This week a Twitter user took on a big corporation and won. One man, @Terry_Finnegan, whipped up a storm against big brand @EE, who had back tracked on the “money can’t buy” prize of Glastonbury tickets that he’d won and made them look SMALL.
This week Twitter user @Terry_Finnegan found a loophole in a competition and used the current appetite for David vs Goliath stoning of big corporations to his advantage to secure a prize to which he was not entitled.
It’s a lesson in the power of social media. It’s a fantastic channel to reach young people with money to spend. It’s also a tool that can easily spiral out of control in the wrong (or maybe the right) hands.
Glastonbury’s mobile media partner, Everything Everywhere, ran a cute little competition – offering 10 pairs of Glasto tickets to winners of a Twitter competition. The ten winners were picked. As far as I can gather, some of these winners came via Facebook. Ouch. Not Twitter only then. To appease the (not really kicking off at all) masses, @EE sent a tweet out to five more entrants telling them to get in touch as five more prizes had been awarded and winners should contact them to see what they’d won.
This prize was £400 in Ticketmaster vouchers. Amazing. I’ll take that. Oh, except …. the prize these five had narrowly missed out on was a pair of tickets to Glastonbury – the Holy Grail of festivals. Now there was no suggestion of Glasto tickets in the tweet that was sent out but you can’t blame people for getting their hopes up. Every time the awesome West End Show ‘Book of Mormon’ retweets me (they even posted a photo of my cat one day!) I’m waiting for the direct message offering me tickets … but no, the Glasto tickets had run out.
Not good enough for one Twitter user. Terry saw the tweet, presumably replied only to be told his prize was a lowly £400 of vouchers (that’s 4 tickets to Book of Mormon with change to buy a souvenier magical “love” frog in case you were wondering) and then he decided to unleash hell. He saw it as a crusade against Corporate Britain. I saw it as a foot-stamping temper tantrum straight out of Nursery School.
I think initially Terry had genuinely misread the tweet and decided he had a top five prize. As reality dawned he didn’t back down or shut up like most people would – he did his research and found a loophole. The competition was for TWITTER users. As some of the winners had actually come via FACEBOOK, he was actually top ten so #GiveTerryhisGlastotickets was born …
The clue however is in the wording. @EE had said that entries must be submitted via Twitter, not that it was a “Twitter only” competition. So no, it wasn’t clear. But equally no, he hadn’t won.
Us Glasto fans are a determined bunch. We sit on computers and phones hitting refresh and redial for hours on ticket day, resale day, look out for random secret resales and enter every single competition in the hopes of getting that elusive golden ticket to what is frankly the best 5 days of anybody’s year. So why, if the Ts&Cs were misleading or wrong, was Terry the only “winner” to kick off? Why didn’t the other four feel equally aggrieved? Probably because it was a tenuous (aka not real) complaint.
The Ts&Cs also said a prize of equivalent value could be offered so actually no “laws” were broken even if you do accept the Twitter loophole.
I’m all for sticking it to the big corporations who try to screw us little guys over. But in this case, @EE only backed down because Terry managed to whip up a sense of injustice and outrage that threatened to cause them reputational damage. That’s not fair and that opens the floodgates for all sorts of disgruntled customers to abuse the whole “customer is always right” cliche. Terry’s original statement was a bold one – @EE were refusing to honour prizes – a tasty bandwagon for a lot of people who can’t be arsed to read a little deeper.
So eventually @EE miraculously “found” five more tickets for their runners up.
Since then, Terry has been tweeting his massive excitement about going to Glasto. On one level I’m delighted for him – in the way that I’m delighted for anybody who gets a ticket against all odds at the last minute. It must be an amazing feeling. But on the other level, it’s totally against the rather magical “spirit of Glastonbury” – something for me that implies honesty, truthfulness, consideration, humility, empathy … it’s a place where everybody behaves a little bit more nicely towards the people around them. It’s not somewhere to turn up in a T-shirt with a slogan shouting out that you “BEAT THE BIG CORPORATES”. If I was Terry I may well have been tempted to try my luck with the loophole but, having “won”, I like to think I’d have said thank you, let it lie and concentrated on the big issues of carrying alcohol on trolleys and whether the Mumfords will perform or not (God willing …) – instead there has been a stream of bravado, retweeting congratulations on being a PROPER LAD and nothing that makes me want to share a cider with Terry ten days from now.
That said, after all this fuss, I hope you have a good festival Terry and I hope some of the amazing people you will meet in ten days have an influence on you. Failing that – I hope your phone blows up in the @EE re-charge tent and you camp next to a group of even bigger LADS than you think you are …