Taco Bell Apologizes For PS Vita Contest Mistakes

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Taco Bell Apologizes For PS Vita Contest Mistakes

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Taco Bell has apologized to customers who were mistakenly told they'd won draws for a PlayStation Vita, but that may not be enough to keep the company out a legal hassle.

If you're a Taco Bell connoisseur, you've probably noticed the PlayStation Vita contest that's been ongoing for the past several weeks. It's all pretty simple: buy a Taco Bell Big Box, punch the code on the box into the Taco Bell website, then sit back and cross your fingers. There's a winner every 15 minutes! But some of those "winners," Taco Bell now says, weren't actually winners at all.

The trouble first came to light a couple of weeks ago, when a number of customers began complaining that they'd received winning notifications but were subsequently ignored, even after making contact with the company. Several were told it could take a few days to verify their entries, but little headway was made until Taco Bell sent a statement to Kotaku suggesting that shenanigans were afoot. "The Unlock the Box promotion has been tremendously popular with consumers who want to get their hands on a Sony Vita but unfortunately a small group of people have tried to game the system," it said.

A later statement clarified that position slightly, claiming that nearly all complaints were "from people who had the URL for the winner's page but who did NOT have winning entries." The company said it was continuing to work to ensure that all legitimate winners received Vitas, and several members of a "Taco Bell Vita" Facebook group have stated that they have in fact received their systems.

And now the bad news: Taco Bell has confirmed that the errant winner messages were in fact triggered by someone dicking around with the system. "We have learned that during a short period of time on January 30th, some people entering our 'Unlock the Box' promotion erroneously received a message suggesting they had won a PlayStation Vita, pending verification," the company said. "It was confirmed these entrants viewed these messages as a result of others who attempted to gain illegal entry and defraud the system. Unfortunately, during this time period some saw a confirmation screen but were not valid winners."

To make up for it, everyone who received a false positive winner's message will be entered into a separate draw for a second shot at a PS Vita. That probably won't be enough to keep the aggrieved customers happy, though; talk in the Facebook group has taken an entirely unsurprising turn toward lawsuits and attorney Eric Ratinoff said that regardless of the circumstances that led to the false notifications, Taco Bell has an obligation to deliver the goods.

"If Taco Bell had a problem with the way they ran their own sweepstakes, that should be their own problem," he said.

The "Unlock the Box" contest is ongoing and runs until March 11.

Source: MCV, thanks to chronobreak for the tip.

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If fraud was involved, they could void the whole thing.. I don't think Eric, I want to get my name in the paper, Ratinoff would agree, that if he ran a contest that was manipulated by outside influences, he is liable?

I can't imagine how pissed the "winners" who didn't actually win must be now. I know I would fly off the handle if this happened to me.

Andy Chalk:
That probably won't be enough to keep the aggrieved customers happy, though; talk in the Facebook group has taken an entirely unsurprising turn toward lawsuits and attorney Eric Ratinoff said that regardless of the circumstances that led to the false notifications, Taco Bell has an obligation to deliver the goods.

Why does everything have to come down to lawsuits? They didn't have a Vita then have it taken away, they are out nothing but a roll of the dice and some money spent on questionable food. Seems petty to sue over.

I don't really feel that Taco Bell is at fault here, other than taking the Sony approach to addressing the issue (but that's another issue)

Still, if I were trying to 'unlock' a box, Taco Bell would not be my first choice.

Whytewulf:
If fraud was involved, they could void the whole thing.. I don't think Eric, I want to get my name in the paper, Ratinoff would agree, that if he ran a contest that was manipulated by outside influences, he is liable?

Damn straight Whytewulf, if Taco Bell can prove hacking dicking about with the system caused the false positives then surely they don't have to fulfil the erroneous winning tickets, no matter how loud an attorney's roar is

Willy Wonka would not stand for this!

edit: Just realised, not only are Taco Bell food products made from additives and false produce such as emulsifiers, but so are their competitions! CHORTLE CHORTLE! I MAKE FUNNY!

We are not letting the big guys get one over on the little guys. There is only around 300 people who were affected by this. Now, they open up a contest to give away an extra 100- why not hust give the 300 people the Vita, no contest, no shenanigans, and be done with it? If not, they will have to eat the court costs and bad publicity. It's their choice, seems simpler to do the right thing, we are just trying to push them in that direction.

I am one of the Jan. 30th winners and a member of the facebook group. Taco Bell has NOT apologized for anything, the mass email that was sent contained NO apology what so ever! We have been ignored, called cheaters and now they have denounced us as winners, this is not going to be swept the table!

If it said "you won, pending verification" there is no lawsuit. It was checked, and determined invalid. Done.

At the same time, PR wise, they should probably just give those people a Vita.

