Woolworths tells 79,000 they won a prize, then rescinds it

By Vaimoana Mase of

supermarket interior

Woolworths has apologised to thousands of customers after mistakenly telling about 79,000 people they had won a competition.

The email for the Big Night In prize was meant to be sent to about 1000 winning customers.

Instead, 79,000 extra so-called winners were sent the same email – awarding them 4000 points towards the supermarket’s Everyday Rewards card system, which would equal $30 worth of groceries.

Disappointed customers who initially celebrated their shopping windfall are calling on the grocer to honour the prize, saying it’s not good enough and threatening to take their business elsewhere.

The distinct bright orange Everyday Rewards card, launched earlier this year, gives customers a $15 voucher every time they reach 2000 points. The points are gained every time customers take a shopping trip in-store or online and by buying items that get a points boost, which differ every week.

Those 79,000 unlucky customers subsequently received an apology letter, which read: “Earlier today you may have received an email from us about our Big Night In prize draw last week, telling you that you had won a prize.

Woolworths mistakenly emailed 79,000 people telling them they'd won a prize, but later rescinded it, saying the email had been a mistake and they had not won.

“Unfortunately we made a mistake and sent that email to some customers who weren’t drawn as winners. We are sorry to inform you that you were one of those customers.”

As an apology, Woolworths granted 500 points to those customers they had mistakenly emailed.

Affected customers have taken to social media to vent their upset and frustration, with one calling the mix-up: “Bullsh*t.”

Winner one day, not the next

Stacey Ross, who usually shops at the Woolworths Victoria Avenue supermarket in Whanganui, was among those impacted.

“I’m a minimum wage earner and $30 of extra groceries was an exciting thought. I felt really deflated when I got the second email.

Woolworths mistakenly emailed 79,000 people telling them they'd won a prize, but later rescinded it, saying the email had been a mistake and they had not won.

“I’m also confused about how this possibly happened. How are you a winner one day and not a winner the next? How did they select which of their winners were actually getting the prize?”

Travis from New Lynn, West Auckland, said he was thrilled to get the winning email, particularly as he is not a full-time worker.

“I only work part-time and the $30 would have been a help,” he said.

“I couldn’t believe it, though, when I received the second email explaining there was a mistake.”

He said he too believed the company should have honoured the first email.

“I’m sure they wouldn’t miss $30.”

Another customer thought a lifelong winning drought was finally broken.

“I’ve never won anything in my life so very disappointed to get the retraction email today,” Silva Lomax said.

‘Nice while it lasted’

Lisa Shelley said in tough financial times she thought winning $30 worth of groceries would be a great help.

“I was so excited to tell my partner when he came home and I opened my emails to show him, only to see the second email informing me that “oops, we made a mistake and you are not a winner after all”.

“Sigh….it was nice while it lasted.”

Another customer said he had written to Woolworths asking they “bite the humble bullet” and make good on the promise of the winning prize.

A statement from Woolworths spokesman Gordon Harcourt said the email was only intended for about 1000 customers and that an incorrect audience selection meant that it was sent to other customers mistakenly.

Another points mishap

A full review into the incident is now on the cards to better understand what could be done to prevent this from happening again.

Whanganui’s Stacey Ross acknowledged the 500 apology points but said the supermarket giant should have honoured the ones they mistakenly gave to customers.

“The compensation points feel patronising. The win should have been honoured by them if they want to keep their customers.”

“I’m pretty sure they could afford it since they had millions for their recent rebrand.”

This is not the first time the Everyday Rewards card points system has been in the spotlight.

When the new card was launched earlier this year, some customers figured out a loophole that allowed them to accrue thousands of points by signing up for multiple cards, downloading the app and registering an account – which had a generous 1000 points reward attached to it at the time.

It was discovered some customers were transferring points to a main account – a feature that was later disabled – and going on shopping sprees.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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