I thought it was about time to do a follow up to my post about Greenhawk guilty of false advertising.

It’s only been over two years – ha ha!

Click the banner below for a recap of my beef with Greenhawk.

Greenhawk Guilty of False and Misleading Advertising - Again!

For those of you not familiar with Greenhawk, they’re a horse supply store in Canada. They sell tack, barn supplies, horse supplements, riding outfits, and other horse related items.

It’s the type of place where horse-loving women like myself drop their entire paycheck!

I discovered Greenhawk over 20 years ago when they were mainly an online store, with a few retail locations in Ontario. Since then Greenhawk has expanded to many retail locations across Canada.

LANGLEY GREENHAWK

For me, the closest Greenhawk store is about 15 minutes away in Langley, BC. It opened about 15 years ago.

I met Greenhawk’s owner around that time, though I’m a little fuzzy if the store was already open or if they were still setting it up. My vet, Dr. Saunders, who’d been semi-retired for quite a few years, had decided to retire completely. He sold his house, a small horse property in south Langley and was moving to Vancouver Island. There was a retirement party held at his house, and I got an invite because I knew one of the neighbors who was planning the party.

The couple purchasing the house were living on the property, even though it was before their possession date. They might have been living in an RV or maybe the basement. Those details totally escape me now. The woman who bought the house told me that she owned the Langley Greenhawk.

Whether or not she still owns it, I do not know. It’s my guess she might have sold it in 2018, or maybe a year or two before, because that’s approximately when things began to slide at the Langley Greenhawk.

THE QUICK BACK STORY

OK, I’ll try to give the quick version of my falling out with Greenhawk.

A few times a year – or at least before Covid – Greenhawk hosted flyer launch parties and customer appreciation parties. Typically held during the last four hours before closing on Wednesday night. Almost always conflicting with Survivor finale!

Greenhawk advertises that everything in the store during these four hours is 15% off. All customers receive a free swag bag that usually includes a sample pack of horse treats, grooming supplies like a brush or hoof pick, and other items. In the past I’ve gotten socks, little trinkets, and sample bottles of horse shampoo.

The refreshments set out for customers have been cupcakes, bags of chips, cookies, fruit and vegetable platters, tetra packs of juice, pop, and egg nogg in December. Before 2018 there used to be very nice snacks but now they’ve gone El Cheapo with the cheapest cookies you can buy off the grocery shelf.

Twice in a row I got ripped off by Greenhawk. Lured in with the promise of a swag bag and I didn’t get one. All I got was attitude from Greenhawk about how it sucks to be me.

I ended up reporting Greenhawk to Canada’s Competition Bureau which is the government agency protecting consumers from false advertising.

RESULTS?

Did anything happen as a result of my complaint to Canada’s Competition Bureau?

About two weeks after I reported them, I received an email from Langley Greenhawk that was part of a mass mail out. It said that not all of their customers received a swag bag from the flyer party and if we missed out to contact them to receive one.

It would have been nice to have received that email the following day!

And I suppose the only reason we got this email at all was due to the complaint I filed and Greenhawk being forced to do the right thing.

Whenever I buy something from Greenhawk they ask for my phone number, type it into the computer/cash register, and it brings up my account. Greenhawk would have been able to find all their customers who made a purchase between 4pm to 8pm that night.

And no, I did not contact Greenhawk after receiving the email. I was done with them. By this point, to hell with the swag bag.

BLACKLISTED?

Later that summer I had to go into Greenhawk to buy a grazing muzzle that my vet recommended for Cajun.

Unfortunately for me Stampede Tack was out of stock or I would have got it there.

When I gave my phone number to the cashier, there must have been a pop up box on the computer that read:

Caution! Cheryl is trouble!

The cashier said: “Oh, it looks like we owe you a swag bag from our flyer launch party.” And one magically materialized.

The fact that there’s an alert on my account doesn’t really bother me. It probably tells the cashiers not to mess with me.

I’m not a troublemaker and I don’t like causing trouble for others. It’s just that I hate getting ripped off and I will fight for my rights and the rights of anyone else who is unable or unwilling to speak up.

A COMMENT

One of my readers left me a comment. S/he (but probably a she) seems to have some inside knowledge of Greenhawk – could be on staff or a frequent client.

Great read. Glad you complained.

However this can not be said for all Greenhawk stores. Many of the stores are Franchised, which means they are privately owned. The snacks set out are purchased by the owners, costs coming out of their own pockets.

The Swag Bags, again those are purchased out of the budget. Items that come in the Swag Bags don’t come to the store in the hundreds.

Sometimes stores only get 15-20 Swag items, which means unless you’re part of the first rush, you won’t be getting Swag.

ADVERTISING DEALS BRINGS IN CLIENTS

There are good points in that quote. What happens at one Greenhawk location might never, ever happen at other stores.

That ad is created by Greenhawk’s head office and emailed to their customers. Greenhawk’s head office undoubtedly expects compliance at all their retail locations. This sale/customer appreciation party is not something that the head office is springing on all the franchise owners at the last minute. It’s been on Greenhawk’s event calendar and in the planning stages for weeks, if not months.

What is unknown is how much money or swag items Greenhawk’s head office provides to each franchise owner.

Greenhawk Guilty of False and Misleading Advertising - Again!

Due to this advertising, Greenhawk’s expectation is that they’re going to get a lot of customers during these hours who will spend more money than they normally do. Each location is going to make a good profit that night, even with the 15% discount.

What’s the average mark up price that a retailer charges their client over and above what the product cost them to purchase?

That could be anywhere between 20% and 50%. When I worked for a food distributor the mark up was around 30% to grocery stores.

Many stores offer promotions with the expectation that there will be a lot of customers. There could be a loss leader item that the store might lose money on, but the strategy is to bring in customers who will buy more products.

