AUBURN (CBS13) — Teresa Shepard said she won $5,000 playing a Publisher’s Clearing House game, but the company claimed the win was a malfunction. So, does that mean they don’t have to pay?
“I want the balloons, I want all the hoopla,” Teresa said.
She pictured the PCH’s prize patrol showing up at her door, after winning an online scratch off game on the company’s website.
“I was like ‘Oh my gosh, thank you God!’” She said. “I went and grabbed my camera.”
Teresa took photos of her five winning cards, each $1,000.
“I told myself out loud ‘I can’t believe this.'” She said.
But after weeks of trips to the mailbox, Teresa said she never received winning check.
“It’s just not right.”
It wasn’t until she contacted Publisher’s Clearing House. The company emailed her and blamed a “technical malfunction”, and said under “official rules” they were “not responsible.”
“It’s just not right,” Teresa said. “They can’t bring people’s hopes up like that.”
Consumer Attorney Ian Barlow said that as long as Publisher’s Clearing House didn’t intentionally deceive people, and fixed the malfunction as soon as they realized it, they’re in the clear.
“They can’t just turn a blind eye to computer malfunctions.” Barlow said.
When we reached out to Publisher’s Clearing House, the company admitted to a computer glitch that “lasted for two hours” and said it affected “a small percentage of people.”
Then, Publisher’s Clearing House surprised us by saying “they don’t want [Teresa] to walk away unhappy” and sent her a check for $1000.
Teresa said she plans on using the money to help pay off her newlywed daughter’s student loan.
“I would love to do that for them,” she said.
While researching this report, another viewer contacted us about the same malfunction.
After we got involved, Publisher’s Clearing House also sent that viewer a check for $1,000, just like Teresa.
We asked PCH how many people were affected by the malfunction. They told us a “small percentage of people were affected.”
We could not locate any California law that specifically addresses paying out prizes during gaming malfunctions.