If you shop at Publix, you have probably noticed all the Publix cumulative rebate offers including the Publix Stocking Spree. Publix has renewed its Stocking Spree promotion for 2017 with a hidden and deceptive change from 2016’s promotion.
The program is advertised as you spend $50 on a specific list of products over the course of the year, submit copies of your receipts, and Publix will send you a $10 gift card. What is nice about this promotion is that it’s a one or many type promotion, so you don’t have to make all the purchases on one tape and you can do the promotion up to 12 times during the year. The qualifying products are selected items from P&G, PepsiCo, Kraft, and Mondelez.
While this sounds like a great promotion, those of us who have been on the other side and designed these offers, understand that it is designed to maximize breakage which basically means they want you to buy products thinking you are going to get the rebate and for one reason or another you never actually enjoy the benefits. We’ll cover all this another time, but there is something very important that you need to know right now.
For 2017, Publix is taking your actual spend on qualifying products on each receipt and rounding it down to the nearest whole dollar through a points based-system. This might not sound like a big deal, but look at it this way. Imagine that the only qualifying product you buy is a $2.98 tube of Crest Toothpaste which you purchase every two weeks. So 24 times during the rebate year, you’ve spent $2.98 for a total of $71.52 and you should have easily earned the $10 gift card. However, when you submit these receips, Publix rounds the $2.98 down to $2 each time such that in their eyes you have only spent a total of $48, and Publix owes you nothing at all.
This matters legally because the Publix Stocking Spree promotion materials specifically use the language spend $50 with no mention of rounding down or “points”. We will leave this to our lawyer friends to determine if this is worthy of class action, but at least people need to know how the program is really structured. Just think about how many items have prices that end in $.95 or $.99 and you can see how this could impact you.
We really hope Publix will do the right thing and revise the fulfillment of this offer to match how the program is described in their marketing materials. Plus they should retroactively credit all of the submitted receipts that have already been rounded down.
UPDATE – as of March 27th, Publix has started showing the full value on new receipts, rather than a rounded down value. The points are still rounded down, so we are hopeful Publix will continue to revise this program to give people the credit promised in the marketing materials.