Stingy Ben And Jerry's Manager Cuts Off Free Cone Supply, Ruining "Free Cone Day"

Karen is breaking up with Ben & Jerry’s because one of their managers defiled “Free Cone Day,” by deciding to cut it short. Here’s the tongue-in-cheek Dear John (or is that, Dear Jerry?) letter she sent them.

Well, Ben and Jerry’s, you ruined my day. I love free cone day and have been going for many years. I once waited in line for over an hour to get a free scoop in Boston on Newbury Street. I was so excited for this particular Free Cone Day, because it’s my first one ever in New York. I sent an e-mail out to all my co-workers to let them know about it, too. I got out of work and raced to 34th street, because this is one of the listed participating store. I flew up the escalator to the 4th floor, busted through all the tacky prom dressed, and almost shouted “HALLELUJAH” when I finally got to the B&J only to be turned away.

“NO MORE FREE CONES,” the frizzy haired girl was yelling.

“WHAT?!”

I instantly grabbed for my blackberry to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Yes, 34th street is a participating location. Yes, it is free cone day. Yes, I am on the 4th floor of Macys. Yes, I can smell the sweet scent of victory.

But no, I would not be served a free cone. Nelson, the store manager, was telling everyone (there were 20+ people crowded around) that Free Cone Day is over. So, I called the store in Astor Place. They happily answered the phone and verified that Free Cone Day is all day, which I remember, because I
A) did not read ANYWHERE about any time limitations on Free Cone Day or honestly, I would have left work 30 minutes early just to bask in the glow of some Chubby Hubby
B) remember standing in line until almost midnight one year in Boston
C)it was advertised on the signage of the store that today is free cone day

FREE
CONE
DAY

Not free cone until 6pm or free cone until my arm is tired of scooping or free cone until I get a sprained eyelash and no longer want to give you a free cone. It says FREE CONE DAY!

So why, Ben and Jerry’s were you so cruel to me? I have been a loyal customer for years. I have sworn you off for making my thighs too big, only to consume pint after pint at a time after a breakup or when Aunt Flo is coming to town.

Why would you treat me like this?

Ben and Jerry’s, it’s over. For real. Are you happy that you lost a customer for life over a $2.50 scoop of ice cream that is probably $0.05 cogs? Anyway, Hagen Daaz is just as happy to have my money and they deliver what they say they will when they will.

I just hope you truly know how disappointed your customers were. A little girl was literally CRYING because they were being so mean about it. There was no apology. No, “I’m sorry if we misinformed you. However, Free Cone at this location is over”

I felt like I was doing something wrong by wanting to partake in the festivities. You suck, Ben and Jerry’s and I’m going to tell everyone I know what a crappy experience I had. If this is a marketing flaw, then you should fire whatever idiot doesn’t know how to properly convey on the signage and e-mail blasts you give out about Free Cone Day.

Even if this particular Ben and Jerry’s is technically owned by Macys, then you need to tell Macys that they suck too, because they do.

But nobody sucks more than you-you hire people like Nelson to manage stores. He hires rude employees and doesn’t adhere to a customer loyalty program. Honestly, how much would free cone day have cost him?

Let’s talk numbers for a moment-I used to be a Starbucks manager for 7 years and have lived through many “Free (fill in blank here)” day

Even if the average Ben and Jerry’s pulls in $1500 a day, that’s a lost profit of $1500 for that particular day. HOWEVER, if you make new fans who are dying to be faithful for the next 50 years (say they eat an average of 20 pints a year at $4/pint, so for 50 years that one person will spend an average of $4,000 of their ice cream eating life, you make it back and then some.)

Well, I will not make a dent in your profitability, but you definitely threw the monkey wrench in my day. You are cheap, you are mean, and you deliver false advertising, which is actually a CRIME!

Dude, you don’t cut Free Cone Day short. Unless you ran out of cones. In which case you should be nicer about it. And next time, get more cones. You’re in the freakin’ Macy’s flagship, and it’s Free Cone Day. Stock up.

Comments

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  1. GuJiaXian says:

    Argh, another paragraph-challenged post. Can the people who post the stories here please do a minimum of formatting to make the stories readable? That is one monster block of text of there.

  2. AvWuff says:

    Why would you wait for an hour to get a $1 cone for free? Just buy the damn ice cream if you like it so much.

  3. RookOmega says:

    so – did you go get more cones for them or what?

    I was lost after the fifth time I lost place in your one paragraph…

  4. Toof_75_75 says:

    I felt like the author of the letter was a 12 year old girl…That said, get some more cones B&J!

  5. fishing-ace says:

    I love free ice cream too. But getting your panties in a bunch about this means you put Free Cone Day on a pedestal way too high.

    In the end, it’s just ice cream… although this particular B&J’s reneged on their word, it doesn’t make sense for you to take it out on the whole company… if you really love B&J’s as much as you claim, you’ll prob get over it.

  6. B says:

    There’s no Jerry in Ben and Jerrys anymore.

  7. joemono says:

    If she was willing to “quit” Ben & Jerry’s over one mistake like this, she must not really have been the loyal fan she was making herself out to be.

  8. lisa1120 says:

    I had a somewhat similar experience last night, but luckily mine turned out better. Since I don’t feel like retyping, here’s the comment I submitted on the Ben and Jerry’s website and their form response…

    Hello Lisa,

    Thank you for letting us know about a less than euphoric experience you had with one of our scoop shops. This information is very important in helping us to ensure our high quality standards.

    Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any other questions. You can reach our Consumer Affairs department at (802)846-1500, 9am – 5pm EST.

