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Limited supply restricts KFC promotion in isles


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POSTED: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Question: Last week, Oprah Winfrey promised a free KFC two-piece grilled chicken meal to people who downloaded a coupon from her Web site. Many people were unsuccessful in getting a coupon, but it became even more problematic for those who were. In Hawaii they refused the coupon altogether, even though the coupon didn't say “;not valid in Hawaii.”; The national KFC Web site posted an apology and offered rain checks. However, Hawaii KFCs aren't honoring those, either. What's the real deal?

Answer: The combination of a free meal and Oprah's influence proved to be overwhelming for many KFC outlets.

“;It far exceeded our expectations and far exceeded the mainland and corporate KFC expectations,”; said Steve Johnson, general manager of Kazi Foods Corp., the franchisee of KFC Hawaii.

KFC expects to give away 10.5 million meals nationally by the new Tuesday deadline, “;and they're already halfway there,”; he told us Monday.

The Hawaii stores had too little advance notice and not enough “;product”; to participate in the free meal giveaway, Johnson said.

Doing so would have “;just hurt us too bad,”; he said. Noting how expensive it is to do business in Hawaii, “;It was either (give away) everything we had and close our doors and wait for the next shipment to come in, or compromise and at least give Hawaii a taste of the new product.”;

Johnson explained that April 27 was the national launch day of the new menu item, when anyone who walked into a KFC got a free piece of grilled chicken.

After a week, and “;as busy as it was”; because of the new chicken promotion, corporate headquarters sent an e-mail saying that Winfrey was going to announce the two-piece-meal giveaway.

“;We only had a four-day notice,”; Johnson said. “;If you're lucky, it takes six to seven days to get product from the West Coast here to Hawaii. I said there's just no way we're going to make it.”;

As an alternative, he said, the decision was made to give people with a coupon a free piece of chicken. Those who purchased the grilled chicken meal, already specially discounted at $4.99, got three pieces instead of two.

“;I'd say 80 to 90 percent of our customers were very, very understanding, (with) probably 10 to 15 percent that really tried to take advantage,”; Johnson said. “;They were coming through in cars with six to seven people, and all wanted a two-piece meal (for free).”;

KFC says those with a coupon (no longer available online) can get a rain check form from a participating restaurant. The form and original coupon should be returned to the restaurant or postmarked by May 19 in return for a rain check for a future free meal.

In Hawaii, however, customers with rain checks will receive only one free piece of grilled chicken.

Auwe

To the thief who stole the canned goods left for our letter carrier on Saturday. The food was meant for families in need, not for thieves.—East Honolulu Resident

Theft of goods left out for the annual National Association of Letter Carriers' Food Drive has not really been a problem, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service. It will be about two weeks before a final tally of the amount collected is made. The goal was to exceed the 630,000 pounds collected last year.


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