Elizabeth Arden Sends Out Cheaper Item, Hopes No One Notices

Lauren doesn’t normally spend a lot of money on makeup, and was excited to spot a seemingly-great promotion in our Morning Deals last month. Spend $65 on Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, and get a fabulous case stuffed full of eyeshadows, lipsticks, and brushes, with a stated total value of $350. (Makeup deal connoisseurs know that this isn’t quite true since the items in the kit were never for retail sale in the first place, but it’s still some fine face paint.) She placed the order, but when it arrived learned that the deal had been so popular that Elizabeth Arden had run out of the original gift cases. Did they contact her, cancel the order, or substitute something else of equal value? Nope. They subbed in a lower-value gift case, apparently hoping that customers wouldn’t notice.

Hi there! I’m a big fan of the site and regularly take advantage of some of your morning deals. I thought that you might want to reconsider posting deals from Elizabeth Arden, as I have learned that they will substitute items of lesser value if they run out of what they are offering.

Last week, I saw a coupon code you posted for Elizabeth Arden, which was for a free 33-piece gift ($350 value) with a purchase of $65 or more. Not being someone who can regularly splurge on make-up, it was a tempting deal to replace my current collection of odds and ends!

I received my order today, and was disappointed to see that they had replaced the free set that was advertised with one of considerably lesser value. It is a 29-piece set with different/smaller items than were advertised. The original set was supposed to include a case and a variety of higher quality items (skincare items as well as makeup, larger compacts and brushes). The sticker on the upper right hand corner of the box I received reads, “38.50 with any 24.50 Elizabeth Arden purchase. Over 250.00 value.” That’s a full $100 difference off of the value they advertised!

I spoke with a customer service representative who said that I could return it if I am not satisfied, and that they substituted this gift because they ran out of the other one.

I told her I thought it was a bait-and-switch, and it seems to me that they are hoping that the consumer doesn’t notice the differences in quality between what was advertised and what was shipped. They could have at least notified me of the substitution and given me the chance to cancel the order. Now instead I have to go through the hassle of returning an item that I didn’t order. This is my first experience with the company, and I suppose it will be my last!

Thanks for listening!

Based on the Federal Trade Commission’s definition of “Bait and Switch,” this isn’t quite a bait and switch situation. It certainly is a switch, though. Perhaps even a “switcheroo.”

The original coupon, before it was aggregated to deal sites, may have had a disclaimer that another item would be substituted if the company ran out of the original 33-piece set. But we’re not seeing that on the ads: here’s one version of it.

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RELATED:
Canceling Orders Over A Pricing Error Is Not The Same As Bait-And-Switch
What Is The “Bait and Switch” And When Is It Illegal?