When a “$200 off any car in stock” coupon came the way of Maine dad Chris Shields, he collected 200 more coupons and thought he was onto a winner.
Topic: Promotion marketing
Who: Chris Shields and "Portsmouth Toyota", New Hampshire
When: February 2003
Chris Shields of Elliot, Maine, spotted a newspaper coupon offering $200 off any car in stock at Toyota of Portsmouth in New Hampshire. The coupon had an expiration date, but no other stated restrictions on its use. So Chris then went out and bought over 200 more copies of the newspaper containing the coupon, clipped out the coupons and popped out to Toyota of Portsmouth to buy a $41,000 car using the coupons. The dealer refused, saying only a single $200 rebate was available against any single car. Shields could find no such restriction on the coupon and took the matter up with his local Attorney General's Office. They were not prepared to take up the cudgels on his behalf, but Shields is undaunted and is now planning to pursue the matter by way of a civil claim through the courts. Commentators give Shields very limited prospects, but in front of a judge and jury, who can tell?
Why this matters:
In the UK of course, such a case would not be judged by a judge and jury, but by a judge alone. We suspect the outcome, either side of the Atlantic, would be a win for the dealer, but the dealer could have made life much simpler by making the position absolutely clear on the face of the coupon itself.
Our thanks to Edward Chansky of Levett, Rockwood PC, Westport, Connecticut and to Ed Kabak of the Promotion Marketing Association in New York for the facts behind this report.