Yesterday, many Chinese customers in Shanghai shared their anger against Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) online, posting one comment after another denouncing KFC on popular BBS discussion forums such as Shanghai’s KDS and Liba communities.
A coupon that was available online (one example) offered KFC’s normal 64 RMB Family Bucket meal for half price (32 RMB). The coupon was valid throughout the country and only on Tuesday yesterday. Many Shanghai residents printed this coupon and brought it to their local KFC where they were eventually rejected.
KFC staff in different stories offered different excuses and handled upset customers differently. This led to small protests in many KFC restaurants by customers who felt they were cheated and being lied to. Some customers refused to leave, demanding explanations and that KFC honor their promotion. Many used their mobile phones to communicate with other people online, to check if others were able to get the deal at other KFC restaurants. When some people reported that they got the deal, this only made everyone else more angry.
In the end, some restaurants honored the deal, some restaurants refused customers entirely, and other restaurants compromised by offering a substitute deal.
A statement was eventually posted by KFC on the coupon website, and many KFC stores then posted this statement in their stores while crowds continued waiting for a resolution:
Promotion Name: Statement regarding the online coupons.
Promotion Period: Long-term.
Promotion Area: Entire country.
Following KFC releasing the first round of promotion, it received a warm response from many netizens, but fake electronic coupons for the last two rounds [of the promotion] have already appeared on specific websites. Because of this, KFC has temporarily decided to stop the second and third round of promotions. All coupons relating to the second and third round of promotions currently in the market are all fake coupons, and KFC restaurants will not accept any of them. Any inconvenience this has brought to you, we ask for your understanding. With regards the follow-up promotion, we will post a notice on the KFC deal website later.
2010 April 6
For most people, the important point was not the savings but the principle of KFC not honoring their own promotion and handling customers in a dishonest and inconsistent way. Some customers waited and argued with KFC representatives for many hours before finally leaving empty-handed. Media and police were involved in some restaurants, but many Chinese openly suspected the reports and complaints will be harmonized.
Some customers complained that KFC has done this before, and that McDonald’s by comparison is much more honest with honoring their promotions.
Some videos from Nanjing (this did not only happen in Shanghai):
Some photos of a crowd of upset customers at the Hongqiao Road KFC in Shanghai, from NetEase:
UPDATE @ 19:00:
There are reports that there was violence at some KFCs around the country. KFC release a statement to the media stated that some stores accepting the coupons was their mistake. Many are saying that the 50% off coupon was not supposed to be released until 4pm but was released too early so KFC cancel the promotion at the last minute. This explains why some restaurants told customers that the coupon can only be used after 4pm when some people try to use it during lunch time.
Also, the name of the promotion is “秒杀” which is like “last minute” or “fight for something limited” (does anyone have a better translation?). Others say the promotion website originally say there was a limited amount and people must try to get the coupon at a certain time (after 4pm?). However, KFC make the mistake of allowing copies of the coupon to be used. This mean that the people who get the coupon even through the original promotion plan, they can still allow other people to use the coupon by giving them copies, so it can be much less “limited” than maybe KFC anticipated.
As many netizens reported, the chicken nugget coupon that the half price family bucket coupon was released with was accepted by restaurants yesterday. KFC says that is the “first round” coupon but the other coupons are second and third round coupons that are “fake”. But customers do not believe KFC that they are “fake”, only that KFC is saying this after they unexpectedly cancel the promotion, maybe because the coupon was leaked too early.
UPDATE @ 23:00:
From China Daily:
One of the irked consumers was Chen Tingting, an office worker in Nanjing.
“For four days from Tuesday, KFC says it will provide a limited number of 50-percent-discount e-coupons for some of its major products. Let’s download the coupons as quickly as possible,” Chen had told her office colleagues.
Information about the promotion was on KFC’s “Super Tuesday” service on Taobao.com, China’s largest e-commerce website.
The promotion, dubbed a “one-second act,” was set for 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday and involved 100 e-coupons for each “act.”
Chen Tingting said she read the instructions for the coupons carefully and printed them.
According to the instructions, the e-coupon could be used after it is printed; copies of coupons are also valid; and the coupons can be used from April 6 to 9.
But KFC rejected the coupons Chen printed and copied, even as her schoolmate, Ma Yun, received the discount.
After KFC rejected several customers, crowds besieged KFC restaurants, and KFC staff were forced to call police to help disperse the crowds at restaurants in Beijing, Nanjing and Nanchang, capital city of eastern China’s Jiangxi Province, among others cities.
According to a investigation by KFC, some third-party websites offered downloads of the e-coupons in the second and third “acts.” KFC had not authorized these websites to offer the coupons, and KFC decided to reject all coupons from the two “acts,” the company said.