    We hope that all your future experiences with our scoop shops are as euphoric as you anticipate and deserve!!

    Consumer Affairs
    Ben & Jerry’s

    Here is the information we received from you:
    ——————————————————————

    On 4/29/08, you visited one of our scoop shops (9301 E. Shea Blvd. Suite #110) in Scottsdale, AZ at around 8:00 PM.

    Comment:
    I was excited about free cone day today. I used the store locator on benandjerrys.com to find the closest Scoop Shop that was participating in the event. According to the website page for Ben & Jerry’s 92nd & Shea ([www.benjerry.com]), the hours of operation are 11am-10:30pm. I arrived at the shop around 8:10pm to find the shop dark and a handful of other people outside complaining that the shop was already closed. The hours of operation sign on the shop indicated that the location was supposed to close at 9pm.

    An employee came to the door and told us that on free cone day the shop closes at 8pm instead of the normal 9pm. After a couple other people said they drove long distances to get to the shop, the employee sympathetically allowed myself and approximately 7 other people who were still waiting to come in and recieve a free cone.

    I want to commend the employees who were working at this store for doing this something extra to make myself and the other people happy. I hope I don’t get them in trouble for writing this email. It would have been easy to ignore us after what I’m sure was a busy day for them and I expect that all the employees were eager to go home. Yet everyone had a pleasant attitude when they served us. Rather than disappointing potential repeat customers, they instead created goodwill for the shop.

    My complaint is that no where on the website or the exterior of the shop did it say that this shop would be closing early today. In fact, the regular hours of operation on the website and at the shop don’t even match. Ben and Jerry’s seems quick to advertise free cone day but slow to offer additional terms and conditions. Obviously I relied on the website information being accurate when I made the trip to the Scoop Shop and would have left feeling very disappointed if the employees hadn’t been so nice.

    I hope that you will take some time to ensure that the hours of operation on your website are accurate, and in the future if a shop is closing early please try to publicize it early and prominently to avoid disgruntled customers.

  9. ffmariners says:

    It’s the principle of the matter :)

  10. AMetamorphosis says:

    It’s called false advertising.

    As much as I agree that this is trivial the fact that they are not honoring thir advertisement is the real issue.

  11. lightaugust says:

    Can we address eating 20 pints a year as a national average? I’m no skinny and I’m hitting MAYBE 4.

  12. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    The lady sure loves her them free ice creams.

  13. missdona says:

    They should have forayed it into “free cup day” or “free scoop in the palm of your hand day.” Either of which would be acceptable.

  14. nicless says:

    That’s weird. I was able to read it all. I mean, sure it would be better formatted with paragraphs, but sometimes when you rant it just has to all come out.

    That being said, free is free! I’d wait forever for a free monkey. If this person wants a free cone, let them have a free cone!

  15. pssshwhatever says:

    Similar thing happened at the Athens, GA store which is in an independent downtown storefront and not owned by another store (like Macy’s, in this case).

    I went during the day to get my free scoop, and my roommate was unable to go with me at that time, so she wanted to go after we ate dinner. At a little after 8 pm, we walked over to the store and when we got in line, the old guy in front of us turned around and showed us a sign the B&J people had given him saying “I’m Last in Line.” Actual employees weren’t giving the customers the bad news, they were nowhere in sight and making a customer do it. The sign was legit because it was on the same kind of brightly colored card stock as the B&J menus – it wasn’t just the guy joking around.

    This particular location doesn’t close until 12 am on weekdays because it’s in the downtown bar district of a huge college town – it’s not like 8 pm was their normal closing time. If it was, shutting off the free ice cream would be understandable. None of the event PR materials indicated that there would be an end time, and if it had, that would also be understandable, and my roommate and I would have gotten there earlier.

    So no, it’s not a huge deal because it’s just ice cream, and I won’t stop being a customer, but I do feel like it was handled badly. And in a town of 35,000 college students about to start finals week, you probably shouldn’t mess with the free ice cream.

    • ShizaMinelli says:

      @pssshwhatever: If we’re hearing this many stories about them not fulfilling “Free Cone Day”, from New York to Georgia, than it’s clearly more than a local problem and it IS a big deal. Basically, B&J’s nationwide are falsely advertising to get you in the store and then refusing to fulfill their own ad.

  16. That-Dude says:

    @lightaugust: thats what i was wondering, I am not a huge B&J fan, and I’d rather have a cone (drumstick) for my occasional ice cream fix, but there is no way in hell the population is averaging 20 pints of that per year. If you have kids, you are probably getting a 1/2 gallon of Breyers for the same price.

    20 pints — whoa.

  17. The time spent waiting on line, and the time spent writing this letter to the Consumerist is certainly not worth the fuss over a 2 dollar dairy product loaded with sugar and saturated fat.
    As delicious as they are, time is money, and this is certainly not worth the time.

  18. That-Dude says:

    @AMetamorphosis: actually, its probably not . . .

  19. B says:

    @That-Dude: I’m eating at least 20 pints of B&J a year, all by myself.

  20. NeutralKate says:

    Quick, somebody call the Waaaambulance!

    It’s the companies choice to hand out freebies. I really don’t understand the sense of entitlement here..

    • ShizaMinelli says:

      @NeutralKate: They say “free cones ALL DAY”, you get there and they say “no more free cones”. I really don’t understand how that wouldn’t annoy people.

  21. bonzombiekitty says:

    I find it odd that someone would quit B&J in general due to the actions of a single manager.

  22. AMetamorphosis says:

    @That-Dude:

    Why ?

