Good marketing or bad customer service?

I read an interesting story today about the founder of My Voucher Codes, Mark Pearson, who is under fire after offering the new Apple IPhone 4G for £99 on his website Groupola.

Groupola were offering the IPhone 4G at just £99

Sounds great right?

Especially considering they are retailing at a massive £499 in normal stores – most of which are already sold out.

The site had just 200 of the handsets on sale, but when the deal opened at 9.30am this morning 5 million users attempted to log in to get their hands on the cut price phone.

Subsequently the site crashed – resulting in problem number one.

This lead to an outburst on Twitter, with many consumers assuming the deal was fake – becoming problem number two.

But, as Real Business reports it’s not the deal, or either of those problems that is under scrutiny – it’s the way in which the site went about advertising the deal in the first place.

They say:

Consumers’ main gripe is that they had to pre-register their interest for the iPhone 4 by signing up to Groupola’s daily alerts. This is the main problem. If Groupola had just held it as a regular daily deal (where you don’t have to pre-register for Groupola’s marketing emails), I’m fairly confident the backlash would have been less strong. Don’t forget that Groupola claims to have received over five million hits this morning – so that’s a lot of people signing up to Groupola’s daily email alerts.

Fair point I suppose (though if the site hadn’t  frozen would the backlash have happened at all?)

To be honest I feel a bit bad for Groupola – it was a great deal, but one where supply would always be far outweighed by demand. But they were very honest with the terms – there would be a limited amount available and to have a chance you had to sign up to the email alerts.

A two minute online form and a daily email (which you can unsubscribe from easily) seems to me a very small price to pay for the chance to win, and I’m sure the 200 lucky winners aren’t complaining.

But it does create an interesting question.

When does a good marketing ploy become bad customer service?

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