Verizon won’t honor its “Triple Play” gift card offer

Aruna Gabalis/Shutterstock
Aruna Gabalis/Shutterstock
Steve Schuster signs up for Verizon service after it offers a bonus of $200 in prepaid Visa gift cards. But the plastic is never delivered, and now Verizon is refusing to pay. What now?

Question: I recently accepted a job offer in the Washington area and established new phone, cable and Internet service with Verizon. Suffice it to say I’ve had a laundry list of problems. All have been resolved but one.

I was offered $200 in prepaid Visa gift cards for signing up for my Verizon service. Now, a Verizon representative says because of the discounted plan I have, I’m not eligible for the gift cards.

The offer, which I received from a printed advertisement, never had any exclusions. I signed up for the Triple Play Package and signed a 24-month agreement, as the offer requires.

I’ve gone back and forth with different departments and supervisors at Verizon and no one will help. They refused to send anything about this in writing. I’d welcome any advice you might have on getting Verizon to honor their initial offer. — Steve Schuster, Washington

Answer: The Triple Play offer, which bundles TV, phone and Internet, looks like a pretty good deal if you need all three services. At the time I reviewed the language, Verizon appears to have upped the offer to a $300 Visa card. Here’s the fine print.

The relevant language? “To qualify for the Verizon Visa Prepaid Card, you must purchase a qualifying bundle and keep it in service for 60 days with no past due balances. After that 60 day period, your prepaid card will be mailed to you within 2-4 weeks,” it says.

And that’s all.

Up to this point, most of your communication with Verizon had been by phone. After you contacted me, you started a paper trail by emailing Verizon directly through its website. The company doesn’t make it easy to send a quick email. You have to navigate the branches of a decision tree, which can be frustrating. I understand why you’d rather just pick up the phone.

By the way, if you ever need to go above someone’s head at Verizon, the company lists its executives online. Email addresses are not too difficult to guess — they’re or If your query is about Verizon Wireless, the domain is

After reviewing your correspondence, here’s what I think might have happened: You responded to a print ad which appeared to have vague language in the terms, leading you to believe the gift card would be yours as soon as you signed up for your “Triple Play” package. The actual terms online said otherwise.

In fact, you must keep the service for at least 60 days to receive the cards, and only certain packages qualify. It seems that yours didn’t.

I contacted Verizon on your behalf. A few weeks later, you also phoned the company to check on the status of your gift card. A representative told you that while the print ad may have been imprecise, the wording on Verizon’s website was accurate, and suggested you should have consulted before signing up for your service. She said your package didn’t qualify for the gift cards.

Still, Verizon agreed to update its print ad to prevent any further confusion and sent you the promised Visa card.

Did Verizon do enough to resolve Steve Schuster's complaint?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Cybrsk8r

    “the wording on Verizon’s website was accurate, and suggested you should have consulted before signing up for your service.”

    In 4-point type, no doubt.

  • PsyGuy

    This is fraud, you cant offer a customer one set of terms, regardless of how vague they are and then direct the consumer to a more restrictive set of terms. Is their argument really that as consumers, regardless of what were sold we have an obligation to hunt down all other possible promotions and apply the most restrictive terms to any and all offers regardless of what those promotions claim? These are separate offers, with their own terms and Verizon is responsible for each offer separate from any other offer. Does anyone actually believe that Verizon, was some noob small business doing it on their own for the first time. That language and promotional materials went through dozens of professional hands and eyes before it ever got into the hand of the consumer.

  • Rebecca

    I’m not quite understanding one thing. He signed up for the service and didn’t ask questions about the gift card or receive any paperwork (via email or written) on how to receive the cards? Whenever I have received one of these, you have to fill out a form, attach a receipt, etc. The way I read the story, he saw the promotion in an ad and just sat back and waited to receive it in the mail. Only when he didn’t did he start calling to ask about it. This is something you need to ask about upfront, not wait for it to magically appear in the mail.

  • LFH0

    So Verizon claims that Mr. Schuster should have gone to Verizon’s internet website, and read the fine-print, before signing up with Verizon to be able to use is internet service. Sounds much like having to pass a bill in Congress before being able to find out what’s in the bill!

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Alas, its neither fraud nor illegal. Personally, I think its a crummy way to operate though.

    Let me explain. The print ad states that you must purchase a “qualifying” bundle. Verizon is well within its rights to define what a qualifying bundle is. It’s the OPs responsibility to ascertain what a qualifying bundle is.

    I agree that Verizon knew exactly what it was doing. The ad operates to snare the unwary. A more ethical, consumer friendly approach would have been to disclose what a qualifying bundle is, e.g. $150/month minimum.

    Although to be fair to Verizon, this is fairly standard verbiage in many promotions that I see.

  • Cat

    Verizon certainly made one thing clear- they are going to take advantage of you every chance they get. I would be cutting ties to them and demanding a full refund of anything you have paid them.

  • Monica Lynn Kennedy

    We signed up for one of these deals when we moved back in February. We called them to cancel our old service and sign up for Fios at our new place. The agent on the phone was very clear about what package we needed in order to get the gift card. We received the card sometime between the first and second payments. I’m not always happy with Verizon, but when it came to their gift card deal, I thought it was pretty clear. Sorry to hear the OP had problems.

