Boots facing backlash over bungled competition

Boots has attracted criticism from consumers and industry figures after it mistakenly told 9,000 entrants to a Facebook competition they had won the prize.


The Bezier run Facebook competition in partnership with VO5 offered a trip for two to Barcelona including a haircut provided by the haircare brand.

More than 9,000 people entered the competition but instead of one winner being selected and informed, every entrant received an email yesterday (15 November) congratulating them on winning the prize.

Boots later sent a second mass email informing entrants that an error had been made.

Boots’ response to the error has been criticised for being “generic” and not owning the mistake. Customers have flocked to social media sites to air their disappointment with some threatening to boycott Boots and defect to Superdrug. Boots social media team are replying to individual posts via Facebook.

The slip up is thought to have cost Boots around £90,000 as it is offering every person that entered £10 worth of advantage card points as an apology. The retailer is also re-entering the contestants in another competition to win the trip to Barcelona.

Mark Taylor, head of Boots’ customer support centre, says: “We can confirm that unfortunately an email was sent in error this afternoon by one of our suppliers informing some of our customers that they had won a competition.  Boots UK always aims to offer exciting competitions and money can’t buy experiences and we are truly sorry for any upset that has been caused by this mistake. 

By way of apology we are offering a second opportunity to win a trip to Barcelona and £10 worth of Boots Advantage Card points to all those who entered, so they can treat themselves or their family to something from our stores to say sorry.”

Jeremy Stern, MD of PromoVeritas, an independent promotional verification firm, says this kind of error occurs when a promotion is run by people that understand Facebook but not the CAP codes for online competitions and promotions.

He says: “They could have handled the communications better. They went out with a basic copy pasted message – no personalisation – and they thought they could just apologise and it would go away but once there are 9,000 talking about it on Facebook it won’t stay in the box.”

Stern adds that the error will have a damaging effect on future promotions run by Boots and also promotions run by other brands at a time when there is an already increasing lack of trust in brand promotions.

It found in a recent OnePoll survey that there is growing cynicism over the fairness of online competitions and 39 per cent do not believe competition winners are always selected fairly or independently.

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