Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has announced serious changes to their 2013 Cow Calendar : "Royal-T-Bones"
Since its launch in 1998, the annual calendar has featured monthly deals with either free or "free with purchase" offers. For the first few years the calendar was offered for $5 and contained mostly free items. In the early 2000's Chick-fil-A tweaked the calendar offerings to include both free and free with purchase type offers such as "Receive a free Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich with the purchase of a medium waffle fries and medium Coca-Cola." Around 2005, the calendar reverted back to purely free offerings though at least a third of the twelve items were often large Coke products which are among the cheapest menu items to both CFA and consumers.
If memory serves, it was the 2010 Calendar that marked the first price increase for the holiday item since its 1998 launch. Chick-fil-A raised the price of the Cow Calendar to $6 and maintained their offering of purely free items each month.
This past January I began to hear rumblings from internal CFA sources that the company was testing a new coupon system which would likely replace their current calendar coupons as early as 2013. Over the summer I received a few plastic cards from Chick-fil-A at promotional events at both their Sandy Springs and Terminus locations. The cards, similar in look and feel to that of a typical gift card contained a stored "value" for the menu item shown on the front of the card. The cards contained as much as a 60 day but often only a 30 day window during which one could utilize the specified offer. In past years, consumers would tear off perforated coupons on each month, now you will get an electronic card that you must register and will only be good on a month by month basis.
Electronic cards are enclosed in the calendar and must be activated before use. Activation includes linking a unique email address to your Cow Calendar card. Clearly this new card will not only eliminate consumers' ability to use coupons past their expiration date will also limit resellers who frequently stock up on calendars and resell lots of selected coupons on sites like eBay and Craigslist. ( Many Chick-fil-As have often been amongst the most accommodating restaurants when it came to accepting expired coupons or using coupons for things other than their designated item or location )
The 2013 Cow Calendar "Royal-T-Pains" is currently available in most Chick-fil-A locations for $6 ( plus tax) and will be available in all locations by the middle of November. The calendar is also currently available from assorted schools and charities but a Chick-fil-A representative tells me that prices from such organizations may vary as its used for fundraising and therefore may be offered at a higher price.
Below are just a few FAQs Chick-fil-A posted regarding the release of their 2013 calendar. ( The full list can be found here )
May I substitute a calendar promotional card for another product of similar value?
Calendar Promotional Card offers are valid only for the product(s) specified. However, if you have special requests about the featured item (no pickles on our Original Chicken Sandwich, or diet Lemonade instead of Lemonade, for example), we are more than happy to honor them.
When can each monthly offer be redeemed?
Each offer must be redeemed in the month in which it is offered. Offers for each month must be used by close of business on the last business day of that month, after that, the offer is no longer valid.
May I purchase multiple 2013 Cow Calendars?
Yes, multiple Calendars can certainly be purchased. However, each Calendar Card must be activated with a separate and unique email address. No email address may be used for more than one promotional card activation.
Is there an alternative to activating my electronic card? Is there a " I prefer coupons option?"
The 2013 Cow Calendar deals are offered exclusively via the new electronic card system. The electronic card can be replaced if lost or stolen and will also provide the opportunity to receive additional "surprises" during the year. There is no non-electronic coupon option available.
May I use a paper coupon for another product in addition to an offer on my 2013 Calendar promotional card?
Only one coupon may be used per person per visit, regardless of its form.
Certain current policies regarding the time limitations and coupon usage are not adhered to 100% of the time and I doubt the new ones will either. In most cases, it's up to the individual operator at each location whether or not to accept or deny expired coupons and or use what's called the "Open Dollar" function to give a customer credit towards another menu item. ( If the menu item requested is more than the value of the customer's coupon, the customer would be responsible for paying the difference in cash ) Obviously, the new card eliminates the possibility of past months offers being honored but I'd like to hope a customer will be be accommodated simple requests. I for one have often requested a grilled chicken sandwich ( January 2013 featured offer) instead of an Original (fried) Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, and am asked, and have no problem paying, the difference (between the two items) in cash.
A three-time "First 100" participant, I've always received 52 individual coupons, each for a #1 meal at the designated Chick-fil-A location, expiring on the restaurant's one year anniversary. I'd be willing to bet that Chick-fil-A will soon introduce the electronic cards to the "First 100" promotions as well. While I'm not 100% sure if an electronic card is less expensive than producing 52 individual full color cards, the cards will surely limit resale and might even come with the stipulation that one meal be redeemed each and every month, with missed meals expiring. As it stands now, a Chick-fil-A in Dallas, Texas has no problems accepting a "First 100" or other similar coupon good for "X" product even if the location from where it was received is in Georgia and its "use by date" has passed.
It's worth noting that Chick-fil-A is still privately held and has seen sales increases at its restaurants soar in recent years, last year topping $4 Billion.
Will you buy a 2013 Cow Calendar? Are you no longer a fan of Chick-fil-A in wake of their mixing of religion and business? If you do still patronize Chick-fil-A, what is your favorite menu item?