Advertisers are fond of promoting an offer, seemingly simple in terms, that promises the customer a genuine bargain. What is annoying is that they sometimes tend to leave out a key qualification or catch in the original ad.
Here are three examples.
This ad is from the large supermarket chain in the northeast, Stop & Shop.
The lucky reader is being given a chance to get $3 off on any fresh meat. Even when one clicksthrough [see excerpted webpage below], the offer still seems to be as advertised — $3 off, period.
Only when you go to print the coupon does the truth emerge.
It certainly is a bit of bait and switch to promote getting three dollars off without in each instance stating clearly that the true offer is three dollars off a $15 purchase of meat.
Email ads tend to take a few too many liberties when they use deceptive subject lines, or the content of the email itself promotes the offer in a misleading way.
Pizzeria Uno recently sent out an email saying if you became a “fan” of theirs on Facebook, you would get a $5 off coupon:
Seems like a no-strings attached offer, right? Only after you become a fan of Uno on Facebook, do you see a small disclosure:
Where did the $15 minimum purchase come from? There was no mention of it all in the email. Isn’t this offer really, “Become a fan of Uno on Facebook, and you will get a coupon for $5 off a $15 purchase”?
In an email from a small mexican restaurant chain in New England comes this offer:
Great, a free appetizer. I’ll head right over. Trouble is when you go to print the coupon, you learn the truth:
You need a $10 minimum purchase in order to get your freebie. Isn’t the offer really, “Spend $10 at Margarita’s, and get your choice of a free appetizer or dessert”? And, shouldn’t it be advertised that way?
Failure to disclose a material fact in advertising is considered an unfair or deceptive practice under state consumer laws around the country. It is high time that advertisers played straight about these “free” offers. It is just as important to state the requirement, as it is the free bonus.
Incidentally, after Mouse Print* pointed out the problem with their email offer, Margarita’s changed the way they email such offers to include the qualifier “with a $10 purchase.”