Woolworths error emailing 80,000 customers about prize 'a reasonable mistake', Consumer NZ says

A consumer advocate says Woolworths mistakenly sending a prize email to 80,000 customers on Wednesday is "a reasonable mistake" which should slide - but customers reckon the supermarket chain needs to pay up. 

It comes after Woolworths mistakenly sent a prize email to 80,000 customers instead of 1000 on Wednesday. 

The supermarket chain then quickly apologised and revoked the tens of thousands of $30 prizes awarded to customers in error. 

Some customers are fuming as the supermarket investigates what went wrong. 

"It just put a sad parade on my day when I thought it was exciting," Woolworths customer Kassandra Beehre told Newshub. 

Beehre was one of tens of thousands of Woolworths customers who received an email from the supermarket saying: "Nice one! You've won 4000 Everyday Rewards points from our Big Night in Prize Draw. Your $30 Everyday Rewards voucher will be added to your Everyday Rewards account within the next 3 days and will be ready for you to redeem in-store or online." 

But then came a follow-up email, saying, "Unfortunately, we made a mistake and you haven't won". 

"It... was disappointing because I was like, 'Damn it, I was going to save that for when I move in a couple of weeks and fill my new house full of groceries and it'll be really helpful.' But yeah, sadly no," Beehre said. 

Woolworths told Newshub the email was sent to about 80,000 customers telling them they'd won a $30 dollar voucher but it was only intended for around 1000 customers.  

The supermarket chain said an incorrect audience selection meant that it was sent to other customers mistakenly and they've been given 500 rewards points by way of apology. 

"We will be undertaking a full review of this incident to understand what we can do to prevent this happening in future," a spokesperson for Woolworths told Newshub.

Woolworths is bound by the Fair-Trading Act and cannot mislead customers. 

But Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said the supermarket is probably safe from legal action. 

"[It's] what's called reasonable mistake - so if this is really clearly a mistake from Woolworths and they've told us publicly that it is, it's likely they would have a defence against any action under the Fair-Trading Act. 

"We understand it would be a couple of million dollars' worth of loyalty points they'd have to doll out if they did honour the prize." 

However, Beehre reckons the supermarket needs to pay up even if it was a mistake. 

"I've worked in business for years, I own a small business as well, so customer service is really important and if you do say to a customer that they've won something or they've gotten something, really you should follow through, even if it was a company error," she said. 

The blunder will be some expensive food for thought for Woolworths to reflect on.