Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Coke changes limit on coupon to 1, site crawls for fans #fail

After nearly two weeks of having their rewards up for all to see, Coke has changed the limit on their free Coke coupon to limit 1.  Their site, which has been hammered with traffic since the reward went live at midnight Eastern, meant slow goings to fans wanting to redeem 30 points for a free coupon.  Site issues included extremely long times between screens, being logged out at random points along the way, and general error screens that frustrated many (as seen by fan posts on their Facebook page).

Site issues generated ire, but fans were also upset over the change in the coupon limit from 4 to just 1 per member.  This, being on the last day and without any notice, was not taken well.  I'm sure they probably covered themselves with exclusionary language somewhere in the program rules, but still, it is not something that fans liked or let pass without notice.

I myself tried for nearly an hour before I was able to get through and then tried again to see if the limit was indeed changed.  You see the screen cap above, so it is verified that it has changed.

I would have to put myself in the ticked off camp, mainly because they did advertise for the past twelve days that it would be limit 4.  It's not the fan's fault that someone couldn't do the math on the number of fans potentially wanting a coupon.  The 1 key is nowhere near the 4 key, so I don't think it was a typo since every other reward was limit 1.  Many times they do offer these coupons (such as last year... which was limit 2) at a reduced point amount, so a limit 4 was not so out in left field.  If they did decide to change the rules, they should have clearly stated this to fans who asked about it on their Facebook page.  Communication is key in the digital age.  If you decide to make such a drastic change, you should own it and explain it to your fans.

Update:  They finally posted a response to someone who complained on their page:

You will have to dig for it as it's not front and center for all to see.  I can understand their point... but after 11 days of hard and heavy traffic for people wanting to claim gift cards, they had to have known people would be slamming their site for the coupons.  This is a decision that should NOT have been made when the reward launched, but many days ago.  I had issues several times with claiming gift cards and their Facebook page has been rife with sad fans who found rewards gone by the early dawn hours.

So though understandable, they get a big fail whale for, or  to steal a line from one of my most favorite movies of all time (Cool Hand Luke):  "What we've got here is  a failure to communicate."  

Coke failed to communicate with their fans they were planning to change the redemption process and the fans are understandably upset.  Many of us held back points to redeem for the free 12 pack coupons, points that had we known ahead of time we might have spent on a McDonald's gift card or Domino's e-gift card.  They did release a coupon yesterday early, which was nice, but if they really wanted to try to spread the love around, they might have spread those coupons among 4 or 5 days, varying the times they would be available, to allow more the opportunity to cash in. 

Update 2:  And they have now removed the picture on their photo page.  One that many have screen capped.  I took this one earlier today.  This fiasco is getting worse.  It's starting to remind me of the Oprah/KFC fiasco...



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