A Free Lunch: The Oprah/KFC Chicken Dinner Coupon

It wasn't long after opening this morning that people began asking for help to print out a coupon for a free meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken that Oprah had offered on her show yesterday. The web site required us to first install a "coupon printer", no doubt a tasty bit of spyware. Next we were taken to a page that didn't load entirely, (one of those little "broken image" icons), but there was a link that said, "Click here to print coupon". Which, upon clicking, took us back to the "install coupon printer" page, with no coupon to show for it.

Colleague J. found a sort of bulletin warning that the coupon downloads had been troublesome. I thought to forewarn staff in Tech/Media and at the branches:

">>> BC 05/06/09 10:49 AM >>>
Oprah offered America a free coupon for a chicken dinner from KFC yesterday.

We've got people coming in to print out the coupon, but it's not working. Reportedly, the KFC servers are being hammered.


BC "

Twenty minutes later, BB at our south-side branch, where the coupon had been in great demand, replied with this:

">>> BB 5/6/2009 11:09 AM >>>
BLP apparently had the same problem. All coupons are printing out with "1234" as the last four digits of the bar code. KC called two KFC locations (N. Monroe, Paul Russell) in Tallahassee and was told they are NOT honoring the coupons. She was told that each coupon should have a unique barcode to be legitimate and if not, they will assume they have been photocopied which is not allowed.

"We have been printing out coupons this morning using the coupon printer which has to be downloaded and they are still coming out with the same barcode each time. K. also tried at home last night and got the same "1234" barcode. We are telling patrons at BLP today that they can print the coupons but that they may not be honored by KFC and that they will have to take that up with KFC (or Oprah).

I had another man who was able to fully load the "print coupon" page, but clicking "print coupon" still had no effect. Nothing came out of the printer. A "Having trouble printing coupon?" link led to a form to fill out, promising that "You will be contacted shortly". I explained that we'd been having problems, that likely the KFC servers were presently overburdened, that he might want to try later. I sent this reply to all before going to lunch:

">>> BC 05/06/09 11:53 AM >>>
Wow, thanks for that, B.! M. says people were printing them last night, but that at least one person reported back that the local KFC would not accept it.

"More problems as I write. Attempts to print the coupon don't go to the printer.


B. had been searching into the whole business with great diligence, and flashed back 12 minutes later with this:

">>> BB 5/6/2009 12:05 PM >>>
UPDATE: KFC on Paul Russell will give one piece of chicken (nothing else) to people with barcodes ending in 1234.

"KFC on Apalachee Pky is honoring all coupons.

"KFC on N. Monroe is not answering their phone.

"BLP has been able to print coupons with different barcodes this morning but they are keyed to the IP address so only one person per computer can print a coupon (period). If you try to print a second coupon from the same computer you get an error message says "sorry you've already printed your coupon". Then if you question it, it pulls up a form with the IP address already filled in and asks for you contact info. You then get a message says "you will be contacted". Tell eveyone to fill in Oprah's contact info on this form!

"The saga continues......"

A couple of hours later one of our volunteers figured out that you had to clear the browser history to print out multiple coupons from the same PC.

I imagine that this went on at public libraries around the country.

Hey Oprah, guess what? A lot of people who wanted that free meal ARE POOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T OWN COMPUTERS AND HAVE TO USE PUBLIC ACCESS PC'S.

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