Achica, a members-only luxury lifestyle store, suffered a technical glitch over the weekend. It meant to offer new members a £10 discount on their first spend, but failed to ensure that the voucher could only be used with a minimum spend. They were also running a free delivery promotion, which meant deal-hunters rushed to get £10 of items for nothing - plus free delivery. When it discovered the glitch, it sent users emails cancelling their orders, but it didn't end there.
Initially, users of deal sharing website HotUKdeals.com reported receiving an email saying that their order had been cancelled and their money refunded. There was a great deal of anger expressed by the users, because the email referred to the firm's belief that there had been a 'potentially fraudulent' use of vouchers.
Yesterday, the company realised the impact on their reputation, and responded immediately, and much more positively, with another email, apologising for sending the first one - and saying people would receive their goods.
The email said there had been a "technical problem over the weekend and due to a combination of an incorrect voucher and a free delivery promotion, it appears that lots of customers managed to get a bigger bargain than we had intended! When some of our team noticed this, they rushed to cancel these orders. Which we shouldn't have done."
It continued: "We're letting you know that we're going to honour the order, and it should arrive as normal. We pride ourselves on doing the right thing, and we didn't on this occasion. We're sorry." And it went on to offer them another voucher, adding: "By way of apology we'd like to offer you another voucher, if that's not tempting fate... It will have a minimum spend this time!"
This would seem to be wise move to secure their reputation, but that wasn't the end of it either. Later on in the day, they sent a different email to those who had never received the second one. They still apologised for the technical error and for the first email. However, then they explained that as a young company they couldn't afford to honour all the orders, so they said they were cancelling the order.
In one move they undid the goodwill created by honouring the orders, and left many users of HotUKdeals.com pledging never to use the site again.
Goodwill from glitches
It didn't have to be like this, because taking an early decision to cancel the order and apologise (with no mention of fraud) would have been exactly what people expected, and honouring them immediately would have brought an enormous amount of goodwill.
In December 2013 M&S accidentally gave away toiletry sets worth £9.50 (when two 50% off deals clashed). Those who were quick to pick up on the glitch received the sets for free, and one deal hunter deb8z commented "I really can't believe this was honoured, I never get any misprices usually, thanks M&S!"
A month earlier it was Currys that decided to do the decent thing. It had sent out a £20 voucher as an apology to people who had ordered the Xbox One and received it a day late. The vouchers were only supposed to be used once, and only on Xbox One games. However, a glitch meant anyone could use them to buy anything they liked to the value of £20. Customers fully expected their orders to be cancelled, but they weren't. Currys said in a statement: "'Customers are ever more savvy and we were happy to chip in in this case - an early cyber Monday for some".
One of the most well-known glitches to be honoured, was from the relatively unknown brand ProCook. It honoured a glitch with so much style in 2012 that it is still remembered for it today.
It accidentally offered a £18 frying pan for free, and a number of people snapped it up. As soon as the company spotted the error, it sent out an email saying it had been a mistake, and the price was back to £18. Then it continued: "However, we recognise that you really wanted to enjoy the opportunity of receiving a free frying pan and so, as a gesture of goodwill, we are going to send you one free of charge in any case. If you ordered more than one frying pan then you are welcome to reorder any quantity over and above your free one but at the correct price. P&P charges, where applicable, will still be charged to your account." It's estimated that the move cost the firm more than £10,000 - and earned it a place in the heart of every deal-hunter.
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