Fast-food restaurant promotions exist to get customers in the door and to keep them coming back. When Steve and his wife showed up at their regular Burger King for a tasty dinner of Whoppers, they brought along a coupon they had printed from Burger King’s website. It turned out that their local franchise couldn’t accept that coupon. Okay. They could deal with that. It was when the cashier talked up a different promotion, then explained that the restaurant was actually out of game pieces for that promotion, that Steve became annoyed enough to write to Burger King corporate.
Here is a copy of my email correspondence to Burger King after a nonsense dining experience. It took a bit of effort to find a contact email address, as they really don’t want to get their Customers’ comments:
Dear Burger King,
My wife and I have enjoyed going to our local Burger King store in [redacted] about once a week for years [redacted]. We usually order the Whopper meals – best hamburger out there.
Last night I thought about looking at the Burger King web site to see whats new, and I found a 2-fer Whopper meal coupon! Just what we usually order! So we went to our BK store and stepped up to order:
Me: “I’d like to use this coupon to order”
BK Staff person: ” We can’t accept that, its not valid yet”
Me: I didn’t notice a limiting start date on the web site
BK: it doesn’t start until it’s programmed into our cash register
ME: So, when is that?
BK: Don’t know, maybe never
Me: Never? …
BK: Ya, we’re a franchise and we don’t always honor the company’s coupons. The only thing we have right now is the ‘Family Food’ game pieces.
Me: OK, so do the game pieces come with the Whopper meals?
Me: So, how will I know which stores are a franchise?
BK: You won’t.
Me: OK, let’s have two Whopper meals please.
So my wife and I enjoy our Whopper meals, as usual. When we finished eating, I read the Food game booklet, then looked for the game pieces on our tray. I could not find any, so I went to the counter and asked to have two game pieces, as I didn’t find any on our tray.
Same BK Staff person: Oh, we’re out of those.
Well, to say the least, this became an unpleasant dining experience. It seems reasonable that promotions and coupons should be offered in a way that your Customers can determine if they are valid and really are going to be honored.
If customers understood that not all promotions are valid at all restaurants, they might not come in at all!
Franchisees are free to take part in promos, or not take part, as they see fit. Even if it’s not under the control of anyone in the restaurant at that very moment, though, why get regular, steady customers’ hopes up that something special might be on offer?