Wednesday, May 23, 2007

No Purchase Necessary

I went to Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch today. I know, I know, with my cholesterol, that's the last place I should have gone, but I was craving some hot wings and surprisingly, KFC has some pretty decent wings. So there I was, sitting down with my meal, and looking around for something to read. I like having something to occupy my eyes while I eat meals, whether it be a tv show, video game, or the placemat on the tray of a fast-food restaurant. To my dismay KFC's placemat had nothing of relevance to read, so I grabbed the receipt to check it out, and lo and behold, a contest! Well not really a contest, it was one of those opinion survey things, where you call or log onto their site, let them know how your experience was, and possibly win $1,000 for your troubles. These "E-pinion" things seem to have become very popular lately, as if restaurant owners suddenly realized that 'Customer Satisfaction' is not just a empty promise scrawled across a mission statement. While reading the contest info and rules, I came across a frequently used term in contests: No Purchase Necessary. I found this quite odd, for a number of reasons. First, I would never have known about the survey unless I actually purchased something and found it on the back of the receipt; but more importantly, the whole point of the contest was to encourage patrons who are buying things to take a survey to rate the service received. If there was no transaction, no purchase and no interaction with the staff, how am I supposed to rate them on a service I didn't receive? What am I supposed to say if logging on to the site after NOT having made a purchase? Is there an entire column labeled "Not applicable" for those that just decided to take the survey for the hell of it, having never stepped into the restaurant?
Don't get me wrong, I understand the whole "No Purchase Necessary" thing is pretty standard on most contests, especially those that are instant winning types or those in which you need multiple pieces to win, such as the McDonald's Monopoly game. These also crack me up though, because along with the whole "No Purchase" thing they also state that you can "write in for a free gamepiece" or "free scratch-off game", as if they're really going to send a million-dollar winning gamepiece to some loser who couldn't even be bothered eating at their restaurant.
Anyway, as far as KFC's "" survey went, I decided to call them on it, wondering if maybe they had some kind of contingency for those who actually did walk in and out of the store without purchasing a single item. Sure enough, the first screen I get to: "Look on the front of your receipt and find the store number.... Enter the number in the space below exactly as it appears on the receipt." Hmmm... OK, kinda hard to do if one HAS no receipt, but whatever. As I was in fact lucky enough to have one, I punched in the number, answered 3 little questions, and was coldly told I was not this weeks winner, and to try again in six weeks. SIX WEEKS? The receipt confirms this: "Limit 1 entry every 6 weeks". I had to wonder how they plan on monitoring this, given I supplied absolutely no information about myself save for the 7-digit store number. I input the number again, and this time I get a much longer survey. Ah...filled it out and again was told I'm not $1,000 richer. Tried one more time, and their records showed I already filled out a survey from this machine. Ah ha, that explains that. But I'd still like to know how I'm supposed to participate without a purchase!