Wolfram01:
If it said "you won, pending verification" there is no lawsuit. It was checked, and determined invalid. Done.

I'm no lawyer, but usually these things are legalese up the wazoo to cover them.

However given that they initially accused these people of cheating I think at the very least they should send out some coups for a few free big boxes - and make sure they arrive while the contest is still going (assuming it still is).

Instead of unleashing their legal and PR departments on fending off unhappy victims of this fraud, Taco Bell and it's parent company should simply pony up for Vitas for all the bogus winners and devote themselves to tracking down and suing the perpetrators for their expenses. They'll most likely never collect. But the enormous PR boon from doing the right thing, even though it wasn't their fault would be worth more than that amount of money spent on advertising ever could ever buy them.

You guys are forgetting the worst part.

They had to eat at Taco Bell. That in itself is bad.

chronobreak:
We are not letting the big guys get one over on the little guys. There is only around 300 people who were affected by this. Now, they open up a contest to give away an extra 100- why not hust give the 300 people the Vita, no contest, no shenanigans, and be done with it? If not, they will have to eat the court costs and bad publicity. It's their choice, seems simpler to do the right thing, we are just trying to push them in that direction.

Yeah.. that's a great idea. If a hacker screws your contest over, you have to pay for the results.

Nice way to end all contests forever.

I sure as hell know I wouldn't be running one if that were the case.

RaikuFA:
You guys are forgetting the worst part.

They had to eat at Taco Bell. That in itself is bad.

Aaannndd this thread was officially worth going into.

Bloodtrozorx:

Andy Chalk:
That probably won't be enough to keep the aggrieved customers happy, though; talk in the Facebook group has taken an entirely unsurprising turn toward lawsuits and attorney Eric Ratinoff said that regardless of the circumstances that led to the false notifications, Taco Bell has an obligation to deliver the goods.

Why does everything have to come down to lawsuits? They didn't have a Vita then have it taken away, they are out nothing but a roll of the dice and some money spent on questionable food. Seems petty to sue over.

I never eat at Taco Bell but I was thinking of going to get that $5 box for a chance to win a $250 handheld. I would have been upset wasting my money there for a bogus contest.

Anyone remember the scandal involving the Monopoly game at McDonalds years ago.

RaikuFA:
You guys are forgetting the worst part.

They had to eat at Taco Bell. That in itself is bad.

I paid 5 dollars and just asked them for the box. They said I had to get the food too...

first of all, the way they are handling this is completely wrong, either honor the incorrect winners or dont.
second, how many people were told they would get vita's? i mean, if its like 10 people, it would be easier to just give them vitas and an apology for ignoring them. but if it was 1000's, it would not be reasonable to honor that.

.. Well, I don't know what to say. Taco Bell is in a tight spot and I actually do like their foods believe it or not so hope this all gets resolved. Also find it funny how people are suing them over this when it's not their fault. But we'll see what happens next.

Free is free, its alot like the lottery really. Even if you win, sometimes you have to share it with 5000 other people.

I've got to side with Taco Bell on this one. Suppose you were holding a charity raffle, giving away a Hawaii vacation to the winner, and I start selling fake tickets and pocketing the money. As a result, when the winnong ticket is called, five people step forward with it. Should you have to give away five vacations?

It's a lousy situation, but I can't blame Taco Bell.

I just read the contest rules on http://unlock.tacobell.com/official-rules/

Section 2, second to last sentience.

Taco bell:

If you are the first player to enter a Code on or after the predetermined time and date for any prize and receive a game message that says "Congratulations, you're a winner", you win the prize indicated, subject to verification.

"subject to verification" is the last part of that quote

That means under Taco Bell's own rules, despite the fact that contest players wrongly saw the "you are a Winner" page even if not by their own actions are not winners.

Taco Bell did nothing wrong, they are sticking to there own rules of the contest

Sadly I can not stick up for the little guy for this one, Taco Bell has the right to refuse those PS Vita units.

darksakul:
I just read the contest rules on http://unlock.tacobell.com/official-rules/

Section 2, second to last sentience.

Taco bell:

If you are the first player to enter a Code on or after the predetermined time and date for any prize and receive a game message that says "Congratulations, you're a winner", you win the prize indicated, subject to verification.

"subject to verification" is the last part of that quote

That means under Taco Bell's own rules, despite the fact that contest players wrongly saw the "you are a Winner" page even if not by their own actions are not winners.

Taco Bell did nothing wrong, they are sticking to there own rules of the contest

Sadly I can not stick up for the little guy for this one, Taco Bell has the right to refuse those PS Vita units.

Can't go against this. Besides, yeah it may dash some people's hopes, but there have been contest mistakes before, and I no longer feel like consumers should feel as entitled as they do.

