Saying Hello To Hello World World Headquarters

A couple weeks ago I reported that points from the IHG Priceless Surprises promotion were posting. I realize now that that might have been a bit of an overstatement.

My statement was more or less based on my own two data points — I had mailed in two entries and received two game tokens a month later. Many readers left comments, however, indicating that they had received far fewer game pieces than they were expecting, with some saying they had not heard anything yet. Ouch. As a result, I’m starting to fear that Politifact would have given this a Pants on Fire rating for accuracy.

pants on fire

For those of you who aren’t completely caught up in the world of IHG right now, Priceless Surprises is their current sweepstakes-like promotion where you are supposed to receive an instant win game piece after staying at an IHG property. You can then use this game piece to play an online game and earn points or prizes.

That’s probably how it was supposed to work.

But in reality, it has become more of an exercise in penmanship and envelope licking ever since it was discovered that you could request a game piece for free via mail.

You can catch up by reading these posts.

At any rate, a few readers have asked about how to contact Hello World to inquire about why they have yet to receive a response to their 94 entries. I took it one step further and actually paid a visit to the fulfillment company, Hello World, in hopes of seeing just what this operation looks like.

Michigan. In the Winter.

My family spent the holidays in Michigan visiting relatives. Because it’s Michigan in the winter, there’s only so much you can do. And this year was even odder in that it was 50 F much of the week, so you couldn’t even do some of the things you’d like to be doing this time of year — like ice fishing and driving cars out onto frozen lakes just because you can.

I noticed that Hello World was located near the airport, and thought it would be kind of cool to wander by and check them out. Maybe ask a few questions about the promotion. See if I could spot a few bales of letters waiting to be opened by magical elves. But mostly I was hoping to be able to report back to our readers that this company really does exist.

Sure, I could have emailed, or maybe called them, but in my experience the best way to get someone to talk to you — especially those who don’t really want to talk to you — is to just to show up. And then sit on the couch in their lobby until someone comes out. I actually used this tactic successfully a decade ago to get TLC Promotions to honor my Docker’s deal. (They did a much better job with the Rite Aid promotion last January.)

Hello World world headquarters — sorry, to me “hello world” is the first line of code you type when learning a new programming language — is in Southfield, Michigan, in the vicinity of Detroit Metro airport. It’s worth noting, however, this is just the world headquarters and that the mailing address for the Priceless Surprises promotion, and possibly the warehouse where the elves actually open your letter, is in Kalamazoo. Still, it seemed a worthwhile little excursion given that we needed to drop some relatives off at the airport anyway.

LH sprit tails
A Spirit-filled hazy shade of winter

Hello World World Headquarters

We left the airport and passed through a bit of Detroit. We started to count the boarded-up and burned out houses as we sped by on the freeway, which is just sad. Then we passed the big Ford campus in Dearborn, and soon arrived in Southfield. Hello World is located on the 21st floor of a big office building which my wife apparently grew up referring to it as “The Crate.” I guess I sort of see that.

The "crate building", home of Hello World
The “crate building”, home of Hello World

Anyway, I went inside for a look around. Originally I had planned to inquire as to when I would get a response to my sweepstakes entries. But since I had so far only mailed in two, and just the previous week received two game entries, that seemed a little unnecessary. (Though given the datapoints we now have, I actually think it’s a legitimate question.) So as a fallback, I figured I’d just ask if the response to the campaign was bigger than expected, and why they thought that might be.

Saying hello to Hello World world headquarters
Sort of fancy

In the end, no one was around.

I hadn’t really anticipated the possibility that they might take New Year’s Eve off, and felt a little stupid for not coming earlier in the week. I guess I shouldn’t quit my day job for a career as an investigative journalist.

But there was a hipster-style office with a lot of glass, so I took a look. I did wonder if they would soon be adding IHG to their wall of clients.

Will IHG soon be added to their wall of clients?
Will IHG soon be added to their wall of clients?

With no one around to talk to, the visit was a pretty disappointing. But at least I can say that this company really does exist, they aren’t a fly-by-night, and they have apparently worked with several major clients. That’s actually saying quite a lot, especially as compared to that other fulfillment company I once visited.

And now that I know where they live…. let’s just say they better start processing my family’s nearly 400 entries. Or I’ll be back. And next time it won’t be a holiday.

Comments

  1. I got a batch of 15 entry emails overnight last night, all that worked resulting in the 500 points winning message. A small number gave me the error message on having no entries available but I think those may have been duplicate emails anyway.

    Enough confirmation now after more than a month that I’m likely to go forward with the rest of the mailings.

  2. I received 5 entries this morning and I just played the game. What’s interesting is, for all my 5 entries, I didn’t win anything. I thought the winning chance was 100% and 500 points is the lowest prize, but now it seems like that’s not the case any more. Any thoughts?

  3. I mailed 2 on 11/15, received 2 emails on 12/11. Then one email on 1/6 which I think was from an IHG stay in late November. I mailed 92 entries on 1/15 and got 2 emails today, only 4 days later, which I find quite odd, but I’ll take it. Only won 500 pts for each.

  4. I’ve received a few emails a week since late December, 17 out of 50 received so far. While HelloWorld doesn’t seem to be very strict in finding reasons to reject entries (allowing use of printed labels, etc.), it’s perfectly possible that many who have not received anything made some big mistakes that resulted in their entries being rejected.

  5. Be sure to try the link again even once you have used it once, In my first batch I just got one email, but I was able to use it 35 times. I never did get the other 34 emails. Later I received an email from a stay and noticed the link on all my emails were the same. If you are not due any more entries it will just “love your enthusiasm” per the screen.

  6. Li–

    I received 2 emails this morning, and my wife received 2.

