Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Only recourse is to
complain to state or BBB

Question: Wal-Mart recently advertised in MidWeek a Gerber four-piece, multitool knife set for $10. It said "special buy" and "one-time offer." It didn't say "limited quantities." Ten dollars is a ridiculously good deal, so I drove all the way from my home in Kaneohe to the Mililani Wal-Mart. Not only was the shipment delayed, a clerk said they had only ordered 16. When I asked for a rain check, I was told they already had 75 people on a wait list and that they were not taking any more names. If they were going to sell only 16, why advertise at all? They should have put some kind of disclaimer in their ad if this was the case. I think they should make good on this ad to everybody who wanted to buy the tool. Can you help?

Answer: We called Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters in Arkansas and received the same answer: that the store wouldn't be taking more than 75 names for rain checks.

Spokeswoman Sharon Weber apologized for your inconvenience and said no one anticipated the shipping delay or the great demand.

"Shipping problems kept the tools from arriving," she said. "This was something that was ordered through our home office and not locally."

However, when the tools do come in, "quite honestly," she said, "there's just not going to be a whole lot."

The store started a waiting list "in hopes that we could help some customers out, but at the point of 75 we had to stop" because "75 was the most we could have reasonably hoped to satisfy."

We verified, as you noted, that the ad did not specify "limited quantities."

But "any time we have a 'special buy' and a 'one-time offer,' my understanding is, if it's not written on there 'limited quantities,' it's implied," Weber said.

"Inconveniencing customers was never an intention, and we certainly apologize for any inconvenience caused to your reader, because we do value our customers," she said. "This was just one of those unfortunate incidents."

As we've reported in the past, the state does not have guidelines specifically dealing with rain checks. But, it does have rules regarding "unfair or deceptive practices in advertising," including whether there is adequate stock on hand for an advertised product.

If you believe the ad was misleading, you should file a complaint with the state Office of Consumer Protection, a spokesman said. Call 587-3222.

Another option is to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii, 536-6956.


Re: the June 10 "Kokua Line" citing instances in which the state is unable to properly maintain the highways. There is a program under way to spend $3 million putting landscaping boxes along Kahekili Highway because it is so ugly. It is ugly, but the majestic Koolaus are visible along its entire length -- maintained by God at no cost to us mortals. Spending $3 million will simply result in more nonmaintained areas. I guarantee the new landscaping will be a disaster after only a couple of weeks and will stay that way. We should spend the $3 million for our schools or other crying need. -- J.P.


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