Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Frills "Will Be Beat"

Last Thursday (a week ago today) the local paper The Liberal hit my front doorstep.  I brought in the paper, pulled out the flyers and watched my wife devour the flyers looking for deals.  

One of the deals was from Zellers for any Peak Frean Cookies for $1.79 on Saturday and Sunday only.  So we headed over to Zellers to see if we could find any.  But it was not to be, they were sold out on Saturday by 10 A.M. (i.e. the shelves were bare).  

So later that day we took our Zellers flyer to Enzo's No Frills (Loblaws Companies Limited Store #770) on our regular grocery trip in order to price match the Peak Frean Cookies.  No Frills, on their website, throughout their stores and in their flyer say they "Won't Be Beat".  The details of this marketing program is on their flyers.  A copy of this legal jargon can be found here on the No Frills website.  

We finished our grocery shopping and at the cashier I sent my wife ahead with the flyer and two boxes of Peak Frean Cookies for the price match while I loaded the rest of the groceries onto the conveyor belt.  The cashier, as expected, called the Cashier Supervisor over to authorize the price match.  The Cashier Supervisor said that Zellers wasn't a competitor of No Frills. 

I took over the price match issue at this point with several pointed questions.  The Cashier Supervisor basically said that LCL Head Office sets who their competitors are and the details are in the flyer. I basically did a line by line deduction of the flyer legal jargon.  I inquired as well if Metro was a competitor. She said yes.  I asked if Wal-Mart was a competitor. She said yes.  I asked if it made sense that Wal-Mart is a major competitor of Zellers and yet her No Frills store refused to price match.  She said it was up to Head Office.

I inquired with the Cashier Supervisor where one could find a list of the competitors.  Her reply was that the competitors were listed on the No Frills website.

The Cashier Supervisor would obviously not bend, so I requested a meeting with Store Owner, Enzo Tatangelo, right away over this issue.  Enzo was paged but the call back, via the Cashier Supervisor, was that Enzo was in a meeting.  The Cashier Supervisor did receive authorization to price match one box of cookies but that the other one I would have to pay full price.  I replied I would take the one box but they could reshelve the other box as they refused to honour their price match. 

I also requested the Customer Service Line for No Frills at Loblaw Companies Limited Head Office.  This was provided. I called the number while leaving the store and the awesome LCL Head Office Customer Service line is not open on weekends.  I have to "call during regular business hours" (whatever that means) in order to speak to someone.  So I checked the No Frills website for "regular business hours" and called on Monday early in the morning.

I spoke to the Customer Service Representative and told her the story of what happened.  Her first reply was that they don't price match with Zellers and I was basically out of luck.  I replied that I was told by the Cashier Supervisor at Enzo's No Frills that there is supposedly a list of competitors on the No Frills Website for the "Won't Be Beat" guarantee.  I also said that for someone with two University degrees I couldn't find a definitive list.  The Customer Service Representative directed me, step by step, to their website on their Won't Be Beat.  She then had me select my store (i.e. Enzo's No Frills in Richmond Hill, Ontario) and then on the next screen had me click on a link in the "How We Choose Our Competitors."  Um...full stop right here.

The section "How we Choose Our Competitors" is used not for their flyer price matching guarantee.  It is for their "We Won't Be Beat" because we checked the prices at the other stores marketing campaign.  Sorry the list on the ensuing link doesn't work.  I pointed this out to the Customer Service Agent and also pointed out that the list of stores for price comparisons had geographical areas next to it and "Richmond Hill" was never mentioned.  In fact the closest place on the list was "Etobicoke, Ontario" thus No Frills in Richmond Hill, by her flawed logic, doesn't have a competitor in Richmond Hill then.  Thus, the No Frills Richmond Hill "Won't Be Beat" marketing campaign was worth less than the paper they printed their flyers and in store glossy cardboard signs on. The Customer Service Representative then promised a LCL Customer Service Manager would call me back within 48 hours and took down my address and phone number.
Well, it is now Thursday, over 48 hour later, and I finally received a voicemail in the morning at 10:39 A.M.  The Manager, Pauline, said:

 "Good Morning Mr. Suddard this is Pauline calling from No Frills Customer Relations. You called in regards to our Won't Be Beat program. The agent that you spoke to correctly informed you that Zellers is currently not part of our program currently.  It might be in the future but as of right now it is not part of our Won't Be Beat program.  You can go to...we do price match with stores like Food Basics, Price ChopperMetro, Foodland, Longos, Highland Farms, Freshco, Sobeys, and our Banner Stores. But as of right now we do not price match with Zellers.  If you need to speak with me please feel free to do so at 1-800-296-2332..."

Well I have no intention of calling back Pauline at No Frills Customer Relations.  Bottom line is the "Won't Be Beat" concept at No Frills is a sham.  I've been to Enzo's No Frills on two occasions. The first with the Concord Foods advertisement from The Liberal and the Cashier Supervisor at that time refused to price match claiming "Concord Foods is not a National Competitor".  The second time, as detailed above
with the Zellers flyer, they claimed it was because Zellers was not on their list approved by No Frills Head Office and that the list is on the website (which is not the case).  

As for the whole "Won't Be Beat" promise, as posted on the the No Frills Website, here is breakdown at how Enzo's No Frills and LCL Companies limited refused to honour their ""Won't Be Beat" promise using my experience with a current Zellers advertisement and a box of Peak Frean Cookies.

Title: "Won't Be Beat"
No Frills will not be beaten in by price by anyone!

* If a competitor offers a lower price on any item that we carry in our store simply show us an advertisement or receipt and we will sell you that item at the same price.
Zellers Store Number 321 (located at 9350 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill, Ontario) advertises via a flyer in The Liberal newspaper that Peak Frean Cookies on Saturday and Sunday are $1.79 then No Frills will match that price guaranteed!
We will match the competitor’s price only during the effective date of the competitor’s advertisement or within 7 days of the date of the receipt.
That with the Zellers flyer and 2 boxes of Peak Frean Cookies, both boxes would be rung through at the cheaper Zellers price by No Frills on the same Saturday that the Zellers flyer is valid for.
Item must be identical (defined as same brand, size and attributes) and for produce, meat and bakery items, we reserve the right to determine a comparable item.
Michael's belief: A same sized box of Peak Frean cookies as advertised in the Zellers flyer would also be the same price at No Frills.
‘Our major competitors’ and ‘geographical trade areas’ are determined solely by us and are based on a number of factors which can change from time to time.
That national chains with locations in the local area would be honoured.  Since there is a major Zellers store (a Canadian national chain of HBC) right across the street from Enzo's No Frills that this would be honoured as obviously this would be within a "geographical trade area".  Also, since Zellers, in their grocery section and advertisements has a lot of similar food, drug and grocery products (i.e. a measure of a number of factors) as No Frills that this would be deemed as "a competitor."  If no competitors are listed on the No Frills website (i.e. a clearly posted list of major competitors No Frills is willing to match prices with) then a customer has to assume which competitors No Frills will price match with.
Excludes ‘multi-buys’ (eg. 2 for $4); ‘spend x get x’; ‘Free’; and discounts obtained through loyalty programs.
Peak Freans were on sale as a single item at Zellers, thus, it No Frills could honour the same price (i.e. 1 box of Peak Freans at the same size would be the same price for the same size box at No Frills). 
In the end I learned something.  No Frills marketing campaign of "Won't Be Beat" is a SHAM!  What No Frills refuses to mention is that really their campaign should read: "We Won't Be Beat by a select few competitors who we refuse to provide a clearly publicly posted list of because they may beat us in price in the future and we wouldn't want to have to admit we have to keep this list a moving target due to several factors...Read: the list changes as it suits us and screw the consumer with a valid case". 
So in future, I will continue to flyer shop as normal.  If a competitor of No Frills has a deal on, like Zellers had with Peak Frean Cookies, I will gladly go to that store.  This decision is based on my experience with as, obviously, No Frills doesn't want to live up to their marketing campaign. 
As for the cookies, my wife and I returned to the Zellers location and picked up three boxes of cookies last Sunday at $1.79.    Why Zellers?  "Because the Lowest Price is the Law!"
And Congratulations Zellers, you proved that No Frills "Will Be Beat!"