  • DChamp


  • EdB

    According to the OP, the ad he responded to said there was no restrictions. It was the wording to the new offer for $300 that Chris provided that had the “qualifying” bundle clause. However, I believe that the original one also had that but the OP didn’t see it as a restriction. But going to the link Chris supplied, there is no such restriction to the qualifying bundle for either the Visa or Amazon card.

    But then that brings up another question. If the ad states, I’m just guessing at the wording, “Sign up for Triple play and receive a $300 prepaid Visa Card” yet the Triple play bundle being advertised is not a qualifying bundle, wouldn’t that be false advertisement? They’re saying if you sign up for the bundle being advertised you get the card, but then throw in a disclaimer that the bundle doesn’t apply? Seems really confusing.

  • EdB

    Chris, I was reading the page you linked to, but could not find the “qualifying” bundle you said was in there. A search of the page and the popup for detail could not find the line you quoted. Could they have changed the page again?

  • MarkKelling

    I’m sure he had internet wherever he lived before he moved to Washington. Or he could have gone to a coffee shop or somewhere like that to get access.

    But still no reason to offer potential customers something but then say you have to go somewhere else to find out if you qualify.

  • MarkKelling

    I signed up for a deal with my phone company over the internet which included a gift card I was unaware of. The card arrived in the promised 4 – 6 week time frame (closer to 6 than 4 weeks). I had to do nothing, fill out no paperwork, provide no documentation. The card just showed up. And it worked without issue.

  • EdB

    Yeah. He probably did have Internet before he moved, but my guess is the ad he responded to was local to his new area. And to require someone to access additional terms by going to someplace like an internet cafe where he would have to pay is unreasonable. As for the coffee shop, what if he didn’t have a mobile device to connect with? But if we take the OP’s word that there were no restrictions listed in the ad, why would he even need to go look anywhere for restrictions?

  • MarkKelling

    I looked also and read every pop up and zoomed in so I could clearly read the small print. Nothing about minimum service bundle price was indicated other than the $89.99 package is mentioned (although the + taxes fees equip. charges and an “RSN” fee of unspecified amounts bothers me).

    Could it be that because of the “laundry list of problems” the OP states he encountered, Verizon has given him discounts and rebates on his service that exceed the promised gift card value and they feel that this has replaced the need to send the card?

  • MarkKelling

    Agreed. Since I am one of those people who plans out stuff like this way in advance, it did not initially occur to me that he would not have taken care of at least the initial sign up before moving in.

    But even the online ad that Chris points us to has no such restrictions about the minimum bundle requirements I can find other than “FiOS not available in all areas” and that a customer must sign up for the 24 month contract. There are lots of terms and conditions specified about redeeming the Amazon card offered, but none on the Visa card. Could it be that the OP is in one of those areas where FiOS is “not available” and that is why he did not get the gift card even though he signed up for the indicated package?

  • BobK

    I had a similar issue. Verizon was offering $200 gift cards if you switched to FIOS triple play. I did and they balked on the gift card as well. They said it was because I previously had a land line with them. This was a question I specifically asked when signing up and the sales staff assure me I qualified for the offer. I ended up filing a complaint with the VA Attorneys General. A day later I got a call from Verizon bending over backwards to make it right. So file a complaint with your state’s Attorneys General and Utility Commission.

  • jim6555

    About eight months ago, I signed up for a similar promotion from Verizon FIOS. There were no special forms to fill out or receipts to attach during the sign-up process. Verizon was very clear about the fact that it could take up to 90 days to receive the gift card. They did send an email after 60 days saying that the gift card order was being processed. I received the card in the mail about two weeks after that.

    During the on-line sign-up process, I tried bundling various combinations of internet speed and cable packages. Each possibility qualified for the gift card. The only thing that I found that would not qualify was choosing a phone plan where one has to pay long distance charges for all phone calls out of the local area. That choice didn’t make sense because the plan that allows free calling to all 50 states and Canada was less expensive than the restricted plan. Could the OP have chosen the restricted long distance plan and therefore invalidated his rebate?

  • Darksideblues42

    I guess I am a bit of a dinosaur in today’s mobile world, but I think the coffee shop would have an issue if I carried my 150 pounds of Desktop computer and display into the establishment and asked “Where can I set up?” As, until recently, I did not have a Laptop at all.

    As far as Verizon goes, I signed up for the Triple Play Bundle, and was issued a $500 gift card. I was a Comcast customer for years, but when they started discussing internet usage caps, and then not counting the entertainment options through their web portal as part of the cap, (shutting out Netflix and Hulu and the like) I thought this was anti-competitive behavior and took my business elsewhere.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Pizza Hut does a similar thing. “CARRYOUT ONLY. $10 ANY PIZZA” Then, in small print: “LIMITED TIME OFFER. ADDITIONAL CHARGE FOR EXTRA CHEESE. Not valid on
    Stuffed Crust. Product availability, prices, participation may vary.”

    So “ANY” Pizza doesn’t include extra cheese or stuffed crust.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the deal and have used it often but wording like this should be illegal. Fine print should be to specify unpleasant terms and even gotchas to an offer but when it negates the language in the banner offer itself, that’s almost like fraud (I say almost because apparently this is legal somehow.)

