Judge Says KFC Must Answer For Oprah Coupon Debacle

Remember last year, when KFC vastly underestimated the popularity of Oprah Winfrey and left millions of customers holding worthless coupons for free grilled chicken meals? The fast food chain had recently asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit over the debacle, but the judge — probably a fan of Popeye’s — has said no.

For those who have forgotten, in May 2009 Oprah took to her TV show to rave up a storm about KFC’s grilled chicken and then announced that she and KFC would be giving out coupons redeemable for two pieces of chicken, two sides and a biscuit.

Within a day, it was already obvious that a mistake had been made with customers complaining of long waits or having their coupons denied outright by KFC employees. And by the second day of the promo, almost all KFCs stopped honoring the coupons entirely. Customers were told they could go online and get a raincheck for use at a later date.

According to the judge, around 57% of the 10 million coupons printed went unredeemed by KFC.

A rep for the Colonel tried to shrug off the lawsuit with a “well, we gave some people free chicken” defense:

We provided millions of free Kentucky Grilled Chicken meals around the country when the offer was announced in 2009… Due to the overwhelming response, we distributed millions of rain check coupons for the holders of valid coupons who we were unable to serve during the offer period.

But the judge in the case, which is seeking class action status, wasn’t willing to take KFC’s raincheck. “Plaintiffs’ allegations, taken as true, plausibly suggest that Defendants’ ‘raincheck program’ was not a cure, but a requirement for additional performance,” he wrote.

KFC Fails to End Suit Over Chicken-and-Sides Coupons [BusinessWeek]

PREVIOUSLY:
Lawsuit Calls Infamous KFC Chicken Giveaway A “Bait And Switch”
Oprah and KFC’s Free Grilled Chicken Promotion: What Went Wrong
Going to KFC For Free Chicken? You’ve Got A Long Wait
KFC On Oprah: Everybody Gets A Chicken! Everybody Gets A Chicken!