We drink a lot of milk in the Dr. Momentum household. A gallon every couple of days, almost. For the health conscious in the audience, let me stress that this is nonfat milk. Yeah, I know. Maggie weaned me off 1% shortly after we got married.
Anyhow, I bought some Kellogg’s cereal the other day (we eat a lot of that as well) and was granted the following coupon via the checkout-coupon-printer at Stop & Shop:
Free milk? That’s great! The only problem is that I am a Massachusetts resident.
Why is that a problem?
Because redeeming coupons for milk is against the law in Massachusetts. This isn’t the first time we’ve had useless milk coupons before. Once, Maggie complained to Hood about a bad gallon of milk, and they gave us a coupon for a free gallon to replace the bad one. When nobody would take th coupon we learned about the law.
But this is the first time I’ve has Stop&Shop issue such a coupon in their store — one that we couldn’t redeem there!
I was a bit incredulous. I figured “maybe if they are issuing the coupon, it’s OK for them to take it.” So Maggie called the store.
Maggie: Hi. My husband has a coupon for free milk from your store. Will your store accept it?
Employee: I don’t see why not.
Maggie: How about because it’s illegal in Massachusetts?
Employee: Um, let me check. [Pause] Yeah, we can’t accept that coupon.
Sure, the irony is obvious. They don’t accept their own coupon. But the irony is not what annoys me. Technically, if you read all the fine print, it does say “void where prohibited by law.” It’s up to you to know the law.
What annoys me is the note on the coupon from Kellogg’s telling you that if you buy more cereal, you can get even more of these useless coupons! So, if you didn’t know about the law, and you hadn’t had a chance to try to redeem the coupon, you might go back to Stop&Shop and buy 6 boxes of various cereal in pursuit of what could be $13.47 in free milk (the coupon is supposed to be redeemable for up to $4.49 per gallon). That’s just plain cheesy. A sloppy mistake, but it might well sell a few extra boxes of cereal.
In truth, we eat so much Kellogg’s cereal that 6 boxes of Mini Wheats is a drop in the bucket. But you’re basically being cheated out of $10+ if you fall for this.
Apparently, the state government has been petitioned to amend the law that prohibits the use of these coupons. See the text of House Bill 3711 here. I believe they are still reviewing the bill, or it is in committee, or whatever happens to such bills before they are voted on.
This law only applies to “white milk.” Theoretically, I could use the coupon for flavored milk. A gallon of coffee milk? Maybe I should give that a shot.
As a back-up plan, I can always hop in the car, burn some gas and redeem the coupon in another state.
Here is the link to the text of the Massachusetts general law regarding milk control:
Chapter 94A: Section 14. Purchase, sale or distribution of milk below price fixed or below cost; rebates
[…](d) No person shall sell within the commonwealth any milk, or render any service in connection with the sale or distribution of milk, at a price less than the cost of such milk or service, including, in the case of milk sold, the original purchase price thereof, and in every instance all regular direct or indirect elements of cost as defined in section one; and no milk dealer shall evade this prohibition by the use of any method or device, whether by discount or rebate, by barter, by exchange, by free service, by distribution of free milk, […]
My guess is that the reason behind this law has to do with protecting local dairy farms. It prevents dumping cheap milk on the market and undercutting other dairies. Maybe it protects small dairies. But a coupon that can be used on any dairy’s milk should probably be exempted, because it does not favor one dairy over another. I think the law was just written too broadly.