No free furniture for Ohio voters after sales promotion

No one will get free furniture this year.

Morris Furniture announced last month it would pay for customer furniture purchases if more than 6 million eligible voters turned out in Ohio. The state did not reach that amount.

Robert Klaben, vice president of advertising and marketing, said the company was disappointed more voters didn’t come out, but said the business would consider a similar promotion in years to come. Data show about 5.3 million voters came out to the polls in Ohio.

“It’s disappointing it didn’t happen,” he said. “With the controversies of both candidates and all the commercials people were seeing, it appears as though voters were disenfranchised and stayed home.”

In 2012, about 64 percent of eligible voters in Ohio came out to vote in the presidential election. In 2008, the number climbed to about 68 percent of eligible Ohio voters. This year, about 61 percent of eligible voters turned out.

The promotion was so popular for the furniture retailer that it had to stop sales earlier than planned on Monday.

The free furniture election promotion for 2016 was based on 69 percent turnout for eligible Ohio voters to commemorate the company's 69th anniversary. The promotion was supposed to run through the end of business on Monday, November 7, but some customers called this media outlet to complain that Morris stopped the deal earlier.

Company officials said they stopped the promotion after 7 p.m. because it was taking them beyond the sales they had budgeted for. In promotional material, the company said it alerted customers the promotion could be stopped earlier.

Morris Furniture officials said they are willing to work with any customer who was in the store after the company stopped sales for the promotion. Customers who have complaints are asked to contact the company at guestserviceteam@morrisfci.com.

To win free furniture, customers must have paid for $1,499 worth of furniture. The promotion measured the turnout of eligible voters in Ohio. More than 6 million Ohio voters had to vote. Klaben said some customers were confused by the promotion’s difference between the percentage of eligible and registered voters.

The promotion involves Morris stores, including Morris Home Furnishings and Ashley HomeStore, located in Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Florence, Ky.

Morris Furniture ran a similar promotion at its 15 stores for people who bought $1,999 or more of furniture between Dec. 17, 2014 and Jan. 1, 2015. The company said it would refund the money customers paid if the Ohio State football team won by 7 points or more against the University of Oregon.

More than 500 customers won free furniture when Ohio State won 42-20. The promotion awarded nearly $1.5 million in furniture.

Klaben said the company has contacted the Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Attorney General’s office to warn them of potential customer complaints.