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Prize car becomes a 'problem'

November 16, 2010

The Chicago Auto Show’s benevolent event suffered a blemish April 10 when the Chicago Tribune’s "What’s Your Problem" columnist reported about the inability of the woman who won a Scion at February’s event to learn all the details about her prize.


Christina Pulawski won a 2008 Scion xD at this year’s First Look for Charity. The procedures used to donate vehicles differ among manufacturers, and the Toyota Motor Sales terms were not sufficiently explained to Pulawski.


Under Toyota’s terms, a winner must take delivery of the vehicle that Toyota designated to be the prize. If Pulawski doesn’t want that very car, she can (1) take delivery, then trade it in to the dealer for something else, or sell it on her own; or (2) forfeit her right to the prize. If she takes delivery, Pulawski would be responsible for the sales tax and license and title fees, payable at delivery; plus income tax later based on the value of the car.


Toyota waits until a winner is identified before building a prize vehicle, so there is an average two-month wait for a Scion prize. The car Pulawski won Feb. 7 is about to reach the local dealer for delivery.


The CATA responded to the Tribune column with a letter to the editor that had not been published by this newsletter’s deadline. It appears at the bottom of this story.


Besides the 2008 Scion xD, a 2009 Toyota Corolla and a 2008 Hyundai Veracruz were given away at February’s charity event. Neither of the other winners expressed Pulawski’s frustration.


Howard Jump, who won the Corolla, is bound by the same Toyota prize terms as Pulawski. The Veracruz winner, Tom Morton, had collected his new SUV before the auto show ended.


The 2008 edition of First Look for Charity raised nearly $2.7 million for 18 area charitable organizations.


‘Voice of the People’ submission        


The Chicago Auto Show has presented the First Look for Charity gala for 17 years, during which 26 vehicles have been given away—25 without incident.


However, we appreciate the suggestion that we can improve our communications with the vehicle donors and winners ("Winner restless to drive her prize," April 9).


Each manufacturer and dealer line that supplies the vehicles has a unique delivery procedure, and we certainly need to communicate that better to the winners on the evening of the gala. We will implement a new procedure for our 2009 First Look for Charity.


We hope this incident does not diminish the perception, good will and community involvement of an event that has raised more than $26 million for numerous Chicago area charities. This first misstep hopefully will be the last, and we offer our apologies.


We understand the winner’s new Scion is on its way to her local dealer. And we, too, hope that she will fall in love with it.

Mark Scarpelli


2009 Chicago Auto Show