When is a BOGO not a BOGO?
February 2, 2010 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Why does my complimentary dinner (*with purchase of a full price dinner) coupon insist that it "is not buy one get one free"?

I recently received a coupon what would appear to be a BOGO dinner at a restaurant. The wording of the coupon is "Enjoy your complimentary dinner! *with purchase of a full price dinner", but then the fine print ends by saying "This certificate is not a buy one get one free." Is there some difference between "buy one, get one" and "get one, if you buy one"? Is there some financial reason? Tax reason? Do high end steakhouses not lower themselves to offering the same coupons as burger joints? What gives?
posted by niles to Grab Bag (30 answers total)
I think the implication is that when you buy a meal, your dining companion eats free--rather than you buy a meal and then are you yourself are entitled to a free meal at a later time.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:15 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: You may have to pay tax and/or a gratuity on the free meal, so it's not 100% free. Just a thought.
posted by cabingirl at 5:17 PM on February 2, 2010

Perhaps it's related to the restaurant wanting to avoid situations where you purchase a really cheap meal and then demand the T-Bone steak for free. Although there is usually language to that effect on such coupons as well. Is there any other qualifying language on the coupon beside what you've provided us?
posted by friendlyjuan at 5:33 PM on February 2, 2010

Does it say the complimentary dinner can or cannot be redeemed at the time of purchase of the full price dinner? Maybe you have to buy a dinner and then they issue you a voucher for a later date. Also, where I work, people are still charged the tax on the full price of the menu item that they either got discounted for free.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:35 PM on February 2, 2010

That is kinda odd wording. Maybe because other drinks, sides, or appetizers aren't included. The one I used tonight at a restaurant wasn't very clear about which meals the coupon applied to so the waitress checked and gave us the maximum discount it allowed. A mexican place I frequent is very specific about which entrees their coupon applies to.
posted by pappy at 5:42 PM on February 2, 2010

Can you call the restaurant and ask? Seems simpler than speculating.
posted by milarepa at 5:45 PM on February 2, 2010

I worked in restaurants (including two high-end steakhouses) and never saw language like that used. The only way I think that it isn't a buy one, get one free meal is that they issue you a voucher for a future meal. The only motivation I'd see in that instance is you'd have to go twice and considering most people eat with someone, they get three paid dinners for your free one.
posted by Hiker at 5:55 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: Perhaps to make it clear that the coupon can not be used to buy one at half price?
posted by Morrigan at 6:00 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

It makes a point of saying "full price dinner", so my guess is that you can't use it to buy a cup of soup and get another soup for free. You have to buy whatever they call a "full price dinner".
posted by gjc at 6:11 PM on February 2, 2010

Response by poster: The entire text of the coupon is
Enjoy your complimentary dinner!*
*With the purchase of a full price dinner

This certificate entitles you to one complimentary dinner only. ONE CERTIFICATE PERMITTED PER TABLE AND CANNOT BE COMBINED WITH ANY OTHER OFFERS. NOT VALID ON RESTAURANT HOLIDAYS. VALID DINNER ONLY. NOT VALID ON SATURDAYS. Alcoholic and/or non-alcoholic beverages, desserts, tax, gratuity, salad only dinner and discounted children prices NOT INCLUDED. Alterations to this certificate make it null and void. No cash value. Offer expires 30 days from date sent. Please present this certificate at the time of arrival to the host/hostess. If you have any further questions about this certificate please contact your local Texas de Brazil. This certificate is not a buy one get one free.
So yes, I do have to pay tax. Is that the only reason it isn't buy one, get one? The end result seems to be the same.
posted by niles at 6:11 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: Where is this (or is it a national chain)? I'm pretty sure that in California at least, a customer can't be made to buy a certain number of items in order to get some free or cheaper. On supermarket shelves here it often says "buy one get one free", but if I only take one item to the checkout I get it for half price - the retailer want me to buy more, but they can't make me.

I think Morrigan is right, and it's to avoid half price dinners, in your jurisdiction or elsewhere.
posted by crabintheocean at 6:14 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: When I worked at a coffee shops, we were told that "two for one" coupons only applied if a person bought a drink and then gave the free one to a friend -- you couldn't ask for a latté and then take the second one to go, or drink two by yourself. The purpose of those coupons was to get two people in the door: they might buy pastries or sandwiches, or they might be coming to the shop for the first time and want to come back.
posted by OLechat at 6:24 PM on February 2, 2010

This is so you can bring a guest - mmmm, Texas de Brazil....
posted by jkaczor at 6:41 PM on February 2, 2010

All in all it is not an elegantly worded offer. It really IS a buy one get one free, regardless of the disclaimer. It's odd that it doesn't specify, as these things usually do, that you pay for the higher-priced meal and get the cheaper one free. But I think Morrigan and Crabinocean have it. Even if there's not a law that says "buy one get one" means you can get it half price, stating that it isn't just avoids the argument.
posted by beagle at 6:42 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: I think it implies that you get a free meal, BUT - it's their choice what the meal is.

