The campaign –which goes on indefinitely and is present in most SM branches– reads, explicitly and quite self-explanatory, the words “Buy P500 YELLOW TAG (SM), win instant prize! Exclusive to Members.” So if you buy marked products amounting to 500 pesos and are a member, you get an instant prize. Simple.
Even though we bought almost all yellow tag products we could reasonably buy, to the extent of switching brands and whipping out calculators (e.g. instead of buying our usual Kopiko, we bought some Nescafe; and the sizes of most of our products were upsized to buy into this promotion), we still didn’t make the Php500 cut-off. In fact, our total only read Php426, which was incredibly suspicious.
Three of the many yellow tag products we bought alone already amounted to Php489: Nescafe (Php154.5) + Pride detergent powder (Php169.75) + Femme tissue rolls (Php164.75).
Clarifying with the cashier about the products, we ran the three outstanding samples through the register again. The receipt and machine also read damningly; out of the three marked products, only Nescafe was credited for the campaign. Why were the other two products not counted?
So naturally, we wanted to get the value we paid for, and most importantly get to the bottom of this confusing situation. Our concern was simple: we were sure we bought products amounting to more than Php500 –in fact probably reaching a thousand–, but the machine and our receipt doesn’t say the same.
What did various store representatives say?
- The cashier’s first reaction was to confuse everyone, including herself, about the mechanics of the promo. Though it clearly stated in the advertisements/posters that the products should total Php500+, the cashier tried to sell us that the products weren’t totalled as is, but rather were converted into points before being tallied. And we were like, what? Later on, of course, this belief was dismissed and clarified. (But it does raise some disbelief about the training these employees go to, or the quality of information dissemination within the company).
- The customer assistant mentioned something about “post-error” (sp?), or error with the computer system which doesn’t inspire confidence not only for the promo, but also for general merchandise. Who’s to say that other glitches don’t happen to the rest of the products we buy? Do we have to manually count them as well (as we had to do in this scenario)? Plus they began saying that the manager was absent, and really, is that the best excuse they could come up with? (And by this point we were in full responsible customer mode).
- Apparently not. A representative for the promo itself –the woman who mans the prize claiming booth– came up to the cashier and said that the product list for the promo may not be updated. And who’s fault is that? Imagine the number of consumers who buy a product just because of the yellow tag, never to actually realise that there is no discount or promo behind it! All because they weren’t meticulous in their inventory and tagging (even if you say this kind of non-stop promo is confusing).
- An information representative came up and then said the most funny thing when we showed him pictures proving that these products were, in fact, quite clearly and blatantly in the Yellow Tag aisle –he said that sometimes they just run out of white tags, and use the yellow tags instead! Wow. Talk about correct trade practices, and transparency, and common sense! That is exactly the kind of reasoning we could find acceptable.
It means that producers of rival brands, like Kopiko or Surf or Sanicare or Magnolia, are disenfranchised by these promos. Consumers like us, who are swayed by these promotions, turn away from their products to buy ones we could use to get points, even if these products are apparently not part of the promo in the first place! Even if these products didn’t pay or sign anything to be part of these promos, even if buying them doesn’t translate to compensation for these consumers, these promoted products gain more buyers. And the question is why.
It means many of the products we bought on the valid assumption that they will be credited for the promo were unaccounted for. It means we bought products we didn’t really prefer, or trust entirely, or even need, because we wanted to win an instant prize.
It means that hundreds of consumers could have gone through the same process and, because they were in a rush or didn’t look at their receipts or shopping experience critically, didn’t get their due prize! And this could be happening anywhere.
So, be wary of these promos!
My family went grocery shopping (well, we were only supposed to buy three things…) earlier in SM BF Parañaque. Because we shamelessly love subscribing to different promos for the fun of it, we took to the Yellow Tag campaign by choosing marked products over our usual choices as much as possible (even if the prize would probably just be a small pack of batteries). Imagine our surprise when we didn’t even reach the minimum amount needed for the promo when we probably bought. So… justice!
Time to file a complaint/customer feedback somewhere…