    Let’s face it in that we all like to take advantage, in a literal sense, of deals that prey upon the unwary. We like buying airline tickets in advance and sticking it to the business or last minute traveler who has no choice but to pay a ridiculous sum. We like getting black friday specials because the stores offer them as loss leaders to lure unwary customers in the door who then buy a ton of high markup items. But we frown upon those who take it too far as we should. The worst are those “extreme couponers” on that show. My wife wants them thrown into jail.

  • Lindabator

    Why? They aren’t doing anything illegal, and not getting anything anyone else cannot get if they do the same. If I had the time to plan how to get $1800 worth of groceries for $15 buck, I sure would!

  • EdB

    I don’t think it should matter if they gave him the service for free because of the problems he had. He still filled the requirements for getting the card so should get it. I can see where a business could think that way, but I would say the business would be wrong.

  • sense

    Why go through all the hoops just to find out the qualifying plan….just say it straight forward. that way both could win , a new customer and the gift certificate.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The fine print says other terms and conditions apply. That’s where the qualifying plan restriction presumably would be found.

    My guess is that Verizon has different levels of Triple Play service, i.e. different speeds, different channel line-up, etc. You would have to get the Triple Play at a certain level in order to qualify.

    Now, if they only had one Triple Play plan, then yes, there might be some false advertising (from a legal perspective) going on.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I agree. But they didn’t ask me. :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I looked at the language a little closer. The term qualifying doesn’t appear. However, there are multiple promotions and the one with the gift card is $89 and has a link. Did the OP somehow find Triple Play at under $89.00 per month?

  • EdB

    Those other terms and conditions were on the use of the card, not the qualifications for getting the card.

  • Michael__K

    It’s an inaccurate claim. Either it’s “any pizza” or it’s not “any pizza”.

    If you draw customers in with one claim only to completely contradict that claim later, then that is luring customers with deceit.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That was my first thought as well. But two things. One, there really aren’t any restrictions on the usage, nor are any restrictions disclosed anywhere
    The other is that the section is under card fulfillment, whatever that means.

  • EdB

    I think she was referring to the extreme couponers statement, not the pizza one.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Ah, yes. But saying it’s only good for Y and Z plans upfront immediately turns off everybody who would be interested in Plan X. This is their whole marketing plan: They know that they’ll grab the attention of some customers with this offer who won’t qualify but they’re hoping they’ll still sign up.

  • EdB

    I don’t have the copy in front of me to see, but I remember the wording to be something like “use of the card” followed by the link pointing to a terms and conditions on amazon and visa websites. I doubt those terms would have anything to do with the Verizon deal.

    Being under the card fulfillment section is just stating how to get the card and once you have it saying, “here is the card. We don’t control it. Check with the issuer for any restrictions.”

  • Joe_D_Messina

    In my experience, you sometimes aren’t asked anything as long as it’s a company who is certain they have your proper address.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    It’s splitting hairs, but their “any” pizza means any toppings and any size. The stuffed crust is a different category of pizza, at least in their view. And charges for extra cheese are standard fare. Not saying it is necessarily right, but they’re not the first to do this and most consumers know what they’re saying.

  • Michael__K

    That wasn’t me (making a statement about extreme couponers). Sorry if I misread Lindabator’s post and replied on the wrong topic.

  • EdB

    I corrected my post. Sorry about that.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The link say “Details” which takes pop up, where you see

    …Card Fulfillment Details: To receive the Gift Card or Visa prepaid card, you must have service for 60 days with no past-due balance….

    So my take is that this refers to the requirements to obtain the card, including how to fulfill the promotion terms.

  • EdB

    Okay. If I remember right, that popup mentions to refer to the bottom of the page. It is in these footnotes where the card use terms link is at.

    But the bottom line is, that ad Chris linked to does not have the qualifying bundle language. I’m pretty sure the original one didn’t either.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I agree it’s not illegal. I was talking in principle. For starters, most of the extreme couponers are shown in the beginning with their “stash”. It’s more like hoarding: 200 sticks of deodorant that they got with freebie coupon and no limit. Sure, I could do that and have maybe gotten 6 but that’s all I’d need essentially for years. Otherwise, they’ll just go bad. It breaks my heart to see such waste. Then they abuse the system causing stores to start to create all kinds of complicated limitations that are already present on the show. In a year or two, this kind of nonsense will be prohibited by store policy. Finally, they do this mostly to chains that don’t seem very large and have generous coupon policies. So I feel bad that they’re harming more vulnerable businesses.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Joe, it’s one thing to split hairs and it’s another thing to try to redefine words: What part of “Any” don’t you understand? If a car dealer said: “Any car on the lot for $500 off” and you saw a Mercedes and they said: “Well, that’s a different category of car”, well, sure it is but it’s still a CAR. A stuffed crust pizza is still a PIZZA.

    I think most customers get what they’re saying after they order, like me, and see the extra charge for stuffed crust is 2 bucks so no big deal. It’s still a great deal. But come on, ANY is a pretty broad term that’s hard to “split” don’t you think?

  • EdB

    Its just like their liberal use of the word “Free”. Free, just pay an outrageous shipping and handling charge.

  • TiaMa

    He could have gone to the local public library. Most public libraries will allow some form of guest access.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I’ve love to offer to do a pickup. I have friends in many cities and I could say, sure, I’ll take advantage of that (extreme couponing style) and have a buddy come on by and collect a hundred of ’em from the loading dock.

