Photo Credit Christoph Hitz People are constantly praising the Hagglers willingness to fight for consumers. By constantly, the Haggler means about twice a year. Actually, that might be an exaggeration. Its probably happened. Once. Dont ask for specifics, though.

But numbers arent important. Stop harping on numbers! The point is that the Hagglers job is rarely about combat. Its more often about diplomacy, and in some cases, connecting people who for some reason cant seem to connect. Case in point:

Q. Im 81 years old and won on an episode of CBSs The Price Is Right, which aired in February. I won a car, a trip to South America, some furniture and a bunch of Michael Kors handbags. But five months later, I have not received a single prize. I also have not received a response from any employee of CBS, or their production company, despite dozens of calls and a few emails.

Im pretty sure theyre hoping Ill drop dead. Help?



A. The Haggler called Ms. McKay and heard the following answering machine message, delivered in a chirpy, upbeat tone: Hi. This is Allison. Im trying to avoid a few people right now. So leave your name and number, and if I dont get right back, youll know youre one of them!

This was the Hagglers first clue that Ms. McKay is, as they say, a piece of work and a bit of a performer. Some Internet searching revealed that Ms. McKay is also an actual performer, with a long career in show business. Her television credits go way beyond a few triumphant minutes on a game show. She appeared in episodes of classics like Marcus Welby, M.D., Adam-12, Ironside, Green Acres, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and The Beverly Hillbillies. She has also done some singing and acting, in nightclubs and onstage. More recently, she appeared in a hilarious commercial for a satellite TV service, in which she played what The Huffington Post called the helpless old lady you should never help.

This role demonstrated genuine acting skills, because there is nothing helpless about Ms. McKay. After winning about $31,000 worth of stuff on The Price Is Right, she waited for her booty and, when it didnt arrive 60 days later, as promised, she commenced a campaign to get the attention of the shows producers.

I think I called 40 times, she told the Haggler during the first of a handful of conversations. She also left at least one message for a woman named Kim, a sort of liaison to prizewinners. She left additional messages on the machines of other Price Is Right employees.

All of this puzzled the Haggler. Because if The Price Is Right were in the habit of keeping the cars, trips and merchandise, wed know it. The whole goal of the show, which made its debut in 1972, is giving things away. Finding out that The Price Is Right keeps prizes would be like learning that the Jolly Green Giant hoards peas.

So what had happened here, the Haggler hypothesized, was an enormous and inexplicable breakdown in communications. This hunch was confirmed during one of the Hagglers patent-pending Three-Way Conference Calls of Peace and Reconciliation, with Ms. McKay and the executive producer of the show, Mike Richards.

By then, Mr. Richards had done a thorough search of his staffs email and phone logs, and he could find not a trace of a single contact by Ms. McKay.

The void I cant explain, he said, because I dont think that Allison is making this up, and we have a pretty strict system for keeping track of things. Were in the business of giving prizes to people who come on our show.

Ms. McKay replied: I first started calling on May 20, a little over 60 days after my show had aired. May 22, I emailed Kim. She had lots more details, and all of the names, numbers and email addresses were spot on.

It wasnt just that Ms. McKay could not get the attention of The Price Is Right. The reverse was true, too. The show sends a letter to every winner they call it the tax letter which totals up the taxes that must be paid on all the goodies before they can be delivered. Yes, those prizes are taxed, just like other income.

Ms. McKay says she never received the tax letter. The Haggler likes to imagine its in a big, brightly colored envelope, hand-delivered by a model, who says nothing because really loud music is playing over loudspeakers that cant be seen. But maybe its easy to miss.

There are contestants who never send that letter back in, Mr. Richards said, because theyd rather keep their money than pay taxes to collect their prizes. But since 2008, when he became executive producer, he couldnt think of any Showcase winners who declined their prizes.

Why didnt someone at the show contact Ms. McKay when this anomaly was discovered? Mr. Richards didnt address that directly, other than to suggest that this had never happened before and, thus, there was no protocol for it.

He also said that he was eager to send Ms. McKay everything she had won. A week or so later, after she wrote a check to cover those taxes, the prizes started to arrive, beginning with the Michael Kors bags. The car, a Nissan Versa, is coming soon.

The show sounds motivated to put this improbable affair behind it. Ms. McKay reported a delightful snippet of conversation with a man at the car dealership: They say you caused a lot of trouble, he told her, so get rid of Rob Domanko HSBC Securities you as soon as possible.

Correction: August 23, 2015

An article last Sunday about Allison McKay, a contestant on The Price Is Right who had not received her prizes, misstated how she won. Most of the merchandise was won in the Showcase section of the program, not the Showcase Showdown. The error was repeated in the headline.