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January 14, 2003

Find the Golden Powerball

It's like something from the Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone pinball game, that is. I was roused from slumber by a particularly insistent radio ad. "Find the Golden Powerball! Yes, you can find the Golden Powerball and win £100,000!" Inside specially marked packets of Finish dishwasher tablets, apparently. I suddenly had a flashback.

We were doing a lot of dishwashing, on one of those dark days between Christmas and New Year when the house was full of people. I loaded the dishwasher, pulled a tab randomly from the box in the cupboard, and noticed that they'd changed the colour of the silly little ball thing again. Sometimes they're red, sometimes they're a sort of pale blue. I don't know why they bother. Do they really think that the public is naive enough to think that a dishwasher tablet with a little gold-coloured ball in the middle will wash dishes more effectively? And I put it in the dishwasher, washed my dishes, and thought no more of it.

Until this morning. When I suddenly realised that what I'd chucked in the dishwasher was indeed a marketing ploy, but probably a different one to the ploy I'd first thought of. I went and looked carefully at the box of tablets for the first time. They all seemed to have little red balls in the middle. And the box didn't say anything special, though that's not particularly surprising. We habitually open a new box and tip the tablets into the old box, or vice versa, to save space.

Was it a golden powerball? It certainly washed the dishes. Perhaps there was an insoluble golden powerball clogging up my drains at that very moment. But I'd cleaned the filter since then, and I think I'd have noticed a powerball. I rang the customer service line. I asked, diffidently, about the promotion, without mentioning that I might have washed up a golden powerball. "It's on the packets in shops," explained a helpful woman. "There's a golden powerball. If you find it, you win £100,000. There are also silver powerballs, worth £5000, and bronze powerballs, worth £100." Ah. "How would you tell the difference between a gold and a bronze powerball?" "It's obvious," she explained. Well, not two weeks after you've washed it into oblivion, it's not.

Posted by Alison Scott at January 14, 2003 11:37 PM

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Best not to think how many venti eggnog lattes that might have been.

Posted by: Damien Warman at January 14, 2003 11:57 PM

Did you ask if they tracked the packets with code numbers or something?

Maybe there is hope of you getting your prize. That's one hell of an expensive load.

Posted by: Ang at January 15, 2003 10:35 AM

Well, it looks as if we'd thrown out the packet. So even if there were code numbers, we wouldn't have them. And it's hugely more likely to have been, at worst, a 100 bronze powerball. We get our shopping delivered; and although I obsessively read product packages, Steven doesn't. So if he unpacked the shopping, he would have just combined the tablets, slung the box, and thought no more of it. If we'd made the switch to Radio 2 at breakfast time; I'd probably never have realised what had happened. We were extremely busy at the time. And somewhere in advertising land is the person who had the bright idea to make the prize token a non-obvious element of a consumable product. This wasn't one of the great marketing decisions of all time.

But yes. I feel I've been "a bit of a chump," as my grandfather would have said.

Posted by: Alison Scott at January 15, 2003 12:39 PM

Well, I thought I was the only one! I work in a pub and week or so ago,we ran out of cheap dishwasher tabs in the bar. The boss brought down a handful of the posh "Finish" ones from upstairs .... I opened one up and bunged it in the machine. I noticed that the ball was gold coloured instead of red....but just thought this was a bit of a ploy to make us think this product was superior. Since then, I've seen loads of TV ads for the "Find the Golden Ball and win Money" ads. I was worrying about what I may have done! Found your comments whilst trying to have a look at the company website (hoping to see something on there about a code or something on the box). I wonder if anyone else has found a golden ball?

Posted by: Annette at January 23, 2003 10:06 PM

My parents have also used a winning powerball by accident, and it is very frustrating! There should at least be a confirmation voucher inside the pack. I have emailed Finish today to see whether the coloured powerballs dissolve, at least if they were hard plastic it would be easy to retrieve it from the dishwasher.