  23. dookas says:

    Christ almighty this woman is insane. It’s not like she waited in line, they were telling her when she got there that they were done, so pack up and go to the Astor store…Wah wah wah

  24. elmalf says:

    I am beginning to think that this is a policy on Free Cone Day. My husband and I modified our evening run so that we could (hopefully) exercise off some of the Ben and Jerry’s, then walk back home while enjoying the cones. We ran by the store at 7:50 pm, and saw a line of about 10 people waiting for ice cream. We decided to run a few more blocks, then get the ice cream on the way back. At around 8:00 pm, we got in line, and the owner/manager (?) came out and told us it was over. The store closing time was posted at 9:00 pm, so I thought we had plenty of time. We definitely didn’t “need” the ice cream, but I felt bad that we made the decision not to stop on our first pass by the store and we missed out. Oh well, it’s 31 cent scoop night at Baskin Robbins!

  25. exkon says:

    href=”#c5453696″>bonzombiekitty: Again one of those customer blaming the damn company when you should really be focusing your anger towards the manager/store.

    I don’t understand this concept, it’s so much like racial stereotyping. Because the actions of one store/employee you feel you have the right to blame the entire company…

  26. forgottenpassword says:

    so…. what was the explanation why “free cone day” was over??

    Cant provide what you promise/advertise?…. then you need to pay & pay dearly IMO. Yeah, even if its because you ran out of free cones or are just getting taken to the bank by an unexpected deluge of customers wanting their free cone.

    I am still curious as to why the manager said free cone day was over. I need closure!

  27. camille_javal says:

    @pssshwhatever: I believe I heard in a past year that free cone day ended earlier not just because of running out of cones, but running out of ice cream – they have to get that stuff delivered, and they can only hold so much in their freezers. I’m sure not every store does (although, in Athens, as a college town, I could imagine it), but they probably want them to close at the same time so someone can’t yell at a place that closed because it ran out that the B&J two towns away stayed open.

    I’ve seen the Macy’s B&J, of course, and it’s teeny – I would imagine they really don’t have a lot of space for a run on the store like I’m sure they got. They should have more signage, it sounds like but…

    basically, I don’t understand getting a bug up your butt because a company that annually gives away a huge amount of product for free probably ran out at a particular location, and a manager may have been a dick (he was just trying to fit it with everyone else who works at Macy’s – if you’re polite, they’ll ostracize you). I’m sure OP will get a coupon for her trouble.

    And, it’s not false advertising if the small print says, “While supplies last” – which I imagine it does.

  28. scoosdad says:

    This brings to mind a classic story from Jean Shepherd, the man responsible for the storytelling that became the movie A Christmas Story. You might enjoy this live recounting of a story from his youth involving an ‘ice cream war’ between two shops on opposite sides of the street from each other (this from a live performance in NYC in 1966):

    [www.podcastdirectory.com]

    It’s a much better read though, in his books than hearing it live with a boisterous audience of his fans, I must admit.

  29. AMetamorphosis says:

    A really simple solution ” if ” they did indeed run out would be a coupon for a free ice cream cone.

    Problem solved.

  30. forgottenpassword says:

    Simple solution if you run out of ice cream or cones. Rainchecks!

  31. GenXCub says:

    @AvWuff:

    OMG, someone blamed the victim… that NEVER happens on this site.

  32. AnderBobo says:

    I must have missed that part in the constitution declaring our right to a free cone on Free Cone Day. It happens, the managers could have improvised and given out small cups of ice cream, which aren’t as exciting as cones I will admit, but still… raising such a fuss over this is kind of pointless.

  33. DeafChick says:

    This means nothing to me as I buy Ben & Jerry at the grocery store since they don’t carry Peanut Butter Cup anymore.

  34. stephenjames716 says:

    just think of all the calories she burned RUNNING to get ONE scoop of ice cream!

  35. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I have to agree. Complaints about layout are valid. If the text is visually unbearable to read, then no one will care to read the details of the story. Most people will just read the headline and maybe a few sentences here and there, and base their comments on that. And then we’ll start seeing comments telling other comments to RTFA, blah, blah.

    Anyways, I think the letter was supposed to be tongue and cheek. But it came out sounding like it was written by a child, as Toof_75_75 stated. I’m sure B&J will send her some free coupons or something.

    On the one hand, it’s free. They’re not obligated to give you anything really, even if there’s no cut-off time stated anywhere. But on the other hand, it’s bad corporate image to promise something and not follow through. I would think the manager had a valid reason for all this. I hope there’s a follow up to this story.

  36. azntg says:

    @forgottenpassword: But what happens if you run out of rainchecks!

    To the New England lady in the original article: Midtown New York has more people living/working in that area than that part of Boston where you normally got your free scoop. Even moreso, since Macy’s on 34th Street is a tourist fave.

  37. osubuckeyefan777 says:

    I had the same experience at Macy’s yesterday. I left work early and took the long subway home all to get to Ben and Jerry’s by 7:05–55 minutes before free ice cream day concludes. I also spoke with Nelson and the employees were jerks to me as well.

    For all of you who are saying Ben and Jerry’s is ok if they ran out of cones due to “while supplies last”…think again.

    This Ben and Jerry’s had tons of cones and plenty of ice cream left; that played no part in their refusing to give out the free cones. Nelson said Macy’s wanted him to stop the sale at 6PM, because lines were getting too long. Hence, he stopped the sale short.

    It was completely false advertising. I called in and complained, and if they don’t send me a coupon for free ice cream, I’m never going back to BJ’s again.

  38. ChrisGriswold says:

    A friend of mine in Nashville was frustrated last night because the Ben and Jerry’s he went to closed early as well without notice. And this is a singer-songwriter who encouraged his fans to go out and take part in Free Cone Day.

