So call me pig-headed --  01/24/06

There was a Skippy Super Chunk Peanut Butter jar in the kitchen, waiting to be rinsed and put in the glass and plastic recycling bin. Nancy picked it up and pointed out that there appeared to be a coupon inside the label...

Picking up the jar and looking at it, I saw that there was a coupon plus a chance to win ACTION SPORTS PRIZES! and that 1 in 10 WINS! -- so I grabbed a pair of scissors and removed the plastic label.

The inside of half of the label told me all about the prize drawing while the other half was a 55 cents off coupon on any Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread, Trail Mix Bars, or Snack Bars. (Hey, both Belmonts Supermarket and Shaws Supermarket have Skippy on sale this week, so I could really score with a coupon plus the sale price. Cool. (Yes, we go through a lot of peanut butter around here. Hey, it's good stuff.)

The prize contest promise was not quite accurate -- Instead of a one chance in ten of winning, it was zero chance. To find out if you won, you had to go to a contest Web site and enter a special code from the inside of the label to find out if it was a winning code. The trouble was, the contest expired on 11/30/05... yeah, almost two months ago.

So I checked the coupon. That was good until 06/30/06. Okay, that's plenty of time. But let's see... contest has already ended, coupon is good until June... I wonder what the expiration date is for the peanut butter? It is on the lid, faint black letters on a dark blue background (one of these companies that really does not want to be able to figure out the expiration date) Best Used By 11/30/06. So the contest has already expired and the coupon is good until the end of June, but the "best used by" date still has five more months to run.

In other words, you could be in a supermarket in July, see the promise of a coupon plus a chance to win prizes, squint at the lid and decide that the peanut butter is still good, and buy this jar of Skippy instead of, say, Jif or Peter Pan, because of the promise of future savings plus a chance at a prize, only to get it home and find that both the coupon and the contest had expired.

That's a pet peeve of mine.

Many years ago... when Adam (my eldest, who is now in his late thirties) was around five... he was with me in a supermarket where there was a large end-of-aisle display of cereal (i.e, obviously a big promotion as the ends of aisles are prime real estate in supermarkets) that had a large picture of a FREE! Hot Wheels Car! with purchase of this cereal. The cereal was called "Krispy Rice" (yes, an obvious imitation of Rice Krispies). Adam was a big fan of Hot Wheels cars (he had collected dozens since he had been a toddler) and this really caught his eye. I checked the top of the box -- the cereal still had several months to go on its best-by date and I saw that it was made by Ralston, the same company that made my favorite breakfast cereals at the time: Rice Chex, Wheat Chex, and Corn Chex. [At some point since then they sold those brands to General Mills.] So I bought a couple of boxes.

When I got that cereal home I discovered that you had to cut out a form from the back of the box, fill it out with your name and address, and send it in with the box top in order to get the promised FREE! Hot Wheels Car! (at this point, more than three decades later, I can't remember if it was really free, or if it was free after including a shipping and handling charge) but I found something quite disturbing in the fine print on the mail-in form -- the free toy promotion had ended a few weeks earlier. So I sent in the form anyway, along with a note saying that since the cereal still had months to go on its expiration date and since this had been a big end-of-aisle promotion in the supermarket (which meant Ralston was in some way compensating the store for this special location), I felt that they should continue to honor the Hot Wheels offer. I never got a reply. However, on the very logical grounds that the address was actually that of some sub-contracted fulfillment company rather than an office of Ralston, after a few weeks went by without hearing anything, I typed up a letter to Ralston (probably to the President or CEO, can't remember now), outlining my complaint.

They never replied.

And I stopped buying Rice Chex and Wheat Chex and Corn Chex. In fact, I made a point of never purchasing anything made by Ralston.

Years later, when Jill and Jeremy were in grade school, as the amount of business they had lost because of their failure to reply to my letter mounted into hundreds and hundreds of dollars, I considered calling off my boycott and I actually purchased a box or two of one of the Chex cereals, but it had been years since I had last eaten any of those cereals and I had found new favorites and other than that box or two I have not bought any of their cereal in more than thirty years. In fact, when I started to write this, I was thinking of putting in some links to their Web page and was startled to discover that at some point Ralston had sold off their cereal business to General Mills.

I can be really pig-headed.

In 1970 I moved from Monticello, NY, to Binghamton, NY (having enrolled in graduate study there) and, needing to restock groceries after the move, I went to a Victory Supermarket, the same chain of stores that I had been accustomed to using before the move -- Plopped two year old Adam into the shopping cart seat and proceeded to fill the cart. -- I stopped at the office window -- I was clean shaven (I started a beard a few weeks later) and was wearing a sports jacket and a dress shirt (can't remember if I was wearing a necktie or not), have a two year old kid and a shopping card filled with groceries and I say to the guy behind the window "I need to cash a check" and he looked at me and said (with a sneer) "Are you going to buy anything here?" -- and I replied "Not now I'm not." and picked Adam up and left the cart full of groceries there and walked out and drove a mile or so to a Grand Union Supermarket. Over the next two and a half years (until I moved) that Grand Union got at least 95 percent of my grocery shopping business, which the other store could have had if they had treated me with a minimum of respect.and courtesy.

Nancy sometimes laughs at how pig-headed I can be, but I am what I am...

As for Skippy Peanut Butter... I don't care about their silly contest -- I probably wouldn't have bothered to go to their Web site anyway... but if I had cut open that label on July 1st and found a coupon that expired on June 30th, yeah, I could see myself complaining to them... and if they failed to respond... well, there's always Jif or Peter Pan...

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