I assume everyone has heard of Cyber Monday, a day of online deals the Monday following Thanksgiving day to kick start the Christmas shopping season. Many airlines/hotels offered Cyber Monday promotions that included discounted airfares/hotels and a few, including Starwood, offered other promotions to win prizes.
I never expect to win any of these promotions, but that never stops me from entering because you never know. I admit that I don’t even remember what the game/promotion was or how I entered because it was so long ago, so instead of starting the story there, I’ll start it from last week when I received the following email (I removed the name of the sender):
Congratulations! You have been selected as an alternate winner in the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Cyber Monday Sweepstakes!
You have won: A 3 night stay at La Posada de Santa Fe
In order to confirm you as a winner, please complete the attached affidavit and W9. We MUST receive your completed paperwork by February 11, 2015, or your entry may be disqualified.
We look forward to being in touch and providing you with an exceptional stay!
Starwood Cyber Monday Winner Administration
I read this email and chuckled a little bit. Why? It looked like a phishing email:
- Cyber Monday? Wasn’t that 3 months ago?
- It was not sent from a Starwood email account.
- They never used my name or SPG number.
- It was sent to an email address that I DO NOT currently have registered with SPG, and haven’t for over a year.
- They requested documents asking for my Social Security Number, address, signature and a whole bunch of other information.
On top of that, I’d never even heard of the property they mentioned and had to look it up to make sure it even was an SPG hotel! It was, part of the Luxury Collection brand, so at least that part checked out.
I laughed it off, completely assuming it was fake. But I decided to have a little fun and take a screen shot with my phone, then post it on Twitter and ask the SPG team if it was legitimate or not.
— Travel Summary (@TravelSummary) February 4, 2015
I received a couple of replies that laughed at the email because of how fake it looks. SPG took some time to research, but to my surprise responded with this:
@TravelSummary Thanks for your patience. We can now confirm that this is genuine. Congratulations on winning!
— SPG Assist (@spgassist) February 4, 2015
I was shocked, and even wondered if the SPG Twitter account had been hijacked. I sent them a DM to confirm, and they acknowledged my once again confirmed that it was legitimate.
I confirmed it again a second time via email just to make sure. Yes, THAT’S how skeptical I was!
It turns out that SPG uses a company called Votigo, whom the email came from, to run their promotions (or at least this one). They of course need the W-9 and other information for tax purposes, because I will be taxed on this as if I received it’s value as income. How they will value the nights is to be determined, but it’s not like I won a car or anything so it should be fairly minimal regardless.
In the end I’m glad I won the prize as I’ll get the chance to visit Santa Fe for the first time. The hotel reviews on Trip Advisor are pretty funny, as it’s either a 5 star review or a 1 star review. It’s as hit-or-miss of a property as I’ve ever seen reviews for, but they’ve begun a refurbishment that will hopefully make the experience better overall.
If I had a suggestion for SPG, I’d say that they need to find a way to make these emails look a little more legitimate. I still can’t figure out how it was sent to my non-SPG email address but have no answer for that.
Did anyone else win any prizes, delayed or otherwise?