These days many consumer goods manufacturers are offering some kind of incentive to encourage purchase of their goods. Cigarette brand Marlboro recently ran a campaign called “Marlboro Miles” that was designed to do just that.
The campaign encouraged consumers to purchase packages of Marlboro cigarettes to accumulate points, which, in this particular campaign, were known as “Miles”. After accumulating a certain number of Miles, consumers could then order Marlboro merchandise from a catalog using the Miles they’d earned. All the consumer had to do was send in their Miles, along with an original order form from the Marlboro Miles magazine, and a photocopy of their identification, to prove they were of legal age to purchase cigarettes.
In April 2006, Marlboro began phasing out their Miles campaign. Consumers that had existing miles were allowed to redeem them through September 2006.
During the period of time Marlboro Miles was in existence, many consumers ended up disappointed as they were given the runaround for their prizes. Consumers found that, after accumulating the Miles and sending in the necessary documentation to receive their prizes, Marlboro would give every excuse for not sending the merchandise.
The company sent letters to consumers stating the merchandise was delayed and would be sent in a few weeks. After a few weeks, another letter would be sent making the same statement.
In another tactic used to avoid sending out merchandise, Marlboro told consumers their documentation was incorrect. Miles redeemers were required to send a photocopy of their driver’s license as proof that they were legally purchase cigarettes. In numerous cases, Marlboro stated the identification was invalid and requested another copy. Some consumers ended up sending in documentation several times only to receive the same response – it was not correct.
Phone calls to the customer service department proved unsuccessful as many consumers were told they never qualified for the merchandise for some reason or another. Customer service also told consumers their documentation was never received or the consumer was not listed in the system.
In some cases, consumers spent thousands of dollars on Marlboro cigarettes to accumulate the number of Miles required for prize redemption. After keeping up their end up the deal, many consumers were disappointed to find out that Marlboro was not keeping up their end.
It seems that perhaps the Philip Morris company had plans to end the Marlboro Miles campaign before it stopped printing the Miles on packages in April 2006 as the 2006 catalog only contained ten items.
Consumers with Miles can no longer redeem them for prizes, as orders had to be postmarked on or before September 30, 2006 to be filled.
Detailed consumer complaints about the Marlboro Miles campaign can be found at the Consumer Affairs website: consumeraffairs.com/misc/marlboro.html