Chinese consumers launched a sustained off- and online attack on U.S. chain KFC over a coupon promotion it ran last week but quickly canceled after coupons from unofficial Web sites began turning up at its stores.
Disgruntled consumers argued and threatened KFC staff after an announcement from its China headquarters that a promotion, offering 50 percent off some items, was being canceled due to a number of unauthorized coupons being presented.
Police were called to some KFC restaurants where the coupons were rejected as customers became agitated, upturning furniture and staging sit-ins for several hours in protest.
A statement from KFC China stated the second and third rounds of the promotion were canceled as the company became aware that Web sites were offering the coupons without authority and apologized for the inconvenience. “We are very sorry to see that the activity caused distress to some consumers,” the statement said.
KFC’s explanation and apology fell on deaf ears as consumers mobilized using both online channels and mobile connectivity to discuss and berate KFC.
Chinese aggregation and translation site Chinasmack was filled with responses from mainland consumers including photos of in-store demonstrations, videos of confrontations with KFC staff as well as news reports from the networks that picked up the story.
Additionally, the site listed hundreds of the online conversations and comments that continue today about the incident, most critical of the way KFC handled the situation.
It’s not the first time KFC China has battled fake online coupons. Late last year it released a statement declaring Web sites were making available unauthorized copies of gift vouchers and warned customers not to buy anywhere but from the official KFC China venue.