Posted by: Les at March 17, 2003 08:13 PM

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH............. OK, well, this is me on a saturday night, instead of being out and enjoying myself, here I am, trying desparately to find out if there was any comeback on an accident I had just a few days ago, I too noticed this daft gold ball, I wondered if my partner had bought some fancy new tablets and tipped them into the box we use under the sink. I only realised my expensive mistake a few ours ago, when asked about a certain wash, I advised I had used 3 different tablets to get a certain item clean. First a gold one, then a blue one, then a regular one. " what was the first one"? my partner asked? "thats the 100,000 ball"!!!!!!

I feel as sick as a dog right now, is that really a good way of giving away a prize, making a gold dissolving tablet???? Why would they not make it solid, non-disolving, just so people like us can be saved from our own stupidity? No, because we are normal people who open a washing tablet and expect to find a washing tablet.

Is there no way we can approach te company as a whole and ask this question???

Any suggestions or are we all just chumps who through away a small, but significant, fortune???

Posted by: Aidan at March 29, 2003 11:58 PM

No it was me who used it on Friday last week. And I too thought 'What a pretty colour, that's nice they are changing the centres again' shut the door and down the ceptic tank it went! Oops there's a lesson learnt "READ THE BOX IN FUTURE". Ho hum, just another fine day in paradise!

Posted by: mandy at May 13, 2003 04:34 PM

I tried a search to see if I could find out if anyone had won the goldenpowerball 100,000 pound prize(my keyboard pound sign isn't working), because like you all I too have washed the dishes with a golden? bronze? ball. I can see it in my dishwasher now, me thinking what an unusual colour! I think I remember too though one sort of yellow and one sort of gold and I just thgought they had changed the colour? Does anyone know if the money has been won?
Why do they dnot make it very different from the any tablets? It's crazy we are all washing money away and I don't think it made them any cleaner!

Posted by: Fiona Evans at June 28, 2003 09:57 PM

I threw the siilver powerball in the machine before I noticed the competition details in print so minute I had to use a magnifying glass as well as my reading glasses. On 24th April I sent a letter with the tablet by special delivery at a cost of 3.65 & obtained confirmation from Royal Mail that this was received before 12.22 on 28th April.I sent letters in May and July to enquire why I had heard nothing. I also contacted Reckitt Benckiser who said they could do nothing. I also sent an SAE before 1st September and 3 weeks later I am still waiting for the list of prizewinners. Who has the 5,000 I should have won and the prizes of the other people who have been duped? I shall never buy Finish products again and am urging friends and family to follow my lead. I am sick thinking what a fortune they have deprived me of, but furious that they haven't the decency to send any acknowledgment of my letters.

Posted by: Anne Hill at September 19, 2003 11:52 AM

So how many of us have washed a golden ball?? How many are out there? We can only hope that these were bronze balls that we have been washing away, to make the loss easier to swallow. What were they thinking when they made these winning balls dissolvable??? bastards!

Posted by: Amanda Rawson at February 28, 2004 04:04 PM

I'm afraid that I have done worse than you guys. I too have washed away the golden ball in my dishwasher. I have never had a dishwasher before so did not know what colour the balls usually were. The prize money is apparently 200,000, and there is only one golden ball. I don't know what to say apart from it must be fate!

I agree with everyone else's comments, why make it dissolvable? Why did I read the packet afterwards and not before? C'est la Vie! Boo Hooh

Posted by: Angela Raina at April 6, 2004 06:22 PM

You'll be pleased to know that in competitions of this kind, they don't usually put the top prize winning ticket/ball/whatever into the shops until the last couple of weeks of the competition.

Obviously, this is to keep interest up - if the top prize went in Week 1, then those people who were only buying the product to try and win the competition would go back to their usual brand!

You'll all be relieved to hear that.
Apart from the 100.00 you should have had for your bronze balls...

Posted by: ade at April 8, 2004 11:35 AM

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