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More than a year after several consumers sued the maker of Halo Top ice cream for allegedly underfilling its pint containers, the judge in the case has issued a key ruling – and coupons that the company offered to help rectify the problem, may have ended up exacerbating it.

A number of Halo Top customers who had filed separate lawsuits joined together last year to file a class action complaint, accusing the ice cream brand of deliberately offering less-than-full containers, so that “purchasers of the premium-priced ice cream simply have no idea how much ice cream they will get each and every time they buy a Halo Top ‘pint’.”

Halo Top argued that it compensated the plaintiffs with coupons for free replacement pints, so they didn’t suffer any actual losses and therefore had no case. But the judge disagreed – because for at least one customer, those coupons turned out to be worthless.

Plaintiff Susan Cox of New York said she frequently bought Halo Top ice cream at stores including ShopRite and a local grocery store called Marino’s. During one shopping trip, she purchased ten pints of Halo Top and said “every pint was at most half-filled.” When she complained to Halo Top, she was sent a coupon for four free pints of Halo Top ice cream as an apology.

But ShopRite’s coupon policy states that “we reserve the right to refuse any coupon for ‘free’ product.” So when Cox went to use her coupon, the lawsuit states, her “store would not accept it.”

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As more stores have grown wary of high-value counterfeit coupons, many have instituted policies that forbid the acceptance of free-item coupons, particularly print-at-home offers. But several coupon-issuing companies apparently haven’t gotten the message. Over the past year, brands including Hershey, KIND Snacks and Chobani have issued printable coupons for free products, disappointing customers who discovered that their stores wouldn’t accept them.

Even Halo Top itself got caught up in the coupon craze, offering a printable coupon for free ice cream last fall. After the coupon giveaway didn’t go quite as planned, however, the company ended up offering replacement coupons – via mail – to those who missed out on the printables.

But as ShopRite’s coupon policy states, even professionally printed and distributed free-item coupons aren’t immune from special scrutiny and possible rejection. That’s what Cox found out the hard way, when Halo Top’s effort to make things right, ended up going wrong. Therefore, the judge in the pint-underfilling case ruled, Cox is free to pursue her claims in court.

Halo Top had claimed that Cox would not be able to prove she had suffered any losses “if the plaintiff has been compensated by the defendant for an alleged loss.” Cox had been compensated, Halo Top argued, because Halo Top “provides replacement products.” But the coupon Cox was provided “was rejected,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “Thus, Cox has not been compensated for the alleged loss she suffered from purchasing an allegedly underfilled pint.”

Halo Top raised a number of other objections to the lawsuit, most of which the judge shot down. The plaintiffs’ allegations that Halo Top is “cheating customers and enriching themselves” by selling pint containers with “random and unnecessary empty space” are therefore a matter for a jury to determine, the judge ruled.

The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount of damages, for themselves and for every other customer who may have purchased underfilled containers of Halo Top ice cream. If they eventually win the case – they can only hope that the judgment won’t be paid out in coupons.

Image source: Halo Top

2 Comments

  1. I am amazed at the number of ridiculous lawsuits that people file

  2. Pingback: Free coupons you can't use - Halo Top - deranged.mederanged.me

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