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The Pizza Factory Bait & Switch Promotion Fail

Pizza Factory Bait & Switch Promotion FailOn Monday Sam and I decided to head out for a quick lunch together. Because it’s close to home we decided to head over to The Pizza Factory in Lindon, Utah.

We had purchased three City Deals gift certificates worth $10 each and planned to use them. The small print said, “May not be combined with other offers, discounts or promotions.” This was made clear when we made the purchase and we considered it a fair deal.

Upon arrival, we saw a notice taped to the door. The top portion said, “This G.C. cannot be used with Lunch/Family Specials or with any other coupon or Discount. Thanks!” Below that were two different types of gift certificates, including the one we had purchased.

OK. So in addition to their “offers, discounts, and promotions” they also have specials they have decided not to include. We figured we could just order off the menu.

After looking over the menu, we mentioned the gift certificate. At that point the waitress told us that the “lunch specials” that were part of the regular, printed every day menu  were not included.

I suggested that an item that appears on the menu given to customers during all hours of business is only “special” in the sense that they had chosen to print the  word “special” above them. I also noted that the gift certificate itself didn’t exclude regular menu items. This idea was rejected and the exclusion reaffirmed.

As our available options got smaller and smaller, we moved below the specifically outlined and shaded “Lunch Specials” section. We chose the “All-You-Can-Eat Soup, Salad, and Hot Breadtwists” selection for $7.95.

After rushing off to confer with the “general manager,” the waitress came back to let us know that that particular selection was not available with the gift certificate.

I asked her why this was, given that the coupon didn’t exclude regular menu items lunch specials or non-lunch specials or anything of the sort.

She said, “Because it’s a special.”

When I asked how it could be considered a special, she responded, “Because if you buy the soup and salad and bread sticks separately they will cost more.”

In other words, any meal that is bundled in some way becomes a “special” that is excluded? So if a cheese pizza and a side of pepperoni costs more than a pepperoni pizza, it’s a “special”?

Finally we settled on another regular menu item, the all-you-can-eat salad bar for $6.95. Which incidentally is bundled with breadtwists, but is mystically not a “special.”

After all that we paid one dollar less per person for not getting soup. Given how filling soup is, I would guess that we actually consumed more food dollars just eating veggies (I do not pay for lettuce at salad bars). But, you know, the customer general manager is always right.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • cherrybomb April 9, 2013, 5:19 pm

    I really think most of these gift certificates (the kind you buy at a discount) are trouble. They shouldn’t be, but when it all comes down to it, I think the business owners want the adverting, but don’t really want to honor the certificates.

  • SistaYo April 9, 2013, 6:20 pm

    I think I’ll get my pizza elsewhere!

  • Andrea Urban April 9, 2013, 6:32 pm

    No more Pizza Factory for us. Wow!…That is all.
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  • Alison Moore Smith April 10, 2013, 10:38 am

    cherrybomb, I do think you’re onto something. There’s often kind of a begrudging acceptance of coupons, even thought it’s the company that issued the coupons.

    My response got so lengthy that I decided to turn it into a post. 🙂 Read here about the Burger King Promotion Fail.

    SistaYo and Andrea, I’m with you. Although we’ll use up our two other coupons first, we will do it spending the least addition money possible.

    Their breadtwists are divine, but otherwise we find the place overpriced for the quality. The salad bar is mediocre at best and on Monday there were seven of the item slots empty, which was about a third of those available. So, all in all, we’re not really missing much. :/
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  • KShaw April 10, 2013, 11:51 am

    What a pain in the keister for you guys! I have never had any trouble using coupns at Papa Murphy’s Pizza, and several times, the girls have helped me figure out how to get the best deal with the coupons I have. (I understand you guys were trying to get lunch in a timely fashion, I have just been very impressed with the many Papa Murphy’s I have gone to)
    It’s very frustrating when a company is begrudging of the deals and coupons they create!

  • Andrea Urban April 10, 2013, 1:10 pm

    I wonder if you mean Pizza Factory KShaw. I don’t see the relevance with Papp Murphy’s, which I love by the way 🙂
    Andrea Urban recently posted…Hindsight and Kidney StonesMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith April 10, 2013, 1:07 pm

    So true!

    When Alana worked at Taco Amigo, she was accused by a customer of trying to upsell — until she pointed out that she had actually shown him how to get more food for the same money. Hah.

    When someone helps me get the best deal, you better believe that I remember.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Burger King Promotion FailMy Profile

  • KShaw April 13, 2013, 2:43 pm

    You are correct Alison. I was noting and giving kudos to an establishment that has never given me any trouble with coupons, and have even tried to get me more for my buck.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 13, 2013, 2:19 pm

    Andrea, perhaps KShaw was noting a different pizza establishment where they seem to welcome coupons and were happy to help on making the deal? As a comparison? Either than or she misread. 🙂
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  • BL April 27, 2013, 8:55 am

    Sounds like the restaurant regretted offering this discount gift certificate and was trying to cut it’s losses! It’s not fair to the customer. These groupon-type certificates became popular very quickly because they are a great deal to the customer, however, businesses are quickly learning that they are not such a great deal. Often times, you get a coupon for 50% off, and the business has to pay the coupon advertiser 50% of that, so in reality they are only getting 25% of the cost which is sometimes less than their cost!

  • Alison Moore Smith April 27, 2013, 6:23 pm

    I agree. But it behooves the business owner to calculate those costs before entering the deal site’s transaction, rather than to switch the bait once the customer arrives.

    For the record, we went again to Pizza Factory today, since we still had two coupons left. We’re set on the all-you-can-eat salad bar and water. 🙂
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  • Alison Moore Smith August 20, 2013, 2:29 pm

    Final update. Today we used our last of the three Pizza Factory coupons, because they expire at the end of the month.

    We decided it wouldn’t hurt to ask if we could get the soup/salad/breadtwist special with the certificate. Our waitress said, “You can’t get anything that’s discounted.”

    “Which items are discounted?” I asked.

    “Never mind. Sure, you can get that item.

    We each ate one bowl of soup (bacon potato, yummy) and one plate of salad (from a very sparsely populated and messy salad bar) and could only stuff in one and a half breadsticks before we were overloaded.

    Our waitress got a good tip. 🙂
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