LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A worldwide promotion for free food got out of hand and may have backfired on Louisville based Yum Brands. Now, customers have been left with a bad taste in their mouth and thousands of useless coupons.
It was right around dinnertime Thursday when KFC restaurants started turning customers away and stopped accepting the coupons.
"They are turning everybody away," said one angry customer who came out of the Bardstown Road KFC yelling. "You have to buy it yourself."
"They just told us they aren't honoring these anymore," said Helen Johnson holding up her KFC coupon.
Most of the loyal Kentucky Fried Chicken customers we talked to say they won't be so loyal anymore.
"It was a waste of gas," said one customer to another.
"They were the ones that were responsible for releasing the coupon, so I guess it was just poor planning on their part," said Ed Scharge who stopped by to pick up dinner.
Yum Brands even had Oprah Winfrey help make the announcement that the company would give away free meals. The plan was to promote KFC's new menu item, Kentucky Grilled Chicken.
"It had to be bad planning, because they know when Oprah announced that, you know it's going to get a great big response," said Chauncey Blakey, who waited in line for 20 minutes only to be turned away.
"It seems like what they were trying to do, they totally did the opposite I'd say," said Scharge.
It wasn't just Louisville that saw the rush for the free food. Cities like New York and St. Louis started running out of the chicken. One local owner, who didn't want to go on camera, told me the problem was caused by customers printing, copying, and trying to use multiple coupons. We were told customers were only supposed to use one.
"There was a lot of people that just walked away that were pretty angry," said one customer. "Because this one man looked real hungry, like he wanted something to eat."
Some of those customers said the popular fast food giant didn't make it clear that only one coupon was supposed to be used. In fact, customers were allowed to print off up to four coupons from one computer.
"I don't know why there weren't prepared," said Blakey.
"It's disappointing," said Johnson. "I mean I can't go in there and act a fool, but it's disappointing."
If you are interested in getting that free meal, you still can. Just bring your coupon into a store, pick up a form, fill it out and mail it in. KFC says they will then mail you a second coupon for a free meal to be used at a later date.
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