    This is not going well for B&J.

  39. TemplaBeans says:

    Ben & Jerry’s I can also attest to the disappointment. I was also denied my Free Cone from
    the same Macy’s location. Perhaps what burns most was the anticipation. You
    walk into that Macy’s store with an air of superiority, in that you aren’t a
    standard customer: you know what you want, and you’ll be getting it free. So
    you slowly climb the escalators, getting more and more excited. Then, as
    BJ’s is in sight, you hear the shrill shriek of a the girl at the counter
    making sure everyone around knows that there will be no more free cones. No
    apologies, not even an explaination. Just the loud proclamation that there
    will be no free cones.

    I settled for a garlic pretzel next door, and they over garlic powdered it.
    Overall, a ruined day.

  40. EBone says:

    I feel sorriest for the little girl described in the post as crying because of no free cone. Somebody tell her parents to put a crowbar in their wallet and BUY the kid an ice cream.

  41. ChChChacos says:

    First I must say to some of you that posted above, who gives a frick if she posted in paragraphs. geeze. Suck it up and SCROLL DOWN.

    And kudos to this woman for this letter. If I was the one to read this from Ben & Jerry’s, I would surely send some free coupons or something and a nice apology letter.

  42. osubuckeyefan777 says:

    @forgottenpassword: He simply said, the lines were too long, and Macy’s wanted the sale to end. So he ended the sale at 6PM.

    That’s the whole explanation. And he wouldn’t let even the most persistent Reaganite customer through his Berlin Wall defense.

  43. parad0x360 says:

    You have got to be kidding me…

    Alright fine you didnt get a free cone but you are going to write off an entire company after years of buying their products because one time, one manager irked you by not allowing you to get a free cone?

    OMG!

  44. Derp says:

    They lost the business of someone who apparently only goes there on free cone day. So they are out nothing?

  45. idx says:

    Is there no “until supplies run out’ caveat on this stuff? That would seem reasonable.

    Incidentally I only eat B&J’s once a year; free cone day.

  46. digitaljdr says:

    over priced indulgence is over priced.

  47. tdicola says:

    I had the same bad experience at the Kirkland, WA store. The website said the store was participating in free cone day and it was open until 9:30pm, no mention of free cone day being shorter. I went to dinner with some friends and afterwards around 8:30pm we head to the store only to see a big banner out front “FREE CONE DAY UNTIL 8pm” We left without buying anything and a little miffed at the store. I don’t hate the entire company for this one incident but it was definitely a bit shady how they handled free cone day..

  48. chrisjames says:

    How could they not provide free birthday candles … er, I mean, why couldn’t they comp the bill for laying the cable … no wait, what’s this one about? Oh, free cones. Why couldn’t the store just keep enough cones on hand for everyone in New York?

  49. ironchef says:

    I guess she didn’t read the “At Participating Retailers” footnote.

    Free samples doesn’t mean you are entitled to it.

    Give Ben and Jerry as frickin break. It’s not like welfare cheese or something.

  50. betatron says:

    “i didn’t get my free ice cream. waaaaaahh”
    “I hate them. I’m never going back! Betrayal! Sew UNFAIR!!!” what a collection of feck-impaired whinging snivellers.

    for the good of the nation they should invite you all back for double scoops of sftu and a boot to the head.

  51. NC106PH says:

    The exact thing happened to my wife and I last night in Raleigh, NC. We were very excited about free cone day. And we decided that we would go a little later (a little after 8:00pm) The first one we went to was the one near North Carolina State University and people were lined up inside…so we went to one of the entrances to find a sign reading “this door for exit only, use front door” while it covered up the opening and closing times for the location…so we go over to the other doors and it just straight out said Closed.

    People were still arriving and were like the rest of us here thinking that Free Cone Day would actually mean from normal opening to normal closing. We have been in previous years and free cone day was the whole time the store was open.

    So after being depressed I decided to look up the other locations in Raleigh and figured the one near a college campus just couldn’t function because of all the students showing up. So the next Ben and Jerry’s was about 8 miles away in a shopping center. We went to that one (in Stonehenge Shopping Center) just to be greeted with a huge black marker on white bulletin board paper…that said they were closed. All of this was well before their typical closing time.

    I fired off an email, etc to them…but expect no response. I’m like the rest..the huge banners at the stores and all the PR did not mention a time frame or *until supplies last disclaimer.

    Definitely will be giving my business to B&R tonight …and at least for me will not go back to a Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop.

  52. MichaelSF says:

    @parad0x360:

    Hey, give the worker bees a break.

    Have to give them their free cones so they keep working in our salt mines without complaining. Plus they need something to do with their free time.

    Meanwhile, let’s go back to enjoying our not-free $100 steaks. :)

  53. NC106PH says:

    Grammar Police…People are writing on a forum…not writing a thesis.

  54. rytard22 says:

    Same thing happened to my wife and I x 2. We got to the shop in Durham NC (next to Duke) a little after 8 pm and it was closed. We headed over to the shop in Chapel Hill (next to UNC) and found the same thing. Both stores had locked doors with employees inside mopping up. None of them even lifted their heads to acknowledge the presence of dessert-deprived patrons standing outside.
    I just fired off a complaint submission online for both stores. From the looks of the auto-generated response email, it looks like I’ll find some kind of coupon in my mailbox in a few weeks.

  55. am84 says:

    The same thing happened to me last year at a store in Pittsburgh. Both the employees and the manager were practically barking at customers who just wanted their free cones as advertised.

