Alipay promo error cost them 236 iPads

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I’ve known a few online promotions go very badly wrong. A long time ago on eBay there was a chocolate supplier who ran a promotion on his website and offered free samples. The link got put onto an Internet chat board and he was over run with requests for samples before he managed to take the page down and it cost him a fortune both in chocolate and in postage sending out thousands of free produce.

Now it’s the turn of Alipay, Alibaba’s payment system. Alipay offered a small rebate to customers paying for goods and services online using their mobile phone with a draw for an iPad as the grand prize. Unfortunately something went disastrously wrong and the winning text message went to 236 users telling them all that they’d won!

Top marks to Alipay for doing the right thing though, they’re going to send all 236 Alipay users that received the text message an iPad which will cost them around £70,000.

If you are going to run a promotion make sure that you know the worst case situation if something goes wrong. Sometimes it might be that your Ts & Cs aren’t quite right or the promotion is just too successful (remember Hoover?) and other times as with Alipay in this case it’s a technical error that’s cost them a small fortune.


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