Just came back from the Jufeng Road KFC…
Will post a photos soon. If by three days later I am not satisfied [with KFC's response], I will post MV .
Comments from Liba:
[Waited/argued from] 6:30 until 10:30, four hours, so exhausting.
KFC must apologize to all Shanghai residents! And at the minimum compensate every household with one Expo Family Bucket!
This time, KFC did not handle things properly~
巨峰路肯德基金 [the original poster]:
Here is the receipt of a customer who was able to purchase [with this coupon] this afternoon, and purchased two [buckets].
110 [the police] must’ve been busy today, having to visit almost every store at least once.
McDonald’s is laughing.
I salute the LZ, because only through brother’s [your] efforts are we able to get more fair treatment.
It is not about 32 kuai, it is about a business not having credibility. If [KFC] could not take responsibility [for their promotion] then it should not have recklessly offered [the promotion], or are they treating Shanghai people as idiots!
I don’t expect everyone to all boycott KFC, as Chinese people are always impossible to unite, but this incident will definitely drive away a lot of customers~~
Even though it is a small matter, it will become big. In China, businesses can change the rules of the game at will, and the consumers are the weaker/disadvantaged party.
I support everyone, they must offer an explanation, because if everyone stays silent this time, next time the victim might be yourself.
Comments from KDS:
A coworker just bought one~
But the coworkers that went later were rejected~
My company’s coworkers all called to lodge complaints~
Everyone work together and lodge complaints~~Haha~
Already called, either way it is a bunch of excuses [from KFC].
This time KFC messed up, once again giving McDonald’s an opportunity.
Since copies are valid, why are they talking about fake coupons and not fake coupons…?
Just like everyone says, if [KFC] can’t honor it, then don’t offer it!
KFC this time is truly behaving foolishly.
Since it was already publicly announced, then it should be honored/fulfilled. Even if there are a lot of losses, can KFC being so large not afford to lose this little amount? Even if you sell at a loss, you will earn a lot of respect/credibility from the people. But behaving like this now you will be despised.
Moreover, how much can you possibly lose, there weren’t that many distributed.
No big deal [for KFC], and I’m not just spewing nonsense!
Tomorrow, they will still have crowds of people going to their stores to eat their junk food!
This is our Chinese people’s integrity!
This junk food, has harmed so many Chinese children.
KFC’s website is down, unable to get on, haha, this time they’ve met big misfortune!
Harmonious country, including myself, are all losers. Them [KFC] mistreating/bullying customers, if they want to play you, they will…who made us so easy to mistreat/bully?
If everyone had the guts, then never go to KFC ever again, hehe…
I never go, and now I despise them even more…if you want to eat a burger, then go buy one to eat at Burger King or Subway…
They’ve ruined their brand! Even if [the bucket] is half price, so what! What’s wrong with [honoring it in exchange for] making a good impression [on customers]! It’s even better than making an advertisement! There’s something wrong with their brains!
Force out KFC, no integrity!!! Causing my wife to have gone there for no reason!!!
[It's a] credibility problem…Had you initially included limitations when printing [the coupon], then wouldn’t this entire incident have been avoided? Why print on the coupon that it can be printed and copied…to play games with consumers?
Maybe this coupon is something KFC intentionally leaked out. Simply to create hype/publicity.
Rationally looking at the problem, KFC probably made a mistake.
What more, as a company, it should shoulder [its mistake], as profit is a small thing but perception/image is a big thing.
It is because I saw that copies are valid that I thought there wouldn’t be a problem and so went to go buy after getting off work, resulting in me spending two hours round-trip. I was really angry. [They] said they canceled it 20 minutes before [I got there]. KFC’s decision-makers must have shit for brains. I’m not going to eat at KFC anymore. At most, I’ll just use their restroom, wash my hands.
Update: Add some videos.
2010 April 8 Update: Kai shares his Tuesday KFC experience on china/divide.
U.S. fast food giant KFC sent an open letter to Chinese consumers on April 12 apologizing for claims the company made that customers’ coupons were “fake.”
KFC saw widespread criticism in China this past week after abruptly canceling an Internet promotion, which resulted in massive protests at some stores.
In the letter published yesterday, KFC said it did not anticipate the large number of invalid e-coupons, which appeared before the start of the promotional activity. The company admitted after the provisional cancellation of activities that it did not respond properly and in some restaurants there was differential treatment.
Kai actually did a good job guessing and explaining what had happened in English, even before KFC acknowledged it. I am impressed. A key point is KFC saying the coupons were “fake” but they were not.
Half-price chicken. chinaSMACK personals.