Guy Gets What He Pays For In Taco Bell Promotion

Darin took Taco Bell up on its free Black Jack Taco Halloween promotion.

Before you get jealous because you forgot to take advantage of the ubiquitously advertised giveaway Saturday night, take a look at Darin’s picture and story:

I’m a long time reader of Consumerist and have enjoyed the many years of information posted to enable to consumer to fight back and be heard. So I figured today could be my day to send in a complaint about the wrong-doings of a local business.

After reading / seeing / hearing that Taco Bell would be giving out free Black Jack tacos on Halloween I decided to be the targeted customer and walk right into their media blitz of a promotion to score me a free taco. I went to my local [redacted], Ohio Taco Bell at around 8:00 (after dark as the commercial implied) only to be greeted with a fairly long wait (~30 minutes in drive-thru) but alas I expected a bit of this for free tacos. I make my order of over $20 worth of Taco goodness and was offered my free Black Jack tacos for as many people were in my car (2).

This is what I received. And seriously, I didn’t do anything but unwrap it and stare and what was supposed to be a taco.

Now I understand free is free but this is a shell with a single teaspoons worth of meat on it and scraps for the rest. I called the store back to simply ask if this was the “new normal” size for this promotion or if someone just decided to reduce the contents by 75%. The staff then refused to answer my question and placed me on hold where I waited for 20 minutes and gave up. I repeated the call roughly an hour later to the same treatment.

Hopefully other stores weren’t as bad as mine but I felt that this story was worth sharing to hope that someone may notice how I and surely many others from [redacted], Ohio were “treated” this Halloween.

This makes me all the happier I went with Chipotle’s free burrito promo on Halloween.


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlphaLackey says:

    Remind me to steer far, far away from Redacted, Ohio for my next vacation.

  2. redkamel says:

    oh my god. Your taco bell taco was broken when you got it. I can’t believe that happened. I know for a fact that this has never happened to anyone else, ever. There is no possible way you could fold it back over and eat it as a sandwich. Quick, email consumerist right away.

    • tonalanswer says:


      Now I understand free is free but this is a shell with a single teaspoons worth of meat on it and scraps for the rest.

      That is what he was complaining about, not necessarily that the taco was broken. I think he wants to warn all of us that if Taco Bell gives away free tacos, it’s not worth the trouble.

    • Anathema777 says:

      @redkamel: That’s…totally not what he’s complaining about. He’s wondering why he got so little filler.

      It’s a fair question.

    • etru says:

      I’m of a divided mind on this post. Yes, if you have a promotion, from a business standpoint you should aim to satisfy the customer. But The Consumerist should consider vetting these posts a bit better. If all of us were to complain about our disappointment in what we received from a fast food joint (especially when it is free!) this site will lose credibility fast. Salmonella, being ripped of by BOA, dangerous products – yes. A bad free taco? No. Not an insult to the OP, the taco looked awful. This is more a comment to the Consumerist’s staff to pick their battles wisely.

      • bohemian says:

        @etru: It does sort of raise the bar on pathetic fast food reality. It is right up there with the pic of the Big Mac wrap someone sent in when those first came out. It was a gross pathetic excuse for food, well what little food was actually in it.

        This kind of quality is why I rarely eat fast food any longer.

      • craptastico says:

        @etru: that looks just like every other taco bell taco. was the OP under the impression that the taco would be overflowing with meat? is it ever worth it to wait a half hour for a .89 taco? of course not. for the record though, i had one of these black jack tacos last week and it was fantastic. up there with the volcano taco if you like taco bell.

      • wrjohnston91283 says:


        I try not to read Phil’s posts for this exact reason. Sometimes I click on the link only to read the post and I can almost ALWAYS tell if it was Phil’s post.

      • leastcmplicated says:

        @etru: yes, I agree. I could have sent you in the lowly piece of chicken i got from KFC the other day but I figured I’d just go back into the restaurant rather than take a pic and send it in to the Consumerist. This is not an issue that couldnt easily have been fixed by going back into the restaurant or calling corporate.

    • DangerMouth says:

      @redkamel: I’m not going to pile on and repeat everything that’s been said about RTFA!!, just wanted to point out that unless you’ve let the taco get soggy, breaking it is the only way to open this. This should not affect the (such as it is) flavor).

