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Columbus Business First reports that a Kroger Holiday Thank You Bonus promotion was ten times as popular in 2011 as in 2010 - which created such enormous interest that some customers expressed frustration with “long lines, depleted merchandise and overwhelmed store staff.”

According to the story, “more than 90,000 customers crowded into seven Central Ohio Kroger Marketplace stores Thursday through Sunday to redeem their rewards,” compared to 9,000 customers who did the same thing a year ago.

The story says that one reason for the increase in popularity was a change in the terms of the promotion. Kroger “gave a percentage off customers’ bills in the first four years of the promotion, but changed the program to a cash credit this year. Customers accumulated a $10 credit for every $100 spent between Oct. 16 and Nov. 27, capped at $200 ... Shoppers couldn’t use the credit for food or alcohol, but could redeem it for much of Kroger Marketplace’s expanded merchandise selection, including holiday items, Ohio State University merchandise, toys, furniture and home goods.”

“We’ve gotten some complaints. We know there are some disgruntled customers,” said Jackie Siekmann, Kroger’s Central Ohio division spokeswoman, who added, “We wanted to thank our customers by giving them free stuff, but we didn’t satisfy everyone and we apologize ... We’ve run the program for five years, but this year was overwhelmingly popular, more than we predicted.”
KC's View:
It never is good when you over-promise and under-deliver. But when it happens, it is important to a) apologize quickly, b) figure out a way to make it up to disappointed shoppers, and c) don’t make the same mistake again.