Noah’s Bagels Contest Fail

Below is an email thread of my communication regarding a really bad user workflow. I need to point out, this is not sour grapes — I understand slim odds of winning anything of value. I’m mad that someone at Noah’s approved this.

Here’s the summary: winning is not “instant,” there’s too much data mining, and the only way to find out what you’ve won is to print a sheet of paper and read your prize from there.

(Actually, ePrize is at fault here… but Einstein Noahs hired them to run a contest, and I’m a customer of Noah’s. So, like most customers would, I blame them.)

On Sat Oct 30 12:13:25 2010, [email protected] wrote:

This contest was created by the Office of Customer Annoyance, right? We’re regular Noah’s customers, but traveling right now, so I used my phone’s browser to enter the code. First off, here’s some basic insight into the contest mentality: did I win?

Dunno. After I entered all the requested information (unnecessary, but I’m sure the marketing people are having a gold mine with all that free customer data), my browser tells me that I didn’t win a trip. Sad, but I understand the odds. Still, every cup is a winner, right? So, what did I win?

Dunno. You have to print the coupon. Really? Did the fine folks in your Office of Customer Annoyance consider that some people have phones that can connect to the interwebs? Ain’t technology cool — but there’s a problem, isn’t there… how am I supposed to print that instant win prize that took me 15 minutes to almost win?

Guess I’ll go chew on my cold bagel.

… [a few days later] …

On 11/3/2010 7:26 AM, ePrize Customer Service wrote:

Thank you for contacting us regarding the Einstein Fall Beverage Sweepstakes and Instant Win promotion. If you are experiencing difficulty printing your offer, please note that the coupon you received was limited to a single view/print opportunity to eliminate fraudulent activity. Please make sure you are connected to a printer prior to entering.

For another chance to win instantly, please use the following code: 7D9XGHNN43X7

Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us by replying to this email.

ePrize Customer Service

… [a few minutes later] …

Wow, kinda missed the point, huh?

Re printing issues: A simple mobile browser check could have headed off this problem, and alerted those on non-printing systems that the process would fail before they spent time and effort. See, when users invest time in something, they sorta want to be able to complete it. And when they can’t, they get frustrated, and that’s not how a fun contest should work. (Right?)

Re security: you’re kidding, right? Printability is probably the worst way to eliminate fraudulent activity, not to mention that it simply doesn’t work. One, nothing is stopping a person from printing multiple copies of a certificate, or sending it as a PDF to their friends. Two, your game codes are not unique, so the random assignment of any prize must not be dependent on the actual game code
used — otherwise the odds of winning using the generic code listed below and in the official rules would be different than the odds of winning using a printed gamepiece. And all of that has nothing to do with printing or the ability to print. (Come to mention it, why then use the codes at all? Seems like a wasted exercise… unless you just want to make it harder to play the game).

Re the game: There’s a fundamental disconnect here — the game occurs in the store, but unless I’ve lugged my printer into the store and found a plugin for it, I can’t play in the store. I have to either write my code down, snap a picture of it, or bring my cup along with me to a place that has a computer and a printer. Why would a company make it that difficult to participate in the contest (unless they want to discourage people from playing the game).

I see that ePrize is not an Einstein Noah Company. Y’all have a system you’ve developed (which sadly, some developer didn’t think through very well) and you’re trying to make a profit with it. Got it. Maybe in some future version you’ll fix these problems.

Also sincerely,