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October 17, 2011

Save-a-Lot’s Deceptive Facebook Promotion

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:37 am

Save-a-Lot is a limited assortment supermarket with great prices compared to conventional supermarkets. In an effort to reach more people, it has been running a promotion whereby if you “like” them on Facebook, you will be given $5.

A corresponding promotion has also been sent via email to customers promising a $5 off coupon. After contacting their customer service department to find out if the offer had any strings attached (and not having received a response), MrConsumer decided to “like” them on Facebook anyway.

And here is what they give you and disclose ONLY AFTER you “LIKE” them:

*MOUSE PRINT:

The coupon requires a $25 minimum purchase in order to get the $5 off.

So the offer really is (1) “Like” us on Facebook, and (2) Spend $25 at our store, then we will give you $5 off. That is a far different offer from being promised a straight $5 off in exchange for giving them a Facebook “like”.

It is not like Save-a-Lot doesn’t know how to disclose the fact that their offer is contingent on making a $25 purchase. Here is how they promote the same $5 coupon BEFORE you join their shopper club (demonstrating that when they want to disclose the $25 purchase requirement in advance, they know how to do it):

Mouse Print* asked the company why they omitted the minimum purchase requirement in their advertising, whether they would fix their ads now that the issue has been brought to their attention, and whether they would give those who signed up already a real $5 off coupon.

Their media person replied:

“While we understand there may have been some miscommunication regarding the terms of the offer, it was never our intention to mislead our customers. In fact, the offer is in line with our other offers, and we have received an overwhelming positive response to the $5 off $25. However, we will do our best to correct the issue.”

UPDATE:

Save-a-Lot just updated their Facebook promotion to tell it like it is UPFRONT — that the coupon the customer will receive requires a $25 purchase to redeem. Hats off to Save-a-Lot for correcting their ad, and doing the right thing.

• • •

12 Comments

  1. I used that coupon and understood it before using it. I don’t see any problem, other than finding it difficult to spend $25.00 in a store where I wouldn’t buy their meat ;)

    Comment by Min — October 17, 2011 @ 9:14 am
  2. Both coupons say $5 off, if you spend $25. It says it very explicitly. I don’t get it?…..Marv

    Edgar replies: The first graphic above is the ONLY thing a consumer sees before signing up. Most people would reasonably believe that they are getting five bucks with no strings attached. It is only after you “like” the supermarket that you get to see the coupon (the second graphic) which indicates the catch of a required $25 minimum purchase.

    The third graphic is a separate offer included to show that when the company wants to make clear that a $25 purchase is required, they know exactly how to do it in an advertisement. This graphic is shown to the consumer before signing up.

    Comment by Marv — October 17, 2011 @ 12:52 pm
  3. I never assume I’m getting something for nothing. You can unlike save a lot if you feel you were misled.

    Comment by Anna — October 17, 2011 @ 3:48 pm
  4. This is similar to the title saying “Free Shipping” and then you go into a site and find there is a minimum to order. Or $1 off a product and then you click on the coupon and it is $1/2 or $1/3, etc. Happens all the time!

    Comment by Nancy-The Frugal Dietitian — October 17, 2011 @ 4:05 pm
  5. Facebook likes and access to marketing information it affords is the new standard, however companies like Save A Lot are going to find out, like PPC marketers are finding, conversions are the key, not clicks and impressions. For save A Lot, coupon redemption / store visits represent converssions and when customers fail to become repeat customers, SaVE A Lot will realize what a losing proposition this is and how useless facebooklikes can be if they are not backed up by a truly good offer and truly good business.

    Comment by Ron hall — October 17, 2011 @ 9:13 pm
  6. It’s designed to mislead, period. Otherwise they would have said up front that it’s $5 off a $25 purchase. It’s just a shame that things have gotten to the point where you have to be skeptical and study the fine print on everything to find the truth in advertising. Thanks for pointing out yet another misleading offer.

    Comment by Joe — October 17, 2011 @ 10:11 pm
  7. You say: “Most people would reasonably believe that they are getting five bucks with no strings attached.”

    I think most people would be surprised if they actually got $5 with no strings attached.

    Edgar replies: Not so unusual. Remember a few weeks ago, Outback gave away free steak dinners just by signing up? Which incidentally, didn’t turn out to be “buy one steak, get one free”, when you got the coupon.

    Comment by Jimbo — October 19, 2011 @ 1:06 pm
  8. Really? How much did it cost to discover this deception? One click to like them? Did you have to share your friends list with them, or allow them access to your Facebook information for the privilege? One more click to Unlike them if you didn’t care for their promotion? Waaaaaa! This sounds like another case of Slow Week Syndrome. Mr. Consumer needed something to gripe about and this was the best he could do. Mouse Print is quickly becoming a waste of my clicks.

    Comment by PCnotPC — October 19, 2011 @ 1:16 pm
  9. The cost of discovery isn’t relevant IMO. Deception is deception. Try convincing your wife not to clobber you when she finds out about your girlfriend even though it cost her $zero to find out.

    Comment by anonymous — October 19, 2011 @ 11:15 pm
  10. They fixed it.

    Comment by tbt10f — October 19, 2011 @ 11:59 pm
  11. Yes tbt10f, they fixed it. Not because they happened to notice it and said “oops”, it was because they got called on it. But at least they fixed it instead of making ridiculous excuses supporting it.

    Comment by Joe — October 24, 2011 @ 11:23 pm
  12. PLEASE DO NOT BUY ANY PAPER GOODS LIKE PAPER TOWELS AND BATH TISSUE!! THE PRICE IS $ 2 OR MORE THAN WALGREENS OR CVS. PLEASE DO NOT BE CARRIED AWAY BY THE SALES SIGN. THE PRICE HAS GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SWALES SIGN!!! WHEN YOU GO TO THE REGISTER, THE PRICE WILL DIFFER.(THIS HAPPENED IN RIVIERABEACH STORE MANY TIMES)

    Comment by Nelson Jebamoni — March 14, 2012 @ 6:48 am

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