    The thing that really bothered me is that this particular B&J hires employees with disabilities, so I was really concerned about how they were being treated if they talked that way to their customers. (I work in the disability rights industry.)

    I sent a complaint letter on their website and got a few coupons in the mail for free pints of ice cream. Wow, thanks, that really makes up for your employees’ unprofessional and rude behavior. I haven’t been back since.

  56. socritic says:

    shame on B&J, shame on Macys (if indeed they own/operate this location). no more shopping at either. Don’t these chains realize by now how fast this news gets to us? don’t they know we are HAPPY to take our business elsewhere? if i get a heads up of this sort of behavior towards customers, why would i ever go there?

  57. synergy says:

    One-sided story here. What was the store’s reason for ending Free Cone Day early? Also, is it a franchise situation where it’s really the fault of the local owner and not the corporate mother ship?

    And what is it with people complaining that they can’t read this?? Wow. You have become too used to reading one-sentence, pithy comments online if you can’t handle a whole paragraph!

  58. PDX909 says:

    I just had a brain freeze…no, wait a minute, it was douche chills. What a whiny brat.

  59. elislider says:

    they would have to run out of cones AND cups in order to legitimately cancel free cone day. i went yesterday and they had BOXES and BOXES of cones stacked up waiting, and many backstocked cartons of icecream waiting patiently to be consumed by the masses. i got 2 free cones myself, they let us get as many as we wanted if we stood in line again (which was about 15 people = 5 minutes max)

  60. Pro-Pain says:

    Oh my God…

  61. Serpephone says:

    They should call it “Cone Happy Hour” and serve up free cones only during certain ADVERTISED hours.

  62. RagingBoehner says:

    @socritic: Shame on Ben & Jerry’s for giving away ice cream but not enough for everyone in the world. We should nominate them for worst company in the world! They should be like every other ice cream company and not give away ANY ice cream then nobody will be offended!

    [/give me a break]

  63. ekthesy says:

    Why didn’t she just go to the Ben & Jerry’s on, what it is, 45th and Eighth Avenue? Burn up the calories that cone would have cost ya.

    NYC Free Cone Day is a nightmare all around, as thousands upon thousands of NYC schoolchildren are brought to B&J’s by their teachers. Why, I don’t know. Possibly to learn about mob mentalities.

  64. Brian D says:

    Wikipedia knows the hours: 12-8pm.
    [en.wikipedia.org]‘s#Free_Cone_Day

    Note that Karen doesn’t actually say what time they cut the line off, I’d say 8pm would be a good guess though. I’d blame Consumerist (and Bargainist, which is where they linked to the free cone day “deal”) for not specifically mentioning the hours limitation, which I knew from reading about it on a different blog.
    Personally, I think the 8 hour limit is plenty of time for the poor employees to have to serve freebies to jerky customers. We waited about 20 minutes in line for our ice cream, and the employees serving were somehow still fairly pleasant about the whole thing, even though we got there about an hour before the end.
    I, for one, will be going back to actually SPEND my money there. That 7 layer ice cream is too good!

  65. Brian D says:

    Amending my previous post, I shouldn’t blame the blog outlets like Bargainist, but rather the Ben and Jerry’s press person. Last year’s press release clearly stated the hours, but this year’s left the hours out.

    [www.benjerry.com]

  66. STrRedWolf says:

    It makes me glad I went mid-day. It’s about five blocks away, so going down and back up from work probably burned enough calories to make a Cookie Dough ice cream cone zero out.

    Of course, this is Baltimore’s Harborplace where this B&J is in, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to go upstairs to a Five Guys burgers and fries. “Get a couple of them grease bombs, lay you up in the hospital for three days” ERRRRRRGGGGHHHH! *thud*

  67. STrRedWolf says:

    (Gah, forgot the :) )

  68. NightSteel says:

    It seems like the store’s real problem here was their attitude. Sounds like they were completely unapologetic. An “I’m sorry, ma’am, the store owner has asked me to discontinue the promotion, you’ll need to take it up with them” is both polite and deflects criticism onto the people who make the decisions. Hell, even lie; “I’m sorry, ma’am, our reserves are getting low and we can’t continue giving it away today.” But no, they had to be dicks about it.

  69. rdm says:

    There was not a store within 25 miles of me (Dallas) that participated. All of them were not taking part.

  70. rawsteak says:

    why is this lady hating on ben and jerry’s when it was the manager at fault? that’s like going to a starbucks where one of the baristas is rude to you and saying starbucks only employs jerks.

  71. rachaeljean says:

    I missed Free Cone Day too. :( I had a migraine, damn it all!

    Luckily, today is FREE CONE DAY again!! At Baskin Robbin’s!!! Huzzah!!! (I kinda like their ice cream better… it’s the Hershey vs. Lindt effect.)

    [www.baskinrobbins.com]

  72. @GuJiaXian:
    putting in your 2 cents’ worth is really annoying and pointless when you do it this way.. say something constructive about the story and not the spelling and grammar…if it matters that much.. go get an editing job at your favorite publisher.. you can use these comments as your credential.. geez

  73. Jbondkicks says:

    First of all, I do agree with this being the fault with the owners of this particular store, not necessarily Ben and Jerry’s itself.

    Otherwise, I think most of you are being ridiculous. Since this has to do with Ice Cream and not your cable bill, you cite it as irrelevant and post inflammatory comments. This site reports on issues like this, issues relating to customer service, if you don’t understand that, you are at the wrong website.

    Furthermore, here’s why this is a big deal. It’s false advertising, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter whether it’s over $2.50, $25, or $250. I wonder how you would react if you went to the grocery story because something was advertised as on sale and they refused to give it to you for the sale price. Well, I don’t wonder…because I know you’d all be throwing a fit.

