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Email marketing blunder sees thousands “win” Champions League final tickets

Woman angry at phone

Email marketing blunder sees thousands “win” Champions League final tickets

Online retailer Zavvi left droves of its subscribers deeply disappointed last week, when it accidentally sent out a mass email telling recipients they had won VIP tickets to the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid.

The number of people who received the email in error has not been confirmed, but some sources, including Joe.co.uk, report that it went out to the retailer’s entire mailing list rather than the intended one lucky winner.

With multiple people on social media commenting on Thursday morning that they had “won” the competition, Zavvi tweeted that it was aware of “technical issues” and was looking into them, but this tweet was later deleted.

Eventually, the company did put out a tweet directing followers to a very short statement apologising for the email mix-up. Would-be winners were then sent a second email advising them that they had not won tickets, but were given a 15% discount voucher to spend at the Zavvi store – not quite a prize on the same level as exclusive tickets to the June 1st clash between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

With both teams only allocated 16,613 tickets to sell to their supporters (less than half the capacity of the 68,000-seat Estadio Metropolitano), tickets for the game are like gold dust, so fans who couldn’t believe their luck were understandably heartbroken to have the prize snatched away from them.


Mastercard, who teamed up with Zavvi for the competition, seemed unimpressed too, with a spokesperson saying:

“We have asked Zavvi to clarify how they are resolving as a matter of urgency.”

Has Zavvi done a Karius?

Speaking to i News, a Zavvi spokesman has put the mistake down to “human error”, but while it’s not uncommon to see mistakes made via email and social media, this seems a particularly spectacular one that raises a number of questions.

For a start, a competition of this significance should be overseen by an independent adjudicator, with a winner selected at random and informed in isolation. It’s difficult to understand how a competition winner’s email could have been individually addressed to thousands of recipients (starting with “Hi [recipient’s name]”) and inadvertently sent to a whole mailing list.

As some people have pointed out on the company’s Twitter page, this also potentially highlights a GDPR issue. In theory, sending emails out to the wrong people could be seen as a breach of the regulation.

Frankly, Zavvi’s display of crisis management has not been brilliant either. From deleted tweets, to abrupt statements, to a fairly derisory goodwill gesture, it all indicates that the company does not quite grasp the severity of its bungling. An explanation of how it happened and what is being done to stop it happening again would be a good start.

Last season’s Champions League final is remembered for two elementary mistakes by then Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius. Nearly a year on, this is equally bad handling on the biggest stage from Zavvi.

John Murray

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