Conclusions from the Best Buy $50 Coupon Fiasco

In case you missed it, Best Buy came out with a $50 discount coupon on $100+ purchase made with Mastercard this week. The terms of the coupon weren’t very restrictive, as one would expect, and they didn’t even exclude gift cards. The coupon was released by email, wasn’t personal, and wasn’t limited to any specific person or group of people. Anyone could use it provided they paid with Mastercard. And many did. People printed tons of copies of the coupon, and bought gift cards in thousands of dollars at 50% discount (you get $50 of a $100 purchase, so what do you do? Buy a $100 gift card for $50 many many times). Apparently even the Mastercard requirement wasn’t enforced everywhere and some people reported being able to use the coupon while paying cash.

Best Buy understood how deep the hole they dig to themselves was pretty quickly, and changed the terms of the coupon the same day it came out (limiting its validity to only that day, excluding gift cards, etc). But the damage has been done already. Some people got the original coupon and wanted to use it the next day, others were arguing at the cashiers‘, etc etc. The public opinion of Best Buy couldn’t be worse. Of course, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a lawsuit as well.

But what have we learned?

1. Big business can screw up. And often do, and this is just the latest example.

2. When business do screw up, they correct themselves quickly.

3. If you can use the screw up – use it fast. Don’t wait for the next day as they close the loophole by then.

4. Don’t be greedy. Those who stacked on tens and hundreds of giftcards cause the businesses not to come out with good deals – businesses know the deals will be abused. Everything is good in moderation.

5. If you see a deal that’s too good to be true – it probably is. If it is still true – go and get it while its available.

Happy shopping,

Your Little Adviser.


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