything you ever wanted to know about the "Key Mailer Car Dealer Advertising Scam" but didn't know who to ask. Also known as the "Mailer Car Dealer Scam."

key mailer from a car dealership | AutoCheatSheet.com

The goal of the "Key Mailer Scam" is to get a high volume of potential car buyers to the dealership. Once at the dealership, it's the salespeople's job is to switch consumers from collecting their free prize to buying a new or used car.

Several people will come in to just check their key, see if their number matches, or collect their door prize.

Salespeople are highly trained on how to handle customers coming in from receiving a mailer and are preloaded with certain questions and statements in an attempt to help sell a car.

What is a Key Mailer Program?

A car dealership will pay a third party to mail out a mass direct mail campaign promoting a "big sale" to the local public to drive traffic to the dealership.

These types of mailers may contain door prizes, credit cards, free gifts for taking a test drive, cash, gift cards, number matching games, and even car keys.

Car dealers spend thousands of dollars with a direct mail company to produce bright colorful mailers to blanket the local neighborhoods. Key mailers usually come to your residence looking like an official piece of mail, this is of course to get you to open it.

What Does a Key Mailer Look Like?

Here is an example of a very official looking key mailer envelope:

Some of these mailers will include a key, credit card, or some other item to create excitement. They may also have a five to ten digit code printed on the mail piece. If your number matches the number they have posted at the dealership you could win a major prize, normally a new car.

You could actually win a car if your number matches the number at the dealership, however your chances are about 1:120,000. If the car dealer that sent you the mailer only sent out 5,000 mailers in your local area, the winning number may not of even been mailed out.

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By law it has to be mailed to someone but it may have been with another group in another area, or even another state. A dealer will always purchase insurance just in case someone does happen to bring in the winning number.

This kind of direct mail advertising is used to stimulate people who may have been thinking about buying a car but are just waiting for the right opportunity.

Some direct mail companies will tailor a key mailer to certain things that may have happened in the local area like a recent hail storm, model year close-outs, customer rebates or special finance programs.

Example of an actual key inside a car dealerships key mailer:

Always Read the Key Mailers Disclaimer

The wording on key mailers is very suggestive. The asterisk after the above statement tells you to find the small print and read what it says. It's located on the bottom of the mailer above, below is what it says.

*Please see invitation for complete and official rules and regulations.

The disclaimer on this type of mailer is very large. If you see an offer on the mailer that looks interesting to you, look for a symbol beside the offer. Find the symbol located in the small print of the disclaimer, the details of the offer should follow the symbol.

Here is a picture of what one of these disclaimers look like from an actual key mailer:

Other Offers You may Find on a Key Mailer

Car dealers can be very creative, you may find other offers inside your direct mail piece along with a key. There are many different items they may include, below are a few.

Other offers you might find included in a key mailer:

Here's an example of a free prize offer from a key mailer:

Normally key mailers will have some type of door prize just for coming into the dealership. Many people come to the dealership just to check to see if their number matches and collect the door prize.

There is nothing wrong with going in to get your free prize but you should check to make sure there is no other stipulations before collecting your gift. Some mailers will write in the disclaimer to collect your prize you must register online, fill out a credit application, or test drive a car.

Car buying tip - Key mailers are used by car dealer's to get your excitement level up. This is not the way to buy a car. Do not fall for the hype, never buy a car on impulse.

How to Avoid the Key Mailer Scam

Familiarize yourself with more car dealer scams here.

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Share Your Tips - If you have any tips or advice about the car dealer key mailer scam. Please tell us about it in the comments below, so we can share it with everyone.

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