(but then again it doesn't say that explicitly either)

Sorta like "buy one meal, and you get this pasta dish free"
posted by trialex at 6:58 PM on February 2, 2010

Sounds to me like a) "complimentary" and "free" do not mean the same thing to them, or b) there is some city or other regulation on BOGO coupons and they are trying to get around it, or c) trialex's scenario.
posted by ctmf at 7:07 PM on February 2, 2010

If I were wearing my lawyer hat (IANALAIDNAHALH) I would suggest that "buy one get one free" implies that the two dinners will be of relatively equivalent value, where a "complimentary" meal means a meal that is free, but is not relatively equivalent in value. That is, your full price dinner might be a lobster dinner, but your complimentary dinner might come from a limited selection of low price dinners, or may even be a single predefined meal option.
posted by davejay at 7:39 PM on February 2, 2010

Or, um, exactly what trialex said, more concisely.
posted by davejay at 7:40 PM on February 2, 2010

Or some crazy person made a stink over some bizarre interpretation of "buy one get one free" and they went overboard trying to clarify.
posted by desuetude at 7:49 PM on February 2, 2010

The difference between that coupon and BOGO is basically that that coupon is limited to one free meal.

In a typical buy one get one offer, if you buy two, you get two free, buy three, get three free and so on. This coupon does not do that -- it's a limit of one free meal per table, whether there is one meal purchased or nine, you still only get one free.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:10 PM on February 2, 2010

jacquilynne beat me to it. My interpretation of the offer was basically they're going overboard telling you that it "doesn't scale." I.e., you can't buy 2, get 2.

Which is stupid, because I wouldn't necessarily assume that at a restaurant -- it's not a grocery store -- and they could have just said "limit one per table," but maybe they've had problems with argumentative people in the past.

The mental gymnastics some people will do to try and get free stuff is amazing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:21 PM on February 2, 2010

Best answer: The legal thing where BOGO must be translated as "buy one for half off" is the most likely explanation. They already write that there is only one certificate to be used per table, so that's not it.
posted by kathrineg at 10:35 PM on February 2, 2010

Maybe because management fears that the the waitstaff would like to be tipped as if for two meals but it would be déclassé to write "tip your waiter as if two meals were paid for you scnhook" so they are left writing a statement that no one understands?
posted by fydfyd at 11:11 PM on February 2, 2010

"Full price" is the hook here, folks. Maybe they run specials, so your $9.99 doesn't get you $19.99 second dinner. Maybe they meant 'must be of equal or lesser value' which would make more sense.
posted by fixedgear at 2:25 AM on February 3, 2010

Sounds to me like either they will tell you what the free meal is, or will give you a list of possible complimentary meals.

So it is not "buy one get one free" because you don't get a complimentary meal identical to what you ordered. You get SOME complimentary meal, possibly from a shortlist that they provide.

And you pay tax on it.
posted by molecicco at 2:42 AM on February 3, 2010

To extend on what Kadin2048 said: I ate dinner Monday night with a party of seven. We were served at two tables for four which were pushed together. If we had such a coupon that said "limit one per table", would we have been entitled to two free dinners?
posted by madcaptenor at 5:44 AM on February 3, 2010

No. A table in this sense means 'a group of people dining together'.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:35 AM on February 3, 2010

This may be only tangentially related, but I know in some areas bars can't have happy hour specials that are 2-for-1, they can only have drinks that are half price. Maybe there is a similar restriction on this company for some reason?

Occam's razor suggests that whoever wrote the offer just isn't very good at it.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:13 AM on February 3, 2010

Here's the same coupon being auctioned on e-bay. It has the identical text. It says you can call and ask if you have any questions, so why not call?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:37 PM on February 3, 2010

Response by poster: Well, I have never heard of the "buy one, get one" equaling half price, but I'm guessing that's what the awkward wording is all about. I'll have to look into that. We have sales around here that say "2 for $5", and I can get 1 for $2.50, but the idea of half off is new to me.
Also a good point that tax/gratuity is not included.

Here's the same coupon being auctioned on e-bay. It has the identical text.

Wow..that guy is all but printing money by gaming the email newsletter system.
posted by niles at 8:53 PM on February 4, 2010

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