FORT MYERS, FL. -- William "Billy" Fuccillo and Caroline Renfro are probably Southwest Florida's most recognizable personalities, pitching cars hundreds of times daily on radio, TV, and through direct mail promotions.
In April, the duo gave away an advertised million dollars, at $1,000 for each new car purchase or lease. In May, Fuccillo has charted an "entire Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship!" says his ads. The cost is reportedly $1.5 million.
But, can the average car buyer get those "Huuuge" deals offered? Probably not.
This month's 34" by 22" gigantic mailing piece promotes the Kia line of cars at Fuccillo's Cape Coral, Florida dealership, enticing prospective customer to lease a car with $0 down and as low as $179 monthly on a 2013 Kia Soul. Or hop up to a near top of the line $0 down, $279 monthly Sorento LX.
To get customers into the dealership, Fuccillo is offering 25 winners, $1,000 each, prizes including iPads, a Kindle Fire, Nintendo Wii, and $1,000 Target gift cards.
Fuccillo says "You could be the instant winner of a 2013 Kia Soul" as an extra bonus. And this month, a five-day "Majesty of the Seas" cruise for "2,248 of their closest Kia customers" by purchasing or leasing one of the dealership's "1,000 new Kias available."
What You'll Likely Receive...
It's very unlikely customers will qualify for the low payments advertised, say automobile consumer watchdogs, and unlikely to get any of the high dollar gifts offered. Instead visitors can expect a $5 gift card to Target.
The primary kicker is the customer must quality for certain rebates for those prices, including rebates for military personnel, college graduates, and "owner loyalty." a discount for current Kia owners. Most customers, of course are not going to qualify for those.
A look at the very small print at the bottom of the mailing, and the disclaimers below each car price discloses the low price is after rebates, discounts, and then added to the payment will be taxes, tags, and "additional equipment."
The prices are also for "well-qualified buyers," those with great credit ratings. Don't expect the average person to qualify. And don't expect "no down payment" if your credit is not stellar.
What About Those Gift Drawings?
The promotions offered by Fuccillo Kia Of Cape Coral is sponsored in conjunction with American Hole'n One. American offers contest "insurance," paying off when customers actually win an expensive prize. Not that the odds of winning are great. They aren't.
To cut way down on the odds, winners of the electronic gifts, the $1,000 Target card, and the new Kia must have received "an original mail piece...addressed to you." We determined that the mailing list being used by Fuccillo and American Hole'n One has names and addresses that are at least 11 years old. The name on your mailing piece may not even have your name on it. You can't win if that's not your name.
"Submitting a mailer addressed to another person or on behalf of another person is prohibited." says the disclaimer's fine print.
The fine print goes on to say winners have to pay their own federal, state and local taxes, registration fees and insurance. A big surprise in the very unlikely event you win a $16,000 car and immediately have to figure how to pay taxes due on it.
And those prizes for just showing up? Two iPad minis are theoretically available. Odds of winning? One in a half million. The same odds for the one $1,000 Target gift card, the Nintendo game system, and the Kindle Fire, and the 2013 Kia.
But, the odds get better for smaller gift cards. One in 50,000 for the $100 card, better odds but chances are you aren't going to win even that.
So what will you really win if you show up in person? Odds are you'll get a $5 Target card. The odds are 499,986 to 500,000. Everyone wins.
And note "unclaimed prized will not be awarded." So, it's very likely no prizes will be given out except those $5 gift cards.
And the $1,000 cash to 25 lucky winners? The catch is here: you have to sign up with a registration form during the month, then you have to be physically present at the dealership on May 31, when the 25 winners will be randomly drawn. You must be present to win, says the small print.
And winners, be ready to pay the tax on that as an IRS W-9 miscellaneous income form will be submitted for your signature. After going through all this, you'll get that lucky check in seven days.
About The Cruise
The five-day cruise for Kia buyers (or leasers) leaves Miami on December 9th at 4:30 p.m. arriving in Nassau, Bahamas the next morning. The next day it goes to Coco Cay, a private island, and then the Key West the next day, and docking back in Miami at 7 a.m. December 13. There's no substitutions allowable, only the Kia customer and a guest can go.
Prices for interior or outside staterooms in December for a Royal Caribbean 5-day, 4-night cruise normally cost between $220 and $579 per person.
Billy And Caroline - A Huge Advertising Partnership
Fuccillo started in the car business back in 1980, two years after attending Syracuse University on a football scholarship. He started buying car dealers' trade-in vehicles, reconditioning them and selling them at dealer auctions for a nice profit splitting it with the dealership he worked for.
Having saved a large nest egg from his car sale profits, he bought a Dodge dealership in 1989 in Adams, New York, with $125,000. He bought a second dealership in 1990, beginning a string of dealership purchases all over the country. He says he liked to buy a dealership cheap, and then sell it two years later for a big profit.
He's owned automobile dealerships in California, Nevada, New Mexico, and the Carolinas. His base, however is New York. He started his Fort Myers area store two year ago and as luck would have it high gas prices, and a shall we say "huge" inventory of Kia vehicles have done well for Fuccillo.
Caroline Renfro, the gal who never gets to finish the TV commercials before Billy says, "It's HUGE, Caroline, It's HUGE," has been acting in the Fuccillo commercials for many years. Originally from North Carolina, Caroline met Fuccillo when had a dealership there. His son also attended school there for a while.
She worked for JTA Talent in Charlotte, N.C., and has done other car dealership commercials other than the "huge" ads for Fuccillo, including ads for a Greensboro, N.C. Kia store.
Update July 2013: Where's Caroline? Caroline has been conspicuously missing from the TV and radio advertising this month. Billy says on the commercials that Caroline is looking for another cruise ship. Fuccillo is holding a Huge Cruise 2 promotion for new car buyers in July and supposedly Caroline is in South Florida somewhere negotiating to book another 1,000 or so cruise ship rooms for the second Kia cruise. (The first cruise is scheduled for December.)
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