Say No to Coupons

(Be sure to read the UPDATE at the bottom of this page!)

The stage was set.  Goliath, a giant of a man whose spear alone weighed 600 shekels of iron, was calling out the youngest son of Jesse.  David, a mere sheep herder, didn’t stand a chance against Goliath.  At least that’s what everyone thought.

“Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.  And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.  Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand.” 1 Samuel 17:48-50 NASB

A modern-day version of this historical event just played out in New York state.  Michaels Stores Inc. has agreed to enter into a $1.8 million settlement for deceptive advertising practices with regards to their custom framing coupons.  As a small, locally owned, independent custom frame shop, we’ve had to combat this “coupon” mentality for years.  Now the courts have affirmed exactly what we’ve told our clients…that Michaels not only broke the law by advertising a sale for more than 104 consecutive weeks, but they “duped consumers into thinking they were receiving huge discounts, when in fact, they were simply paying the regular store price,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.

For the countless “Davids” of the world, the small independent, honest, hardworking frame shops, this is BIG news.  Michaels (Goliath) has wielded their mighty coupon sword for too long.  We didn’t stand a chance of combating the coupon mentality with our limited resources until the New York Attorney General decided to intervene on behalf of the consumer.  For the record, we’ve notified the Montana Attorney General and asked if they can also get involved on a local level.

So is Goliath really dead?  Not hardly.  But we think he’s got a pretty nasty headache.  Our hope is that this will cause these mega-box stores to reflect on their moral and ethical standing in the communities in which they exist and start flying right like the rest of us.  If it doesn’t, it will confirm that management at Michaels is more than willing to continue to take advantage of their customers through deceptive business practices.  We’re not holding our breath.

UPDATE: MAY 6, 2015

OTTAWA - Arts and crafts store Michaels of Canada has been fined $3.5 million after an investigation by the federal Competition Bureau into price advertising for custom and ready-made framing.

The competition bureau reviewed allegations that between January 2011 and December 2014, Michaels did not ensure that the frames were offered for sale in good faith before promoting them at discounts.

The bureau says Michaels co-operated in the investigation and has agreed to pay the penalty.

The federal agency says the company has also agreed to a 10-year consent agreement under which it will ensure that its price claims for all products will comply with the ordinary selling price provisions of the Competition Act.



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