    Third, I don’t care which Ben & Jerry’s it is, if it’s in the middle of NYC or not. The store agreed to do Free Cone Day. You want me to believe they had no idea how many people would be rushing in?

    Lastly: Yeah that little girl’s parents now probably have to buy her an ice cream cone. So do all the parents that said, “Finish your supper, and I’ll take you for a free cone!” How many parents had to pony up $2.50 because they promised their kids ice cream and took them to Macy’s to find out otherwise? That sounds like an intentional money-making scam to me.

    Oh, and I have a degree in English Education and had absolutely no problem reading her post.

  74. erratapage says:

    Here’s the deal…

    There are plenty of great ice cream shops in the world. I love Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough, but I can get plenty of acceptable substitutes for B & J’s. If I were treated badly by one manager of a B & J store, I would definitely go elsewhere.

    Unless of course, B & J tried to make it up to me.

    That’s just how fickle us consumers are.

    BTW… I loved the letter… and had no problems with the formatting. It was eminently readable.

  75. @GuJiaXian: “My butt hurts.” There, I just contributed as much helpful information as you did. fo start the Paragraphist or something.

    I feel dirty for even addressing that comment.

  76. lemur says:

    @Brian D: Thanks for that bit of relevant information. That’s an official press release from B&J which does not lists time limitations nor does it say “while supplies last”.

    @LatherRinseRepeat: On the one hand, it’s free. They’re not obligated to give you anything really, even if there’s no cut-off time stated anywhere.

    B&J’s press release is a form of advertisement. They can’t advertise free ice cream and then later decide that they won’t offer free ice cream. That is just illegal. If they do not specify limitations then it is reasonable to expect that the event lasts the whole day they advertised. If supplies are lacking and they do not state otherwise, then it is reasonable to expect a raincheck when supplies run out.

    They can’t argue that they are poor innocent lambs who know nothing about advertisement and made an honest mistake. There are some keywords that all people in the marketing business know how and when to use. If they don’t use them, then they can’t ask for a do over or say their fingers were crossed behind their back so it doesn’t count.

  77. Sarcastichobbes says:

    I took my 11 year old nephew who was visiting me to the Ben and Jerry’s on state street(Madison, WI) because he had never had B&J. I too was turned away, they said they had ran out of cones, even though I saw one employee grab the last 10 or so on the shelf and put them in the backroom. I pointed that out to them and the person behind the counter said that was for their friends when they come in an hour.

    I was disappointed and upset, especially after seeing the look of confusion and disappointment on my nephews face. I promptly left and went to the Hilldale mall where they were able to serve me and a sincere smile.

    Thanks to Hilldale employees, but I will never shop at the State Street location again and tell everyone I know not to go there because the store employees care more for their friends than serving customers whom they are PAID to serve.

  78. Sunshinelollipopsandrainbows says:

    Karen is totally right about future profits making up for lost money, because after feeling the sweet sweet love of a free cookie dough cone at Rock Center yesterday, I went to my local grocery store after work and bought a pint.

  79. brettt says:

    Free cone day is an event. It’s well-known, and lots of people schedule around it.

    It’s really crummy to cancel it, unless you are out of ice cream, and then you should be giving rainchecks.

  80. donkeyjote says:

    Classic case of CD/EGS*. The letter is a tell tale sign of it.

    Crazy Dumped/Ex-Girlfriend Syndrome.

  81. Angryrider says:

    Darn! I was going there yesterday, since the one in Chelsea wasn’t going to do it…
    .@AvWuff: Since when are cones $1? It was $1 10 years ago, I’m pretty sure that price has gone up. Yargh!

  82. ludwigk says:

    Ugh, I hate the jr.-Marketing-intern-back-of-napkin-complete-bullshit-calculations they felt necessary to include.

    B&J have their own marketing people who analyze how much a free cone costs them and how it affects their sales, etc. etc. and they don’t need to be quantitatively convinced that pissing off customers is bad for future business.

    But canceling free cone day part-ways through is pure evil and makes baby jesus cry.

  83. ludwigk says:

    @Angryrider: True that. A Ben and Jerry’s cone is like $4.

  84. ChChChacos says:

    @rachaeljean: Correction… .31 cent scoop/cone night. Not FREE at baskin robbins.

  85. chrisjames says:

    @lemur: False advertisement requires deliberate deception, and this is a little petty to be claiming negligence. It’s legal and, frankly, shit happens and you can’t always predict when.

  86. MMD says:

    @ironchef: I guess you didn’t read that she checked her Blackberry while at the store and confirmed that she was, in fact at a participating location?

    Also, advertising a free cone day does, in fact, mean that the customer is entitled to receive one.

  87. MMD says:

    @RagingBoehner: There’d be no reason to be offended if they’d honored the advertised agreement.

  88. purplesun says:

    Sadly, I had to give up on Ben and Jerry’s altogether. For some reason, they are unable to verify which of their ice creams are gluten-free. When I wrote them for clarification (and if you look on their FAQ), you discover it’s because they get their ingredients from so many different places, they can’t make any guarantees.

    In other words, they don’t know where the food they’re selling you comes from and don’t give a damn about the quality of their ingredients or how they’re prepared.

    Yeah… I’ll stick with Haagen Dazs.

  89. pssshwhatever says:

    @camille_javal:
    Our B&J is pretty large, and I understand that they might run out, but I was mostly surprised that they’d make the customer at the end of the line hold the sign and explain to everyone that no one else would get a free cone. That’s kind of shitty to make some random person incur that burden.

