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Double trouble for Double Cashback

The current Canon ‘Double Cashback‘ promotion has created some unintended negative consequences, with claims being regarded as ineligible by Canon when retailers have split DSLR kits to earn their customers the second cash refund.

‘The devil’s in the detail.’

To qualify for the double cashback, a customer has to purchase an additional Canon product worth $200 or more in the same transaction. So if a customer purchases, say, a Canon 70D body they qualify for a $150 cashback. A lens purchased at the same time would double the cash refund to $300.

It’s a clever development of the proven cashback model, obviously designed to increase add-on sales. Feedback from the trade is that it’s going gangbusters.

When the Double Cashback promotion was initially presented to retailers, at least one specialist group, Ted’s Cameras, believed it would be able to use its POS system’s ability to split DSLR body and lens kits to deliver its customers the double cashback. Canon is aware of and (apparently) does not normally object to specialist retailers splitting DSLR kits.

Big box retailers (also apparently) do not have the flexibility within their system to do this, providing specialists with a slight edge over their larger competitors.

‘Following the launch of our Double Cashback promotion on November 13,’ Canon corporate affairs manager, Andrew Giles explained to Photo Counter via email, ‘we started receiving some ineligible claims and consumer complaints about the information they were receiving in-store.’

Canon consequently issued a letter to customers on November 28 stating that Canon camera and lens kits would be regarded as one product only, and thus not eligible for the double cashback. ‘Soft bundles’, where the retailer did a deal on two or more Canon products on the same invoice would qualify, provided the products were itemised on the invoice and were separate SKUs.

Then things got messy. Or messier. Some specialist retailers felt there had been a change in policy after the promotion was launched, and that change in policy had been, according to Canon, demanded by the ACCC. This led to Ted’s Cameras posting the following on its Facebook page last Friday:

ACCC force Canon Australia to give less Cashback to customers
In an unusual move the ACCC has intervened to stop some retailers giving double Cashback to consumers on Canon EOS DSLR kits.

Customers were the winner by getting ‘Double Cashback’ on some Canon EOS DSLR kits by specialist retailers splitting body & lens from kits, but now the ACCC have told Canon to stop their specialist photo retailers from offering this – as some other big box retailers aren’t able to offer the same split kits due to their POS systems. 

Its staggering that due to internal processes not being able to cope with splitting kits at these Big Box retailers Canon have been forced to cease the Double Cashbacks with ultimately the customer is disadvantaged.

Looks like the ACCC are sticking up for big retailers rather than consumers?

Source: Canon Facebook page.
Source: Canon Facebook page.

Photo Counter contacted the ACCC’s media department to seek confirmation that it would make such an extraordinary ruling, given its mantra about ‘protecting competition, not competitors’. The initial response from the ACCC media relations person was that it seemed unlikely, but they would ‘look into it and get back to you.’

In the meantime, Canon has made a further statement, denying there had been any such communication from the ACCC, but conceding that there had been a misinterpretation by a member of the Canon sales team which presumably prompted the Ted’s Camera Facebook posting:

‘I can confirm categorically that there is no truth to this story,’ wrote Canon’s Andrew Giles. ‘At no point has the ACCC contacted Canon relating to this promotion.

‘Canon’s official communication on the Double Cashbacks is as attached earlier today. Unfortunately Canon’s emphasis internally on ensuring that we comply with consumer laws and the expectation of the regulator at all times has been misinterpreted by a member of Canon’s sales team. While their intent was clearly to ensure that there was no misinformation being given to consumers in-store, unfortunately the ACCC was referred to in error.

‘I hope this clarifies the situation and we are updating our retailers now.’

– And that’s where the story ends so far. We are still waiting on some comment by the ACCC.

Did big box retailers lean on Canon to put a stop on something they couldn’t offer but specialists could? We will probably never know. Did Canon try to hide behind the ACCC’s skirts? Seems highly implausible.

COMMENT: They say when there’s a choice between a conspiracy and a cock-up, nine times out of 10 it’s the latter. This seems like one of those nine times.

But credit where it’s due, one positive about this promotion is that, unlike recent Canon cashbacks, consumers purchasing on the Canon online store have to go through the same rigmarole that store customers do, rather than getting the cashback automatically at the online cash register. Wonder if that change of policy was voluntary, forced on Canon by retailer pushback, or even perhaps something the ACCC might have had a hand in…Whatever the case, it’s a welcome change in favour of retailers. 

One Comment

  1. Warren Warren December 13, 2014

    I am a smaller retailer who deals with canon product, but due to the face we don’t deal with canon direct we aren’t kept ” in the loop ” so to speak regarding issues such as the one raised in this story.
    Mind you after seeing a few retailers advertising the ability of a $300 cashback on certain DSLR kits I got to thinking and worked out this must be what they are doing, ie splitting kits for a double cashback.
    So wondering if this was a possibility for myself to drive more business I emailed canon earlier in the week. I am still awaiting a response, but after reading this piece I have my answer. So thank you photo counter.
    I assume there will be some very annoyed consumers when they get a response from Canon advising them of a $150 cashback, not $300 as possibly mentioned by the retailer.
    On a side note, good on Canon for running the Cashback now, I feel in our instance it has helped generate a few extra sales.

    I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year. And thanks again to Photo Counter for their work and keeping me updated on industry news through the year.

    Best Regards, Warren.

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