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KFR sold out

Someone call damage control! A third major manufacturer is complaining about couponers, and alienating some of the very customers who are (or were) buying its products.

On the heels of Kraft grousing that couponers are saving “more than they need”, and detergent maker Church & Dwight carping about competitors “over-subsidizing consumers” with coupons, it’s cereal maker Kellogg’s turn to take a swipe at coupon users.

The company’s popular Kellogg’s Family Rewards program has become decidedly less popular among couponers lately, after a series of changes that have made the rewards program less rewarding.

First, KFR members who used their program points to order printable coupons beginning last month found themselves limited to one print per coupon instead of the usual two. And the coupons began printing with expiration dates a mere two weeks away, instead of four. And this week, all of the higher-value coupons are now branded as “SOLD OUT” with no indication of when, or whether, they might be available again. (UPDATE: A customer service representative writes on Kellogg’s website that “they are now sold out and will no longer be available.”)

Oh, and it’s all coupon users’ fault.

When members of the loyalty program began complaining about the one-print limit, Kellogg turned around and blamed its loyal members for the change. “Our instructions have always indicated one print per coupon, but we allowed a second print for KFR members who had a technical difficulty,” Kellogg customer service representatives explained, unconvincingly. “Unfortunately, some KFR members took advantage of this additional print to double their reward.” Therefore, all reward coupons are now one print each to keep things “fair”. “This will allow us to make more coupons available for everyone,” Kellogg promised.

Except that it didn’t.

KFR members resigned to their new one-print limit went to the site this week and discovered that all of the $1.50 coupons for products like Kellogg’s cereal, Pop-Tarts, Keebler cookies and Eggo waffles were suddenly “sold out”. “Due to overwhelming popularity, we’ve completely run out of $1.50 coupons,” Kellogg explained, again unconvincingly. None of these coupons have ever “sold out” before, and certainly never all at once. Coupons offering $0.75 off are still available, though several coupons of equal or greater value are already available to print for free from the Kellogg website. So why spend points to get coupons you can get for free?

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Or, as some program members are saying, why bother collecting points by buying Kellogg products anymore, if those points are becoming practically useless?

Kellogg’s Family Rewards launched more than two years ago, and gained plenty of favor among coupon users for those rare, high-value $1.50 coupons, and the relative ease with which they could be acquired. Every Kellogg product is imprinted with a code that can be entered for roughly 100 points per product, which in turn can be redeemed for coupons and other rewards. Free codes abound, so it’s easy to boost your points total. And at one time, KFR had a 90% off “sale”, so those $1.50 coupons that normally went for 1,000 points were just 100 points each. On top of it all, initially, many members were reporting that they were getting up to ten unique prints per coupon.

So for the price of essentially buying one Kellogg product, you could get coupons to buy ten more. Not a bad deal.

The program now has some 8 million members, and the company is fond of boasting about its success. At a recent industry conference, KFR associate director Mark Staples described how the program can track users, their purchases, and encourage members to buy more. Plus, Staples hinted, “we’re working on some pretty major things right now.”

Presumably, cutting back on coupons and blaming couponers for “taking advantage” of the program wasn’t one of those “major things”.

Either way, some members don’t plan to stick around to find out. Even committed couponers who dutifully tore apart their packages to find the barely legible codes imprinted within, to enter on the often-malfunctioning KFR website, have finally had enough. “This ‘rewards’ program was barely worth the trouble as it was,” one commenter wrote on the Kellogg’s Family Rewards Facebook page. “It’s totally useless now, a big waste of time.” Another commenter complained, “your products are way too expensive to only be able to print these coupons once. Not worth how much we have to pay out of pocket to collect the amount of points needed for ONE print.” And a third commenter lamented, “you guys just took the fun and minuscule reward out of the site.”

Other than the explanations offered by customer service, Kellogg corporate representatives have not responded to a request for comment about the changes – whether they were in response to abuse, overpopularity or budgetary constraints. That last part wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise, since just last week, Kellogg reported another quarter of declining sales.

A lower coupon expense could theoretically help lift profits, though it’s unlikely to help lift sales, considering that many who relied on their KFR coupons are now planning to buy more inexpensive alternatives from other companies.

They wouldn’t want to “take advantage” of Kellogg’s Family Rewards anymore, after all.

16 Comments

  1. Saved up for one year to get a specific reward. One month before I finally got enough points the reward is “no longer available”. KFR’s response: “So sorry. Why not trade in your 30,000 points for some coupons so you can go and by some more of our products!”
    Anyone need 300 packages of cookies and over sweetened cereal?
    Complete waste of time.

