More on eBay UK’s 20% discount coupon CTWENTY fiasco

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On Monday we heard from a number of people about a coupon eBay sent out offering 20% off if you used the CTWENTY code on Buy it Now sales.

Some people did bag a bargain. Many, however, did not.

CTWENTY did the rounds on social media and, needless to say, was an attractive offer that plenty of folks wanted to to take up. But it turned out to be too good to be true for many people who simply couldn’t redeem the code. An eBay staffer repeatedly replied to disgruntled customers who expected the promised offer on Twitter.

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Additionally, an eBay message was displayed to some users that read: “Our coupon campaign today has proven to be hugely successful with customers and the promotion exceeded all our expectations. Due to huge customer demand, this discount coupon is no longer available and we apologise to any customers who have been unable to participate. We know our buyers love to shop and we regularly offer discount promotions so there will be more opportunities in future.”

Naturally, good deals start to to go viral quickly these days. But it does seem rather shoddy that people who were emailled directly, with the offer and the code, couldn’t take advantage of the deal they were promised. What went wrong?

eBay has yet to make any formal statement on the issue via the Announcement Board. But several Tamebay corespondents have said they are keen to take the issue to Trading Standards or the Advertising Standards Authority. This thread on eBay discussion boards considers the ASA option.

We reckon that eBay should make good on the coupon for anyone they emailed directly with the code. And one Tamebay commenter seems to have had success there after contacting eBay support. They report that eBay CS said of their complaint: “I can assure you that this is being reviewed and we will reimburse your Paypal account with the 20% discount on the item we spoke about. Please allow 14 days for this reimbursement to go back to your Paypal account.” So it may well be worth having a grumble.

We share the frustrations many people have had with the CTWENTY coupon. It just seems incompetent that eBay can’t even get something so seemingly simple as this right. And yet again, when eBay cocks up, they can’t get that right either with reassurance, certainty and clarity. What should be good news for sellers and buyers alike has turned into yet another situation that reinforces negative stereotypes of eBay as untrustworthy.

And this isn’t the first eBay coupon howler we’ve seen of late. Only a few weeks ago we reported on the £100 off eBay coupon that turned out to just be £10.

What do you think? Did you manage to use the coupon or were you rebuffed?

Amended to add this comment from an eBay spokesperson 17:00 on 17th June 2015:

“Our coupon campaign on June 15th proved to be hugely popular with customers and the promotion exceeded all our expectations. Due to huge customer demand, the promotion was suspended. We apologise to any customers who were unable to participate. We will contact and reimburse any UK customer who processed a transaction on June 15th and tried to redeem the coupon but didn’t receive the 20% discount. We know our buyers love to shop and those customers who attempted to redeem the coupon code but were unable to do so on June 15th, will receive an additional voucher in July.”

7 Responses

  1. Clearly £50 off a purchase of £250 is eating into the entire profit margin on SOME items. It probably isn’t wise to publish such codes so widely. They are JUST for who they are sent to surely?

    Some of you guys have the money, but you look out for these codes, and use them. Good for you. Only I never get sent codes like other people, and I don’t scour sites for codes, and I have spent thousands on Ebay.. and this time I was sent the CTWENTY code. And I never got my 20% despite trying for ages. I only wanted to buy a new computer PSU and save a few quid.

    Feel a tad cheated by someone, but not just Ebay. The guys that make the purchases anyway to bully Ebay into submission, ..that’s not very classy!

  2. eBay regularly make invitation only listing and buying offers which can only be used by the recipient, so the intriguing question here is whether this was always intended to be open to all, or did someone on the staff make a bad mistake – was it an error of judgement or an error in the execution of the offer?

  3. Why did eBay have this promotion? eBay does not ‘earn’ as much as the 20% it gave away on the discounted sales that did go through.

    If a loss leader it must have been to generate gross sales. Perhaps GMV needed a boost with the end of Q2 looming?

    Perhaps the offer should have been partnered with ‘certain sellers’ only who would have stood a chunk of the 20% discount.

    The few users that I am aware of who were lucky enough to use the promo used it to buy stuff that they would have bought eventually anyway. So that will negaively impact GMV in Q3!

    On the PSB the Community Manager included this in a reply:
    ‘We’ll …… be in contact with you in July with another offer.’
    OK so I’ll wait for that before making wishlist purchases, why wouldn’t I?

    All this at a time when the boards are full of seller complaints that UK buyers cannot buy UK listings. Attempting buyers are told that seller does not post to your country and blocked buyer lists are gaining many entries for ‘buyer in a country to which I don’t post’.

    eBay are not only seen as untrustworthy but also as totally inept.

  4. This is really no great surprise. Ebay management of programs and changes (quality control) is riddled with errors, and always has been. Everything from last year’s system problems and security lapses to simply issuing a voucher code or changing category structures. It is substandard and rather pathetic.

    Judging by previous voucher/offer mistakes by other companies, I would think ebay have no option but to reimburse everybody. Who in their right mind issues an uncontrolled voucher code? And once it is issued you have to stand by it. If it could only be used on 1 day, as it was, you can’t then withdraw part the way through the day no matter what error you have made.

  5. eBay introduced the ridiculous defect system because apparently sellers were driving buyers away. Each time a buyer had a ‘defective’ purchase, they were less likely to come back, according to their data.

    In one day, eBay have done more damage and probably driven away more buyers than 1000 sellers would in a month.

    Nobody working at eBay at the top level seems to have a clue about how retail works, and it’s shoddy.

  6. Total pants.

    I got emailed the offer.

    Some people, knowing full well that the code wasn’t working, bought items, knowing that they could leverage a win-win from ebay. They could wriggle out of purchasing, or claim a rebate for items purchased. Those people were rewarded, the latter especially so – they got their items and the rebate. Banker fuck ’em heads win, as always.

    The poor sods who kept trying the code they were sent but decided to not proceed when the code didn’t work – these people, honest people, have no leverage and ebay don’t give a toss. I know, because Ebay essentially told me to fack off.

    Here’s the thing Ebay.. don’t offer something if you don’t have the testicles to back it up.

    My view on you now Ebay is tainted. You are now like a dirty Uncle. A liar. A cheat.



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