The guys finish off the week by discussing the sweepstakes being conducted by Domino’s and how a franchisee can deviate from the franchise model.
Full Podcast Transcript
NASIR: All right. Welcome to our business law podcast where we cover business in the news and answer some of your business legal questions. Oh, wait. We don’t do that anymore.
MATT: You’ve got a nice Friday prank.
NASIR: No, but we do add our legal twist to some of those business law stories that we do cover. But you can send us in some of your topic ideas that can be in the form of a question at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MATT: Yeah. So, on Monday, we had all that construction that you were recording, and they’ve still been working four days straight, banging away on whatever they’re doing.
NASIR: Even after the cease and desist.
NASIR: Wait. Wait a minute. Who’s talking? Who is that?
MATT: Oh, yeah. I’m Matt Staub. Did you say your name?
NASIR: Who am I? Oh, yeah. My name’s Nasir Pasha.
NASIR: Goofy start there. Let’s get serious. Actually, before we get to our topic, I just realized, I’m glad I’m in a goofy mood because yesterday – actually, the day before – I was very upset and annoyed at something. I wanted to share with you because I wanted to get your opinion on it.
NASIR: I wish it was related to our topic. It’s kind of related. Well, I’ll tell you what the story is and I’ll tell you what kind of lessons I learned from it and I kind of related to it. So, I’m moving offices and I was going to my old office and I was just picking up a couple of things and it was one of these office buildings that has reserved spots. You know, I literally thought I was going to be there for a couple of minutes. So, I went in there, parked in a reserved spot that wasn’t mine. Okay. Number one, I am totally wrong and that I messed up in that respect, okay? Went up the elevator, went to the office, and I got a phone call. Ended up being two hours later so, you know, the maintenance guys come by and they’re like, “Hey, do you have this such and such car?” or whatever, and I’m like, “Yeah.” They’re like, “Oh, you’re parked in a reserved spot.” I’m like, “Yeah, I know, I meant to leave.” So, I packed up my stuff, I go down there.
I go down there and there is this small little Boxster Porsche parked right behind me, blocking me in – not only blocking me in but literally touching the back bumper of my new car. I’m like, “Okay. I’m very upset,” but then, you know, I started thinking, like, “Okay.” I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. Like, I did park in their spot, but then again, there’s like ten other reserved spots right next-door or right next to it that they could have parked in. It wasn’t even that great of a spot so I was thinking, maybe other people park there a lot and so that’s why he just had it or something.
NASIR: You know, I’m looking around; I’m taking it out on these guys that are right next-door and trying to figure out who it is. Long story short, maintenance told him to move the car but he wouldn’t. He wanted to talk to me or whatever. You know, I went up to the office that he was in. He ended up being a doctor which may not surprise some people. I couldn’t find him. I gave him my card and, you know, I was a little annoyed, but I was trying to be as patient as possible. And then, I went down back to my car and then I see this guy in scrubs – not walking towards me but kind of walking past me and kind of avoiding eye contact – and I’m trying to figure out, “Is this the guy?” or whatever. I try to talk to him and he ignored me. I’m like, “Okay. Obviously, you’re very upset.” He’s getting into his car right at this point. He reverses back quickly, screeching his tires and speeds off out of the parking garage. And then, I’m just looking. There is a scratch but it’s very minimal, but I was just thinking, like, a lot of times, clients come to me and they get into a position where they’ve been wrong somehow, and maybe they’re not completely innocent, but they want to go after them and do a 180 – you know, file a lawsuit – and that’s what I did. I went over to another office and I was talking to another attorney who doesn’t necessarily practice anymore and I was trying to get him riled up but he wasn’t as excited about it as I was because he was a little more of a calming force which, I guess, that’s what I needed. But I wanted somebody to go, “Yeah, let’s file a lawsuit today!” or whatever. But, anyway, I felt like I was put in my client’s shoes for a moment – feeling that I wanted to do something about it when, in reality, you know, it’s like, “Okay. Look, I made a mistake,” but he reacted very childishly and he felt that he was wronged and, for whatever reason, he thought that was the appropriate response for it as a, you know, six-year-old driving a Boxster Porsche.
MATT: You’re really making yourself out to be the victim in this story here.
NASIR: Well, what do you think? Okay. Like I said, I know I did something wrong. But, even if, right?
MATT: You and I are very similar and I think it’d be – well, we’re not similar because I would have never parked in the reserved spot. But, if I would have, if I would have parked there and someone would have gotten upset, I would have apologized and said, “Hey, explain this,” and the other guy could have been like, “Oh, okay. Whatever. It’s not a big deal.” I was just thinking, if I would have been the opposite person.
NASIR: No, absolutely. Basically, I was trying to greet him to at least say hello, you know? And then, basically just ignoring me and pulling off. In fact, even if I see him today, I don’t mind apologizing, you know, from that respect. But, you know, he kind of enflamed everything.
MATT: Car to car – that’s the weird part to me.
