MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Overstock.com to appeal advertising ruling

BY Dan Berthiaume

Salt Lake City – Overstock.com plans to appeal the tentative ruling of a California trial court, which prohibits the company from comparison price advertising unless done in conformity with new court-mandated practices, which the company says diverge widely from industry standards.

The court imposed a civil penalty on Overstock.com for each day it used price comparisons that were not in accordance with new practices the court outlined. From March 2006 to September 2008, the court imposed a penalty of $3,500 per day and from September 2008 through September 2013, $2,000 per day, amounting to $6,819,000 in total. The court also allowed the People to apply for payment of such fees and costs as are allowed by law. The company will appeal both the injunction and the amount of the penalty.

Among other restrictions, the court’s ruling would require more elaborate price comparison disclosures on individual product website pages, depending on the type of comparison made. The court did not order restitution.

Overstock.com currently finds at least one retailer selling a product and sets a comparative price with an average discount of 33%. The court ruling would require Overstock.com to instead use the average price from a range of retailers to set its discount prices.

"Respectfully, I believe this ruling is unjust," said Overstock.com president Stormy Simon. "And I know, because since 2008 I have been an integral part of the process by which we log, verify and advertise ‘compare-at’ prices. I am aware of the lengths we have gone to get this right on the millions of products that flow through our website. We will follow the ruling, while noting that the effects on our current practices will be small because, as we are the gold standard, we are already fanatic about getting this right. However, if fairly enforced, this ruling will force other retailers to change their processes dramatically (which makes one wonder why we are the ones who were targeted). We are an honest company committed to bringing justice to all our customers and suppliers, and that’s a promise. If this tentative ruling becomes final, we will file an appeal as soon as possible."

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Caribou Coffee launches new loyalty program

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – Caribou Coffee has launched its new loyalty program, Caribou Perks. Customers can register by text or online.

All Caribou Perks rewards will be available for use for seven days from the date that they are first received. Customers can view their rewards by signing into their online accounts. If customers are currently opted into the company’s email or text communication, they will receive a notification when they have earned a reward and those rewards will be waiting for them at the register. Those who join the program and complete all the optional questions in their online profile will receive a free medium beverage of their choice

"After a successful pilot for Caribou Perks at select Caribou Coffee locations, we are excited to announce the full rollout of the new loyalty program," said Mike Tattersfield, president and CEO of Caribou Coffee. "Our guests are extremely loyal and passionate about our product offerings, and so we are thrilled to be able to reward them for simply being our fans. We believe this program will enhance the guest experience and is the perfect complement to our premium menu items and warm coffeehouse environment."

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FINANCE

Men’s Wearhouse makes $1.6 billion hostile offer for Jos. A. Bank

BY Dan Berthiaume

Fremont, Calif. – The latest chapter in the continuing rivalry saga of The Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc. has opened with Men’s Wearhouse making a hostile cash tender offer of $57.50 per share for Jos. A. Bank. The offer, which expires on March 28, 2014, is worth about $1.6 billion.

Men’s Wearhouse also intends to nominate two independent director candidates for election to Jos. A. Bank’s board of directors at its 2014 annual meeting. The nominees are John D. Bowlin, president and CEO of Miller Brewing Company, and who has held senior executive positions at Kraft Foods North America, Kraft Foods International, Inc., Oscar Mayer Food Corporation and General Foods USA; and Arthur E. Reiner, who has previously served in various leadership positions with the Macy’s organization.

In November 2013, Men’s Wearhouse made an unsolicited bid of approximately $1.54 billion, or $55 per share, for Jos. A. Bank. This offer followed an unsolicited $2.3 billion bid Jos. A. Bank made in early October for Men’s Wearhouse.

"We believe that our $57.50 per share proposal to acquire Jos. A. Bank is compelling and provides substantial value and immediate liquidity to Jos. A. Bank shareholders,” said Doug Ewert, president and CEO of Men’s Wearhouse. “Although we have made clear our strong preference to work collaboratively with Jos. A. Bank to realize the benefits of this transaction, we are committed to this combination and, accordingly, we are taking our offer directly to shareholders."

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