  • EdB

    Yeah. Would love to do that too. But they would say something like they will knock $1 off for the shipping cost but you still have to pay the handling cost since they have to bring it out to the dock.

  • Rebecca

    I stand corrected. I just wouldn’t have guessed that. I would still ask at time of signup if you’re looking for it though.

  • Lindabator

    There IS no harm done – the stores get full credit for the coupons, so no monetary losses (in fact big purchases like theirs bump up the store’s numbers) – and since only 3% of all coupons are even cashed, the companies lose nothing, as they already figure the loss into their profit margins – and quite a few of these folks DONATE the excess to good causes, so win-win-win.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I’ll leave this open to other readers to answer, but it’s my suspicion that stores eat (figuratively) the losses on “double” and “triple” coupons as loss leaders. I don’t think manufacturers pay them double/triple coupon rates otherwise why wouldn’t all of them be doing it? Hmmm? Regarding percentage of coupons cashed: It’s not like these coupons had actual value they “wrote off”. (Do you know what a “write off” is?) Where did you get the 3% number from exactly? They print millions of them in newspapers and perhaps only a thousand use them. We’re talking a fraction of a percent here. Finally, some donate to good causes but most on the show are hoarding.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    It may be highly unethical, but not illegal. Any contract or promotion must be read in its entirety. The promoter is permitted to define, make exclusions, or limit words.

    That’s how advertisers get away with “See details” or “restrictions may apply”, and other such language.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The real question in my mind is that the offer states the cost at $89.00. There is a link to purchase it. Did the OP find a cheaper offer elsewhere. I wouldn’t expect the promotion is I found a cheaper price.

    In fact, a very strong legal argument could be made that only the $89 price is per se the only qualifying bundle.

  • EdB

    The way I was reading the story was the OP responded to a printed ad and called Verizon to sign up. This is where the problem may have happened. If the OP told the operator they wanted the deal in the ad, but also said they wanted some premium channels for example, the operator may have signed him up for a non-qualifying package because it would be cheaper, not knowing it may disqualify for the card.

  • Darksideblues42

    Point is that all relevant details are supposed to be part of the offer. One should not have to go out of their way to “qualify” if there was no verbiage stating that there were significantly different qualification details on the deal than what was depicted on the ad or commercial.

  • Michael__K

    Generally speaking, defining words to add precision is a good thing. The English language can be horribly ambiguous. I don’t object to “restrictions apply” language either if the restrictions are readily accessible and don’t fundamentally mock and contradict the prior assertions.

    But if it’s legal to re-define “yes” to mean “no” or “any” to mean “just this one” — and if it’s legal to say “restrictions MAY apply” when there is no practical way to determine if and when any restrictions really DO apply (and what those are) — then maybe laws ought to change to better reflect the ethics of these situations…

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Fortunately, that’s not the law.

    As far as defining words, they still have to be reasonable given the circumstances, including the sophistication of the likely buyer. A prime example is superlatives. All, 100%, never, etc, are fine as long as they are mostly correct. Consider someone asking. “Carver, do you ride horses?” I would say no, although I rode one in 1992. But “No” is more correct that “Yes”. So with that realization, the government permits some amount of leeway and puffery.

    As far as “restrictions may apply”, it is the purchaser’s obligation to either learn what those restrictions are, or purchase something blindly. Either way, its the consumer’s choice. Actually, I opt for choice three, don’t purchase.

  • LZ126

    Did anyone else notice the irony in the Verizon banner ad appearing at the top of this page and in the right-side bar? Unfortunately, none of them is offering the Triple Play deal. :-)

  • Michael__K

    “Do you ride horses?” is an ambiguous question. “Have you ever ridden a horse?” is a precise question. And even then, I agree, it’s perfectly understandable if you forget about the one time you rode a horse 20 years ago. The advertising in question isn’t an honest mistake — they know full well they don’t mean ‘any.’

    The problem with putting the burden on the purchaser to learn what “restrictions may apply” is that the merchant is free to not divulge the restrictions or claim ignorance and then make up restrictions after the fact. And it’s not the consumer’s choice anymore if this tactic is successful and businesses widely adopt it in a race to the bottom.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Then you missed the point. It’s not about one’s memory, it merely an example of how there is latitude when speaking in superlatives or absolutes. It’s long settled that disclaimers may limit superlatives as long as the customer is not mislead after reading the entire ad. That’s why the Pizza Hut ad is perfectly legal. When reading the ad you know that you won’t get cheese for $10.00. It may not be grammatically correct, but it’s not ultimately misleading.

    Regarding restrictions, no the merchant cannot make up restrictions after the fact. If the restrictions of a specific purchase cannot be obtained by the customer it’s not part of the deal. The problem comes when the customer doesn’t ask or makes assumptions. This is the current state of the law that we have lived reasonably well for the past 40 years.

  • Michael__K

    You may not be able to get ANY (literally) pizzas for $10. Because “product availability, prices, participation may vary.” See, they fooled you too ;-)

    Not a huge deal in this case; you don’t need a prepaid subscription to order pizza and can take your business elsewhere. But when I look I notice that sort of language everywhere for things that require advance payment/commitment. Have you ever asked about unspecified “additional restrictions [that] may apply” and gotten a genuine answer? On the few occasions I’ve thought it was prudent to ask, it becomes an Abbott/Costello routine: “You can find the details on our website.” “Your website terms say to inquire about additional restrictions that may apply.” “Look again on our website…”

    Or my favorite: “what’s your email? I’ll send the restrictions to you.” [5 minutes later… I receive a copy of the exact same terms that say “please inquire about additional restrictions that may apply.”]

