At Least This Journeys Promotion Gets Your Attention

“Try on shoes, get a free smartphone,” declared a sign in the window of Ryan’s local Journeys store. That sounds like a deal that can’t possibly be true. And it’s not.

That tiny fine print actually reads, “With a new 2-yr. plan plus data feature. See store associate for details. Limitations and conditions apply.”

(For the “pics or it didn’t happen” crowd, here’s a version of the picture where the fine print is actually large enough to read. It’s 1600 pixels wide.)

The “free smartphone” is only part of the deal if you sign a two-year service contract (including data plan) with an unidentified mobile phone carrier. Yes, you might try on shoes, then get a not-so-free smartphone, but these events aren’t necessarily related to each other.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Wow, so if I try on shoes I get the same deal literally any other person can get when signing up for a 2-year contract with a phone company?


    (Can I try on shoes and NOT get the deal? Please??)

    • vastrightwing says:

      I actually did something similar with DirecTV: test drive a Subaru and get a “free” satellite system. I did it, got the satellite receiver and then paid for several years of TV. It happened that I actually wanted the dish, so it worked for me… but yea, what a deal!

  2. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Way to go Journeys! You’ve forever lost my business because of your desire to gain extra bucks by allowing “unidentified mobile phone carrier” to attempt to Trick your customers.

    Take your little asterisk and go! :)

    (And yes, I have refused to shop at other places which do the same thing. Namely, SamsClub – who allows people like DirectTV to hassle you).

  3. RavenWarrior says:

    I just saw this little promotion yesterday. and it did capture my attention in the ‘get people to stay away from it’ variety.

  4. Nick1693 says:

    Has anyone done this? I’m looking for a new smartphone (contract ends in January) and free (with two year contract, etc.) is just my price.

    • outlulz says:

      Every phone company has smartphones for free with a 2 year contract. This is no deal.

      • Wombatish says:

        Depends on the smart phone. The only way this would be worthwhile is if it gets you a better smartphone for free w/2 year (the ones they usually charge somewhat for even after the 2 year contract instant rebate/price reduction).

        I really doubt that’s the case, but who knows? Either way, the promotion is pretty shifty and I’d still be put off.

    • somepoet says:

      If you go to Amazon Wireless (same as, they have a much better selection of free phones. They have phones for free that Verizon wanted to charge $200 for on an upgrade/renewed contract.

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        I’ll vouch for Amazon Wireless. We’ve purchased two phones from them this fall, both upgrades on a family plan. One in August, one in Oct. HTC Aria, both on AT&T. Retail stores wanted $130 each with a 2yr contract. We saw partner resellers (Costco, Best Buy) around $100 each. We got one phone for $49.99 and one for $0.01. It’s a nifty little Android phone with HTC Sense. Its not as powerful as the newest Driod or the iPhone, but we weren’t willing to spend $200+ on a phone. Angry Birds does lag a bit, especially when there is an ad on the screen.

        If you’re interested, heres my full review:

  5. A.Mercer says:

    I really wish there was some better laws regarding font sizing on advertising. I remember taking a course on theater when I was in college. It completed my art requirement. I remember they were discussing that there were font specifications for play bills. These were because of actor’s union rules but still the idea was simple. The names of the actors could not be in a font that was less than half the size of the largest font on the play bill or something like that. I wish we could have some sort of law for advertising that had the same thing. The fine print could not be less than a quarter size of the largest font on the advertisement or something like that.

    • The Marionette says:

      Eh, I always spot the fine print on things. But then again most customers at my job can’t spot the menu in front of their face, so i’m sure fine print doesn’t even exist to them.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      So do I. Fine print is just another way to lie to people.

      They can advertise literally anything- “COME INTO OUR STORE TODAY AND RECEIVE A FREE $1,000 GIFT CARD!!!”

      But then when you try to collect, they refer you to the fine print, which reads- “You will receive the $1000 gift card only after purchasing at least $1500 worth of merchandise and providing a social security number, address, and blood type. You must also sacrifice an orphan, give of yourself sexually to the security guard, and sign up for 10 special offers from our affiliates. Even then, you will still not receive the gift card. Direct all complaints and inquiries to our head office, and we promise will take the issue very seriously. Have a lovely day and thank you for shopping with us!”

      • arcticJKL says:

        When I become dictator I will have a decree that ‘free’ shall be defined as ‘you can walk in and take it’. No conditions allowed with the word free.

        In this case you could walk in and take the ‘free’ smart phone without even trying on shoes.

  6. ProConsumer - Anti-Whiney D-Bag says:

    Wow how cynical are you people? They’re trying to get traffic in their store. Malls are dying and if this kind of sign gets traffic in their store then good for them. Has anyone here actually tried going to the store to see how they present this “promotion”. I bet they’re not trying to fool anyone.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I seriously doubt malls are dying, the malls here are absolutely PACKED. Perhaps Journey’s is dying because they are horribly overpriced with super pushy salespersons.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      If they really wanted to increase traffic to their store, they would provide incentives that aren’t non-deals.

      They would try harder.

    • Twonkey says:

      I wonder, do you think that the traffic that this sort of blatant manipulation is likely to generate will translate into sales? I can’t speak for anyone else, but if I were to be taken in by this, I sure as hell wouldn’t be leaving the store any lighter in the wallet once I realized that I wasn’t getting a free phone.

      Also…did you look at the effing sign? Of course they’re trying to fool people! If they weren’t, then the text at the bottom wouldn’t be substantially smaller than the text on top that implies that you’ll get a free smartphone for trying on shoes. If recognizing this is cynicism, then call me a cynic.

