I just can’t help myself…and that means teaching you a thing or two! Today, let’s talk about some recent coupon folly.
You may recall that a few weeks ago, I won a contest through MaraNatha nut butters and received a free jar of any nut butter. Awesome. I was so excited. Yay, MaraNatha!
So I decided to use my coupon on a jar of macadamia nut butter. Then I forgot to use the coupon at the store. Stupid, stupid. I wonder if there are statistics on how many people do this and how much it costs Americans every year. I mean, not only did I spend the money on the macadamia nut butter, I also bought a bunch of other things from Whole Foods that I didn’t need, even though I only went there to use the coupon.
Coupons are probably a pretty brilliant marketing technique.
Anyway, I was looking over the coupon again, excited to use it on my next nut butter purchase, and I realized that it said, “On any nut butter” …and then in fine print, “Maximum value $4.99.” Well, none of the MaraNatha nut butters at my local grocery store were $4.99…but I assumed it was because sometimes there is a higher mark-up on specialty products at big grocery stores that don’t carry a lot of them. OK…fine.
So last weekend, I went back to Whole Foods with the coupon, bound and determined just to use it before I could forget. Nut butters have a long enough shelf life, so I figured I’d just buy something now. And I really wanted to use it on raw almond butter. I had had it once a long time ago and really liked it. Since I have every other kind of nut butter right now, I wanted to use my free coupon on something special.
Well, at Whole Foods — where the MaraNatha prices are definitely cheaper than my local grocery store — there still was not a single nut butter that cost $4.99. Even the peanut butter cost $5.99! The raw almond butter? $9.99. TEN DOLLARS for the smallest jar of nut butter I’ve ever seen.
[I think ten dollars is pretty steep for an eight ounce jar. Coconut oil is only $6 for twice that and coconut oil can double as lube. Unless you’re this one guy I know from college, nut butter cannot double as lube.]
OK — I’m calling BS on MaraNatha. I’m sorry, but you know the mark-up on your products. How can you design a coupon for a free product when you know damn well it will not, in fact, get anyone a free product? The only way this would have gotten me a free product is if I had ordered a jar of peanut butter from their Web site. (And then paid shipping…???) And it says “any” butter. Not “only peanut butter, which is not any kind of exciting at all.”
And I can sort of see scamming people with a coupon like this in the newspaper. Kind of a bait-and-switch? I mean, I think that’s illegal, but I can sort of see how that might happen. But I won a contest. You wouldn’t give someone a coupon and call it a gift card, but that’s pretty much what they did. And then said, “Congrats, lucky winner!!!!”
Here’s an idea: when someone wins a contest, e-mail them. Say, “You have won one free jar of any of our nut butters! Which would you like? We’ll have it sent right out.” Let me choose the most expensive option if I want to. I won the contest; if I choose to parlay that win into a bath in a $10 jar of ground-up nuts, then that is my right as a winner.
Back at Whole Foods, I just decided to try to use the coupon on the more expensive butter. Maybe the cashier would be super high on life like most Whole Foods grocery employees and wouldn’t notice. Unfortunately, she did; the best I got was a $4.99 discount on my raw almond butter.
And now they have gotten me with the second part of why coupons are so brilliant — because now I’m hooked on an expensive product!
Because really, it is delicious. It doesn’t taste like other nut butters. It tastes more like a great spread; I think it would be so good on a foodgasmic roasted eggplant panini.
But isn’t this how druggies get you? Like, “Oh, you, cute little rich white girl…you have won the contest for looking super vulnerable and open to ruining your life and the prize is…free cocaine! OK well actually you have to pay for half the coke and you’ll be back tomorrow for more because the high doesn’t last long but it’s so good you’ll be addicted…thanks for entering, lucky winner!”
My fridge is now overflowing with the delicious crack of MaraNatha, none of which was free.
The moral of the story: Do not get addicted to expensive shit via coupons and contests. And when a company does do this, call their crunchy asses out.