Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Kroger Makes a Half-Hearted Attempt to Provide Digital Coupon Discounts to Unplugged Shoppers

As regular readers know, Consumer World and a coalition of other consumer organizations including Consumer Reports have been trying to get supermarkets that offer digital coupons to also offer a simple in-store alternative for those shoppers who don’t have internet access or a smartphone.

Digital coupons generally require a shopper to use the store’s app or website to find and load digital-only discounts onto one’s loyalty account/card. Then, when they check out in the store and scan their card, they get the digital discount. But for non-tech-savvy consumers of any age, many low income shoppers, the 25-percent of seniors who don’t use the internet, and the 39-percent who don’t own a smartphone, these money-saving offers are illusory.

Digital deal -watermelon

See some of our prior coverage of the digital coupon issue here.

Last week, Kroger issued a statement [see end of article] seemingly recognizing the financial hardship that many experience because they are not tech-savvy and thus far have been generally shut-out of digital discounts. Here’s their solution:


We understand that not all customers choose to engage digitally when shopping with retailers. Customers who would like to take advantage of digital coupons and do not have a digital account, can receive the discounted pricing at any customer service desk.

Because Kroger’s PR folks would not tell us how exactly the new system works, we called two stores, one in Ohio and one in Kentucky. The customer service person in Ohio said that a non-digital shopper can bring the sale items that require a digital coupon to the courtesy desk, where they can buy them at the discounted price. The rest of their groceries have to be purchased in the regular checkout line.

The Kentucky store customer service person asked if I had a computer or a smartphone. I said no. He then suggested that I go to the public library where I could access the digital coupons on their computer.

Thanks for the helpful suggestion. Even the first response is a bit impractical and time-consuming for both shoppers and store personnel. On top of that, how do shoppers even know that Kroger and its various nameplate divisions have changed their policy about giving digital discounts to non-digital customers? You have to read it on the internet, which many cannot do. And those who can go online, would never realize there is a new policy by reading their coupon FAQ which has not been updated:


Kroger coupon faq

There is no mention whatsoever about how an unplugged shopper can get the same savings. Only tucked away on a separate coupon policy page of their website does it say those folks can go to the courtesy desk to get the discounts. [Thanks to Coupons in the News for that discovery.]

We asked the PR folks at Kroger some additional very pointed questions and about issues raised by their policy change, but we have only received their canned statement noted above so far.

While Kroger should be commended for taking at least an initial step to help stop digital discrimination in retail stores, there are better solutions available. Simply requesting the digital discount at the checkout is the easiest way. Alternatively, some stores are experimenting with an electronic kiosk near store entrances where all a shopper has to do is scan their loyalty card or enter their phone number, and all that week’s digital coupons are then automatically loaded onto their loyal card account.

We hope stores realize that digital discrimination hits many of the most vulnerable consumers in the pocketbook at the worst possible time — when inflation continues to batter shoppers’ wallets.

Share this story:


Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Get a Free 55-inch HDTV*

Last week, a company called Free Telly came out with a once-in-a-lifetime offer: They are going to give away half a million 55-inch HDTVs for free in 2023!

Say what?

Free Telly

So what’s the catch? This novel TV has two screens: the main viewing screen, and then a second full-width but smaller screen below that will stream information like news and weather, but more importantly, interactive advertisements from which viewers can order merchandise or meals. And the content may be related to what is being viewed on the main screen. They also have the ability to collect a ton of user data via their privacy policy. And the TVs have a microphone and camera supposedly for voice commands and video calling.

Now a company like this is not going to willy-nilly send out 55-inch televisions with no strings attached. In fact, they have a detailed terms and conditions statement with a couple of interesting qualifications.


Free Telly terms

Many people have bigger or better TVs as their primary television and are not going to want to put this one in its place.

If you don’t play by the rules, you have to return the TV or you will be charged for it via the credit card you are required to provide.


Free Telly charge

Interestingly, the terms and conditions statement changed on its launch day last week. The previous version for beta testers spelled out the penalty for not returning the TV.


Free Telly penalty

Here are some more details about their plans.

Will this be a big financial success or go the way of MoviePass?

Share this story:


Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Can a Bank Confiscate Your Credit Card Rewards?

BofA rewards cardA lawsuit was recently filed against Bank of America by a California consumer who claims the bank confiscated the cash rewards earned by her with her BofA credit card when the bank chose to close her account.

The consumer, Christy Ngo, says in the lawsuit that last September her debit card stopped working because the bank told her they had frozen her account and would close her checking and savings account by the end of the month. Preemptively, she withdrew all the money. How these account closings are related to her losing her accumulated credit card rewards is not explained in the lawsuit. We questioned her lawyers directly about that too, but they did not respond. And BofA declined to comment about the case to another media outlet.

For simplicity sake, let’s assume that the bank closed her credit card as well. Certainly the bank has a right to do that. But why didn’t they give her whatever amount of cash back she had already earned on her cards (assuming she had paid off her balance)?


Bank of America terms

The terms and conditions statement of BofA’s current “cash rewards” credit cards says that any unredeemed cash rewards at the time of closure, whether the closing was voluntary or not, would be forfeited.

Bank of America is not alone including fine print in their credit card agreements like this. Recently, after a TV reporter’s 98-year-old mother passed away, a California bank did the same thing. See story.

Most people don’t read the fine print of credit card agreements, and if they did, would any accountholder even remember this restriction perhaps years later? And is it fair for banks, even with proper disclosure, to confiscate already earned cash back that had not been redeemed rather than to automatically refund it?

Share this story: