You May Already Be a Dupe

Ivan Reyna wins a contest and gets less than he bargained for

When New Times called to talk to Bonillas' supervisor, Charlie Mandala, national sales manager for KDRX and KHRR--affiliates of Telemundo--responded. Mandala began working for the station in January; the station was sold to Televisión Apogeo de Phoenix, a subsidiary of the Apogee Company, on January 16. Mandala says he wasn't involved in handling Reyna's trip. New Times explained Reyna's beef to him, and Mandala admitted that the prize sounded "boggled" by both Reyna and Bonillas.

"It sounds like Marysela did what she could to compensate him," says Mandala. "We would have been obligated if he said he wanted to go to Denver. When he agreed to take another trip, then it becomes kind of subjective. We gave him what he called and asked for. If he's upset, he should have called and asked for something comparable [to the Denver trip]."

As for Greg McCain, the other winner, Bonillas says that he was "very understanding" about not being able to go to Denver. She told New Times that he dealt directly with Compass Travel, which provided him with another trip.

McCain could not be reached for comment for this story. Bonillas gave New Times his phone number, but the line had been disconnected. McCain is not listed in the phone book.

However, when Compass Travel was contacted about McCain's trip, owner Ahd Kaston said they had no record of making an arrangement for McCain.

Kaston was also upset with Bonillas about her agency's relationship with Telemundo, which called for Compass to provide airfare and accommodations to contest winners in exchange for promotions on Telemundo.

"[Telemundo] promised me that they would advertise . . . and I never saw anything," Kaston says. "They never held up their end of the bargain. When you set up something and then change it, that's not right."

Bonillas disputes this, saying that Kaston may be mistaken because Bonillas dealt with an office manager at Compass Travel who no longer works there.

"I let them know what their tag lines were going to be and I sent them some of the fliers," says Bonillas. "They also were mentioned by the DJ . . . during the giveaway."

Ivan Reyna's misadventure is not the first Marysela Bonillas has dealt with.
During her two-year tenure, Bonillas says she's been in charge of three separate contests whose prizes were the trip to Denver, a trip for two to San Diego which included tickets to Sea World, and a trip for four to Los Angeles to watch the taping of a Telemundo talk show.

According to Bonillas, Compass Travel and Adventures in Travel, Reyna is the only winner who has actually collected on one of these prizes.

Bonillas says that the San Diego trip fell through because it involved a dance contest at the Maricopa County Fair that nobody participated in.

The trip to Los Angeles was another live drawing, and the winners were selected by a representative of Adventures in Travel.

Two sets of names were drawn, and each person was allowed to bring a guest. New Times obtained a copy of a memo from Bonillas to Adventures in Travel that says, "Here are the names of the guests that will be traveling with the winners:

"Reyes Gomez & Marcela Gomez.
"Lety M. Garcia & Manny Garcia."
There is also an itinerary listing both couples.

Lety and Manny Garcia are the owners of Prensa Hispana, which was among the sponsors of the contest.

Asked about winning the contest, Lety Garcia says they had not won but had been offered the tickets by the Gomezes when they were unable to go.

Bonillas has a different explanation, saying that the Garcias were listed so they could send reporters to cover the event for Prensa Hispana.

When told of Bonillas' version, Lety Garcia says it was correct.
But if Presna Hispana wasn't taking two of the winning spots, there should have been two other winners named. Neither Bonillas nor Lety Garcia could say who these winners were, or whether any was named.

Beulah Smith of Adventures in Travel says she is certain that there were two sets of winners selected. In any case, no trip was ever claimed.

Reyna's friends have told him he should sue Telemundo, but he says he doesn't have the time or money for such a process.

"I would like to teach them a lesson," he says. "It's just messed up. I just want to make sure they're exposed. I don't want other people to be taken advantage of."

Cindy Davis, chief counsel for consumer protection and advocacy at the Attorney General's Office, says there are laws protecting against consumer fraud and crooked sweepstakes. But because Reyna did not have to pay to enter the contest, those laws don't apply in his case.

"If there was a pattern of this, where they were trying to line their pockets, then you might have something," says Davis. "But since there was no monetary exchange, it would be a tough case to win."

There is no evidence that either Telemundo or Prensa Hispana has directly benefited from the faulty contests--although there is significant public relations value in sponsoring contests and giving away prizes.

The Prensa Hispana article about Reyna's nonexistent trip to Denver invites readers to take advantage of upcoming contests.

"Don't pass up the next magnificent opportunity," it says.
You, too, could be as lucky as Ivan Reyna.

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