NEW YORK (AP) – A couple of unhappy customers who missed out on a free grilled chicken meal at KFC after Oprah promoted it are taking their beef to court.

Two California residents who were unable to use an online coupon posted on Oprah Winfrey’s Web site last month sued KFC owner Yum Brands Inc. in state court in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

They claim the fast-food company’s grilled chicken giveaway was a “bait and switch” to get people to spend money at the chain.

For days after the posting began May 5, the company was swamped with customers craving the freebie, with lines snaking around the block and traffic jams.

The company has offered rain checks to those who could not redeem the coupons, which could be downloaded for about a day.

The coupon promised holders a free Kentucky Grilled Chicken meal, including two pieces of grilled chicken, two sides and a biscuit.

After dishing up more than 4 million free meals the first few days and running out of the meal at some outlets, the company began offering the rain checks.

Each customer with a rain check would also get a free soda not included on the original coupon.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs called the rain check process “much more onerous” because customers had to visit a local KFC to pick up a form and mail it back to the company to get a new coupon.

The suit also says the company did not do enough to inform customers of the new policy.

The complaint alleges that KFC knew customers would wind up spending money at the chain when they realized there was no free food left to get.

KFC spokeswoman Laurie Schalow said the company has not seen the lawsuit.

“We apologize to any customers who were inconvenienced and we remain committed to providing a free Kentucky Grilled Chicken meal plus a medium soft drink to those who submitted valid coupons for replacement coupons,” Schalow said in a statement. She said the company wouldn’t comment further.

Yum shares rose 5 cents Thursday to close at $34.06.


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