  1. You should complain to the Advertising Standards Council. Clearly, there is false advertising going on here.

  2. Great post. The entire Loblaws organization appears to be completely inept. The surprising thing was you got a quick response, their usual way is not respond, or promise someone else will be in touch who never is.

    Early this year I went back to the loblaws near me after a 1.5 year boycott following staff accusing me of fraud/preventing me from leaving the store over trying to use a common coupon from, and having my complaint blown off by the manager and customer service. The last I heard from them they promised someone would call, then they ignored my inquiries pointing out a month had gone by and no one had called.

    On return I soon notice Loblaws was still incorrectly collecting sales tax contrary to rules that have been in place for decades when the customer uses manufacturer coupons for "Free" items (shouldn't be taxed).

    Everyone from their 1-800 number to their senior tax analyst to a VP agreed I was right and the store was wrong, and they would ensure it was fixed at that store (though I knew they were getting it wrong at most or all stores). Over a period of 5 months they repeatedly told me it was dealt with...without bothering to inform a single staffer at the specific store.

    This of course straddled the outrage over other stores getting the eco fee wrong, and loblaws itself being nailed int he media for improperly collecting tax in BC. But they kept collecting tax they shouldn't have even when I gave them the tax guides, even after the ON Rst office sent a rep to the store

    So I emailed every Loblaws exec I could find and told them I was going to send the story to Ellen Roseman at the Star if they continued to take no action. I got a call right away promising action.

    Last week, 6 weeks after that I got a short email purportedly from "Galen" saying they'd addressed the issue and I'd be hearing from a VP if he hadn't already called (of course, still haven't heard from him).

    Separately have tried to find out No Frills policy on internet coupons. Their 1-800 incorrectly told me no NO Frills or Loblaws will take them. Two attempts at using their webform got no response. A Loblaws exec who phoned me on the tax issue and offered to contact her direct did not respond at all. Perhaps after 6 weeks "Galen" will have the answer.

    There are many many complaints online about No Frills "wont be beat", either that they exclude major competitors, that individual stores change what stores they will match week to week,, or just the ridiculous time it takes when they do give in and do it. Seems to be a disconnect between corporate strategy and individual store owners. Best advice...take your flyers to walmart instead

  3. We are now almost 8 months since I first brought the improper collection of sales tax on "free item" manufacturer coupons at Loblaws(all abnners) to their attention, working my way up from 1-800 to top executives. And it continues.

    Oct 9 at a No Frills (that I was told almost 2 months ago would be contacted on the issue), not only have front staff and management never heard of the decades in existence rule that "free" items aren't taxed(as clearly correctly stated in Loblaws coupon policy document), but having the tax guide along with emails from senior Loblaws executives isn't enough to convince them as 6 staff including one who took my printouts into the office for examination continued to insist they always have to collect tax, despite there being no tax involved in that situation.

    They eventually gave in, but it is clear every single previous customer using a free or buy 1 get 1 free coupon had been overcharged, for years, at that store.

    Staff initially were certain they didn't take internet printed coupons, as the other local No Frills completely refused to. Luckily I had finally gotten a response from NO Frills VP (after a month of trying), that not only do No Frills stores accept internet printed coupon, the ones in ON always have.

  4. hah I work at that zellers, and my sister works at that no frills.

  5. At most you would have saved a dollar. Your time probably would have been better spent returning shopping carts to make up for that price difference.


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