Family told pizza coupon deal was a mistake

November 17, 2009 7:05:32 PM PST
With the holidays approaching, many businesses have increased their advertising. But what rights do consumers have when there's an error in those ads?

Families are doing everything they can to save money these days. So when a family of six saw a great deal on pizza, they jumped at the opportunity to have a nice dinner, only to be told it was all a mistake.

Darryl and Zola Ford do what they can to feed their family of six.

"My wife's unemployed right now. She got laid off. Hey, whenever you're going to find a good deal, you go for it," said Darryl.

The Hayward couple thought they found that deal when they saw the "777 deal" from Dominos -- three unlimited topping medium pizzas for $7.77.

"If you can feed a family of six or, you know, less than $10, I think that's a real good deal," said Darryl.

Shakaib Rahimi is the Dominos franchise owner who put out the ad. He's been offering all sorts of specials to lure customers to spend their hard earned cash on his pizza.

"We've had to drop our average ticket down by about $3," he said.

Times are tough all around for both businesses and consumers. When the Fords tried to cash in on the 777 deal, they got an answer they didn't want.

"They said they were not going to honor the ad, eventhough the ad said one thing, they were telling me another," said Darryl.

"It's an honest mistake and if we were to sell three pizzas of unlimited toppings for $7, we would have been in a different world," said Shakaib.

He blamed it on a simple printing error. The ad should have said "777 each" like one from several months earlier.

This isn't the first controversy over an advertised promotion. Earlier this year, Best Buy mistakenly advertised a 52-inch TV on its Web site for $9.99 and the ad was not honored.

Last year, prosecutors in Marin County accused Subway of not always giving customers the lowest advertised price. Subway agreed to a $645,000 settlement.

"Even if the store owner is unaware this is inaccurate, if it's likely to mislead an average consumer, then that still be can deceptive advertising," said Joe Ridout from Consumer Action.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs says it defines false advertising as false or misleading statements in advertising. It says the mistake in the Dominos ad does not appear to fall under that definition.

"But we do apologize for any confusion and inconvenience," said Shakai.

The bottom line in false advertising cases comes down to intent, and whether the intent was really to mislead the public.


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