Coles has silently ended its MasterChef knives promotion two weeks earlier than it was advertised to finish amid escalating uproar surrounding widespread availability issues.
Shoppers from November 4 could accrue one knife point for every $20 they spent if they scanned their Flybuys card, and begin redeeming free knives once 20 points were accrued.
Shortly after the promotion began however, shoppers began expressing difficulty in redeeming their points for knives, complaining their local stores consistently had limited stock.
Such complaints surged in volume as the promotion drew closer to its end date, which according to its Terms and Conditions, was set for February 9 if stock didn’t run dry beforehand.
While staff consistently encouraged shoppers to keep checking with their stores for knives - many spending extra money in the process - only this week employees began issuing different advice.
In response to complaints from customers who had gotten enough points but were unable to redeem knives, staff said the promotion had finished on January 26 - two weeks earlier than advertised.
The discrepancy in dates left shoppers frustrated that they had gone to the trouble of searching for knives despite the promotion having already ended. They were also angry the January 26 end date had not been advertised.
“How frustrating Coles, after visiting five stores in my local area, not one store had any of the MasterChef knives available,” an angry shopper wrote to Twitter on February 1.
She claimed her local store, Green Valley in NSW, never had knives while two stores a Coles employee who replied to her said had them - Liverpool and Edensor Park - hadn’t had any for two weeks.
In response to her complaint and after promising to “follow up” on her issue, the Coles employee then confirmed that she had “missed out” because the promotion ended on January 26.
“I was trying to get stock of the knives well before the promotion ended on 26th of January! Nothing for being a loyal Coles shopper?,” the customer wrote back.
“Shameful, obviously you didn’t have enough stock for the promo plus, Not all stores got stock of the knives?”
Another shopper with an impressive haul of 67 points claimed she had visited several stores in the past six weeks but none had any stock of the knives.
“I have been to numerous Coles locations to check if they had any knives but to my disappointment (to say the least)...there’s none available anywhere,” she wrote to Facebook on Tuesday.
“Why do have such a promotion if you can’t cope with the demand?”
Supermarket ‘overwhelmed by customer response’
An employee responded saying the promotion had ended on January 26 because the supermarket was “overwhelmed by the customer response”.
Despite the supposed January 26 finish, which still has not been officially advertised, customers have reported they are still receiving email material from Coles saying they still have time to redeem knives.
“I got an email today saying that your MasterChef knives are still available to redeem until tomorrow. Shame there isn’t any stock,” one wrote on Tuesday.
Coles claimed customers had been adequately kept up to date with availability throughout the promotion and were reminded on receipts in January that knives were available until stock lasted.
“Our MasterChef knives promotion was overwhelmingly popular and we have seen millions of customers collect credits on their purchases and redeem them for quality knives which they are loving to use in their kitchens,” a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
“Our customer service team has done its absolute best to ensure that customers could receive the knives of their choice for their credits but, as with all popular promotions like these, it’s only while stocks last.
“We have continually updated customers on knife availability throughout the campaign and have specifically reminded customers via their receipts to redeem their credits while stocks last since early January.”
A message on the bottom of receipts in January read: “redeem your MasterChef knife credits while stocks last”.
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