NASIR: It’s a little excessive. I don’t know. I don’t know if he did that on purpose or not. Maybe he didn’t.
MATT: It’s bad for him as well. That’s what I don’t get about it.
NASIR: I would suspect that his car was more scratched than mine because mine was on the bumper part. There is a slight scratch, not even enough for me to make a big deal. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything in case I sue him for a million dollars. It’s horrible. In fact, my neck’s injured now. In fact, I was in the car when he hit me. It was horrible.
MATT: IIED. Emotional distress.
NASIR: That’s right. Well, that’s our show!
MATT: Yeah, that’s the episode.
NASIR: I guess I should have shared that when we went over the health care workers.
MATT: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking a lot of the time when you got to the doctor part.
MATT: It was like, “Well, this actually ties in perfectly to the Wednesday episode because, if it was someone who worked a 12-hour shift, then they were probably pretty irritable and that’d be upsetting.”
NASIR: Yeah. Let me make just one final point. My point is that I want to take it as a lesson learned. First of all, I shouldn’t have parked in the spot. I’ll admit to that. But second is that, a lot of times, you know, clients will come to us with a very emotional response to sometimes a business decision, right? Plenty of attorneys that we know that would have done something silly like sent him an invoice with a very lengthy demand letter for this stupid thing, you know, because, in the reality, even if I parked in a spot, I’m in the legal right. He has no right to damage my car, you know? I could have enflamed the situation quite a bit. Where does that get me? I mean, the time spent and so forth. Now, I’m talking about something miniscule. But compare that to what our clients come with. Sometimes, you know, you really have to do a true cost-benefit analysis. Is it really worth the stress of escalating the dispute to something more than it really is?
MATT: Yeah, I think you should continue to park in that spot.
NASIR: Well, I may have other people park in that spot just for fun and then represent that person that gets hit by him. Anyway…
MATT: I don’t even remember what we were even talking about for today. I think it was pizza.
NASIR: It was pizza relating to, you know, parking and things like that.
MATT: Yeah, parked pizza. Oh, okay. So, Domino’s, it’s just called Domino’s now and not Domino’s Pizza, and that’s kind of the substance of what we’re going to talk about. So, there’s a couple of things at this. Domino’s is a franchise so I’m kind of confused how all this happened. But, I guess, at some point recently, Domino’s changed its name from Domino’s Pizza to just Domino’s – which whatever, I guess. I don’t think it’s significant.
MATT: But they’re running this legitimate sweepstakes for people to go around and essentially, like, I think they’re calling it, like, shaming them. So, some of the franchises have changed the name on the sign so it just says Domino’s, but some of them haven’t and I guess that’s why I’m confused from a franchise standpoint. But they basically are wanting people to go out and take photos of the locations that haven’t changed, that haven’t dropped the word “pizza” from the name, and they can enter in this sweepstakes where they can get free pizza for a year – I’d be a big fan of that – or a $10 gift card – not as big a fan. But I just saw this stupid cheesy promotion – that’s a bad pun.
NASIR: I liked that!
MATT: Yeah, it’s a legitimate sweepstakes. We’ll link the actual sweepstakes agreement that they have. I’m more confused on the franchise side of it. If it’s a franchise, how are they not required to change the name?
NASIR: Well, that’s a good question because, obviously, if they all of a sudden, let’s just say they changed the brand all together like Pizza Hut did. I mean, it’s weird that we just talked about pizza changing their branding and so forth but, you know, that’s expensive, you know? Just imagine one franchise or franchisee that has one store. What if they have many stores and then you have to change not only the signage on the doors and on the actual building and everything inside? It could be quite an expense. So, usually, these franchise agreements have some leeway as far as that goes. At the end of the day, it just depends upon the actual specifics of the actual franchise agreement. And so, I’d be surprised if, just because the franchisor changes the brand, now all these franchisees have to spend all this money to do so. So, I suspect that this promotion is in part in favor of Domino’s all together and maybe in cooperation with their franchisees because they don’t want to upset them either and maybe the franchisees are going to change it anyway but it helps maybe some of the ones that haven’t changed yet to get some attention from it. I don’t know. Maybe it’s that aspect as well.
MATT: I like that from a marketing perspective. But another interesting thing, too, because it said the grand prize was free pizza for a year but, if you look at their actual terms and conditions for the contest, the prizes are five grand prizes of $500 gift cards. I can guarantee I can eat more than $500 of pizza in one year. That’s not free pizza for a year; that’s just a $500 gift card.
NASIR: These sweepstakes laws are so, first of all, on one hand, they restrict, on the other hand, you’d be surprised how much leeway that you’re actually given. Most of the sweepstakes laws, you know, if you’re a company that wants to do a sweepstakes or some kind of contest like that, first of all, you should know that there’s federal and state laws, okay? But the major focus of restriction is making sure that it’s not gambling or a game of chance in the respect of breaking some kind of gambling or casino kind of lottery rule. And so, what you’ll end up having to do is that, even though they may have to do something – like, in this case, they have to submit a photo, what you always have to usually is also give them an alternative way, like a free alternative, that makes it a freer method available to them to, you know, send it in my mail or no purchase necessary. You’ve heard these kinds of things before in order to get rid of the aspect that it could be a gambling venture.
