‘Just a big con job’: Commerce Commission looking into New World promotion

A screenshot of New World's Masterchef cookware promotion.
A screenshot of New World's Masterchef cookware promotion.
The Commerce Commission is assessing nearly two dozen queries from supermarket customers who missed out on pots and pans in a New World cookware promotion.

After first reporting on several disgruntled customers’ demands for the retailer to honour its promotion, the Herald has been flooded with correspondence from readers who shopped at New World specifically for the deal but also ended up missing out.

New World launched its MasterChef cookware promotion in July, with customers given a sticker for every $20 spent until November 5.

Customers were given until November 19 to redeem stickers for MasterChef-branded cookware, including frypans, roasting pans and utensils - or "until stocks last".

But customers who collected stickers and were left empty-handed said New World should have ordered enough stock to honour the promotion.

A Foodstuffs spokeswoman, representing the company that owns New World, said it had been clear the promotion would only run until stocks lasted.

‘Just a big con job’, says customer

The Commerce Commission has so far received 23 queries regarding New World’s MasterChef cookware promotion, 17 of which related directly to stores running out of stock or the sticker giveaway stopping before the promotion was due to end.

A commission spokeswoman told the Herald they were still assessing the queries.

"When we assess whether to investigate issues that come to our attention, we consider the information available, our responsibilities, our enforcement criteria and our priority areas for new enforcement work," she said.

"We receive thousands of inquiries every year, and while we assess everything that we receive, we are unable to investigate everything," she said.

If a business is running a promotion offering gifts or prizes, it cannot mislead customers, she said.

"All the conditions that apply to a promotion, including any relevant time limits, must be clearly stated. It is an offence under the Fair Trading Act to mislead consumers about the availability of products."

Similar issues plagued a Spiegelau glassware promotion in 2020 and a Smeg knife promotion in 2021.

The Commerce Commission received 70 queries about the Smeg knife promotion and seven for the Spiegelau glassware promotion.

Foodstuffs spokeswoman Emma Wooster said the company had been clear the promotion would run until stocks lasted.

"The promotion officially finished on Sunday, 5th November, and like similar promotions run over the years, it’s been strictly while stocks last, and we’ve communicated this throughout," Wooster said.

The company "forecast the amount of stock needed" by looking at other promotions here and overseas and taking into account the cost-of-living crisis, Wooster said.

Wooster said the company did its best to take into consideration all relevant factors to make accurate estimates for the stock needed.

"We appreciate it’s disappointing for customers to get to the final week of the promotion and miss out on their preferred item," she said.

"We’ve worked really hard to make sure our customers understood it was while stocks last and what stock was most popular as the promotion progressed."

One customer, a 71-year-old pensioner, told the Herald she had spent $1140, earning 57 promotional stickers, only to be told stocks had run out at three different stores.

"This was quite important to me," she said, "this is just a big con job. [I am] absolutely disgusted with New World and won’t be likely to shop there in future."

‘Disaster in public relations’, customer says

At least five customers told the Herald they had been doing extra shopping at New World so they could redeem the stickers in return for cookware, exacerbating their frustration at missing out.

"I felt so sad and let down, the stickers I had been collecting are now totally worthless," one said.

"[I am a] single mum and disabled. I was very excited to be saving towards one of the bigger items. I was very disappointed when I missed out. A lot of people feel the same as myself," another said.

"Whoever does the forecasting of stock levels for the company obviously isn’t very good at their job as they get it wrong for every promotion they run," another said.

Some spoke about trying several different stores. One said he was turned away at Wairoa New World, followed by the Napier and Hastings stores too. Another said she had no luck at the Hutt Valley, Wellington, or Wairarapa stores when she tried.

"My wife and I collected the stickers as required, only to be told stocks had run out. This is surely a disaster in public relations for New World. We expect better treatment from our store," another disgruntled customer told the paper.

By Raphael Franks