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Jul 26, 2013 07:10 AM

Clover -- not exactly free fries


My son stopped over at Clover yesterday afternoon to grab some of the "free" fries they announced they were giving away to celebrate their reopening after their salmonella outbreak. He was told he needed to buy something to get the fries. I understand the "free with purchase" gambit, but if that's the deal, Clover should have said so. My son, not a fan of deceptive advertising, walked out as a matter of principle. Clover lost a customer forever.

  1. He's going to boycott Clover forever because they wanted him to buy food? Okay.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Boston_Otter

      Sorry I totally understand the OPs son. You announce reopening an free fries as a celebration, then folks realize its a bait and switch... Not sure if it is a ban them for life offense, but not at all actually free fries.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        I whole hearted agree with OP and StriperGuy and would have walked out as well.


        1. re: StriperGuy

          Just a flat out dumb management decision, they should be rolling out the red carpet to get people back as loyal (and trusting customers).

          1. re: StriperGuy

            Clover was very clear on their site -- they state plainly, "must be purchasing food".

            It's not exactly Clover's fault if food blogs and local media picked it up as just FREE FRIES!! without that caveat.

            No, it's not a 'bait and switch', no, it's not a 'dumb management decision', and it's not worth telling everyone on Chowhound that your son's never eating there again.

            1. re: Boston_Otter

              Yeah, they did say it was with purchase. The sandwich board outside the Inman location (?) said with purchase. And their facebook page said with purchase. Maybe they could have been more clear, but I don't see it at a bait and switch.

              1. re: Boston_Otter

                Not clear here on the main site:

                Sure if you go over to events, you'd find out but why would you think of doing that?

                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  NO on the main page it just said Free Fries.

                  Fine print, or click through for more = Bait and switch

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    That's not what bait and switch means. Bait and switch means "We're out of that 99-dollar flat screen that's in our ad. Buy this $2500 one instead." Whether you think it's shady or not -- I don't -- it isn't bait and switch.

                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                      Thanks to our resident scholar... agreed, strickly speaking not bait and switch, just crappy deceptive marketing.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. Your son didn't read the website or the board outside the store, then.

                7 Replies
                1. re: LeoLioness

                  Here's what the website currently (7/26 @ 4PM) says:

                  "Free fry day on Thursday. Yeah, we’re coming back


                  Why is that walk-in empty? We threw everything out. Anything that could have possibly been contaminated. All surfaces sanitized multiple times. Environmental testing, all clean. All new food. All employees screened. New food safety procedures throughout entire company. Why? We want to have absolutely no doubt that our food is going to be delicious and safe.

                  Sorry guys about this past week or so. We’re coming back Thursday. All restaurants open. As many trucks as we can manage (we’re still waiting for all screening results of employees). We’ll give a full list tomorrow. We’re so excited to see you all. You’ve been amazing as we’ve worked through this."


                  Now, the statement: "FREE FRENCH FRIES FOR CUSTOMERS TO CELEBRATE." - might mean "with purchase" - if you limit "FOR CUSTOMERS" to mean that. But, it clearly doesn't say "WITH PURCHASE".

                  1. re: NE_Wombat

                    To me, customers at a restaurant are people who are buying something. Also, the sign out front said "with purchase".

                    I can't imagine getting so bent out of shape that a restaurant wouldn't give me free food, but others are free to, of course. Fight the good fight.

                    1. re: LeoLioness

                      I'm not "bent out of shape" in any way. I was simply showing what the web site actually says.

                      For example, another poster writes:
                      "Clover was very clear on their site -- they state plainly, "must be purchasing food"."

                      I just don't see that phrase on the web site.

                      1. re: NE_Wombat

                        Then you didn't go to the page that I posted that announced the FREE FRIES event.

                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                          I did, however, post the contents of the web page (the Home page) announcing said event - see, it's right there up-thread. It's actually more "clear" than the FaceBook posting, which reads:

                          "Clover Food Lab

                          We're not open today. All restaurants will open tomorrow (Thurs) with free coffee at breakfast, free fries at lunch. Trucks Monday.

                          Like · Comment · @cloverHSQ on Twitter · Share"

                      2. re: LeoLioness

                        "I can't imagine getting so bent out of shape that a restaurant wouldn't give me free food, but others are free to"

                        But do I have to buy something first before getting bent out of shape? :)

                        I guess Clover could have stated "with purchase" everywhere imaginable. Also, "customers" can be vague. If I walk into a store and, say, ask a server a question or peruse the menu, I could refer myself as a "customer" even thought I haven't bought anything yet. (Maybe you'd in turn suggest "potential customer"?)

                        The OP's reaction does seem overblown. I'd shrug and cut Clover some slack.

                      3. re: Gabatta

                        Thanks - I already read it a few days ago.

                        My issue wasn't about not getting free fries - as I didn't go and had no intention of going. My only issue was checking what was actually posted on their home page (and Facebook) against what some defenders were saying was a clear and unambitious statement that everything said "WITH PURCHASE". I found that simply not to be the case, and copied the web postings to that effect. The fact that management was deceptive regarding the impetus for closure is a separate matter.

                    2. If they say on Facebook, on the website, and on the board outside the store that a purchase is required, how could they be more clear? No snark there (ok, well maybe a little). Really would like to know what else you think they could have done. Along with not being a fan of deceptive of advertising, your son is also clearly not a fan of reading.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mkfisher

                        Or he just read the wrong thing. The metro paper and others just said "free fries" and left out the "with purchase".

                        I can see being annoyed and disappointed, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it a bait and switch and refusing to return.