    I just played once and didn’t win anything either. I think maybe I’ll wait a bit to play the others.

    Unfortunately the theory about 500 points being the minimum was proved false.

  7. Mailed all 94 entries on 12-6. Received one prize last week and 10 early this morning. Won 500 points on all 11 entries thus far.

  8. I received 72 Priceless Surprise emails this morning . Funny thing is that I sent these to Hello World in several batches over 3 weeks in December . All 72 emails received 500 points, causing me to wonder if they are out of prizes greater than 500 points. Still waiting on the last 22 entries for my total of 94, but now that I received emails today I have more faith in the system.

  9. I got two entry emails today and noticed that if you just stay on the site and click play again it already knows how many entries you have coming so no need to link through each email.

    I’m impressed by the offices. I imagined some sort of boiler room shady office in an industrial park.

    Oh and those Spirit planes in Detroit are one reason I fly Spirit out of MCI (non-stop big front seats baby 🙂

  10. I got a batch of 62 emails this morning. The first 7 I clicked through each said that I had won 500 points. But the next 3 said I didn’t win anything. Does the entry info not say that every entry wins something?!

  11. I’ve won mostly 500 points of my 32 entries so far. But I also won 5000 and 2000 in 2 of them, so it is possible to get more than the minimum.

  12. The entry info does not say that every entry wins something.

    Looks like all the “good” prizes have already been awarded and even the 500 point prizes are beginning to dwindle.

  13. Lopere — The 500 point prizes have published odds. Therefore they can’t “dwindle” as they would need to continue to be awarded to maintain the published ratio.

    Unless you are claiming shenanigans.

  14. Lopere —

    Wow, just read the FT thread with the data points from this morning.

    Hope this is just a glitch or IHG is going to have a mess to deal with.

  15. I mailed them 94 entries in late November, and received about 4 invites to play in December. Two weeks ago I received the rest of my ‘game pieces’ to play. No duds. Mostly 500 points, a couple 1000s, a 2000 and a 5000! Also although the t&c says you only get 94 plays regardless , I am still receiving more game pieces for my IHG stays! Woohoooo!

  16. My wife receive 6 emails. all show Paris and the message said good luck next time. This is probably a scam. I am Ambasador/ Spire and have ten days booked for next summer. Bummer for 100% failure.

  17. So you were wrong and after your adventure have no new information. Are we supposed to say thank you? I now remember I have to look at the byline when clicking links here. Oh well.

  18. Just tried to open the game through an email and this was the result.

    “Please check back soon
    This promotion is undergoing a short maintenance period.”

    Whatever that means.

    Is there any positive clarification on whether or not there is a minimum 500 points per entry?

  19. Smitty — I don’t think there’s any definitive word on whether there are some duds. Clearly the results today seem to be some sort of anomaly, but I had a 0 back in December as well. So I would say there is the possibility.

  20. We did a test run of 4 entries in mid-November. Then, 13 entries on Jan 2nd. We received a total of 4 plays around Jan 11th, so it’s difficult to determine if these were from the first round or the second round. I suspect the first. All four were worth 500 pts. Just sent off another batch today. Maybe I’m just boring, but I appreciate the updates & reports on this promo.

  21. I received another 9 entries today. (Sent in 94 and to date now have received about 64.) when I activated the 9, all 9 were non winners as in 0 pts. I thought that was strange…..
    Just got email from IHG. “It appears that you may have accidentally received a message that you did not win when you played today. Please be assured that you have won the following prizes: 500 IHG reward points. Our system indicates that I should have won that prize 9 times, for a total of 4,500 Rewards club points” Yeah!

    Waiting on balance of entries.
    Sent in 55 so far for wife, nothing yet but just started them this month.
    I hand wrote everything. I have a funky email and was afraid that might cause a problem but so far, so good. Somewhere around 32,000 pts so far.
    That’s OK but would love a Grand Prize!!

  22. @Jeff, I got similar email that you received after complaining that I did not get any prize after opening six emails a couple of hours earlier. IHG said I should get 3500 points for the seven emails. I am glad all is well again and I did not waste my times and efforts. Somebody must be monitoring these blogs.

  23. Travis, thank you for taking the time to contact Hello World in person. I sent 90 letters to the Kalamazoo
    address in November and early December and as of today, 1/19/16 they have not responded to me.
    In their terms and conditions of this game they state “once your mail in request is received, you will
    receive an email within five (5) business days from the Administrator inviting you to play the Game and
    you will receive one (1) Game play for each mail-in request “. Obviously, Hello World is not fulfilling their
    promise to thousands of IHG and Mastercard customers participating.
    I urge you to contact Hello World and let us know how to contacts them as well. Please find out why
    they haven’t fulfilled their promise as shown above and if they ever will. Customers participating in the
    IHG and Mastercard Priceless Surprises promotion have until 2/15/16 to postmark their letters or entries.

    Thanks again.

    Marvin Nieman

  24. Travis,

    I mailed in 2 test entries on 11/23 and received 7 emails with game plays, each receiving 500 points. I wonder if I should send in 92 more entries or only 87 since the T&C state a max of 94 plays?

    Also, has anyone actually had any points post to their IHG account. I first played the game on 12/23 and nothing has posted yet.

    Thanks,
    -Nick

  25. ***NOTE*** for everyone posting that they have not received any plays. Go to your IHG account, sign in or click on register for the Priceless Surprises promotion (my IHG splash page has an ad that says Your Surprises Await). You will see a page that LOOKS like it lists your stays with a live button to play. Once you click on that button, you get the elevator with the play. Just keep returning to the Priceless Surprises stays page and clicking through until it tells you you have no more plays. Hope this helps!

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