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February 13, 2012

TGI Friday’s “Free Entree” Offers Mislead

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:01 am

We’ve often complained about misleading subject lines in email used by marketers to make you think you are being offered a better deal than you really are.

Back in March, TGI Friday’s sent an email with a subject “Coupon Inside – Free Entree on Us!”. But that was not what they were really offering.


The offer is really buy a meal, get one free, and that is far different from being given a free entree coupon as the subject suggests.

Fast forward to January 2012. The company sent another email promising a free entree:

Here we go again. But this time, it wasn’t even a buy one, get one free coupon.


Buy one entree, get HALF off another? How is that a “free entree”?

Enough of this foolishness. Mouse Print* contacted the PR company for TGI Friday’s to point out the misleading nature of their January offer, and ask what the company was going to do about it. The spokesperson replied:

Thank you for calling our attention to this matter. T.G.I. Friday’s is aware that there was a discrepancy between the subject line and the message of an email that was distributed to Friday’s email subscribers on Friday, January 13th. T.G.I. Friday’s sent an email today clarifying the offer and apologizing to its guests for the mistake.

Less than 30 minutes later, an email entitled “Accept Our Apology” was received from the company, complete with bright red type:

We sent you an email on January 13, 2012 with an incorrect email subject line. The subject line stated “Free Entrée and MORE Savings Inside”, however the coupon is valid for “Buy One Entrée, Get the 2nd Entrée Half Off”. We hope you will accept our apology and still use the coupon below.

Thanks to the company for doing the right thing. I wouldn’t hold my breath, however, expecting them to ever send an email with a really truthful subject like “Buy 1, Get 1 Free Coupon Inside”. Maybe they will surprise us.

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  1. I see this all the time with “Free Shipping” in the subject line. Then you find out you have to spend $50, $75, $100+ to get the free shipping.

    Comment by Nancy-The Frugal Dietitian — February 13, 2012 @ 8:33 am
  2. The first offer isn’t even buy one meal, get one meal free. Instead it is buy one meal and one appetizer to get one meal free.

    Edgar replies: Jenny… even I missed that. Great point!

    Comment by Jenny — February 13, 2012 @ 8:52 am
  3. “Buy One, get second one HALF OFF!” Well, that in itself is bad math, and a lie. I will get ONE QUARTER OFF the required purchase price.

    Comment by Marty — February 13, 2012 @ 10:43 am
  4. The Children’s Place does do that with free shipping emails, you always have to spend $75 to get it. Longhorn sends these emails too, where you can get a free appetizer, but you have to buy the entree first.

    Comment by Jared G — February 13, 2012 @ 1:35 pm
  5. I wish TGIF would just give everyone a free meal without requiring anything from the customer. We should be able to just walk in, get a table, eat our meal, and then toss the coupon plus a small tip on the table and leave. Better still if we could get 5-6 of us mouseprinters* together – each with our own coupon – and get a big booth. We could even all order water. Maybe there shouldn’t even be a tip since the total check would be $0. I mean, 15-20% of $0 is $0, right?

    I don’t see the fine print offense on this one. Both coupons clearly state the terms. TGIF did mess up on the email subject, but I’m sure we’ve all done that before. BOGO or BOGO w/ appetizer, or BOGO half-off is still better than buy-one, buy-another-one.

    Edgar replies: Toddy, the problem is deceptive subject lines, and it is prevalent with many advertisers. If a company wants to offer a Buy 1, Get 1 Free Meal…just say that in the subject line. Don’t just say “free meal” and pull a bait and switch in the body of the email.

    Comment by Toddy541 — February 13, 2012 @ 3:23 pm
  6. Would “Coupon Inside – Buy one get one Free Entree on Us with purchase of appetizer!” be too long of an email subject line???

    Comment by Richard Ginn — February 13, 2012 @ 4:26 pm
  7. How about “Discount Coupon Inside”? That’s short enough.

    Comment by Richard P — February 14, 2012 @ 4:40 pm
  8. BOGO has been popularized as Buy One, Get One. I think that’s well known enough and short enough to put in the e-mail subject. Are some people so used to companies lying to them that they accept it as normal and even acceptable now?

    Comment by Auraelia — February 15, 2012 @ 11:19 pm
  9. At least they did the right thing in the end – even if they had to be prodded to do so. So many companies use ‘fuzzy marketing’ these days, it is really difficult to believe anything any of them say.

    Comment by bryan — February 16, 2012 @ 1:03 pm
  10. If you visit an outback steakhouse on the reciept is a cupon. All you need to do is answer some generic questions about your visit, you do not have to provide your email address or any personal info and after finish the survey you will get a code.

    Simply fill in the code and the next time you visit the outback bring the coupon and with an entree they will give you any appetizer Free !!

    I get the coconut shrimp and the coupon saves me almost $10.

    Comment by Rich Asante — March 15, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

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