PGTW: Iron man

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 16 October 2014, Thursday

Iron man

A man might have lost his chances to claim a P12.39 million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Lotto jackpot after his daughter ironed his game ticket and rendered it unverifiable.

The media jumped on the story. Even Congress is going to get in on it. The Lower House Games and Amusements Committee scheduled a hearing for Oct. 21 and requested PCSO for the contact information of the ticket buyer, Antonio F. Mendoza of Calaca, Batangas, and of the Lotto agent at whose outlet the ticket was said to have been purchased. Whether or not these people will be actually summoned to the hearing is not known as of presstime.

Here’s the background:

Mendoza submitted to PCSO an affidavit dated Oct. 7 claiming to be the lone jackpot winner for the Oct. 2 Lotto 6/42 jackpot prize. He said at at 4:06 pm he bought a ticket at a Lotto outlet in Calaca, with three six-number combinations.

He further stated that when he learned he won the said draw, “to my shock I discovered that the “Lotto ticket” I purchased…was accidentally “crampled” by our one (1) year old granddaughter and with such tense situation my daughter immediately “pinalantsa” the said ticket to straighten the same, but to her amazement and dismay the number appearing thereon got “blackened” rendering the numbers unreadable [sic].”

About three-quarters of the ticket is black. It is not readable by visual examination nor by barcode scanner. Virtually no information remains – not the combinations, not the barcode, not the terminal (hardware) code, not the agent code, not the ticket serial number (TSN).

The TSN is perhaps the most important information on the ticket – it’s the string of numbers on the lower right corner, and is unique for each ticket. Even if only that remains, manual verification can be achieved after the numbers are keyed into a Management Information Workstation at PCSO.

According to PCSO’s validation procedure, the original ticket must be checked “for signs of mutilation, i.e., torn tickets, or signs that it has been exposed to hear, water, oil, prior to validation in the terminal…Ticket validation can be done through the use of the tickets (inserting it in the input hopper) or through the keyboards by entering the TSN.”

Going by these guidelines, the ticket is unacceptable because it cannot be verified by machine nor through manual checking of the TSN.

“We have a general policy of no ticket, no payment,” said PCSO acting Chairman and General Manager lawyer Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II. The ticket, he said, “is like money or a check – if the money or check is mutilated, you are not going to accept it.”

In the case of Mendoza, the PCSO Legal Department will be providing an opinion soon regarding the agency’s official stand on the matter.

PCSO has noticed an increase this month in such claims, said a PCSO employee. Last Oct. 3, a claimant in Cebu presented a PCSO Suertres ticket that had also been ironed. On Oct. 12, a woman tried to claim on a Suertres ticket purchased in Quezon City that had black burn marks from being placed on the lid of a pot on the stove – she tried to dry the ticket because it had gotten wet.

The back of PCSO Lotto tickets clearly states game rules for the information of players, among them: “Prizes will not be paid if the ticket is altered, defaced, torn, damaged, or has failed any of the validation tests by PCSO.”

PCSO also reminds players to take care of their tickets by announcing on the nightly PCSO live draw coverage on television, “Ingatan mabuti ang mga ticket. Bawal pong mabasa o mainitan ito. Heat-sensitive po ang mga Lotto tickets.”

Such rules are general for all important documents – money, checks, birth certificates, drivers licenses, passports, and so on. Would you expect local airport officials, much less those of a foreign country, to honor a burnt or damaged passport? Why expect PCSO to accommodate “paki-usap” and “baka puede naman…”?

Claiming prizes is not transaction based. A player can’t expect to just be able to say, “Here’s my damaged and unreadable ticket. But since I can tell you when and where I bought it, I can still claim my prize,” and receive payment. The claim is based on the actual physical ticket – no readable and verifiable ticket, no prize. This is true for other things as well, such as horseracing bet tickets that are also printed on thermal paper.

These incidents serve as reminders to take seriously the PCSO rules on tickets: Sign the back of your Lotto ticket so no one else can claim if it wins. Do not let it be damaged in any way. Keep it in a safe place so it won’t get lost or stolen. These rules are very simple. There is no reason they can’t be followed. ***

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