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B.C. student among hundreds of false winners of Tim Hortons contest

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Since moving to B.C. from Colombia to go to university, Marylin Moreno has been a regular at Tim Hortons – and she always scans her app so she can play the iconic Roll Up To Win contest.

“I start to roll to see if I can win something, sometimes I have a coffee or a donut,” said Moreno.

On Wednesday, she got an email from Tim Hortons that stopped her in her tracks. “It said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve won four coffees, one donut, and a boat.’ I was like, a boat! Really?” said Moreno.

The prize was a $55,000 fishing boat and trailer. Shaking, Moreno went to the nearest Tim Hortons.

“And I asked them, is this real? I’m not sure it’s real. And they told me yes, it’s real,” said Moreno, who was told to call customer service and wait for further instructions on claiming her prize.

The let down came in an email hours later. “They said, ‘I’m so sorry, we made a mistake, you didn’t win the boat. Please ignore the email.’ And I went oh, my heart! I can’t believe it,“ said Moreno.

She learned she was among hundreds of Roll Up To Win players across the country who got the same email, congratulating them on winning the boat. In the email explaining the error, Tim Hortons said it was meant to be a simple recap of the contest.

The apology email went on to say: “Unfortunately, some of the prizes that you did not win may have been included in the recap email you received. If this was the case, today’s email does not mean you won those prizes.”

Moreno said she understands humans make mistakes, but pointed out this isn’t the first time. In 2023, some Roll Up To Win players were mistakenly told they won a $10,000 prize.

Lindsey Meredith, an SFU marketing professor emeritus, said the fact it’s now happened twice is troubling.

Marylin Moreno was among the false winners of the latest Tim Hortons Roll Up To Win promotion.

“If you start to get a bad reputation, collectively it starts to build. It hurts your brand, it hurts your ability to run future promotions, and it certainly can hurt market segments who get really annoyed when that fishing boat just sunk right underneath them,”said Meredith.

Last time, Tims offered $50 gift cards to the customers who were told they won the big prize and didn’t. Moreno said she hasn’t been offered anything.

“I’m waiting for at least something. Make a customer feel better, so OK you make a mistake, at least you give this customer something good, a gift card, something,” Moreno said.

Meredith agrees, saying: “We start to look at what can we do to make that customer happy again, and if that means giving out a lot of coffee cards, get ‘em out, gang. Because you’ve got a problem on your hands, and it’s lot more than a cup of coffee.”

Moreno said she won’t stop going to Tims, and she will continue to play Roll Up To Win, adding “I want to get a free coffee or free donut.”

But if she gets an email saying she won a bigger prize, she won’t get excited. “I don’t trust them,” she said. “It would be hard for me to believe this.” 

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