Summer of Law: Write an Essay, Win a Lake House (maybe another time…)

With the official first day of summer and end of the School year in the same week, many begin to turn their attention to summer travel, thoughts about planning summer travel or otherwise dreaming about being outside and away from their desks- perhaps near a lake, on the beach or in the mountains- enjoying sun, water and time with family and friends.

Last winter, we wrote about an interesting contest underway where for a fee and a winning essay, someone could WIN a lake house in the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York. The sponsors of the contest and owners of the lake house chose to pursue this contest in lieu of trying to sell their home through conventional means like using a real estate broker or otherwise listing their home for sale. Since the owners/sponsors did not want to give away their house but rather achieve a desired sales price (and presumably cover the costs of the contest which included engaging a lawyer to draft terms and conditions, developing a website and advertising the contest), so a minimum number of entrants- 5,500 to be exact- had to pay the $149 entry fee ($49 of which was non-refundable as an administrative fee) and submit their 200 word essay, in order for any entrants to have a shot at winning the lake house.

However, according to the contest website and this recent New York Times Article, the lake house owners and contest sponsors ended the contest because less than 600 of the required 5,500 participants actually submitted an entry. The website is still active and says that contest entrants should receive the refundable $100 portion of the entry fee by July 15th, at which time the contest email address will go off-line.

From a legal perspective, not much to see here– it appears that the terms and conditions drafted for the contest were indeed clear, but as with any consumer transaction, both legal review and pure customer experience, perception and customer service must always be a consideration, especially when the transaction is offered, sold or present only on-line.

The summer, however, and all of its sights, sounds, tastes and experiences, thankfully, cannot and must not just be enjoyed online so let’s get outside and enjoy, including some of America’s favorite past-times: baseball and amusement parks (future blog posts coming soon).