John G. is member of Red Robin’s loyalty program. He went to their Evans, Georgia restaurant earlier this month to collect on his free birthday burger that the plan promises.
When the bill came, he and his wife were surprised that only $4 had been deducted for his burger, rather than the full price. Of course, he questioned the discrepancy. The manager explained that the restaurant’s computer system applies only one promotion banked in his account to each meal purchased, and the promotion that gets applied is the one that will expire the soonest.
In other words, in John’s case, his account had a free birthday burger coupon that expires the end of July, but it also had a $4 off coupon that expires in early July, so it would get applied first. John was also told that as a program member he could have gone into his account to rank/prioritize the coupons in a different order, so the free burger coupon would have been the first one used.
John says, “unless one knows what ‘reward ranking’ is, the average customer doesn’t understand that he has to keep track of offers presented to him.”
We checked the fine print on the company’s website for the loyalty program, and it is completely contrary to what he was told in the restaurant as to the order the discounts are applied to a member’s bill.
How does Red Robin prioritize their rewards?
We do rank them in the order of highest value, but now you have the ability to choose which one you crave!
And in their terms and conditions, it says this:
If you have earned more than one Reward, just present your Program Card or your telephone number associated with your Account to your server with your form of payment, and our Program system will apply the highest ranked Reward that you have earned to your bill.
Reward Redemption Order (Rank)
•5 Visits in 5 Weeks, $20 Reward on 6th visit
•Birthday Burger — The Birthday Burger Reward includes any of our more than 24 fire-grilled gourmet burgers but does not include extra patties, extra cheese, styles or Red Robin’s Finest Burgers.
•Every 10th Item Free
In both places it clearly says that the coupon with the highest value gets applied first, which makes total sense. Yet that is not what happened to John in practice. So we wrote to the PR folks at Red Robin to get a straight answer of which policy is the real policy, and what happened.
“There are a number of factors that go into Red Robin Royalty’s reward rankings and we are unable to comment on this specific situation without a deeper investigation and additional information. While rewards are almost always ranked based on value, there are certain caveats; for example, a free birthday burger reward excludes Red Robin’s Finest burgers and non-burger items. If a guest orders an item that does not qualify for the birthday burger reward, despite it being ranked higher on their account, the system would look to redeem the next eligible reward.” —Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews spokesperson
John says he didn’t order a “forbidden on your birthday burger” so we are no more clear on what actually happened in this case than John is. The manager, incidentally, did finally figure out how to give John his free burger, but the whole incident left a bad taste in his mouth.
We agree with John that consumers should not be placed in a position to remember every offer that is sent them and be required to juggle them in one’s account before trying to use a particular offer. Restaurant diners should be allowed to merely say “please use my birthday burger coupon” or be able to print it and that should be the end of it.