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Frito-Lay coupon

Talk about a promotion gone wrong. To couponers, it’s the equivalent of winning the lottery – and receiving Monopoly money as a prize.

Couponers across the country recently jumped at the chance to score a heavily-promoted free-item coupon. Getting a product for absolutely nothing, with no strings attached – what’s not to like?

How about if the coupon is already expired when you receive it?

If it happened to you this week, you’re not alone. Countless disappointed potato chip fans have been receiving a coupon in the mail for a free bag of Lay’s barbecue potato chips this week – even though the coupon expired this past Sunday. If you were lucky, you might have received your coupon as early as last week, but then you had to act awfully fast to redeem it before it became useless. Even worse, if you didn’t check the expiration date, you were in for an unpleasant surprise at the checkout if you tried to get your freebie this week.

A total of 300,000 coupons were made available in the promotion that went live on April 18th. Word spread quickly on coupon blogs and message boards, as it tends to do when there’s a freebie involved. All you had to do was click on a link to a website hosted by Offerpop, a social media marketing firm, sign up with your email and mailing addresses, and you’d receive a coupon for a free small bag of chips “within 6-8 weeks”.

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And as coupon recipients have been finding out, the coupon expired on June 12th – precisely eight weeks after the promotion began. With a lag time of six to eight weeks before the coupon would even be mailed out, the short expiration date left little or no margin for error.

Predictably, Frito-Lay’s Facebook page has been blowing up with consumer comments, ranging from perplexed, to disappointed, to furious. “Not sure what I am supposed to do, Frito-Lay, with the expired coupon for the free chips that you sent me today,” one commenter wrote. “Thanks so much for the expired Lay’s BBQ Potato chip coupon for a free bag that arrived in today’s mail. Were you planning on sending it for me to use as a bookmark?” another asked. “What kind of scam you trying to pull?” a third commenter wondered. “I hope your response is quick and not outdated when I hear back from you.”

It’s only a coupon, so some might argue the stronger comments represent a bit of misplaced outrage. Yet, a promise is a promise, especially when you have to give up your personal information and end up getting a useless piece of paper in return.

Frito-Lay is now working to make things right. Consumers were initially asked to call consumer relations at 800-352-4477, or send an email via the contact form at FritoLay.com/contact, to receive a replacement coupon. Company representatives were fielding requests one by one, causing some callers to experience delays and busy signals.

Now, a recorded message assures callers that a new coupon will be coming automatically, to all 300,000 mailing addresses that were provided when the offer was available. “We’re so sorry about the expired coupon you’ve received,” the message states. “The Lay’s team will be sending you a replacement coupon. You should receive the coupon within a few weeks, with plenty of time to redeem it for Lay’s barbecue, or the Lay’s flavor of your choice. Many thanks, we appreciate your patience.”

By way of explanation, the agency responsible for the promotion told Coupons in the News that “the shipping took longer than expected to get the coupons out to consumers” – even though the shipping appeared to take precisely as long as the six-to-eight weeks that the promotional website said it would. Frito-Lay has not yet responded to a request for further clarification about how this apparent screwup happened, costing the brand (or the agency responsible for fulfilling the requests) a whole lot of money to print, process and mail hundreds of thousands of unusable coupons.

Not to mention disappointing hundreds of thousands of Frito-Lay fans – and having to go back to square one and send out 300,000 replacement coupons. This time, though, it’s a safe bet that the coupons will still be valid by the time you receive them. Hopefully.

One Comment

  1. I received my coupon today for a free bag of Lay’s BBQ as part of the Facebook promotion but expired before I received it. How do I get a replacement? Due to an unforeseen delay in mail processing, some Lay’s fans received expired coupons for a free 2 oz bag of Lay’s BBQ potato chips. All affected consumers will be automatically mailed a replacement coupon to the mailing address on file. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

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