    I also think that it would be smart to post the ending time of the event at the store somewhere, so that everyone would be aware, particularly if the store has a normal closing time much later than the end of the event. When I was there to get my free cone earlier in the day, the a guy that worked there told me that they weren’t even going to open the cash register that day, which to me implies that free cones would be available until the close of normal business.

    Is any of this a huge issue? No. Like I said initially, it just seemed poorly executed to me. I would like to know if they sell the raspberry frozen yogurt in grocery stores, though, because it was delicious…

  90. Uriel says:

    @GuJiaXian:

    Arghh another meaningless post. At least convey your sympathies to the wronged party you mannerless chimp.

  91. lemur says:

    @chrisjames: No, the deception need not be deliberate. I’m looking at the U.S.C. code right now and see nothing about deliberateness being a requirement for false advertisement:

    [www4.law.cornell.edu]

    If you do find a section of the code which states explicitly that the deception must be deliberate, please cite.

  92. camman68 says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: What exactly are you saying? If I company promises to do something, you don’t feel they are obligated to keep their promise?

    They weren’t obligated to promise anything….but they made the promise. I think people have a right to be upset if something is advertised but not honored.

  93. humperdinck says:

    @every-commenter-who-is-a-raging-blame-the-victim-blowhard:

    It’s not a matter of it being “just ice cream”. When a company advertises something (whether it’s as inconsequential as Free Cone Day or as enticing as 25% Off Flat Screen HDTVS), they have to make good on it.

    It’s “just ice cream,” but it was enough to get people to take time out of their schedules and go out of their way to specifically patronize a place of business.

    It is the principle.

    It wasn’t lack of supply in this situation, which would be understandable. It was an arbitrary decision by a manager, made without apology to customers who put themselves out to be there. And to a customer, every employee of a company–from the CEO to the janitor–is the face of that business, and don’t pretend that it’s not, you fucking corporate apologists.

    I wouldn’t go back to B&J ever again either. Not without a raincheck and a proper apology.

    Man, sometimes the comments here get me more steamed than the corporate shenanigans in the articles.

  94. crazylady says:

    @ludwigk: B&J corporate does, but not individual franchises.

    Personally, not sure what to think. This sucks, but if it’s anything like other ice cream franchises, the individual stores are usually pressured into doing promotions like this which are generally moneylosers for the franchisee. Great promo for corporate and stores in general, sure…and a great incentive for people to go to ben and jerry’s, but still probably a moneyloser. This is in addition to the mindblowing fees and royalty fees. Sometimes they need to buy from certain suppliers that like to overcharge too. Et cetera. Ice cream franchising can be a horrible business.

    Of course, that may not apply to whatever B&J is in question, but I’m just saying, if it does I can understand why the owner/manager would do such a thing. If it were my business, I’d probably fire that bastard that said that and give out free vouchers or something (if they ran out of ice cream). But it’s not. And I can only speculate.

    However, my local Ben and Jerry’s was giving out free ice cream. Didn’t like the flavor I got though :(

  95. crazydavythe1st says:

    I wake up every morning in a bed that’s too small, drive my daughter to a school that’s too expensive, and then I go to work to a job for which I get paid too little, but on pretzel day?

    Well, i LIKE pretzel day…..

  96. metaled says:

    What the freak is going on here????
    Wah, it’s just Ice cream? Don’t blame the company for a rude manager?
    A few weeks ago, some guy complains that he can’t get a free test drive in a BMW, that he is treated rudely.. Everyone jumps on the band-wagon, tells him not only not to buy from there, not to buy a BMW… and make sure any potential customer’s know about that story….
    You guys are nuts (not all of you)… a Free test drive is different from a free ice cream cone? Or does the gender of the OP have anything to do with it?
    It’s more than the free ice cream, it’s how the employees, the manager and the ENTIRE company treats people. They know what’s going to happen, if they participate, the need to have stock and be prepared to keep the doors open till dawn if that is what’s required to make sure everyone in that line before the end of the day, got what THE COMPANY promised them!
    From these stories, people have spent a hell of a lot of gas money to be part of what B&J were attempting to make happen, to bad they didn’t live up to their end!

  97. jjason82 says:

    While I agree that its pretty crappy that B&J cut free cone day, the sheer amount of whining by the poster is almost exhausting to read. You’d think she had cancer and B&J took away her chemo treatments or something. It’s just ice cream. Relax. And really, if a $2.50 cone was enough to make a “loyal” customer swear them off for life then she obviously wasn’t very loyal after all.

  98. Cliff_Donner says:

    @nicless:

    [Abe Simpson] I can’t wait to eat that monkey. [/Abe Simpson]

  99. Bubba1n2 says:

    I am a relatively new franchisee in the Ben & Jerry’s system (opened February 2007). Yesterday was our second Free Cone Day. The true spirit of Free Cone Day is that in addition to thanking the community it is supposed to be tied to a not-for-profit. Additionally, the scoop shop staff should not be expected to scoop all these cones/cups – in my opinion that would be grueling and unhealthy. Shops are supposed to recruit “celebrity scoopers” on behalf of the sponsored not-for-profit. I recruited 37 “celebrity scoopers” to help with the day – each working a one-hour shift. For each “celebrity” I purchased a Free Cone Day t-shirt for him or her to wear while scooping and to take as a token of my appreciation. Our local celebrities included the Mayor of our city, the Chief of Police, several Aldermen, local DJ’s, the owner of our newspaper, the CEO’s from the hospital, college and Chamber of Commerce, plus numerous other community leaders. Our shop partnered with United Way. United Way organized five raffles that included three Vermonster buckets filled with Ben & Jerry’s goodies (including t-shirts, free cone certificates, hats, etc.), which I donated, plus two grand prizes of a Free Cone Day T-shirt with a Free Ice Cream for a Year certificate. From noon to 8PM we scooped 2738 cups/cones…almost 6 servings per hour! Plus we raised almost $1000 for United Way.

