I suppose because I neither watch Oprah nor eat Kentucky Fried Chicken (way too much salt, bone and gristle for my taste - KFC, not Oprah; Oprah I'm fine with - I just don't watch her), I was unaware of a May giveaway in which Oprah posted a coupon on her web site that was good for a couple of pieces of free chicken and sides.
Needless to say, this set off a quite literal feeding frenzy in which a gazillion folks downloaded the coupon and jetted on over to their nearest and dearest KFC to test drive their new Kentucky Grilled Chicken. (By the way, while we're on the subject, how about those ads that always show the buckets o' chicken pieces overflowing when, in real life, what-you-get is quite nicely contained by the paper lid - which was at least the case 30 years ago when I last ate at a KFC? But I digress.)
Anyway, as the hungry hordes descended on KFC, craving their free lunch, some found to their dismay that they hadn't read that finest of fine print: participating stores only. Certainly, I wouldn't have wanted to be the manager of one of those outlets on free chicken day.
Others were informed that their coupons were bogus - whatever that means, for a coupon that was nothing more than a printed pdf - quality seemingly dependent on how much ink was in the old inkjet. Not to mention that the quantity available - even though it was supposedly 4 freebies per customer - was seemingly infinite. So bad on those employees who called out some of the coupon bearers.
Still other coupon clippers found that the stores ran out of "side" they wanted - no cole slaw for you, bub. To me, this would be no great loss, given that, as I recall, KFC cole slaw couldn't hold a shred of cabbage to my mother's, which set the all time standard for goodness of cole slaw. (Fortunately, my sisters were paying more attention to what Liz was doing when she was on a cole slaw tear, so her secrets are not in St. Joseph's Cemetery with her.)
And some stores ran out of chicken.
So they started giving out "rain checks", which actually one-upped the original offer by including a soft drink with it. And we all know that there's nothing quite like a fast food soft drink to slake your thirst. (You know how they do those blind taste tests to see if people can identify red from white wine? I'd like to see one comparing fast food SevenUp to Coke. Hmmmm. Let's see. It's sweet, it's wet, it's flat, it tastes like waxy cardboard. I'm going to go with root beer.)
But, for a couple of folks in California, those rain checks are nothing but a noxious effort on KFC's part:
...a "bait and switch" to get people to spend money at the chain. (Source for this story: Boston.com.)
Well, duh,d' duh, duh. Why else would any company make this sort of offer if they didn't think it was going to get folks to spend money with the chain?
But the aggrieved Californians who are mounting their suit maintain that:
... the rain check process [is] "much more onerous" because customers had to visit a local KFC to pick up a form and mail it back to the company to get a new coupon.
Well, I really don't want to make an ad hominem, or ad plaintiff attack here, but I will have to say when I read about how "onerous" the rain check process was, the words "lard ass" were the first one that came to mind. My second word association was "oh, grow up." My third was, "suck it up."
And so on....
The suit also says the company did not do enough to inform customers of the new policy. The complaint alleges that KFC knew customers would wind up spending money at the chain when they realized there was no free food left to get.
(See above: duh,d' duh, duh. Not to mention that, apparently, not all customers spent money there. Some, apparently, expended rage.)
Well, with every possible good cause someone could take up, it's really hard to expend a scintilla of sympathy on someone who feels so screwed out of - what? - a $5 meal (if that) that they would go to court over it.
Piss and moan to your family and friends. Refuse to ever darken another KFC door. Curse the Colonel under your breath. Get on the web and find every blog that's picked up on this "crisis", and comment away. Rage, rage against the dying of the free chicken. By all means.
But is this act on KFC's part so traumatic, so god-awful, so despicable that it merits a suit?
Hey, I'm as much in favor of "suing the bastards" if and when it makes sense and serves a useful social purpose.
Personally, I was delighted to see that shares of Yum - the company that owns KFC - closed up a bit on the day the suit was filed.