Ghaleon640:

darksakul:
I just read the contest rules on http://unlock.tacobell.com/official-rules/

Section 2, second to last sentience.

Taco bell:

If you are the first player to enter a Code on or after the predetermined time and date for any prize and receive a game message that says "Congratulations, you're a winner", you win the prize indicated, subject to verification.

"subject to verification" is the last part of that quote

That means under Taco Bell's own rules, despite the fact that contest players wrongly saw the "you are a Winner" page even if not by their own actions are not winners.

Taco Bell did nothing wrong, they are sticking to there own rules of the contest

Sadly I can not stick up for the little guy for this one, Taco Bell has the right to refuse those PS Vita units.

Can't go against this. Besides, yeah it may dash some people's hopes, but there have been contest mistakes before, and I no longer feel like consumers should feel as entitled as they do.

I also want to point out since the Vita has been released (Feb 22), its cheaper to buy the damn Vita than it is to hire a lawyer for a frivolous lawsuit.

Stupid people feeling way to entitled for there own good.

Now I'll admit I'm an expert in U.S law but this is why a lawsuit would (probably) be unsuccessful here in Australia.
There are three requirements for a legal contract to be formed:
1) Intention
2) Offer/Acceptance (Admittedly this gets a little fuzzy in the case of 'invitation to treat')
3) Consideration
**You can look at the wiki page for Aus Contract law if you're curious**

In this case Taco Bell could argue that the requirement offer/acceptance was not fulfilled as the did actually intend to inform these customers incorrectly that they won a PS Vita. I don't know much about U.S Law but surely a similar principle would apply?

EDIT: ---Also This:

Ghaleon640:

darksakul:
I just read the contest rules on http://unlock.tacobell.com/official-rules/

Section 2, second to last sentience.

Taco bell:

If you are the first player to enter a Code on or after the predetermined time and date for any prize and receive a game message that says "Congratulations, you're a winner", you win the prize indicated, subject to verification.

"subject to verification" is the last part of that quote

That means under Taco Bell's own rules, despite the fact that contest players wrongly saw the "you are a Winner" page even if not by their own actions are not winners.

Taco Bell did nothing wrong, they are sticking to there own rules of the contest

Sadly I can not stick up for the little guy for this one, Taco Bell has the right to refuse those PS Vita units.

Can't go against this. Besides, yeah it may dash some people's hopes, but there have been contest mistakes before, and I no longer feel like consumers should feel as entitled as they do.

I also want to point out since the Vita has been released (Feb 22), its cheaper to buy the damn Vita than it is to hire a lawyer for a frivolous lawsuit.

Stupid people feeling way to entitled for there own good.

Revolutionary actually has it pretty close to right, though an argument could be made in the opposite direction as well. This is the United States after all, and they'll let you sue for just about anything... and win...

I will say though both my girlfriend and myself both "Won" this contest; myself on the 30th and her on the 31st. The email they sent in "apology" pretty much said that while they've tried to determine who cheaters were, it's just easier to say everyone was and throw those days out the window.

If anyone's interested in the email itself I'd be happy to post it, sans my personal information of course.

Can't go throwing out "You win!" then not paying out. It's a problem on the companies end not the "winners" They did nothing wrong. Least they could do is be abit nicer and not just call the entire group cheaters.

Rather or not they should get a vita.. well I honestly dont' know. On one hand you need to honour the contest on the other some tampering did happen.

In the end I don't think any of the winners will care much in a year when no one still uses the thing.

darksakul:

Stupid people feeling way to entitled for there own good.

Excuse me? First off, read your sentence again and then tell me about stupid people.

Guess you've never been on the shit end of the stick as far as big corporations go. Remember when EA was sued for saying Battlefield 1942 was going to be included with new copies of Battlefield 3, and it wasn't? There was a class action, and they did the right thing and gave it out, like they said they would. Now, they could have used their expensive lawyers and fought it, it was only something a guy said in an interview I believe, they could have found a way out of it. But, they did the right thing, and stuck to their word.

Now, I and the rest of these people did everything by the book, were told we won, and then had it yanked away from us. We were told verification was ONLY to make sure you were the right age and not a Taco Bell employee. Also, you were not there for the unreturned emails and calls, the accusations of legit winners being cheaters, the time and effort put into making sure this story got out, so maybe you can see why people would be pissed off.

Taco Bell, mainly the company handing the promotion, Ventura, has the opportunity to do the right thing and give these people their prize, or spend much more money than that would cost in court.

So, is this like the whole gears of war 3 with jack in the box thing? Some greedy a***holes try to take advantage of the contest, and in doing so ruin it for others?

chronobreak:
why not hust give the 300 people the Vita, no contest, no shenanigans, and be done with it? If not, they will have to eat the court costs and bad publicity.