      Seriously tho, I took ‘advantage’ of this offer at my local Redacted, CT taco bell, and while it wasn’t one of the highlights of my culinary experiences thus far, it seemed of reasonable size for something that sells for under a buck, and tasted about what I’d expect.

      I’m not the best judge, having eaten TB only about 3 times before and not in about 5 years.

      Eh, what can I say, I was bored..

  3. CaptZ says:

    I been through Redacted, Ohio a few times. It’s a horrible place. It’s a fairly nameless town to go through,.

  4. lehrdude says:

    I’m also going to call false advertising.

    It’s called a BLACK jack taco, but it is very clearly BROWN in color!

    • JediJohn82 says:


      Try adjusting your monitor settings. I could make the taco look blue, if I adjusted mine enough, lol.

      I was at Taco Bell the other day and a friend ordered one…it looked black to me.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        @JediJohn82: I think you figured out their next taco promotion. ICE BLUE TACO.

        Sure is iPod Taco ’round these parts.

  5. olderbudwizer says:

    I would try one if they looked anywhere like the tv commercial, all fat and loaded with at least a quarter-pound of whatever they use that is called ‘meat’. What is ‘taco’ spelled backwards? Maybe that’s what it is.

  6. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    When compared with this review at GrubGrade, yeah, total scam.

    To be fair, they served so many of those free tacos that they probably didn’t have time to spit in all of them, so the odds bode well.

  7. QquegChristian says:

    Not to bash the OP but you’ve got to keep saying “Hit me” when ordering the Blackjack taco until the taco is finished and has 21x your daily sodium intake in place.

    Seriously though, screw Taco Bell for using a tainted scallion scare to remove scallions from their menu and never bring them back. Now they only have 4 unique ingredients to combine in ever more stupid ways. I’m looking at YOU CrunchWrap which is really just an octagonal double decker taco.

    Also, I know you want to sell $.49 whatchuwhatevers to the masses, but I’ll pay double for something with evenly dispersed ingredients and not just a blob of sour cream that I only discover on the last bite.

  8. Caprica Six says:

    wait, what, Chipotle had a free giveaway??

  9. j-o-h-n says:

    Some of these places don’t seem to understand that the point of a promotion is to, you know, promote your place.

    If you try to cheap it out, all you do is piss off the people you’re trying to attract as customers.

    • thehouserules says:

      @j-o-h-n: I do not find it surprising that minimum wage line workers do not always have the best interests of the company in the forefront of their minds.

  10. rpm773 says:

    Another satisfied customer!

    How much did Taco Bell spend on product development and promotion, only to have the results derailed by some disgruntled worker whose purpose in life is to sling goop onto a tortilla?

    It’s kind of funny…

  11. seamustry says:

    i got the free taco and i had no problems like the op.

  12. jparadise says:

    A slow restaurant commonly staffed by highschoolers on HALLOWEEN? I think the real problem is nothing more than understaffed overworked people who don’t give a shit how much cheese is on your taco.

  13. Riff Raff says:

    I was the evening supervisor at a Subway for nearly two years, so I know a thing or two about food advertising.

    My manger told us on numerous occasions to keep a few things in mind if anyone complains about the look of the food:

    1. The commercials and in-store displays almost always use plastic or rubber veggies and meat. Good luck ever receiving food as good looking as that. Oh, and those Thanksgiving turkeys you see in the Wal-Mart ad? They take a raw turkey and use a blowtorch on the exterior. Seriously.

    2. You know those bread displays at the counter of every Subway? We try to use the very best looking bread each day for those. Preparing the bread is a very time-, heat-, and humidity-sensitive process. If any one of those variables is off, the bread could become burnt or look like a blimp.

    3. Finally, don’t take crap from a customer who loads up their sandwich with extra meat and veggies, and expects their sandwich to “fold” perfectly. We’re “Sandwich Artists”, not Vangough.

    I will say that this borderline false advertising by companies is revolting. However, you try luring people to a business with a burger that looks like Michael Moore sat on it.