MATT: I know the article’s made a big deal out of you can’t have any sort of Photoshopped picture where you’ve added the word “pizza” to that. I assume that’s in these terms and conditions as well.
NASIR: I couldn’t find it in the actual conditions but, yeah, absolutely.
MATT: There’s a recent story, too, with a guy. There was a contest for Benihana. Whoever could go the most times over a seven-week period won, like, the prize was so stupid. It was one trip to any Benihana’s that you want. So, I guess it’s like a free flight, essentially. It’s such a weird gift. The guy went to Benihana’s, like, an insane amount. I forget what it was. Then, there was a guy last year who had, like, the unlimited pasta pass at Olive Garden and went there, he averaged, like, over sixteen trips a week over a seven-week period or something.
NASIR: Well, I mean, that goes to show you, these things do work on a national level, you know. If you have enough promotion behind it, these people are going to do these crazy things even though the award may not be that big of a deal. It reminds me of that Office episode where it’s a costume contest and everyone’s trying to win that coupon booklet. Everyone thinks it’s much more than what it is. You know, “$30,000 worth of savings!” but in order to get that $30,000 of savings, you’d have to spend, like, another couple hundred grand to actually get that.
MATT: Yeah. So, there’s five grand prizes of $500. There’s 1,000 first prizes of $10. That’s a lot of prizes. I feel like I might actually try to enter this. I haven’t had Domino’s in a long time but, if I got a $10 gift card, I’d definitely just go buy a pizza.
NASIR: Wait. Okay. I’m not being paid by Pizza Hut for this. I tried the Pizza Hut, the new stuff, after we had that episode. It was actually pretty good. I was actually caught off-guard and a little impressed – actually, both my wife and I – because we talked about it so much, like, now we have to try it. So, I don’t know if you’ve even ventured into that aspect of it. I guess you’re too traditional in your pizza eating.
MATT: I pretty much only go to a couple of spots here in San Diego, if I don’t make my own. I actually made my own last weekend. So, that’s my wife’s favorite.
NASIR: You want to have a plug for your pizza-making?
MATT: If you let me know and you come over, I’ll make it, I guess.
NASIR: Actually, if you to go to www.mattstaubpizza.com/pizza.
MATT: One of my friends suggested that I buy the web domain bettercallstaub.com – it’s like Better Call Saul.
NASIR: That’s a great one.
MATT: I actually looked at it is available.
NASIR: Well, maybe not now after this show. Have you been watching the show?
MATT: I’ve recorded all of them but I haven’t watched any of them yet. I’ve heard good things.
NASIR: I definitely enjoy it quite a bit so we’ll see how that comes about. Well, anyway, this is our hour-long episode, apparently.
MATT: Yeah, there was a big rant by you and then a short pizza talk.
NASIR: Well, I do want to hear some feedback because I want to know if I’m crazy or not. It’s much more wrong to do what he did, right? I mean, I’m not crazy, right?
MATT: I would agree with that statement, yes.
NASIR: Okay. I mean, it’s just a parking spot.
MATT: Especially knowing that you’re not, like, malicious about it.
NASIR: How would I be malicious about it? I guess malicious would be if I went there and parked there again.
MATT: Or if you came out and were like, “Yeah, I didn’t do anything wrong.”
NASIR: As soon as I heard it, like, I felt bad because, first of all, it was a little embarrassing that it went to such an extent that they were actually looking for somebody that parked there and I didn’t want the car to get towed or anything like that so I was like, you know, I honestly was just going to be there for a couple minutes and, even then, I understand it’s not acceptable but to know the building, there’s like twenty spots that were just empty and they’re all reserved but I was just going to walk in there and leave and I just got caught on a phone call.
MATT: Were they all reserved or were there numbers?
NASIR: They’re numbered. They’re numbered reserved, yeah. So, like, they are assigned to particular offices and things like that.
MATT: That was kind of unlucky, too.
NASIR: Yeah, I got unlucky. But, if that doctor is listening, I am sorry about that and I’m sorry I ruined your day and that you’re such a sad individual to do what you did to me, but that’s fine.
MATT: Gosh. You’re really taking it out on him. It’d be really funny if he actually did listen to this.
NASIR: Yeah. Well, he has my card. He could have and I hope he doesn’t care that much but okay. Well, thanks for joining us on this Friday’s episode. Please leave some five-star reviews. Now, you know that doctor’s going to leave a one-star review now – great.
MATT: “Worst podcast.”
NASIR: “Worst podcast ever. Parks in too many spots.”
MATT: Yeah, keep it sound and keep it smart.