    • shadmed says:

      Malls are dying? Since when? I guess the day after it took me 10 minutes to just get inside the parking lot.

      • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

        It depends on the mall and location. We have one here in town that’s dying a slow, painful death. A lot of the retailers are hedging their bets and have opened new stores at the strip mall that’s only a short drive across town. The parking lot was barely half-full during the Christmas season. It’s kind of sad to see, as it’s a nice mall.

    • ludwigk says:

      The problem is that the ad is misleading. It presents an offer of one kind that is unrelated to the actual offer available. In my state, I could file action pursuant to a number of consumer protection statutes and FTC guidelines for unfair competition.

      And, what is this corporate apologist bullshit idea that stores can do anything to increase their foot traffic? No. We have laws in this country, and that notion is horrible and untenable.

  7. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    The ads like this that bother me are the ones on TV. The tiny print in white on a white background for mere seconds meanwhile some major distraction is happening really annoys me. Even with TiVo I have a very difficult time reading the disclaimers. So now, I just interpret any fuzzy white line as “Whatever we just said is a LIE” and it works out great.

  8. Captain Walker says:

    I’ll stick with the free cruise for putting my name on a piece of paper into the box at the mall. Equally useless

    • George4478 says:

      I must be lucky; I win every time. I just pay the $495 processing fee and I’m off on my free cruise….

      /rolls eyes/

    • rawley69 says:

      I remember some of these as a kid that I noticed tricked people into changing long distance service while advertising trying to win a cruise/car/money/home makeover/etc…

  9. AllanG54 says:

    The deal would be much better if you got a free pair of shoes for signing up for the smart phone and data plan. The commission made from the mobile carrier would be more than the price of the shoes I’m sure.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      You obviously haven’t seen the prices at Journey’s! I don’t see anyone shopping in that store, probably because they are priced at least 30% higher than any other store, for the same pair of shoes. I don’t think they have any shoes priced under $60.

  10. leprechaunshawn says:

    I’m not seeing the issue here. Sure, there’s fine print but it’s spelled out pretty clearly before you even enter the store.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      My problem, as others, is that it’s a non-deal. The deal, with the fine print, is the same deal literally any person can get when signing up for a new phone contract.

      The problem is they aren’t actually offering you anything you couldn’t already get.

    • Twonkey says:

      Yep. It’s totally clear. Only it’s in a font that’s not even a quarter of the size of the font used to imply that you’ll get a free phone for trying on shoes. They totally didn’t mean for that disclaimer to be overlooked at all…

    • RandomHookup says:

      1) It’s an odd combo & doesn’t make much sense from a co-branding standpoint

      2) Is this a better value than would be offered by going directly to the phone vendor? If not, it really isn’t much of a value to the consumer.

  11. MRT says:

    I saw the same sign in a Mall in Maryland (Not sure which store) and the first thing that came to mind was “Free Smartphone for trying on shoes……riiiiiiiiiiight” Didn’t need to see no stinkin fine print to know this was just marketing BS

  12. SG-Cleve says:

    Then you can use the smart phone to buy shoes online after you try them on in the store.

    • Jemish says:

      Unless they stray into dance shoes – then that will be a phone contract sign up and $20 to try the shoes on if you don’t buy them.

  13. MFfan310 says:

    American Eagle Outfitters ran a similar “try on jeans, get a free smartphone” promotion in July and August. Same fine print, same 2-year contract requirement, same order fulfillment partner (Simplexity).

    I checked the website, and it was only BlackBerries and lower-end Android handsets. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon were all represented, but some carriers had better selections than others. My thought was “thanks, but I’ll stick with Express”.

  14. almightytora says:

    I remember a few years ago, American Eage Outfitters gave away free movie tickets for trying on any of their pants. I took advantage of that multiple times in multiple locations.

  15. CountryJustice says:

    In other news, I’ll be stopping by Journeys this weekend to pick up those red-check DC loafers…

  16. maynurd says:

    Just like all the hyped up ads where “everything is on sale.” Then at the end of the ad they stutteer our that exclusions apply. If everything is on sale, how can something be excluded??

  17. dougp26364 says:

    The sign does not say, “Try on Shoes AND get a free Smartphone.” It only Says Try on Shoes….Get a Free Smart Phone. Two seperate statements on one sign easily confuse the consumer.

    It could have easily said, “Try on Shoes, Get a Bowel Prep, Get a Back Massage, Do your Taxes, Think for a Change, Nothing is Free.”

  18. ecvogel says:

    I saw this in two stores at Oakland Mall in Madison Heights Michigan. They were local shoe sellers. The names did not sound like big box mall stores.

  19. shepd says:

    Sounds like a good deal to me. A smartphone with 2 years of plan (service?) and a data feature, all free!

    An enterprising lawyer would definitely read it that way. It *should* read:

    “Try on shoes to get a free smartphone*”

    “*when you purchase a 2 year smartphone and a data feature”

    With mean it’s included in the free package. When means you need to do something before you get it (namely, sign up for the plan). Of course, ads are just an invitation to treat, but giveaways might be viewed differently, like a lottery where everyone wins.

  20. YokoOhNo says:

    I don’t see how this is any different than any other publicly traded corporation offering freebies, large discounts and other bait.

    the free market will work itself out on this one. if it’s so wrong then people will rebel and the company will be forced to close or change its strategy. If everyone likes this offer then the company should be free to continue its strategy and profit…profit….profit.