  • AH

    the operator should have known the terms of the offer, especially if the OP had specifically requested it. and then again, if the OP wanted any changes or additions to the offer, i would think that most people would ask if all of this new package still qualifies for the promotion.

  • AH

    he was establishing new service in a different state. i presume he already had internet access at his then-current location.

  • AH

    look just above where it says “FIOS Triple Play-2 year Agreement” in bold. it’s there.
    verizon has been offering these gift cards for at least 4 years (when i signed up with them), but back then, it was only a $100 gift card.

    i got my card and i had a long laundry list of problems – starting with the fact that they emailed me the friday night they were supposed to have connected service here for my saturday move, telling me that they couldn’t connect service as there was already someone living here with service! not! turned out they had a connection mislabeled at the box down the street.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’ve never had any problems, of course I have an advantage in that I read, write, and litigate contracts for a living. I’ve always been able to find the full terms.

    If I’m not satisfied with the disclosures I just walk away ;)

  • LFH0

    Businesses can either take the road where they say, “Let’s try and fair and square and deal with prospective customers in an honest and respectful manner,” or the other road where they say, “Let’s try and trick the customer out of as money as possible, but we’ll have have to make sure our lawyers confirm that we’re not breaking any laws in the process.” It would be nice if companies would take that high road, but it seems that many, possibly including Verizon, have decided that the low road is more profitable.

    Oftentimes, dealing with someone you know and trust, and not reducing the agreement to writing, can lead to a better outcome than dealing with an anonymous person from a monolithic entity where everything has been put writing. This is the essence of good character.

  • EdB

    It’s not there on the page I am looking at…

    I was directed to that page from the link Christ posted.

    I am looking for the disclaimer that the card is only available on qualifying bundles.

  • Michael__K

    I’ve mentioned some specific travel-related examples in these comments recently:

    1) The (lack of any) terms which disclose that hotels may overbook and may walk guests.

    2) Best price guarantees — the “Complete Terms” will either say that the guarantee can be revoked without notice or that additional (unavailable) restrictions may exist.

    I’m not singling out any vendors because I haven’t found any that don’t have these gaps. If you can show us any examples of “full terms” without these gaps/hedges — for any vendor(s) — that would be quite helpful. It doesn’t help to walk away if there’s no alternative that’s any different.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I agree with the first part. Thats why I called it crummy. But I always put things in writing because good honest people may have a different understanding of the agreement and those are nastiest because of the additional perception of breach of trust

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    By law industry standards are incorporated in contracts unless contrary to the other terms in the contract. That of course benefits the merchant. But sophisticated consumers (say flyertalkers ) use that to their advantage

    Not familiar with the undisclosed additional but available restriction language, anecdotally the BRE is crap so I’ve never used it.

    Editted: I checked Starwoods and Marriott’s BRG. Both have the language about cancelling, changing, etc at any time. That is appropriate for this type of contract. Any contract between a company and the general public is likely to have such language. Neither states that there are additional unspecified terms.

    One thing, the revoke without notice is not related to individuals. but rather the public at large. So Marriott and/or Starwood could decide tomorrow that they are not honoring the BRG. But as long as the guarantee is in force, it is part of the contract.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I just stumbled on this. A few example of the incorporation by reference that I mentioned before. They are not specific to overbooking, but merely examples of terms that may not find its way into your email reservation confirmation but still form part of your contract.
    Property Reservations General Terms.

    In addition to the other terms and conditions specified on this Site regarding our Properties, the following general terms and conditions apply to reservations booked on this Site:
    Terms Incorporated by Reference.

    In addition to these Terms, You agree to the terms, conditions, and notices specified at the following links, which are hereby incorporated into this Agreement:
    When booking a hotel online you are entitled to the best so we have created your hotel booking bill of rights. Rights that ensure you’re treated like a person, not a commodity. Rights you get — but only when you book directly with Marriott.

  • Michael__K

    Thanks. I don’t see anything sneaky or underhanded about those because the references are either direct links or clear instructions on how to find location-specific policies (like cancellation terms) which these chains clearly present anyway at the time one makes a reservation.

    When you brought up incorporation by reference before, I thought you were suggesting that the subject of overbooking, etc. was referred to in some sneaky, cryptic fashion with no do-it-yourself means (at least for lay people) to access the details.

  • Michael__K

    Good to know. I take it those industry standards aren’t generally documented for industry outsiders to access.

    Hilton is one chain that used to have the undisclosed additional restrictions language in their “complete terms.” Their current version seems to include only the revoke without notice language. I always wondered that about the revoke without notice: If it’s only for the public at large, wouldn’t they have to modify their terms (i.e. provide notice) to indicate that the BRG program no longer exists? And honor claims prior to that point?

