by Joe Shea
January 6, 2014
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
BRADENTON, Fla., Jan. 3, 2014 -- Why can't Pizza Hut learn the meaning of simple English words?
The giant International Pepsi Co. (IPC) restaurant chain has not been able to master the meaning of the word "any," although it uses the word liberally in the flyers that choke the weekend newspapers.
According to my Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of any is, "One, some or all indiscriminately of whatever quantity." Of course, that dictionary also defines "computer" as "one who computes," so it's not absolutely reliable.
Over a full-page color photo of a delicious-looking, generously-topped large pizza on today's flyer, a 48-point headline blares "$10 ANY." Above that, a 28-point headline announces, using the indicated capital letters, "ANY Pizza / ANY Size / ANY Toppings".
Reading that, you'd think that any pizza with any toppings was $10. But because Pizza Hut has not mastered simple English, you'd be misled. Wrong.
In fact, Pizza Hut's offer excludes at least two of its best-tasting kinds of pizza and toppings. And in reality, it's not $10, either. And you can't get "whatever quantity" of toppings, either, and double toppings are not permitted, either.
The Federal Trade Commission permits this blatantly false advertising, or at least ignores it - probably while, chained to their desks, they're eating pizza at Friday afternoon socials.
Pizza Hut squirms like a hooked worm at the bottom of the full-page flyer, though, and it does so in thin, tiny 10-point, greyed-out type, a font that is not getting any pizza to eat. Like me.
The capital omission at the bottom of the page is the escape hatch for the headline eight inches above. I quote it exactly as it appears, with my own comments in brackets:
"LIMITED TIME OFFER.[Good things don't last forever, but Pizza Hut pizzs will endure a few weeks in the fridge.] MUST ASK FOR OFFER. [Obviously, they're not going to tell ignorant customers how to save money!] ADDITIONAL CHARGE [Ah, here it comes.] FOR STUFFED CRUST PIZZA [which is the best kind] AND EXTRA CHEESE [another popular topping.]
So there goes your $10 pizza.
And then there's the 6-point kicker: "Valid only at IPC International-owned locations [i.e., most of them]. Product availability (are they running out?], prices [oh, yeah!], participation [that's where they share a slice at work], delivery area [about two square miles], and charges [oh, yeah! - did I say that?] vary [wildly]. ... Pepsi substitutions may occur [hopefully, Drano is not an option].
It's time to say, actually, that I love Pizza Hut pizzas (stuffed crust, mushrooms, sausage, hamburger, bacon and extra cheese - try it!), and have ordered the pie advertised in today's flyer several times.
My indigestion comes not from eating the pizza but from reading the fine print in their ads and then arguing with the order-taker on the telephone about the "any" exceptions.
"Why doesn't "any" mean any?", I demand. Thatís like asking Bill Clinton, ďWhy doesnít "is" mean is?" The answer is usually polite, but sometimes they have to ask the manager, which is a five-minute discussion. And "any" ingredients means up to five or so, because after that the dough becomes too soggy, the stores say.
No matter what I say, or any Internet coupons or wording I may invoke, the pizza as I like it is delivered about 45 minutes later and costs at least $14.50. Thankfully, it's usually hot, but not as hot as I am (and Iím not talking good looks here).
Cheese must be awfully expensive to make Pizza Hut lie in the headlines and explain themselves in fine print, much as the Republicans who own IPC complain about Obamacare.
I have not noticed that price phenomenon at Walmart, where I usually snag two or three of Tosino's smaller Supreme Pizzas for $1.25 each, or spring for the DiGiorno Stuffed Crust Supreme Pizza for $6.98 or so, when my food stamps come in (they cut them 80 percent, though, from $177 to $39, so soon the DiGiorno's is going to be out, too).
The DiGiorno item is a really good pizza, as advertised, and there are no extra charges in the sale price. I deliver it to my house for free, while Pizza Hut dings me for $2.50 and yet shares none of that with the driver. I usually tip that person $2, and the drivers seem to think that's fine, I'm glad to say.
So, with tax and tip, the $10 ANY pizza ends up costing me $17 or more. I can afford that - every two or three months.
I have to wonder why a giant outfit like Pizza Hut doesn't sell a pizza that actually costs $10, but maybe is a little smaller to accommodate the extra cheese and the cost of their driver, including a decent tip? Or just for a lark, why not sell and deliver the $10 pizza for $10, any way you want it? It would make a great promotion, like that Samsung commercial where a girl sings "Honesty" in the voiceover.
But, as with much of American business, IPC seems to suffer from an imagination trampled by greed and a herd of bean-counters, who probably can't afford a good pizza, even if they think itís $10.
Write Joe Shea at email@example.com.