To the owner of Hyundai of New Port Richey, the gas voucher incentive gift program he offered to customers continues to be the gift that keeps picking his pocket.
The car dealership landed in small claims court this week after customer Mark Preston of Spring Hill sued over the failed program.
Preston claimed that the Hyundai dealership owed him $1,000 for unfulfilled gas vouchers - the result of the company that provided the incentive, Tidewater Marketing Global Consultants of Largo, going out of business.
"The money wasn't the object," said Preston, who received $1,000 worth of gas certificates after he bought a 2008 Hyundai Elantra. "I wanted to hold their feet to the fire."
Hyundai of New Port Richey, just like countless other retailers, bought gas vouchers from Tidewater Marketing Global Consultants of Largo, and later from BBZ Resource Management of Arizona, as incentives for their customers.
Scott Fink, owner of the Hyundai dealership, said he was not aware of Preston's situation until it arose through the courts. But he said he is working to ensure that his customers get what they are due.
"I'm paying it out of my pocket," Fink said. "We are stepping up for our customers."
Consumers received the gas vouchers in denominations as high as $500 for purchases of such products as cars, electronics and furniture as well as door prizes at events or to take a promotional tour.
To redeem the certificate, consumers were required to purchase $100 worth of gas each month, send in the receipts to Tidewater Marketing or BBZ. In exchange, the marketing companies promised to send $25 gift cards each month until the full value of the voucher was reached.
Although some customers received at least an initial gift card, thousands of others received nothing. Both of the marketing companies are out of business.
Some have filed class-action lawsuits against retailers.
The Hyundai dealership agreed to pay after Preston took it to small claims court.
The company hand-delivered him an initial check for $547.75 to his house Thursday night. Additional payments of $25 a month will follow as Preston sends the dealership his gas receipts each month.
Ivan Penn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2332.