Facebook promotion turns into PR nightmare for coffee company

Timothy’s Coffee sought to grow its fan base by offering free java. Too bad it wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming response. As you might imagine, this story ends with an apology.

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This adage is ringing loud and clear for Toronto-based Timothy’s Coffee. In an effort last month to grow its Facebook fan base, the company ran a promotion saying that anyone who “liked” its page would receive four free 24-pack boxes of single-serve coffee. As the Toronto Star reports, this was rather generous, as these boxes retail for over $17 CAD each.

A contest aggregating site picked up the promotion and, as you can imagine, responses poured in, reports the Star. Problem is, the stock of product was depleted within three days of the launch, yet Timothy’s still sent emails telling people their coffee was on the way.

Despite obvious problems, the company said nothing until Jan. 4th, when it told fans that the promotion was “first come first serve.” Consumers lashed out, on the company’s Facebook page and in blogs. One blogger claimed Timothy’s deleted nasty comments from its page.

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