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Littlewoods has become the latest retailer to fall foul of a runaway online voucher campaign.

The home shopping brand, which had distributed a £25-off discount code to “a small group of specific customers”, ended up having to recall cash from thousands of bargain-hunters when the promotion went viral.

A spokesperson told the BBC:

"A £25 discount code was created for a small group of specific customers.

"This code was then circulated, without our authorisation, through a number of websites resulting in around 3,000 customers obtaining a discount for which they were ineligible.

"As a result, in accordance with clause 2.3 of our online terms and conditions we have re-charged this discount back to their accounts and have written to them individually to explain.”

Littlewoods is not the first company to be caught out after failing to close loopholes in online discount campaigns, and won’t be the last. Hamleys and Sainsburys are also recent victims, so it is in good company.

The firm said it was within its rights to recall the cash from shoppers’ bank accounts and that Trading Standards was “satisfied” with its actions. But clearly, the mistake will have caused a level of brand damage.

The BBC said it mirrored Threshers’ widely-publicised discount 'mishap' last year – except that that is believed to have been a fiendishly clever marketing trick to boost sales in the run up to Xmas.

Littlewoods said it was “looking at a number of ways of ensuring this doesn't happen again."

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Published 26 October, 2007 by Richard Maven

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Tim

If anyone has been affected by this, visit www.geteven.biz. This is a site set up by a vocal minority of people affected by this illegal practice. We are trying to get enough people together to take LW to court. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!

almost 9 years ago

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John Smith

I would just like to say that so far the reporting of this case has been heavily sided in Littlewoods favour, not suprising considering they a large online retailer owned by a large company (isn't that the way of the world - the small people crushed by the giant corporations !)

I find it absolutely hilarious that you call Littlewoods a "victim" and that they have been caught out after failing to close loopholes in online discount campaigns. I can tell you that, allthough i don't have proof, Littlewoods have known that their voucher codes have been spread around internet communities for years now but have continued to release them and not change there ordering systems because they know they can exploit this spreading to booster sales figures. I think you will find that all the other large online retailers now know how to deal with the release, validation and acceptance of voucher codes and none have ever tried a scandalous move such as this before.
Please look at this link to a report from over 5 years ago:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/11/21/dvd_forums_averts_littlewoods_legal/

Surely this article makes a mockery of the comment by Littlewoods that it was: “looking at a number of ways of ensuring this doesn't happen again."
I think you will agree that this helps proove that Littlewoods have known for years that their voucher codes have been shared on internet communities but have chose to do nothing about it because they know that they can exploit it to booster sales figures.

There are many online retailers that release voucher codes with no or little problems, it quite easy to implement systems that validate orders before they are completed or to cancel orders after they are taken online if they use voucher codes that are not valid. The fact is that Littlewoods took orders using this code, completed and sent out orders using this code which then validated the code and then decided to claim back for this code over 2 months after the orders had been completed! Can you please look into contract law regarding this case, i am sure you will find that Littlewoods are not acting within it.

I have joined www.geteven.biz and i urge others to do so as well!

Please help in stopping a precedent for online retalling being set that will further allow retailers such as Littlewoods to continue to exploit customers.

almost 9 years ago

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Steve Hart

They say they charged the £25 back to customer accounts. I don't have an account with them and never have so they created an account without my knowledge or permission and then charged £25 to it. They have now applied a £12 admin charge for non payment. Ridiculous!

almost 9 years ago

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Ex Littlewoods Employee

As an ex littlewoods employee (online) it comes as no surprise that this issue has arisen - isn't the first and won't be the last.

The whole debacle of codes comes about because the company really has no control over what codes are produced and how/where they can be redeemed and in what combination - it is head in the sand time when things go wrong......

As stated by "John Smith" above, yes the company does know about these codes being on forums etc, but they haven't the will to do anything about them as the impact on customer recruitment is significant.

What we all should consider as a benefit to this, is that the company is building up it's "new" customer database on these promotions, expecting us to behave like a traditional catalogue shopper. Lo and behold we place one order using the promotional code and never come back - as brand loyalty online is much harder to come by!

All that happens is that the company finds it harder and harder to retain these customers and has to shell out yet more cash in "bribes" to try and eek out a second order........making no money in the process!

almost 9 years ago

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Chris Reed, Founder at Restless Communications

It's a funny old world when some companies do very well out of offering this sort of viral discount - Stormhoek via gapingvoid for example, while others are trying to curtail it. The words genie and bottle spring to mind...

almost 9 years ago

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Tom

I had £200 worth of promotion codes removed. I got my solicitor involved, and he stated that the littlewoods terms and conditions about the use and acceptance of promotion codes
Is completely clear, they state "where you have used a code, acceptance of this order is subject to our varifying the code was issued to you" and "your order will be accepted by us (and a contract) formed upon despatch" by despatching the order they accepted the order, therfore validating the codes and entering in to a contract.

almost 9 years ago

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Tom

Littlewoods being a "victim" is completely laughable. Lets put this in to another sinario, you give your wallet to somebody, are you a "victim" of a mugging or a willing participant?

almost 9 years ago

Matthew Finch

Matthew Finch, Head of Sales & Commercial at Warner Leisure Hotels

This is an outragous decision by Littlewoods, and a PR nightmare! Not only will the 3,000 customers never purchase anything again from Littlewoods, it will seriously damage trust in the brand.

The cost to Littlewoods of 3,000 customers claiming a £25 discount is minimal. They should be grateful for the free word-of-mouth publicity generated in chatrooms and message boards, and consider the number of new customers this has actually generated.

Matthew Finch

almost 9 years ago

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Helen Catterall

Littlewoods appear to be trying to take a very hard line on this matter. However, they appear to be fighting a losing battle. It just seems like the old fashioned mail order giant hasn't really moved with the times, and doesn't realise the impact of its online promotions.

almost 7 years ago

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