Are the “Free Gas for a Year” New Car Promotions Real or are They a Scam?

Here is another subscriber Q&A issue. The questions we’re answering today are:
– Are the “free gas for a year” new car promotions real or are they a scam?

– Will I get free gifts and cash for answering a survey question?

– Is the cashier’s check I received and have been asked to cash real or a scam?

– Update from last week’s issue on the Sony Rootkit


Are the “free gas for a year” new car promotions real or are they a scam?



Question: I’ve been reading a lot about the new promotions where you receive free gas for a year when you buy a car. Are these for real or are they just another car buying scam?

Answer: Mitsubishi Motors began the trend of “free gas for a year” when they announced their “Gas Comes Standard” campaign. The idea was that they would give a year’s worth of gas to all buyers of new 2005 Mitsubishi cars.

Of course, there are restrictions. Mitsubishi is NOT simply giving new car buyers unlimited free gas for a year. ;-)

Instead, they offer a pre-paid debt card that can be used to buy gas at many major oil companies’ gas stations. Depending on the model, the debt cards will have a value of $1500 to $2500. The amount is based on the amount of gas required to drive the car 12,000 miles, based on EPA combined ratings and a gas price of $2.95 per gallon.

So, is this promotion real or a scam? On the plus side, you do get the pre-paid debt card you can use to buy your gas. And if you don’t drive more than 12,000 miles and gas prices don’t go up, you probably will get free gas for a year.

On the other hand, most car dealers will simply substitute this promotion for other (often larger) discounts you can get when you buy a car. In many cases, you will only “qualify” for the free gas card if you pay full MSRP. So, although it is very clever marketing, it doesn’t really give you anything new IF you know the rules for buying a new or used car. In fact, you may well pay more than you could have otherwise negotiated.

As we’ve mentioned before, if you’d like to learn more about buying a new or used car, we highly recommend Peter Humleker’s excellent ebook: “Car Buying Scams.” You can find it here.


Will I get free gifts and cash for answering a survey question?



Question: Thank you for the great service you are providing to the public! Could you please comment on the following: I’ve been getting emails that promise to give me a $500 gift or cash card simply for answering a survey question. This sounds a little too good to be true.

Also, I occasionally get offers where they will send me a product such as a computer or television, etc. which I can keep simply if I fill out a questionnaire on the product. Could you please address some of these subjects on your site?

Answer: We actually did an issue of ScamBusters recently about online surveys. You can find it here.

Most of these offers are bogus, and if they are sent by spam, they are almost certainly a scam. You can also see our subscribers’ comments about online surveys here.


Is the cashier’s check I received and have been asked to cash real or a scam?



Question: I have received a $6000 cashiers check via DHL. I am being asked to cash the check and send 90% of the amount to an address in Canada, to two different people… I feel this is a scam, but I am not sure. Can you help?

Answer: Yes, it’s called the “overpayment scam.” We’ve written about it extensively. The authentic-looking cashier’s check is counterfeit. You can find the details here.


Update from last week’s issue



Last week we warned subscribers about the Sony Rootkit — and why it was important to protect yourself from this XPC technology. We also talked about Sony BMG’s inadequate response to the furor after the Sony Rootkit was discovered.

Since then, Sony has finally released a list of all 52 CDs that used the XCP software we described in the last issue. You can find the list here:

==} http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/english/titles.html

In addition, Sony has instituted an exchange program to replace these CDs. You can find info here:

==} http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/

That’s it for today. Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.