    • GitEmSteveDave: #RosaRocks says:

      @Riff-Raff: Your manager lied. In food advertising, the food represented MUST be real food. Ancillary food may be fake, however. So in a Jell-O commercial, if they show ice cream, it is more than likely Crisco or some funky concotion. The Jell-O, however, is REAL Jell-O. It may be at 10X normal concentration to maintain it’s shape, but it is real Jell-O. In Cereal commercials, they may go through 100+ boxes of cereal to get the perfect flakes to make one bowl. Since the cereal is the food product, the milk shown is usually a glue of some kind, to prevent the flakes from getting soggy.

  14. c_c says:

    First mistake : going to Taco Bell.
    Second mistake : assuming Taco Bell serves food that doesn’t look and taste disgusting.

    Really, you’re complaining about your free taco? They sell for like $0.89 normally, what did you expect!

  15. suburbancowboy says:

    Wow! That looks exactly like the one in the ad!!!

  16. Opoponax says:

    Uhh, yeah. Free crappy fast food is crappy. What else is new?

    I mean, considering that Taco Bell is about the bottom of the bottom of the barrel in terms of what passes for consumable “food products” these days, did anyone really think they were getting something for nothing with this promotion? Especially if the fine print requires you to order $20 worth of food? I guess they could have put in more taco contents, but meh. If you don’t want shitty tacos, don’t eat at Taco Bell.

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

    I have had nothing but problems with Taco Bell for about the last year. I used to go to taco bell all the time, but now their food always tastes old and nasty. Dried up beans, very little for your money, etc.

    So I have been Taco Bell free for a few months. I will sometimes get the inkling for Taco Bell, and I will try it again, with the same results.

  18. weens33 says:

    As much as it sucks to get a free taco that looks like that, I just tried the Blackjack last night and mine looked much the same but I paid for it. But really what should I expect from our local Taco Bell who in the past turned me away once saying they ran out of meat and another time ran out of shells. Who are we to expect them to keep in stock the basic ingredients of any mexican restaurant?

  19. Jfielder says:

    Ahhhh, shit…. i forgot to wrap myself in aluminum foil and go get my free Chipotle burrito…. :(

  20. albokay says:

    if you willingly walk into a taco bell with the sole intent of eating that stuff, I feel no pity for you.

  21. Mykro says:

    You ordered $20 worth of food from taco bell and you’re complaining about the free food being sloppily put together? They were doing you a favor, sir. America is FAT! 2 people eating $20 worth of taco bell? Thats like, everything on the menu!

  22. MyPetFly says:

    Taco meat and that gooey sauce sticks well to plate glass. I would have returned it that way.

  23. RandomHookup says:

    You should have wrapped some aluminum foil around your arm and gone to Chipotle. They were giving out free burritos is you dressed remotely like a burrito.

  24. PinkBox says:

    I’m curious what the other items he received looked like, since he said he bought $20 worth of food.

    If the FREE taco was the only one lacking, I don’t think it is really worth complaining over. Obviously the restaurant was slammed and they probably had a mad assembly line going on inside to keep up.

    I’ve noticed when I’ve gone to Taco Bell, I usually get slim toppings, or too many. It seems to even out over time.

  25. Schildkrote says:

    Damn, how many calories are in $20 worth of Taco Bell?

    Even splitting that between two people, you’re still taunting the cholesterol gods and threatening to be struck down with a heart attack.

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @Schildkrote: I just bought dinner for myself and my fiance. We bought too much food and it was $13. I don’t want to think about the damage that extra $7 in food could have caused.

  26. baristabrawl says:

    Let me tell you a secret about hard-shelled tacos: They break REALLY easily. Like when you bite into them? Or when they are in a bag or just when the people who work there are sick of handing out free tacos to dicks who complain about free stuff, while they work for minimum wage and have to pay for the food that you got for free. FREE.

    How about this: I’ll come to your house to eat and complain about the crappy food and service.

    Ug. This just makes me mad. “I got something for free and now I have to complain about it.”

    I hope the only response that you get from Taco Bell is a job offer.

  27. aliminx says:

    I got my free taco at a Downtown Denver Taco Bell, and it was AWESOME.

    Still, I understand why this guy is upset. Free IS free, but even free, this is a horrible representation of a Taco Bell taco. Unless they want people to think that this is what $1 will buy you at Taco Bell (I wouldn’t spend $.25 on the pictured taco above), they shouldn’t be handing them out at all.

    Obviously, not worth throwing a major fit over, but definitely worth mentioning and being disappointed over.