LIMITED SWAG ITEMS?

It appears the person who left the comment may have inside knowledge about Greenhawk by saying that some stores only get 15 to 20 swag items.

Nowhere in Greenhawk’s advertising does it say anything like “limited quantity – first come, first served”. If the advertising said that, I wouldn’t bother showing up. Why take the chance on disappointment?

The ad doesn’t say anything about a minimum dollar amount to be spent before receiving a swag bag. Conceivably a person could buy a $2 hoof pick and get a swag bag that might have a value of $20 items inside.

As a customer looking at Greenhawk’s ad, my expectation is that I’m going to receive a swag bag by showing up during the specified hours and making a purchase. The swag bag is Greenhawk’s loss leader item to bring in hordes of customers.

Two times in a row I got ripped off. I could have even forgiven getting a plastic shopping bag instead of a Greenhawk cloth bag – as long as there was swag inside! Sneaky bastards!

MARKETING DOLLARS

My opinion is that during the last year or so I attended these events, Greenhawk has gone El Cheapo on the refreshments.

Or at least the Langley, BC Greenhawk! I’m sure each store comes up with different snack ideas for the event, and some are more creative than others.

The person who left the comment says that the cost for the snacks comes out of the store owner’s pockets.

And yes, probably so.

But is that any reason to set out a lacklustre table of uninspired snacks? Anyone can go to the grocery store and buy the cheapest boxes of cookies off the shelf to save money.

Business owners know there are legitimate expenses that can be written off on their taxes. In this case, providing snacks to customers as part of a marketing gimmick is a tax write off.

Add up all the extra customers showing up to get a deal – not to mention a swag bag! – and the store owner is making a huge profit during those four hours the 15% sale is running.

The store owner is shelling out money for goodies in the expectation that happy customers will spend more money inside their store.

Sure, maybe they had to pull $200 out of petty cash to buy snacks, but the profit during those four hours is expected to be pretty substantial. A good return on an investment.

HEADING OFF A PROBLEM

Let’s get back to me being ripped off in two visits during Greenhawk’s customer appreciation/flyer launch promotion by not getting a swag bag.

If the cashiers realized they were running out of supplies, they should have immediately alerted the store owner. And maybe they did – I don’t know one way or the other.

At that point, the cashiers should have been instructed to apologize that they’d run out of swag bags, more swag bags would be available at a later date, and they’d be phoning or emailing all customers who missed out.

That was the right time to head off a problem. Before it became a bigger problem and a government agency got involved.

Apologize. Take ownership. Offer a solution.

I remember when grocery stores had sales and if they ran out of stock, customers were given a rain check. They could return another day when the item was back on the shelf and get it for the sale price.

That rain check philosophy was what Greenhawk should have immediately implemented when they realized they had a dwindling supply of swag bags.

Instead I dealt with a disinterested cashier who informed me they’d run out of swag bags (within 30 minutes???!!!) and her sucks-to-be-you attitude.

The next day I complained to Greenhawk’s head office and got a similar response. Sucks to be you that you didn’t get a swag bag. And when I said your attitude sucks and I’m reporting you to the Competition Bureau, that’s the time to escalate me to a manager. And I get it. I’m dealing with low paid staff with no level of authority. There’s not much motivation to try to do the right thing and get the issue resolved before it lands on the desk of a governing authority to investigate what’s going on with the false advertising.

Or maybe customer service did forward my contact information to management and they blew me off. If so, Greenhawk management decided I was bluffing when I said I’d report them and decided to ignore me. They came out on the wrong end of that guess!

READ MY BLOG!

I also told Greenhawk’s head office I was going to write a blog post about the incident. These guys just thought I was bluffing about that too. Greenhawk had several opportunities to diffuse the issue before it escalated into a larger problem. Starting with the cashier at the Langley Greenhawk.

I sent a link to Greenhawk after I published the post. To date Greenhawk has never reached out to me.

Talk about arrogance! Ha ha!

My blog is about sharing my experiences, providing reviews on products and services I use, and helping my readers make smart financial decisions.

Especially us horsewomen. Most of us are not rich or have rich daddies or husbands. We love our horses and make sacrifices to afford one. If there’s anything leftover from our paychecks, it’s spent on our horse.

Nobody wants to feel like they got ripped off or scammed.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for other places in Canada where to buy horse and rider supplies, click on the photo below for the round up!

Where to Buy Horse and Rider Supplies in Canada

I was at the Otter Coop in Pitt Meadows last weekend and spotted a 3 pound bag of mint Stud Muffins for $17.99. Those are horse treats, not hot men!

I didn’t know there was another flavor option. That’s because I’ve only been buying Stud Muffins at Greenhawk where they cost $19.99 and they don’t carry mint Stud Muffins. The regular flavor Stud Muffins at the Coop are $16.99, so there’s a $3 saving right there. I decided to treat my horse to the mint flavor for a buck more. Hope Cajun appreciates it!

FOLLOW UP TO GREENHAWK GUILTY OF FALSE ADVERTISING

Bottom line is Greenhawk only chose to do the right thing and contact the customers they’d gypped out of a swag bag after I’d filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau. They were forced to take this action after being investigated by a governing agency.

If they hadn’t got caught, would Greenhawk have tried to get away with false advertising again?

Unfortunately the horse industry is riddled with dishonest people, none of whom I care to associate with or do business with.

I appreciate that Greenhawk made the effort to do the right thing after they’d been caught and reported. This may have been an isolated incident that happened at the Langley, BC store, but somehow I doubt it.

I hope I’m speaking for all horsewomen when I say we hate being scammed. Speak up when a person or business tries to take advantage of us. We spend a lot of money on our horses, so our boots can do the walking to a business that appreciates our dollars.

Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on October 14, 2021.

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