Boston Market Posts $1 Meal Coupon Online: Guess What Happens Next

The trickster twins of free food and Internet coupons struck again this week. Well, nearly free food. Boston Market restaurants are experiencing chicken shortages after their coupon offering customers on their mailing list a full chicken meal for $1. The coupon went viral on deal sites, and we even included it in our Morning Deals on Tuesday. And as more people than planned took advantage of the deal, lines ran long and supplies ran low.

OutKastz in Orlando snapped this picture at a local Boston Market:



Do they mean they don’t have any of the chicken that goes with the $1 meals left, or they don’t have any chicken at all? The latter would be a pretty serious problem for a restaurant that primarily sells chicken.

Boston Market has since taken the coupon down from their site, but Buxr has an uploaded version available. The chain is still running their Kids Eat Free (two free children’s meals with one adult meal purchase) promotion. As Chicago Now’s Frugalista points out, if you have kids, the free meals deal may work out almost as well as the $1 coupon. The kids’ meal promotion ends today, and the $1 coupon expires on Sunday.

Ironically, this promotion was timed to compete with Monday’s grilled chicken giveaway at KFC. Because we all know how well KFC’s original grilled chicken giveaway went.

Speaking of free food, you can get a free Blackjack Taco at Taco Bell tonight after dark.

More cheap chicken: $1 Boston Market meals [Baltimore Sun]
Deal Report: $1 Meals at Boston Market [Frugalista]
Boston Market: $1 Real Chicken Meal [Buxr]

(Photo: RBerteig) [If you liked this picture, check out the Cats in Hats You Bought at Target group on Flickr.]

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  1. Al Swearengen says:

    I’m generally not a corporate guy, but are companies that have giveaways now supposed to anticipate that websites are going to spread their coupons to a greater audience than usual and there is going to be a rush on their restaurants/stores? It would seem to me that companies would probably just stop the giveaways altogether rather than run out of product in a rush of people looking for an almost free meal.

    • Aladdyn says:

      @Al Swearengen: It depends, does the rush of people spend enough money in addition to the coupon deal to make it worth it? If they are gaining new customers and breaking even then i would think it would be well worth it. I would assume its at least cheaper than normal advertising.

      • kcvaliant says:

        @Aladdyn: From what I have seen, most of the idiots that get them from the dealsites do not spend extra money.. They are just there for the free stuff.. They are never going to shop there unless they get ungodly good sales..

        Of course this is also the companies fault for allowing it or wording it where anyone could use it.. Should have tied it to the peoples email addresses on the list and once it was used and typed in the computer at the store it could never be used again..

    • tbax929 says:

      @Al Swearengen:
      I think the potential for ticking off a customer they didn’t already have would make it not worth it to just plan to run out of something. That happened with KFC’s baked chicken, and I didn’t try it until it’d been out for months because I was upset about not being able to use my coupon.

    • Stephen Colon says:

      @Al Swearengen: Maybe there should be some unique barcode system that generated a barcode for each valid customer, and the coupon could only be used once? Just a thought, no idea about practicality of it,

      • lilyHaze says:

        @Stephen Colon: Very practical. Coupon sites (for manufacturer coupons, used at supermarkets, etc) are very good with the unique barcode system. You are only allowed 1-2 prints per IP address, and you have even have the potential to be banned if you abuse it.

        The system is excellent and I’ve had some very good supermarket deals out of them.

  2. Meggers says:

    I used this coupon twice with some of my office mates at the Arlington Virginia location. It seemed like they were really prepared (every oven was cooking chicken and they had an assembly line thing going) and the whole thing went smoothly. I left thinking “this is how an awesome promotion should be run”. Sucks that they are running out of chicken now. Maybe they should have shortened the promotion time frame?

    • eddieck says:

      @Meggers: My local Boston Market was out of chicken and I had to spend 20 minutes at the nearby Best Buy. In the end, a great meal for $1 – and that piece of chicken was pretty damn huge.

  3. JF says:

    This is why companies need to be very careful on how they work their coupons. Limits and expiration dates are really important!

  4. Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

    You can also get a copy of it here: [www.snopes.com]

  5. JulesNoctambule says:

    That poor cat looks so resigned.

  6. bigsam27 says:

    i belong to their email club and received advance notice of this promo. i went three times this week for lunch and each time was a smooth transaction. plenty of chicken, no lines, no problems.

  7. Radi0logy says:

    It seems to me that the SMART thing to do would be to customize the coupon with the customer’s name. Then require ID with the coupon. Simple. A little creative designing of the font/background makes it nearly impossible to Photoshop it effectively, or at least en masse. They achieve what they want, and these things stop happening.

  8. Trai_Dep says:

    You know, they could solve ALL their We’re Outta Chicken problems in one fell swoop by changing their “Kids Eat Free” signs to read “Eat Kids Free”.
    You’re welcome, Boston Market!

  9. riverstyxxx says:

    The nearest one to me is about 5 miles away. Since I live in the city and take the buses, it would take an hour just to get there..Plus have to stand in line and deal with the weirdos, plus have to pay the dollar. The opportunity cost is not worth it.
    If there was one right down the block I would eat there 3 times a day until it ran out.
    As for the value of the food itself, its very low. I assume that they dont make their own mashed potatoes, and the stores sell them by the box good enough to eat off of for a week for a dollar here, gravy packets are 2 for a dollar. Cornbread is just as cheap, a big box that’ll feed you for a month costs roughly 4 dollars. And the chicken? 2 dollars a pound here, they’re not doing anything special to it that would make me want to waste the time to eat there.
    Plus boston market has a reputation for being a poor choice to eat at, thats all the more reason to not give a shit about this deal.

