The Free Food That Wasn’t

A week ago I shared this deal.  As I mentioned on my original post, it was the first time I heard of free food from Amazon.  Well, like any other cynic out there would say: if it sounds too good to be true then it probably isn’t.  Yesterday I got a lot of emails from readers sharing with me that their entire order for this had been canceled by Amazon due to “an error caused an incorrect promotional code to be displayed on our website. We are not offering this promotion at this time.”  This is a flat lie, check out yourself this page on the Amazon website, the offer is still being offered in the month of February AND it has the very same terms.

This is not the first time last minute cancellations happen.  Crystal, the Thrifty Mama, shared that the same thing happened with the $10 promotional code QVC was offering to new customers.  Another reader mentioned the same thing happening with a car seat offer on Amazon last month.  If you remember too, a lot of people had their offers canceled or modified when the whole Omaha Steak deal happened last year.

Canceled offers are bad PR for companies.  The first consequence is that it hurts their customer base.  New and loyal customers alike are turned off when a promotion like this gets rescinded.  Second, it hurts their customer service reputation.  I have read many times about the outstanding customer service QVC offers but canceling a promotion like they did hurts their credibility.

I know a lot of people will say: “Well, what did you expect?, that’s what happens when promotions get abused.”  Maybe that’s the case but this is not the customer’s fault it’s the companies’ fault.  I will give two ideas of what companies can do to prevent situations like this from happening:

1) Set limits to your promotion.  Providing a promotion to the first 5,000 (or whatever) people sign up for is away to keep these promotions within limits you can fulfill.

2) Monitor promotions: set detective controls to identify unusual patterns of redemption.  If companies suddenly see an influx of people taking advantage of an offer they meant for only a select audience, then they can pull the plug on the offer immediately instead of waiting days to take action and upsetting customers along the way.

As companies they have the right to decide what’s best for their business, but as customers you also have a right to express your disappointment.  Don’t forget to take some time and email or call to complain about this.  In the case of Amazon, I would pinpoint that they have not corrected their problem and the promotion is still available on their website. I apologize for any frustrations this may have caused.

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