You can often tell how good a deal is by how much time you’re willing to spend chasing it. Whether it’s driving to a store in another town or lining up before dawn on Boxing Day, the more time you put into hunting a deal, the better it is.
So when long-time RFDer Nick* spent five hours over the course of three days chasing a deal for hot dog condiments, we figured his ridiculous yet remarkable story was worth sharing.
The Air Miles promotion from Foodland's April 13 flyer that started it all.
Foodland, a grocery chain in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, had a promotion from April 13 to 20 where you could get 75 Air Miles bonus miles with the purchase of two Bick’s products. The promotion seemed unassuming, but Foodland normally gives one reward mile per $20.00 spent, which made this promotion a potentially lucrative offer for Air Miles collectors, especially since there was no mention of any purchase limits.
For Nick, he saw an opportunity to score one of the best deals he’s ever snagged. He knew that this one would be worth it. He knew that this deal would be his ticket to a Disney World vacation.
The plan was simple -- visit Foodland stores in Toronto to buy Bick’s products and scrape together enough reward miles to redeem one Walt Disney World ticket. Considering it took Nick nearly a decade to amass 400 reward miles, the potential payoff was tantalizing.
The original plan involved collecting enough reward miles to redeem one Disney World ticket.
Fate had other plans, because not long after starting his journey, there was a problem -- other shoppers had the same idea.
It was Sunday, April 16 and the promotion had already run for three days. Foodland stores in Toronto had meager amounts of any Bick’s products. In fact, most shelves were devoid of all varieties of Bick’s relish, which was the cheapest eligible product during the promotion at $1.99 each. To make matters worse, some stores had begun to implement a six-item limit.
At this point, Nick had managed to buy about 50 jars of relish and collected nearly 2000 reward miles, which was a little over half the cost of one ticket. He could taste the reward and was well past the point of no return, so he decided to expand his search radius and continue looking the next day.
There were over 15 Foodland stores within driving distance scattered around the Greater Toronto Area and Nick was willing to visit each one, but as the stakes grew higher, so did his hunger -- not for food, but for rewards. If he was going to potentially drive hundreds of kilometres to search for relish, Nick didn’t want to settle for just one ticket. He wanted three.
Foodland stores upwards of 100km away from Toronto were possible destinations.
The math made sense -- two jars of relish cost $4.00 with 75 bonus miles. One Disney World ticket cost 3,250 reward miles and had a face value of about $400.00, so three tickets would cost 9,750 reward miles with a cumulative value of $1200.00. To get enough reward miles to redeem three tickets, Nick would need a minimum of 260 jars at a cost of approximately $520.00 -- a savings of over 50% when comparing the dollar value.
The hope was that there would be fewer customers in the suburbs and a higher chance of stock, since stores would likely replenish their supply that Monday. This hunch paid off, because Nick eventually found a location that let him buy 18 cases of Bick’s relish (a total of 216 jars) at a cost of just under $430.00.
The largest transaction included 216 jars of relish and rewarded over 8000 bonus miles.
The final haul? 386 jars of Bick’s relish in various flavours and 14,475 Air Miles reward miles. Altogether, it took Nick five hours over three days to get all the jars, at a cost of $768.14. It was more than he needed to reach his goal, so the surplus was used to redeem other Air Miles rewards.
What exactly do you do with 386 jars of relish? If you’re Nick, you eat some, you give some away to friends and you donate the rest to a food bank.
Nick was able to save hundreds of dollars on Disney World tickets with 386 jars of relish.
769 dollars, 386 jars, 145 litres of relish, six Foodland stores, five hours of travel, four cities, three Walt Disney World tickets, one ridiculous story, zero regrets.
It’s become rare to see what we jokingly call “Peak RFD” deals and Nick’s relish odyssey certainly qualifies. It’s a mindset shared amongst most deal-hunters that kicks in whenever there’s a deal so good or a loophole so rewarding that you push aside conventional wisdom in order to chase it, no matter how much time or effort is involved.
We saw it when you could get a $300.00 Philips home theatre system for $40.00. We saw it when you could get an HP TouchPad for $100.00. We saw it when you could get an infinite supply of Nestea. We saw it when you could get 1000 SCENE points for renting a $4.00 movie. Nick experienced it with his relish-to-riches story.
Peak RFD is the most exciting RFD and even though it doesn’t happen very often, it’s a thrill when it does.
*Nick’s real name has been redacted by request.