My social feeds began blowing up even before I heard or saw the news reports that on the first day of the annual Tim Horton’s Roll Up To Win contest, a major contest glitch had entrants believing they had won $10,000 when it wasn’t even an instant prize offered.

‘Bad taste in your mouth’: Tim Hortons wrongly tells customers they won $10,000

Tim’s owes public and customers an explanation for false $10,000 wins, expert says

Tim Hortons customers subject to ‘technical error’ incorrectly saying they’d won $10K

A Glitch In Tim Hortons’ “Roll Up To Win” Contest Falsely Told Contestants They Won $10,000

Local man hires lawyer over Tim Hortons $10K prize glitch

There is a $10,000 daily prize, but that is being done by a random drawing for everyone that rolls that day.


The full PDF of Rules is 28 pages long, and the ‘technical glitch’ clause is way down on page 26. This clause in every set of official rules takes the onus off the sponsor if something goes wrong with the promotion. (Remember, rules are written in favor of the sponsor, not the entrant.) Short Rules

If due to printing, production, online, internet, computer, or other error of any kind, more Prizes are claimed than intended to be awarded according to these Rules (at any prizing level), or in the event that due to such error, a valid Prize claim is revealed, making the number of valid Prize claims greater than the number of Prizes available under these Rules (at any prizing level), a random draw will be held after the Contest closes from amongst all eligible Prize claimants to award the remaining number Prizes at the applicable prizing level (as determined by the Sponsor at its sole and absolute discretion on the basis of its official records). In no event will the Sponsor be liable for more than the stated number of Prizes in these Rules (at any level). If, due to printing production, online, internet, computer, or other error of any kind, a Prize notification misstates the applicable Prize that an entrant is eligible to win (as determined by the Sponsor in its sole and absolute discretion on the basis of its official records) (an “Erroneous Notification”), despite the Erroneous Notification, the applicable entrant will only be eligible to receive the applicable Prize that an entrant is eligible to win.


Now, that said, the court of public opinion can be stronger the law.

If you are not familiar with the story, in 1993, a contest called Pepsi Number Fever ran in the Philipines. Pepsi lost massive market share after they had a contest printing error that had thousands believing they won $1,000,000 pesos. It has been argued that, even though Pepsi was legally in the right, they may have been better off paying out all the prizes, correct or not. They never recovered their market share; even today, people associate disappointment with the brand.

Some of the ‘potential’ winners hired lawyers, but the rules are clear. They do not have a legal leg to stand on and will not get the prize they believe they are owed. Tim Horton’s offered those that received the message in error a $50 gift card. That decision hasn’t been popular, plus it also adds to the myth that ‘all sweepstakes are scams’ or that ‘no one ever wins.’


I wish I could say Tim Horton’s should honor the prize to those that received the erroneous message, but the only information I have to base an opinion on is what I have read online. The marketer in me knows there is much more to the story behind the scenes and why they will not pay out the ‘prizes’ even though they are not legally obligated to.

As a contestor, I can only imagine the excitement when they thought they won, followed by the disappointment when they were told they didn’t win.

Have you ever experienced a contest glitch?