Travis is my first new contributor to the blog, who will be writing a post every Wednesday to start. The idea behind adding guest contributors is to add different perspectives to the blog. Travis has a unique approach towards travel, given that he travels almost exclusively with his wife and young children, which is in stark contrast to my travels, which are usually alone.
Disclaimer: This deal has the potential to be lucrative. It also has the potential to be a pain in the butt. You’ve been warned.
Bottom Line Up Front
Rite Aid currently has a promotion running called Happy You Year whereby you can earn two Hyatt nights at select properties, a timeshare week, or two nights of cabin / camping by spending $250 on participating items by January 24, 2015.
- The list of participating items is fairly extensive and probably includes some things you’d normally use
- You can shop online or in-store
- You need to be in the US
- Claiming the reward is a fairly convoluted process
- It may require a lot of follow-up effort
How It Works
From the Rite Aid promotion page.
- Purchase participating products at Rite Aid or online at riteaid.com with your wellness+ card between December 28, 2014 and January 24, 2015. Click here to see participating products or look for a shelf sign in store to see which items will count toward your rewards!
- For every $50 you spend, you will receive a Unique Reward Code on your receipt. Check your register receipt to see how close you are to receiving a Unique Reward Code.
- Create your account on the Sign Up/Log In page, add the Unique Reward Codes you received on your receipt, and redeem your credit towards rewards!
- Please remember that your Unique Reward Codes and credit on your account will expire at 12:00AM PT February 25, 2015. After that point you will no longer be able to redeem rewards.
There are rewards available at each of five tiers, meaning that if you only buy $50 worth of stuff, you can select from a reward from Tier 1. If you buy $100 worth of stuff, you’ll have two reward codes, and can select from Tier 2. (Or you could get two Tier 1 rewards.) The rewards in the lesser tiers aren’t very interesting so for our purposes, let’s just focus on spending $250 and selecting once from Tier 5.With five reward codes (meaning you spent at least $250), you can select from:
- 2-night Camping / Cabin Rental
- 7-day Resort Stay
- 2-night Hyatt Hotel Stay
The timeshare resort stay
Receive a 7-day stay at a participating time-share resort through RCI, a division of Wyndham Worldwide! Click here to check out availability worldwide. Dates of stay must be within 365 days but at least 4 weeks out from the date the Booking Form is completed and submitted. With this reward you will provide us with three preferred participating time-share locations (and dates) you would like to visit and as long as there is availability through this promotion, we will book the 7-day stay for you! To learn more about the redemption steps and expiration dates, check out the details on the FAQ page.
The Hyatt nights
Receive 2 free nights at over 350 participating Hyatt hotels! Hyatt is a leader in the global hospitality industry with a rich, fifty-year history, allowing guests to discover destinations ranging from spectacular mountain vistas, to exciting cities and idyllic desert retreats, all with the hospitality Hyatt hotels has to offer. Check out the participating Hyatt locations here. Dates of hotel stay must be within 365 days but at least 4 weeks out from the date the Booking Form is completed and submitted. With this reward you will provide us with three preferred participating Hyatt locations (and dates) you would like to visit and aslong as there is availability through this promotion, we will book the 2 night stay for you! To learn more about the redemption steps and expiration dates, check out the details on the FAQ page.
The participating products list contains several hundred items, some of which you probably use. They are broken into categories such as Baby Care, Beauty, Home and Personal Goods, Food and Beverage, etc., meaning there is probably something for everyone. Some of the items seem fairly specific since they note a particular size like Rite Aid Babywipes 64-72 ct, 300-320 ct. Others just say “Gerber”, which seems like it could mean a lot of different items.
The website says that participating items will be marked in the store, so that should help in the scavenger hunt. But in my cursory glance, it didn’t seem like the participating items were identified on-line, so you might want to stick with ones you are sure about if you go that route.
I can’t wait for Ben to order $250 of Anti-Monkey Butt Powder and have it delivered to his suite in the Park Hyatt New York.
You should also consider how you purchase these items. If you have money in a Flexible Savings Account that you can use to stock up on eligible items that you would buy anyway, you can effectively spend pre-tax dollars to buy your participating items. If you have a credit card that bonuses pharmacies, that could also be a good choice.
This is where the pain in the arse starts. For the the Hyatt nights:
- Login to your wellness+ account and select the 2-night stay award to gain access to the registration form.
- Complete and mail the registration form with a copy of your ID by 3/3/15.
- Within 10 days, you are emailed a booking code and a link to the booking form.
- Complete the booking form by selecting three Hyatt locations and three sets of dates by 3/22/15. The dates of your stay must be within
four months1-year of when you submit the booking form (i.e. no later than 7/22/153/22/16) but at least four weeks out. That effectively means your stay must be between 4/3/15 and 7/22/15.[Edit 1/12/15: A reader has confirmed with Rite Aid that the stay must be within 1-year. I can no longer find any references to 4-months.]
- Within eight days of submitting the booking form, you will be notified of availability at the Hyatt location, and asked to confirm your choice within two days.
Are there any project managers out there that can construct a waterfall diagram for us?
The good news is that they confirm that the Hyatt nights are booked using stay certificates at the Premier level. That’s a process that many of us around here are familiar with since stay certificates were once available for general purchase. Ben wrote about them in January 2013 shortly before they were discontinued.
