Tim's owes public, customers an explanation for false $10,000 wins, expert says

Roll Up the Rim contests have not involved rolling up a rim since 2020, and instead have been conducted through a mobile application, which glitched Monday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Roll Up the Rim contests have not involved rolling up a rim since 2020, and instead have been conducted through a mobile application, which glitched Monday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The chances of winning $10,000 are smaller than a Timbit, but the chances of that win being a mistake are even smaller.

Yet that's what happened to Luc Masse of Shediac, near Moncton, along with unknown number of other Tim Hortons customers, and one marketing expert says the company owes the public an explanation.

Masse was excited for the start of the Roll Up the Rim contest. He's won free doughnuts and coffee before, nothing too big. But on Monday, the app told him he won $10,000.

"I was in shock a little bit," he said. "I said, 'It can't be, my first Roll Up the Rim win this year, and I actually won something of that magnitude.'"

Submitted by Luc Masse
Submitted by Luc Masse

The company has been holding the contest through a mobile application since 2020, starting the transition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the new system, customers have to get the app on their phone scanned when they make a purchase. Depending on how much they spend, they get a certain number of "rolls" and can find out what they won, immediately.

After going through the process on Monday, the app told Masse he'd won big. He took a screenshot to show his wife, "and then the app crashed."

He didn't think much of that at first, he said, and started dreaming up a trip to Ireland for his 25th wedding anniversary.

Submitted by Luc Masse
Submitted by Luc Masse

But when Masse opened the app again, the message was gone. He contacted the manager at his local Tim Hortons, who put him through to someone at customer service, who then explained the technical error and apologized.

"Mistake or not, it plainly says I won, and I was hoping they were going to at least honour it, but so far — nothing."

In a statement, Tim Hortons said there was a glitch in the system, and only one person was supposed to win that big prize on Monday.

"For a few hours on Monday morning, a technical error caused an issue for a small subset of Roll Up To Win players," said a spokesperson. "We're already in contact with some of the impacted guests to express our regret for the disappointment caused by this error."

When asked how many people got the false message, what the company is telling people who have had this experience and whether they're offering anything aside from regrets, the spokesperson said "We have no further comment."

'We expect more responsibility'

Hamed Aghakhani, acting associate dean of research at Dalhousie University's Rowe School of Business, said the 30-page Roll Up the Rim terms and conditions likely protect the company is case of an issue like this. He said they could be fine, legally, but that doesn't mean this glitch will cause no damage.

"Not everyone looks at all these tiny fonts in rules and regulations, but they see the damaged public image," he said.

He said ideally, in this situation, the company should to try to contact each affected person and offer an explanation, a sincere apology and some kind of consolation prize.

Cole Burston/The Canadian Press
Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

"We expect more responsibility from the business … to just be up front share what's happened and maybe just offer some incentives to those who got a momentary excitement about this," he said.

Aghakhani said it's also important to share information with the public, not just those directly affected. He said not answering any questions beyond the initial statement is not what he would advise.


"This is not what we are expecting from an iconic brand in in our country," he said. "More transparency, offering more explanation is something that makes things much easier to understand."

He said the company may not see many immediate financial and business losses, but if this issue remains unresolved, it would erode the public's confidence in the brand over time.

Masse said he's still in contact with Tim Hortons, and he's hoping to see some kind of resolution. In the meantime, he hasn't been back to the coffee shop since Monday.

"It's my coffee, it's my place. I will go again, but how long in between, I don't know," he said.