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New World MasterChef cookware promo labelled 'big con job', taken to disputes tribunal

Author
Jeremy Wilkinson,
Publish Date
Sun, 2 Jun 2024, 3:14pm
The MasterChef cookware promotion at New World meant shoppers could earn one sticker for every $20 spent in the store. Photo / Supplied
The MasterChef cookware promotion at New World meant shoppers could earn one sticker for every $20 spent in the store. Photo / Supplied

New World MasterChef cookware promo labelled 'big con job', taken to disputes tribunal

Author
Jeremy Wilkinson,
Publish Date
Sun, 2 Jun 2024, 3:14pm

A customer who had been saving up stickers in the hope of trading them for premium cookware as part of a supermarket giveaway was left empty-handed when the stores ran out of stock.

Unhappy with that result and claiming his consumer rights had been breached, he took the New World supermarket to the Disputes Tribunal in attempt to get a refund on the money he’d spent in the store.

The promotion, which ran for six months last year, meant shoppers could earn one sticker for every $20 they spent in the store. Those stickers could then be exchanged for a range of MasterChef-branded cookware.

However, the promotional scheme was labelled as a “con job” by some customers who complained the stores were running out of stock before the promotion came to an end.

The Commission Commission received more than 70 complaints from New World customers last year who had spent hundreds of dollars at the supermarkets in an attempt to earn stickers to trade in.

Foodstuffs, which owns New World, had similar issues with a Spiegelau glassware promotion in 2020 and a Smeg knife promotion in 2021 that prompted the company to assure customers it had done rigorous calculations on stock numbers before releasing the MasterChef range.

One customer, a 71-year-old pensioner, told the Herald last year that she’d had spent $1140, earning 57 promotional stickers, only to be told stocks had run out at three different stores.

“This was quite important to me,” she said, “this is just a big con job. [I am] absolutely disgusted with New World and won’t be likely to shop there in future.”

At least five customers told the Herald at the time that they had been doing extra shopping at New World so they could redeem the stickers in return for cookware, exacerbating their frustration at missing out.

After the promotion was over, one disgruntled customer took the supermarket chain to the Disputes Tribunal earlier this year after they too missed out on trading in their stickers.

The man, who was not named in the recently released ruling, claimed the company had misled him and the general public into shopping at New World and had engaged in “bait” advertising.

He claimed it was the third time he’d missed out on similar promotions run through New World supermarkets and he was seeking a refund of the $80 he’d spent as well as a donation to a charity of his choice.

A screenshot of New World's Masterchef cookware promotion.
A screenshot of New World's Masterchef cookware promotion.

However, tribunal referee Leonie Thompson dismissed the claim on the basis that the promotion was qualified with phrases such as “while stocks last” and “Don’t wait! Redeem as you go.”

She said these qualifiers were clear and visible on the branding material and collection books.

“Forecasting requirements is not an exact science and I find that [Foodstuffs] made a reasonable effort to forecast likely volumes so that it would have reasonably sufficient stock based on the evidence that it provided of its campaign planning,” Thompson said.

“Its forecast was successful to a significant degree in that stock was available for more than three months, only running out at the tail end of the promotion.”

Thompson said Foodstuffs had stopped issuing stickers four days before the promotion ended in November last year and it wasn’t reasonable for the company to obtain more stock given it had clearly signalled there was a limited supply.

In total the Commerce Commission received 73 complaints about New World supermarkets running out of the MasterChef cookware.

Its general manager of fair trading, Vanessa Horne, told NZME the commission was not investigating the promotion.

“We receive thousands of inquiries every year, and while we assess everything that we receive, we are unable to investigate everything,” she said.

“While we are not investigating New World for this promotion at this particular time, all information that is provided to the commission is valuable to feed into the commission’s work programme and future priorities.”

A spokesperson for Foodstuffs said the tribunal had made the right decision.

“The promotion back in 2023 was “while stocks last” and our teams went to great lengths to keep customers informed of the stock levels in-store, online and in media.

“Throughout the campaign, customers were also encouraged to redeem their stickers as soon as possible.”

Jeremy Wilkinson is an Open Justice reporter based in Manawatū covering courts and justice issues with an interest in tribunals. He has been a journalist for nearly a decade and has worked for NZME since 2022.

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