ALDI has learned the hard way, a lesson that many have learned before: if you put a coupon online that can be shared and printed an unlimited number of times – it will be. Another lesson learned: pretending it’s not happening is not the best way to deal with such an issue. Thankfully, the last lesson ALDI has learned, is that making good on the offer is ultimately the best response.
That’s good news for ALDI shoppers who waited all weekend for an answer about a coupon that some were dismissing as fraudulent. After many locations reportedly refused a “$10 off with a $40 minimum purchase” coupon this past weekend, ALDI now says it will be honored, at all locations. The only bad news – if you didn’t already print the offer, you’re out of luck.
As coupons go, $10 off a $40 purchase is not bad at all. But you would have thought ALDI was giving away the store, the way shoppers pounced on the offer that some enterprising couponer discovered online late last week. The original version of the coupon had apparently been available for about a month and a half, as part of a promotion in the Kansas City area. But few apparently knew about it, until word started spreading like wildfire on dozens of coupons-and-deals blogs.
Then it was like opening Pandora’s box.
The coupon, hosted on ALDI’s own website, stated that it was good only in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, through November 15th. The url also ended with the file name “coupon_4.jpg”. That, of course, piqued the curiosity of some who wondered, if that’s “coupon_4.jpg”, what might “coupon_1.jpg”, “coupon_2.jpg” and “coupon_3.jpg” be?
Jackpot – “coupon_2.jpg” turned out to be the exact same coupon, with one key difference: it was “redeemable at all ALDI locations”.
And that’s where the trouble began. The coupon was apparently a “hidden” file, that shoppers were not meant to discover. Only the state-specific coupon that was part of the promotion was meant to be valid.
Yet another underestimation of savvy shoppers’ ability to sniff out a good deal, especially one that was hidden in plain sight. So what does a retailer do in such a situation? There’s only one proper response, of course.
Just call the coupon bogus and hope people will believe you.
“Thank you for your inquiry regarding a coupon that has recently been circulating around the internet,” read one early response from ALDI customer service. “Unfortunately, this coupon is not valid. ALDI does currently have a promotion going on in select states, however the only states included are KS, MO, AR, NE, and OK.”
Some took this to mean that the coupon was a fraud and that someone had altered the original. Others insisted that since the coupon was on ALDI’s own website, there was no way it was “not valid”. It was late Friday by this time, and ALDI representatives took off for the weekend, leaving the issue unresolved. Many shoppers subsequently reported that their coupon was denied at their local stores.
Come Monday, an ALDI spokesperson assured Coupons in the News that “we will be in touch later today with more information.” That never happened. Instead, ALDI representatives who had been methodically deleting any mention of the coupon on its Facebook page, finally relented late Monday: “The recent digital coupon featuring $10 off a $40 purchase at our stores was available for download for a limited time. The coupon can be used through November 15 in all ALDI locations.”
Success! Surely shoppers were ecstatic, right? Well, not those whose coupons were refused over the weekend, and wanted to know whether they could be applied retroactively. Not those who were late to the game and complained that the coupons were no longer available to print (ALDI pulled both versions of the coupon off its website today). And not those who had soured on ALDI, complaining that the whole situation was handled poorly from the start.
So if you managed to get your hands on one of the coupons, you have until November 15th to use it. After that, perhaps ALDI will no longer create coupons that it doesn’t want its customers to find.