We have received multiple inquiries regarding buy one, get one free offers as advertised online, on TV and via IVR. Can marketers still advertise BOGO products? Can a bonus item be offered as free? Can additional processing fees still be charged? The short answer to all of these questions is yes.

Although some disclosures need to be more conspicuous than they once were, BOGO offers still generally have the green light. That being said, there are two main points to be aware of: (1) the use of the word “free” (especially with a modifier such as “absolutely”) and (2) P&H disclosures.

First, the use of the word “free” could earn you some unwanted attention from the FTC and/or state Attorneys General. Even though the only cost for the item may be processing and handling, thus the item itself is technically free, the word can still land you in hot water. This is because the charges for P&H are sometimes as costly as the product itself and may not be refundable if the product is returned. We suggest using your savvy marketing skills to come up with alternative language to convey the point. Not so creatively, for example, “we will also send you this second [product], just pay additional processing and handling.”

This leads us to our second warning about P&H disclosures. Processing and handling fees need to be on the screen in the commercial (preferably vocalized as well), on the order page of the website, and in a confirmation email to the consumer.

Here are a few rules of thumb every marketer should know:


  • you are offering a bonus item
  • do not label it as absolutely “free”
  • the consumer must accept the bonus item
  • inform consumer during the checkout process
  • processing and handling fees are being charged
  • make them conspicuous
  • the consumer places an order
  • include P&H charges in the order summary

Written by Paula Brillson Phillips