    Expedia explicitly claims the right to revoke their BRG from individuals without any reason:

    Expedia reserves the right in its sole discretion to modify or discontinue the Best Price Guarantee or to restrict its availability to any person, at any time, for any or no reason, and without prior notice or liability to you.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Carver, it’s one thing to state the law (and educate us here, thanks)
    but it’s another defend and even champion it when you had just
    acknowledged it’s often highly unethical. Putting “ANY” in all caps and
    then putting in a smaller font (but NOT these) is highly misleading.
    In some cases, the reader won’t see the fine print since most TV’s can’t
    display the fonts or they are not displayed long enough (I have a lot
    of fun doing a freeze-frame for the Rent-A-Center ads and seeing how
    they rip off the poor, unwary souls who pay $25 a week for an $800 TV
    for three years!) But at least in that case, you know the payments will
    be happening for a while.)

    Let’s address your ride
    horses question. As Michael K points out, it’s an ambiguous question
    that demands clarification. Clearly, the best answer would be no since
    you are not currently engaged in riding horses since it’s stated in the
    present tense.

    This is a great example of how the
    legal profession has sanctioned poor ethics on the part of businesses
    via complicated advertising and legalese and this way they get their
    money from writing up such swill and then again when they represent
    consumers who sue companies for crossing the gray line.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Carver, we agree with you that you are an acknowledged authority (Judge Dredd voice here) on The Law. However, in matters of ethics… that’s something we can quibble over. You’re making a lawyerly argument on behalf of the law or at least how it’s implemented at this time. Equating use of the word “ANY” to then mean “Not everything” later is NOT the same as merely grammatically incorrect. It’s literally wrong. Consider the Pizza Hut language. They didn’t even bother saying “except”. They said “ANY” and then later excluded a stuffed crust pizza and a topping (extra cheese. Extra cheese goes on top, right?)

    If they had said “ANY Pizza” and then in smaller font “except for…”, then you’d have a point. Unethical but legal. But saying one thing in part of an agreement and something else in another is ambiguous. Without the except for clause clearly missing, both statements are equally valid, at least on a literal level.

    Even the “price and participation may vary”, which is an F you clause that means the ad means nothing is also literally ambiguous. If the local pizza hut in, say, Manhattan wants to make their “ANY” deal $20, that’s understood for obvious reasons but in that case, it still means “ANY” since the ANY clause was not connected to the “stuffed crust not included” clause with an except or “but” term. They’re literally separate. But whether a judge who graduated from law school and wrote up such double meaning sentences would agree with that is another matter (especially from a “pro per” such as myself).

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Actually industry standards are fairly easy to find. Just obtain the documentation from any major trade representative. Like if you want to know travel agencies standards you’d look to IATA or similar. For attorneys the state bar or ABA, for doctors, the AMA, etc.

    As far as Expedia goes, I don’t think they could arbitrarily decide after the fact not to honor the BRG arbitrarily or capriciously. That would make the contract illusory. I think (emphasis on the word think), that they could internally decide, that they’re not honoring any claims from you, but they’d need to document the files that this decision was made before any current BRG claim was filed.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Well, I’m not interested in getting into a debate about the legal profession and legal ethics. What I will say is that I think you are confusing the points

    The legal issue is whether the consumer is confused. When Pizza hut states that ANY Pizza for $10, but clearly and unambiguous states that it excludes the cheese topping, no one is likely to be confused. That’s why that advertisement is legal.

    As to whether its ethical or not, reasonable minds can differ. I’m not championing one side or the other, but explaining why these advertisements are well within the bounds of the law.

    The horse question is an example of how both you and Michael read into the question the word “currently”, although its not there. How long ago would I have had to stop riding horses, a year, 2 years, 5 years? How about if I rode horses regularly up until yesterday and have sworn off horses ever again? The point is that legally, the courts give a lot of leeway when using superlatives or absolutes, because of their inherent imprecision.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what exactly your point it.

    Are you disputing the state of the law and how a judge would interpret the superlatives used in the ads such as the word “All”. Good luck.

    Just an an FYI, the “price and participation may vary”, analysis is conducted incorrectly. Legal analysis must be conducted within a legal framework. Specifically, what are the legal requirements for such a disclaimer to be valid. You can’t just parse the words grammatically.

    For example, a hot dog company can advertise its hot dogs as 100% beef yet it contains parts from flies and rats. Is it literally 100% beef. Nope, but the ad still legal.

    Are you discussing the ethics of the ad. That’s a legitimate point of discussion. I have not seen the ad so I am going by what is presented here. The general question for me is, is the consumer mislead? Is someone going to go the PIzza Hut and believe they can buy one item when they cannot. That’s my main concern.

    And by the way, thank you for removing the various thinly veiled ad hominems that were present in the original post. The backhanded attacks were unwarranted.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Ok, legal ethics and profession aside, let’s get back to the point at
    hand: The extra cheese topping exclusion does confuse the issue since
    even if there’s extra cheese on the pizza, it’s STILL a pizza, right?
    Granted, if you were to ask for gold coins on your pizza that would
    probably not qualify as “any pizza” extra cheese doesn’t make it no
    longer a pizza and “stuffed crust” is one of the pizzas they offer.

    So certainly, putting the word ANY in all caps, er, ALL CAPS and then
    adding in a smaller font later that it doesn’t really mean any is
    certainly not “clear” and “unambiguous.” You’re digging yourself into a
    deeper hole here. I can agree with you that it’s legal (based upon your knowledge) but adding clear and unambiguous under those conditions is a stretch.

