I’ve been finding that it’s increasingly difficult to even understand, let alone benefit from, the “deals” that are being offered by stores. It’s apparently a Canadian thing (according to a friend in the US), but we regularly get coupons for fast food. It’ll be something like a free fry and drink, if you buy a meal deal, plus another sandwich, when the moon is gibbous and Stephen Harper has recently worn a red tie. I’ve just started scanning them and sending them to Thicken My Wallet and Money Grubbing Lawyer and they explain to me what my legal exposure is if I try to make a purchase using these coupons.
There’s out-and-out scams, which I definitely wouldn’t consider a special offer stuffed full of conditions and exclusions to be, but to me stores issuing these are playing games with their customers. Half the time I see people trying to use coupons or take advantage of a deal, I see an employee pushing back explaining to them why it doesn’t work the way they were led to believe. At Pizza Pizza there is a current deal where they say “ANY Slice and a Pop for $2.99!” A man was ready to pay for his, and the clerk asked for over $5. The man hesitantly asked why he wasn’t getting the $3 deal, and got sneered at by the clerk. In tiny print, it says that ANY slice refers to pepperoni or cheese. So “ANY” in all caps, refers to 2 of the dozen options available. Right… The thing that really got me is the customer then apologized and paid the higher price. Why do we let stores treat us this way? I think this is what almost all customers do, apologise (“Sorry I let you trick me”) then pay full price. I think we’re embarrassed to be discussing the deal that the store OFFERED! What’s up with that? Do people have so much cash they can just throw it around like a bored aristocrat instead of suffering the indignity of clarifying a transaction being offered to us? And isn’t walking away from someone who just tried to deceive us the right reaction, not doing business with them!
My parents recently went to a sale at Zeller’s (think a smaller, dirtier version of Wal-Mart) and they couldn’t understand why customers were mobbing everything except the Pop (aka Soda, aka “Coke”). They asked a woman working there, and she said most things had already gone on sale, but the pop sale starts the next day. They were going to head to a grocery store immediately afterwards, but after checking the flier they had they saw that some of the sales didn’t start until the next day, while others didn’t start until the following Monday.
Bell and Rogers are famous for this bullshit.
I can’t understand how businesses could be unaware of the long term effects of this strategy. Customers will get increasingly suspicious, and eventually just start ignoring deals, assuming “there’s got to be a catch”. I’ve already got to that point. Offering a deal to get a customer into your store, then revealing that you tricked them really doesn’t seem like a good way to build a business to me, but it seems to be so widespread that most people must accept it.
What’s the worst example of misleading advertising you’ve run into? How do you react when you discover a deal you thought you were going to get was misrepresented to you? Is there any solution to this?