  2. Just to note, KFR may be shutting down soon. Their customer service has never been great, nor their website easy to use, but lately it’s turned downright deceptive.

    Combine that with the email notice that’s been sent to all site members that Kellogg’s products will no longer be shipping with reward codes, and it spells doom for the site in the near future.

    In retrospect, this article shows that removing high value coupons was an warning sign.

    Here’s a more recent, relevant thread: https://community.kelloggs.com/kelloggs/topics/10-digital-download-credits?topic=10-digital-download-credits

    Jennilee Saturday, June 13
    10 digital download credits
    Is there still the reward for 10 digital download credits? I have been saving my points up for a while just for this reward, but now I am not seeing it. The 1 digital download credit for 1,300 points is not worth it.

    Chelsea (Official Rep) Sunday, June 14
    Thank you for posting, Jennilee. I apologize for any inconvenience; at this time the 10 Digital Download Credit reward is not available. I will be sure to pass your interest in having it back along to the Promotions Team. I encourage you to check back with the site, as rewards are frequently updated. Thanks for being part of the Kellogg’s Community.

    This is just a paraphrae of the FAQ. If the item is not available, cross your fingers and hope it comes back!

    What I would like to say, but know will be moderated (in addition, I can’t use their login form because it requires insecure web cookies)
    My Reply: Tuesday, June 16

    Chelsea is blowing smoke up your ***. From their decision to stop sending rewards credits with products, it’s pretty clear Kelloggs is planning on shutting down the rewards altogether. This move is to block the exits and prevent everyone from cashing out.

  3. Well, Kellogg’s, have you read all these comments??? Hope your decision was worth what it has just cost you!

    • This rewards program is a scam. Tried printing my coupons and they never printed. I earned way over 4000 points. I emailed Kellogs and they emailed me back. Even after they credited me 1000 points the coupons did not prinT. I am definitely not going to buy their products.

  4. Kellogg’s just needs to ditch the whole program and do some serious thinking about how to get us back.

  5. for every 1 couponer there is probably at least 30 non coupon users that buy this cereal! When you are getting it almost free or even free they are not making any money anyway so it will make no difference to them if couponing people buy it or not! I see lots of people that pay full price for those items and they will continue to do so, so with that being said they will not lose hardly any money when couponers stop buying!

  6. reminds me of Recyclebank, – no longer earn points there either when there’s nothing I want to use them on. Oh well, often get good Qs on Barbara’s & non-GMO cereals and pay about $1 a box, and have plenty of Kelloggs, with expiration as late as next June

  7. Pingback: Reader deals 11/8/14 - Mashup Mom

  8. Well I will no longer buy Kellogg products. I and a lot of other “Couponers” give to food bank and others in need. We will still do so. It just won’t be their products. SHAME ON YOU KELLOGGS !!

    • Oh come on! How many do you “donate” and how many do you hoard in your pantry/under your bed/in your basement/in your guest room? Gimme a breeeaaak!

  9. Pingback: Kelloggs Family Rewards removes $1.50/1 reward coupons - WRAL.com - Coupon News Alert

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  11. Judeen Johnson says:

    I do not appreciate KFR taking out the high value coupons. Why should I buy their products any more if they are only going to give me two weeks on a coupon that I had to buy a product to get. With my schedule I may not even be able to use them that fast. What a rip off to your loyal clients. I never knew you could print those coupons more than once. I played by the rules. Harris Teeter products are usually just as good and some are better, since they are loyal to their customers I’ll buy from them. I agree with all that is said in this article. The website is a pain to try to use and the letters are always hard to see. Just another thing I won’t have to worry about any more.

  12. I agree Kelloggs will lose a ton of business from me as well with 3 kids we have an abundance of pop tart lovers but we will do store brand if this is how Kelloggs wants to treat customers who are being brand loyal. I have never mistreated the system. It is a shame some may have.

  13. Terry Bernstein says:

    Just to let you know you have made a wrong move by discounting your coupons. Will lose my business as well as a lot of others became use coupons to save money to use on groceries to feed our family and stretch our food dollar with a fixed income it’s importan. To save every penny we can dso guess won’t we buying much or any

  14. With these new changes there really is no incentive to now buy Kelloggs products. I enjoyed Kelloggs Family Rewards and made an effort to buy their products as 2 x $1.50 off Rice Krispie treats every couple of months was a nice “reward”. Seems like they just got to greedy with their coupons. It is a shame because it was a good little incentive. Oh well, I will just buy store brand from now on, my children might complain for a whole 5 minutes, but I need to save money and Kelloggs isn’t worth it anymore.

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