    Regarding what a “reasonable mind” would think. This is an specious appeal to authority. Another is “well within the bounds of the law”. This type of advertisement is highly misleading but falls short of outright fraud because it’s included in (most) of their advertisements. In addition, whose going to sue over a lousy $2? However, those mobile phone and credit card contracts where a few bucks are swiped but there’s a clear paper trail for ambulance chasing trial lawyers to get million dollar fees and punitive settlements happen all the time. It’s like a child selling lemonaid without a license. They’re not well within the law, but generally outside of legal interest.

    Your horse riding analogy falls flat of making your point because the very question is ambiguous literally and therefore has a lot of leeway. “Do you ride horses” can be said no in a number of ways. You don’t ride two horses at once. You’re not riding any now. It can also be answered more elaborately than yes or no. However, “ANY pizza” is pretty cut and dried. Have you rode ANY horses in your lifetime? Is that tough to answer?

  • EdB

    How did we end up talking about riding horses that eat pizzas while watching cable TV and surfing the net?

    Okay. Now I’m hungry for some pizza.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Pardon me, but was that a legitimate question or a rhetorical claim? I’d suspect the latter due to the absence of a question mark. But here is my answer regardless: It depends certainly upon the judge and not even you can speak for all of them.

    Your (better) example than horseplay is the 100% beef. I like it because this is more close to what we’re discussing. Certainly, it can’t be 100% beef based upon construction (hot dogs require casings, salt, pepper, etc.) It’s literally not beef squeezed into a shape of a hot dog and thrown into a package. But… in the context of the ad it’s reasonable that there may be impurities beyond reasonable control and that the claim refers to not mixing with other kinds of meat or fillers.

    However, your example shows quite clearly a contrast between “100% all beef” versus “ALL pizzas”. A “reasonable” consumer won’t interpret all pizzas to mean topped with caviar and golf leaf which is why Pizza Hut puts in later the disclaimer to exclude stuffed and extra cheese. All Pizzas EXCEPT X is not so glamorous so they hid a negation in later text so consumers would miss it.

    Let’s work even further with the dogs. Forget the flies and rats. What if they added chicken byproducts and pork and said, hey, 100% doesn’t mean anything since the ingredients are listed on the back, right?

    At that point, it’s a free-for-all race for the bottom as another poster pointed out. And yes, sometimes it can be frustrating to see these legal shenanigans played out and why I wrote the ad-hominems but deleted them because it wasn’t productive. I have friends who are attorneys and they tell me some interesting stories about how they easily achieved things that other attorneys said were impossible. In general, they acknowledge that the easiest thing for an attorney to say is that something is impossible or difficult to prove in a court of law. But throw some money their way (a nice fat credit card company) and a 2 line text in a cardholder agreement that’s ambiguous about interest rate charged when a payment is made can produce gold. Do you disagree?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Once again, your legal arguments result from a lack of understanding

    In order

    An extra cheese exclusion is fairly clear and unambiguous.You can get any pizza with any topping(s) except extra cheese for $10.00. How is that confusing, unless you contort common verbiage? Would you have been happy if an asterisk had been affixed to the word ANY.

    Of course it makes it clear and unambiguous. PIzza Hut sells pizzas with the certain variations (size, toppings, crust type). You can mix and match except for two parameters extra cheese topping (and I believe you said cheese stuffed crusts). This is not rocket science.

    Appealing to reasonable mind is critical. That’s the legal standard in analyzing most things. (“Reasonably prudent person”) This is first year law student stuff. That’s why you cannot make a legal argument, you need to have an understanding of the basics framework. I’m probably equally ignorant about your field.

    I was hoping that the vitriol that you spewed towards attorneys in the previously, and gratefully, edited post was a one off momentary lapse and wouldn’t be revisited. Obviously hope sprang eternal in the mind of this fool. I guess I should not be surprises as you’ve already implied that we are scum, unethical, etc.

    If consumers were being mislead, either a watchdog group or a class action law firm would have taken these on to generate millions in fees. If you think the ads are not ethical, that is certainly your prerogative.

    As far as the analogy, I note that you had to change to question I posed to make your point. You understood my analogy so the point has been made.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Funny thing: I LIKE Pizza Hut pizza even though my co-workers are purists who claim that Pizza Hut uses frozen dough while other shops make their fresh. I still think it’s a good deal to get a full pizza for 10 bucks even if you have to pay extra for the stuffed crust.

  • EdB

    I dislike pizza hut for other reasons. But what is really funny is my boss bought lunch for everyone today. Costco pizza and hotdogs. :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow


    Lets stick with the hot dog

    It all comes down to what a reasonable person is likely to perceive or what the government already permits

    I would not expect a hot dog company to purposely add other meats, but I do understand that other things might inadvertently get in there. So it all comes down to consumer expectation. Incidentally, hey don’t list the inadvertent parts.

    The listing on the back is probably the best point yet. Here’s my take. Adding other meats to fundamentally contrary to 100% beef claim.

    Pizza hut has what 50 toppings I guess. I hate their Pizza so I wouldn’t know. Excluding one, and disclosing it, isn’t a big deal. If they were to exclude an entire class of toppings, or a large number, then I would have a problem

    But in modern American society, we understand that there are exclusions and that Ads are just snap shots, and I don’t expect that anyone is going to be surprised, unless the disclaimer is unreadable, which is a different issue.