The process for redeeming a timeshare week is similar. It seems that the biggest difference between it and the Hyatt nights is that the timeshare stay needs to be within 365 days of submission, rather than 4 months. That should mean that you could book the timeshare for dates between 4/3/15 and 3/3/16.
I’m primarily going to focus on the Hyatt nights for our discussion. While the 7-night timeshare resort stay does sound intriguing, we can’t infer much about how it is going to be fulfilled. It is possible that there could be significant taxes on it, for example, which could kill the deal. It’s also through Wyndham, a company that many in the miles and points community do not hold in high esteem.
Meanwhile, the Hyatt nights are mostly a known commodity. And unlike Wyndham, I believe that Hyatt cares enough about their reputation not to let this thing go pear-shaped.
Similarity To 2007 Dockers Deal
This deal looks a lot like the Dockers promotion from 2007. At that time, they offered a free flight for purchasing $125 worth of Dockers clothes from JC Penney. You had to choose from among 10 destinations and provide three sets of dates. Then the fulfillment company (TLC in this case) contacted you. Except they generally never did — at least until you filed a Better Business Bureau complaint, which would get their attention almost immediately. Then you would communicate over the BBB website to actually arrange your booking. I seriously cannot make this stuff up.
But despite all that, it was lucrative because essentially TLC was booking revenue tickets. The trick was to pick some dates during peak season to an expensive destination (such as Anchorage) from three of the available departure cities. This could easily result in a $500-$700 ticket.
Then once the ticket was issued, you could call the airline directly and cancel the flight. Back then, the cancellation fee for most airlines was $100, so you would net a credit for perhaps $400-$600 which you could then use to go wherever and whenever you wanted. All for $125 worth of Dockers clothes, which my girlfriend at the time (now wife) said I needed anyway.
It was a tale of two groups. The main population thought this was a total scam while those in the miles and points community were making out like bandits.
A year or two later there was even a class action lawsuit against Dockers, JC Penney, and / or TLC which resulted in claimants receiving $150 checks and $125 vouchers for Dockers.
It was pretty clear that the 2007 Dockers promotion was unsustainable. They were giving away flights that were worth at least a couple hundred dollars (and sometimes significantly more) in exchange for a $125 purchase. It became clear that JCP had completely outsourced the fulfillment to TLC Marketing, and therefore TLC had a huge financial incentive to avoid paying out. As I recall, JCP / Dockers wanted to wash their hands of it and just blame TLC, which probably worked, at least until the lawsuit hit.
Relevance To The Rite Aid Deal
I told the 2007 Dockers / TLC story to give some context to what you may be in for here. Let’s apply what we learned from back then to the economics of this deal.
Hyatt used to sell Premier Stay Certificates to the public for $189 each, meaning two of them should be worth perhaps $378. (I say perhaps because they stopped selling them a year or so ago meaning prices could have gone up, but it’s also possible that they sold them in quantity at a discount.) At any rate, let’s just assume they cost $378.
You just bought $250 worth of Anti-Monkey Butt Powder to get a certificate valued at $378. Does that sound sustainable to you?
A lot is going to depend on the fulfillment company. At this point, I don’t think we know who that will be. All I can say is this.
- TLC Marketing is still in business.
- They are located in Boston, above Fanueil Hall.
- The mailing address for your submission form is a P.O. Box in Boston.
- Rite Aid is not headquartered in Boston, nor do they have a significant presence in Boston.
We can also apply some strategy from the Dockers deal to how we select the Hyatt property and nights to insure we get what we want.
Since the nights are being booked as stay certificates, it is possible to search availability on the Hyatt website. Simply put code HSPRN2 in the special offer field and search for the property you are interested in. If there is availability to use the certificate on that night, the website will show that. If not, there will be a message telling you it is not available.We can use this to our advantage. Once we determine that the Hyatt property we want to use our 2-night certificate at has availability, we can list that as our first choice. Then we can list any other Hyatt property that does not have availability for our second and third choices. This should force the fulfillment company to give us our first choice, which we already know is available. (If it should become unavailable between when you submit your form and when they process it, my guess is that they simply contact you asking for an alternative choice.)
Should You Do This Deal?
Just because the promotion is not sustainable does not mean that the fulfillment company won’t deliver the goods. They just don’t want to deliver the goods to everyone. That means that for you to be successful you may need to be tenacious. Follow all the T&C’s. Submit forms on time. And most likely, by being ready to fight through the BBB, social media, small claims court, or whatever strong-arm tactic you prefer because they are going to look for any reason they can to deny your claim.
If that sound fun to you — and trust me, it was once a lot of fun for me — then you should absolutely do it. It’s better than watching reality TV.
Also if you have a use for $250 worth of Anti-Monkey Butt Powder (or other products), and don’t mind paying a slight premium at Rite Aid to get them, then you should absolutely do the deal. Think of it as a lottery ticket — if it pays off, you get a 2-night hotel stay. In the worst case, well, you’ve still got a lot of Anti-Monkey Butt Powder to soothe your wounds.
If you don’t like drama, don’t like the thrill of the chase, and don’t like uncertainty, this probably isn’t the deal for you.