The Toronto Star reports that on the first night of Future Shop’s “Beat the Clock” contest (September 14), entrants got more – or less – than they bargained for. In what some Future Shop spokespersons are calling a “time-zone glitch,” users were given access to a two-thirds discount on Xbox 360 video games, for longer than the intended 15 minutes. The discount deal was not cut off after the winners claimed their rewards, and was subsequently offered to other customers. Those customers received an order confirmation by e-mail, but later received another e-mail cancelling their order as a “misprint.”
Future Shop reportedly stated it would have been impossible to honour the discounted deal for all customers affected by the pricing error, and instead offered those customers a five percent discount on future purchases. Future Shop also posted an apology on its Facebook page, stating:
“What a week we’ve had at Futureshop.ca. We made a few mistakes this week and our customers didn’t hesitate to let us know. We learned a lot from our recent “Beat the Clock” promotion and after listening to what you had to say, we’ve decided to end the promotion and go back to the drawing board.
We wanted to again apologize to any customers who might have been inconvenienced, but also to thank you for your consistent feedback. We’re people too, and at the end of the day, a human error got in the way of what was meant to be a great offer for a few lucky customers. There was never any malicious intent – all we wanted to do was offer some amazing deals through a promotion that didn’t quite work out perfect. Hey, people make mistakes and we’re no different either.”
The contest rules did contain some language disclaiming responsibility and liability, including for technical, computer and other malfunctions and errors “regardless of the cause”. Whether a technical, “time zone” or “human” glitch, this did not stop angry customers from voicing their discontent via Future Shop’s own forums and Facebook page, and on Twitter (see #beattheclock). Social or Anti-Social Media? Contest rules can’t quell the fury of a customer scorned.