    The last part about your attorney friends is unclear so I’ll pass on commenting

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I already explained how the ad was worded and styled that made it
    misleading and ambiguous. If it was written as you had just said it, we
    wouldn’t be having this discussion. I attacked the legal profession due to the manner that you lecture about reasonable person standard and imply that you and judges you agree with define it rather than us. Implying that I’m not a reasonable person is condescending to say the least. You’re right about not knowing my field. All experts like to play games with non-experts (such as auto mechanics. Did you get that undercoating?) but that doesn’t stop even non-experts from picking out stuff that goes too far.

    I think you went too far here.

    Simply because a watchdog group or class action wasn’t filed doesn’t prove that the issue isn’t actionable. Your opinion is not that of a judge on
    this case. I respect your background but that doesn’t mean you’re always right by default. All pizzas means.. all pizzas on the menu. It’s not that hard to figure out.

    And yes, they should have placed a damn star by the “ALL”. But like I said, they aren’t getting called on it. Doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t though. I personally think the deal was great enough to take despite the caveat. So perhaps that’s why they’re getting away with it. But if they were a car dealership trying an “ALL CARS” deal and there were hundreds of dollars involved…

    They’d be busted in a hot New York minute!

  • PolishKnightUSA

    My wife LOVES Costco pizza and hotdogs. The best deal around!

    I love the character Lucky on King of the Hill who scored a hundred grand for a slip-and-fall at Costco that required him to fuse a few of his vertebrae. That’s why they call him Lucky!

  • PolishKnightUSA

    So would it be ok to claim 100% and then add 10% pork if that’s just one single ingredient and it’s listed somewhere on the package? The consumer needs to read the WHOLE package, right? (Oh, and if they’re in a religion that forbids pork, that’s their problem.) (Side observation: Remember when McD’s disclosed that their fries were boiled in oil that included where they boiled pork products and beef and vegetarians were outraged? McD’s was right to say they never marketed their fries as vegetarian.)

    The hot dog example is great because 100% and ANY are pretty clear and similar. Kudos.

    Here’s my take (and hopefully working this through to an understanding): The pork enhanced “beef” hot dog would get called to court quickly because of the religious objections above while the Pizza Hut “ANY” pizza is being cut loose because it’s not a big deal and most consumers, like me, are ok with it. But if the stakes were higher, I think they’d lose. Disregard this mere “reasonable person” whose not an attorney viewpoint if you like.

    Fair enough? OK to adjourn for the weekend?

  • Michael__K

    Where would I find written industry standards on hotel overbooking and compensation for getting walked? :)

    Thanks for your thoughts on that Expedia provision — I appreciate it!

  • JewelEyed

    You’re telling me he didn’t have a smart phone, an internet cafe, a library, or a community center available to him? Really? What year do you think it is?

  • JewelEyed


  • JewelEyed

    Whether one is pissed about this or not, the moral of the story is we should read the details or not take a deal.

  • JewelEyed

    Did you notice the part where many of these people donate stuff that is way too much for their “stash” to charitable organizations? I think corporations can afford to lose some of their massive profits to go to people who really need help.

  • EdB

    Why should anyone have to go to such lengths to find out restrictions to an offer, especially a printed one?

  • EdB

    What about a library? Why should anyone have to go to a library to find out restrictions to an offer? And again, if you read all the other posts, the current ads for the offers do not list any restrictions so why should he even of thought to have to go look for any?

  • EdB

    And did you not notice the part where most just hoard the stuff?

  • JewelEyed

    I suppose not. I tend not to watch that show on purpose, it’s not exactly exciting. I saw part of an episode in a waiting room somewhere. But people hoard stuff, whether it’s garbage or not. Hoarders the TV show should make this clear. And corporations are not hurting on the backs of the few people who actually do this.

  • JewelEyed

    Did I say the company was right? No. The point is that I feel there’s no real excuse for not doing your homework before you sign up for a long-term contract.

  • JewelEyed

    I’m not sure why you feel the need to pick a fight with me when the basic premise of SOMEONE ELSE’s statement was faulty. That’s all I was pointing out.

  • EdB

    Because the basic premises of YOUR statement is also faulty.

  • EdB

    “Did I say the company was right?” Where did that come from? No one implied you said the company was right. You “Library” response however implied the OP was wrong for not going out of their way to discover non-disclosed restrictions.

  • JewelEyed

    How? All I was suggesting is that he had internet access, whereas the original poster is arguing that he had no access available at all.

  • JewelEyed

    I guess the basic issue here is that I don’t consider doing the research before you buy something to be out of one’s way. It’s noted that the website isn’t clear, which is absolutely the company’s fault and they should be taken to task for that. But I can’t imagine not even looking. I notice that you didn’t criticize TiaMa for making the same suggestion that I did.

  • EdB

    You premise is wrong in putting the burden on the OP to have to find internet access to find *UNDISCLOSED* restrictions. The ad, according to the OP and based on other ads discussed, did not show there was any restrictions. To expect someone to have to go out of their way to find internet access to verify that there really is no restrictions, is wrong.

  • EdB

    If I read an ad for an offer, and no where on the ad does there say there are restrictions, why should I have to do any research on restrictions before I buy something? Expecting someone to research in this case is making them go out of their way.

    And why didn’t I criticize TiaMa? Well, I think Darksideblues42 did a good enough job on that comment I didn’t need to add anything.