That, pretty much.

It's a bit ridiculous that Taco Bell thinks that simply re-entering them into the contest is enough. Goes to show just how stupid upper management can be.

chronobreak:

darksakul:

Stupid people feeling way to entitled for there own good.

Excuse me? First off, read your sentence again and then tell me about stupid people.

Guess you've never been on the shit end of the stick as far as big corporations go. Remember when EA was sued for saying Battlefield 1942 was going to be included with new copies of Battlefield 3, and it wasn't? There was a class action, and they did the right thing and gave it out, like they said they would. Now, they could have used their expensive lawyers and fought it, it was only something a guy said in an interview I believe, they could have found a way out of it. But, they did the right thing, and stuck to their word.

Now, I and the rest of these people did everything by the book, were told we won, and then had it yanked away from us. We were told verification was ONLY to make sure you were the right age and not a Taco Bell employee. Also, you were not there for the unreturned emails and calls, the accusations of legit winners being cheaters, the time and effort put into making sure this story got out, so maybe you can see why people would be pissed off.

Taco Bell, mainly the company handing the promotion, Ventura, has the opportunity to do the right thing and give these people their prize, or spend much more money than that would cost in court.

The problem is they were never promised a vita. EA Promised that Battlefield 1942 was going to be included with new copies of Battlefield three so when there was no inclusion EA should've been called out on it. Verification can be told to mean only right age and not an employee but if you find out a false winner because of verification then what are you supposed to do just accept it?

verylost:

The problem is they were never promised a vita. EA Promised that Battlefield 1942 was going to be included with new copies of Battlefield three so when there was no inclusion EA should've been called out on it. Verification can be told to mean only right age and not an employee but if you find out a false winner because of verification then what are you supposed to do just accept it?

My point is, EA could have found a way out of it (it was just a 'tweet'), with all their lawyers and whatnot, if they really wanted to. They tried to offer a substitution, but they were sued and forced into keeping their word. The whole thing, in some respects, mirrors what is going on with Taco Bell, I'm only using it as a parallel because of the video game connection.

There is/was nothing saying these winners are false winners, this is only something they said after the fact. All of these people were told they were winners. If there really were people who attacked the system, they should be prosecuted and obviously not win the contest, but everyone else did everything expected of them on their end. Bought the product, entered the code in the right place, and now the goalposts are being moved.

I guess I can't really understand people siding with the corporation here over the people, but that doesn't mean they are necessarily wrong. It's just my opinion that TB should do what is right, and even smart, by avoiding the bad publicity and using this as a chance for some really good publicity, especially after the whole samonella fiasco.

I don't believe anyone actually eats at Taco Bell, so this contest was a hoax from the get go.

chronobreak wrote:

""My point is, EA could have found a way out of it (it was just a 'tweet'), with all their lawyers and whatnot, if they really wanted to. They tried to offer a substitution, but they were sued and forced into keeping their word. The whole thing, in some respects, mirrors what is going on with Taco Bell, I'm only using it as a parallel because of the video game connection.

There is/was nothing saying these winners are false winners, this is only something they said after the fact. All of these people were told they were winners. If there really were people who attacked the system, they should be prosecuted and obviously not win the contest, but everyone else did everything expected of them on their end. Bought the product, entered the code in the right place, and now the goalposts are being moved.

I guess I can't really understand people siding with the corporation here over the people, but that doesn't mean they are necessarily wrong. It's just my opinion that TB should do what is right, and even smart, by avoiding the bad publicity and using this as a chance for some really good publicity, especially after the whole samonella fiasco.""

Trouble is that good nature move also shows weakness. If they were indeed hacked, then them giving into the false winners shows that screwing with a contest works and more people will take advantage. Say what you will about big business but they're still humans, and humans can be greedy SOBs regardless of income level.

Not to mention your parallel is off. EA made a concrete promise, they are liable under false advertising. The Taco Bell contest is a contest, no guaranties. Does it suck that they thought they were winners but weren't? Of course. But that doesn't mean we should take arms against Taco Bell just because they happen to be a major business and you seem to have issue with any large company.

(pardon the poor reply format)

BTW, a good way to determine if you didnt cheat? The reciept, if you've got one and you were accused of cheating, just show them the reciept.

Yopaz:
I can't imagine how pissed the "winners" who didn't actually win must be now. I know I would fly off the handle if this happened to me.

I was one of those "winners". Yeah it pissed me off that there was no real comment from taco bell unless you hunt it down on google (I only found out when I went on google to see if anyone else got their stuff and saw how a good number of people who also "won" on Jan 30th got nothing.)

I got an email couple days ago saying I will be part of the second chance drawing but it is still bullshit!

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