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Ralphs Customers Sue After Market Cancels Promotion

Shoppers buying $400 in groceries were promised a two-night trip, but the chain couldn't meet the demand.

October 22, 2003|Hector Becerra | Times Staff Writer

At least three Ralphs supermarket customers who spent $400 each to receive two-night hotel stays have sued the grocery chain that canceled its getaway promotion after being overwhelmed with 50,000 applications for reservations.

Plaintiffs are Bob Gold, a retired Pacific Palisades aerospace engineer; Melissa Khorrami, a Los Angeles makeup artist; and Carl de Metter of Aliso Viejo.

The suits were also filed on behalf of the 50,000 who applied and the roughly 250,000 who qualified for the hotel stays but found the application process so unwieldy, restrictive and "discouraging" that in the end, they didn't turn in the necessary paperwork, said one of the attorneys, David Berke of Beverly Hills.

"The Great Escape" promotion invited Ralphs customers to spend $400 at one of its stores to receive a two-night stay at a hotel in any of three dozen cities nationwide. But after thousands of customers qualified and then applied for the free lodging, the supermarket chain was unable to meet the demand.

Instead, in a letter sent Oct. 10, the company offered eligible customers coupons for a $100 discount on the cost of a two-night stay at any Marriott or Renaissance hotel. Customers who accept the coupons are told they will relinquish their right to take legal action against Ralphs and its affiliates.

Attorneys who filed the three lawsuits questioned the legality of the company's offer.

Calls to Ralphs officials on Tuesday were not returned.

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