For some organizations, free giveaways can be too much of a good thing.
The Cheesecake Factory offered consumers a free slice of their eponymous dessert through a delivery service called DoorDash to celebrate its 40th birthday. However, the promotion was so popular that supplies quickly ran out and jilted customers voiced dissatisfaction on social media.
The company announced the promotion on Twitter:
Celebrate our 40th anniversary with 40,000 slices on us! On December 5th get a free slice* delivered with @DoorDash, no strings attached. Find out how to get yours. *Offer valid on 12/5/18 starting at 11:30am local time, while supplies last. Additional Terms and Conditions apply. pic.twitter.com/Rz52FxwX6Y
— Cheesecake Factory (@Cheesecake) December 3, 2018
However, supplies quickly ran low.
Business Insider reported:
On Wednesday, The Cheesecake Factory launched a promotion to give away 40,000 free cheesecakes. All customers had to do was order using DoorDash.
After the deal kicked off at 11:30 a.m., the orders came flooding in. People posted celebratory pictures of their cheesecake on social media and happily dug into their free treats.
Then, the cheesecakes started to run out. At 1:18 p.m. EST, DoorDash posted on Twitter that all of the cheesecakes on the East Coast had been claimed.
Consumers took to social media to try to find new slices and to vent their frustration:
@DoorDash_Help I tried to get my free slice of cheesecake, and it’s telling me that the promotion I’m trying to redeem is not valid at the store I chose.. is it all Cheesecake Factory restaurants or just certain ones?
— Daniel Kamovitch (@DJKamovitch) December 5, 2018
— BrownShuga (@phy_93) December 5, 2018
@Cheesecake of course your store would be closed now… if your store can’t handle the demand, then why advertise this promotion??? Very unfair and makes me not want to eat at Cheesecake Factory ever again! pic.twitter.com/VyKKuYCCQ4
— Kunal Ahuja (@KunalAh30137864) December 5, 2018
Mobs of #DoorDashers wait for hours to deliver free cheesecake as part of a @Cheesecake Factory & @DoorDash #freecheesecake promo. Not sure what kind of planning went into this but the organization & execution can be safely labeled as a complete clusterf*. All parties unhappy. pic.twitter.com/8wK0WuTUXr
— k-lala (@mybestestme) December 5, 2018
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One Cheesecake Factory location had to call the police.
A Cheesecake Factory in Arlington County, Virginia, faced chaos severe enough to required police intervention, ARLnow.com reported.
According to the local news station, police and medics responded to get the crowds under control as DoorDash delivery people flooded The Cheesecake Factory location. Police were called after a fight reportedly broke out in the restaurant. They arrived to discover “an unruly crowd of delivery drivers inside the restaurant, trying to pick up orders, and a rash of double parking around the Clarendon area,” though there was not a fight going on at the time.
Both DoorDash and The Cheesecake Factory remain tight-lipped about the fiasco, with DoorDash providing a short statement.
A spokesperson for DoorDash says the food delivery company is aware of the incident and cooperating with local law enforcement.
One individual refused police commands to leave the restaurant and resisted efforts at removal. Savage says the individual requested medical attention after the altercation and was taken to a hospital.
The promotion is another reminder for brand managers to be prepared to handle the large demand for exciting offerings. It was a lesson McDonald’s learned with its ‘ Rick and Morty’ promotion.
When customers did get their cheesecake, they seemed to think it was worth the wait.
— Vanessa (@prettylightz) December 5, 2018
However, drivers did not take it lightly that their time wasn’t respected:
I’m a driver as well, and had to cancel my orders. We don’t get paid hourly or to wait for orders, so it’s just not worth the 2-3 hour wait
— Valor Nash (@valor_nash) December 5, 2018
DoorDash, for its part, praised the drivers on its Twitter feed:
A huge shoutout to all of the hardworking Dashers who made this exciting day possible! You’re the real MVPs ðð°
— DoorDash (@DoorDash) December 5, 2018
How would you advise The Cheesecake Factory and DoorDash to respond, PR Daily readers?