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KFC is sued over giveaway that went awry

Two consumers seek class-action status for the suit they filed after being denied a free meal promoted on 'Oprah' show. The fast-food firm says it intends to make good on its offer.

June 19, 2009|Tiffany Hsu

KFC Corp. and some customers are embroiled in a beef over a free meal that never came to be.

In May, the fast-food chain promoted a giveaway of two pieces of grilled chicken, two individual side dishes and a biscuit on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Demand was so high that the company had to scale back the offer, asking customers who had printed the online coupons to visit stores for an IOU voucher that included a free Pepsi.

James Asanuma and Veronica Mora were feeling so peckish that they filed suit against KFC and its parent company, Yum Brands Inc., in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday and are seeking class-action status.

The complaint accuses KFC of false advertising, fraud and unfair business practices, among other things. The company, according to the suit, used the promotion to pluck money from customers who hadn't intended to spend any.

KFC should have made more of an effort to accommodate people who had downloaded the coupons, the complaint said. Customers who missed out on the free meal spent money on travel, paper and printing to find out about the change, and then wasted more on postage for a mail-in rain check.

KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said he couldn't comment on the lawsuit. But, he said, "we apologize to any customers who were inconvenienced, and we remain committed to providing a free Kentucky Grilled Chicken meal plus a medium soft drink to those who submitted valid coupons for replacement coupons."

The complaint said Asanuma, of Northridge, used a color printer and paper to print four coupons, which required him to download and install a special computer program.

Mora, of Sylmar, did the same. Her daughters, according to the complaint, were excited at the prospect of KFC for dinner. But when the family arrived at a KFC in San Fernando, they were told that they were too late for the giveaway because the restaurant had doled out its quota of 100 free meals a day.

They drove to a KFC in Sylmar but were told the same thing, even though the restaurant was still selling grilled chicken, sides and biscuits, according to the complaint. When a store employee suggested that Mora return the next morning, she informed him that "she, and her children, do not eat chicken for breakfast."

The complaint asks for "full restitution of monies acquired" in the promotion, as well as an injunction prohibiting what the suit called "bait and switch" practices and a declaration that KFC's tactics were unfair.

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tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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