  10. PsiCop says:

    The cat is thinking: “OK, you’ve taken my picture in this ridiculous get-up. When do you plan to get it off me?”

  11. fantomesq says:

    This is NOT the KFC fiasco. Individual restaurants may have run out of chicken but they are still honoring the deal with upgraded options – turkey, meatloaf, briskit, etc. I really have to commend Boston Market on a very well executed promotion even IF they ran out of chicken. And to their credit, the promotion DID run for a full week, and at least here dwarfed the competing KFC offer in respondents.

  12. Raanne says:

    I know the boston market around here was a little slow due to increased business, but we got our $1 meal fast and it was fine. not bad for 3 pieces of chicken, cornbread, and mashed potatoes. Much better than the KFC deal – but I only say that because my husband tried to get the KFC one, and was turned away.

  13. twophrasebark says:

    Those of you who use such coupons more than once and openly divulge this on internet sites:

    Would any of you care to explain why you do this? Don’t you think this is why these promotions crash and burn? If you had a restaurant, wouldn’t you be angry if people did this? Do you know what you’re doing is not right or do you think it’s okay?

  14. ctnchrisw says:

    “Do they mean they don’t have any of the chicken that goes with the $1 meals left, or they don’t have any chicken at all? The latter would be a pretty serious problem for a restaurant that primarily sells chicken.”

    They could not have one without the other. The $1 meal is just the value meal that has a quarter dark, one side, and a cornbread, from what I can tell. Since the chicken is cooked whole in a rotisserie and then cut up, they could have some white meat left for a while with no quarter darks, but generally it wont last long.

    I’m so glad they never did anything like this when I worked there. I’d be gladder if they’d bring back my tortilla soup cause that was my addiction when I worked there.

  15. TechnoDestructo says:

    You can get FOOD at Boston Market?

  16. PLATTWORX says:

    It is inexcuseable that ANY marketing person at a chain restaurant would launch a promotion like this and be so stupid as to not understand that coupons go viral and fanchise locations must have enough food on hand to handle MASSIVE redeption of any offer like this.

    They saw the nightmare KFC went through and made the same mistake?

    My opinion. Whole marketing department at Boston Market… FIRED.

  17. DangerMouth says:

    Well, I really did get a free taco.

    It wasn’t good, but it was ..free.

    Perhaps I’ll take mom out tomorrow for a $1 chicken meal.

  18. baquwards says:

    Went to my local Boston Market yesterday, all they had was meatloaf and turkey until november 4th. They lost a paying customer, we went elsewhere.

    How much business will this cost the franchisees? How many employees were sent home because there was no food to sell? This means money out of the employees pockets, probably the same employees that stayed late to help because of the rush of coupon customers, now for working past their shifts, they make less money than last week.

    FAIL. I like the food at Boston Market, it is overpriced to say the least, the prices are higher, the chicken is smaller, and the cornbread is half the size that it once was. We usually go there just to satisfy my partner’s cravings, but I doubt that we will be back any time soon.

  19. Laura Northrup says:

    @Verucalise(countingcalories): There’s one within walking distance of my house. I’ll go on your behalf.

  20. cmdrsass says:

    @boomerang86: I raise my own chickens on organic feed in my urban chicken coop. I then slaughter and prepare them under kosher supervision in a solar oven using only the finest herbs and spices from fair trade importers. It’s a little extra effort, but at least I don’t have to eat at Boston Market.

  21. Coles_Law says:

    @cmdrsass: I make my own Boston Markets at home.

  22. JRock says:

    @cmdrsass:

    +1

    I consider the food at Boston Market to be better than most fast food places. At least there you can see that it’s real chicken with real bones and everything – nothing mechanically separated!

  23. GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

    @riverstyxxx: I agree with you about the Freegans. OT: I saw a special about extreme food habits and they were in it. They made some very uneducated statements about businesses throwing away food because the business was lazy or it was cost effective. They clearly have not even the first idea about state food health laws. In my state, items prepared and out for over a certain amount of time must be disposed of. It cannot be donated. It must be thrown away. Usually those laws are developed because someone somewhere became ill and this was to help prevent that.

  24. fantomesq says:

    @Trai_Dep: Actually the promotion specifically allows multiple visits – it is limited to one coupon, per person, per visit.

  25. twophrasebark says:

    @fantomesq: You’re right. Boston Market said “per visit” and not just “per person.”

    Chicken for everyone as much as you want!!!

  26. dragonfire81 says:

    @ShadowFalls: Where I work we do send out email coupons, but in order to use them, you have to present a copy of the full e-mail, not just the coupon.

  27. DangerMouth says:

    (Came back to thank fantomesq for the link I missed, Thank you)

    Took my mom to Redacted, CT , Boston Market yesterday: a good-sized line, but not out the door, they were out of chicken and mashed potatoes, but we were offered alternatives, mom got the turkey, I got the meatloaf, which was .. interesting.

    The funny (and slightly embarrassing) part was standing at the register, the counter person rings us and asks for $2.6whatever, and my mom goes off on the poor person: “why are you charging us? You mean we have to PAY??”

    I guesse ‘$1 = free’ in most peoples minds (at least for a whole meal), but I think mom took that a bit too literally.

  28. Radi0logy says:

    @fantomesq: Well, if they wanted it to be used that way then they would stick it in the newspaper. Then every hobo from here to Boise will be getting 1 dollar chicken.