    My understanding of this event was that Free Cone Day is always from noon to 8PM. All, of our local media releases included these hours and we informed customers about Free Cone Day for at least a month prior specifying the time. At 7:20PM on Free Cone Day we put a volunteer at the end of our very long line to tell people that he was “last in line”. I also stood at the end of this line and gave all the people that arrived and could not get in line a Free Small Cone certificate and a key fob for 10% off all future purchases. I gave out 186 Free Small Cone coupons before the end of the line reached the door. At that time it was 7:58PM. We let a few more people in until 8PM and then called it a night. What you have to understand here is that to prepare for the event we had to completely rearrange our service line so that cups and cones would be convenient for our scoopers. After closing at 8PM we had to basically put the store back together and clean up the huge mess left behind.

    I too received a compliant via Ben & Jerry’s corporate regarding us being closed at 8:10PM when our normal hours are until 9PM. It is most unfortunate that the Ben & Jerry’s website did not have the hours posted, nor did the signage our shop received, but as a local franchisee I diligently publicized our Free Cone Day hours and attempted to make good with people whom showed-up before 8PM but would not be able to be served before the end of the event.

    Overall, I feel our day was a wonderful community event. A lot of people got to help a very worth cause and eat some fantastic ice cream for free. I am not sure yet how much this event actually cost me but whatever it was it was worth it because giving back to the community is part of what Ben & Jerry’s is supposed to be about. However, like the saying goes “no good deed goes unpunished”. You can be sure that next year my signage will clearly have the hours of the event posted. For my fellow franchisees that didn’t get into the true spirit of this event, I say “shame on you”. To those of you who had a bad experience with this event I apologize and ask that you do not judge all of the franchisees based upon one bad apple.

  100. alohanico says:

    Same thing happened to me. The girl working there told us that free cone day ends at 8 pm.

  101. smackswell says:

    Appalling. only in America would someone who voluntarily lives in one of the most expensive places on earth bitch about not receiving their free one inch diameter scoop of ice cream.

    Thank you Consumerist. A day very well spent.

  102. freejazz38 says:

    Always remember, the people who work in these stores are minimum wage morons, the managers are even BIGGER morons, as they are lifers. When you hire morons, you get morons.

  103. LCR says:

    I am Karen’s aunt, trust me, she is very serious about her desserts. Has any one noticed a change in the taste of the ice cream? The Chocolate chip Cookie Dough and Cherry Garcia doesn’t have the same taste.

  104. vermontwriter says:

    B&J has not been the same since Ben and Jerry sold it years ago. The quality is not the same, the stores come and go, and I find the scoopers are generally rude and act like you are ruining their day. If you’re in Vermont – try Island Ice Cream in Grand Isle. It’s what B&J once was.

  105. bonzombiekitty says:

    @purplesun:

    In other words, they don’t know where the food they’re selling you comes from and don’t give a damn about the quality of their ingredients or how they’re prepared.

    I don’t think that’s what they mean.

    I doubt they don’t care about where the ingredients come from or the quality of them, especially since the ice cream is good quality. When you have multiple suppliers that change, while the ice cream may be gluten free right now, it may not be gluten free tomorrow or may not have been gluten free in the past. That doesn’t mean they don’t know anything about the ingredients they get from their suppliers, it just means that the gluten content of the supplies is not something that disqualifies a supplier. At any given time they should be able to tell you if all the ingredients that are being used are gluten free, but that’s not much help since the shipment tomorrow may come from a different supplier which contains gluten (which they’ll likely know about).

  106. opal says:

    I somehow learned in past years (but don’t remember exactly how) that Free Cone “Day” was over at 8pm (in NYC anyway), and even though this time I couldn’t find any mention online, I assumed it to be the case. I bypassed Macy’s since I didn’t know where B&J’s was in it, but the Times Square location had signs posted on the windows.

    I don’t think this is new, but they really should announce the end time since “Day” could pretty reasonably be interpreted as “until regular closing”.

  107. Dennis says:

    I live in CT, and the Ben and Jerry’s near me (Canton, CT) also cut off Free Cone day at 8pm — I arrived at 8:05, needless to say I was pissed.

  108. rachaeljean says:

    @ChChChacos: Whoops, my bad. But still… $0.31 ain’t bad! :)

  109. e.varden says:

    @NeutralKate:

    RTP. Did you miss the arbitrary shut-downs? The at-their-whim dispersal of the freebies?

    Are you just thick in the head?

  110. Ben Popken says:

    Aaron writes:

    “I can chime in the Ben & Jerry’s at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles also closed a half hour early on Free Cone Day, with a crowd of people outside still. (No, they didn’t run out of cones.) Since the entire store is glassed in, you could see the employees and manager talking behind the counter, while one unfortunate employee had to deal with questions while sweeping in front. In general, the management of the Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops in Los Angeles has been really bad – dirty shops, uncaring/uninformed employees – so this doesn’t surprise me. A shame, considering B&J used to be a very well run, concerned company from the top down.”

  111. Bruce_A says:

    @That-Dude & @lightaugust: 20 pints is 2.5 gallons. That’s a lot for one sitting, but spread out over the course of a year it’s really not that much.

  112. RvLeshrac says:

    @Brian D:

    I have the email to prove it!

    Nothing at all in the email I get every year about there being limited store hours on FCD.