Roll-up-the-rim leaving a bad taste in your mouth?

IAN GILLESPIE

, Last Updated: 3:28 PM ET

Roll up? Or ripoff?

If you're not careful, you may find folks at Tim Hortons can be unduly harsh - maybe even downright cheap - when it comes to applying the rules of their popular contest.

Yesterday, a regular reader (who asked to remain anonymous) told me she knew two people who felt they'd been treated unfairly when they tried to redeem a winning tab from the popular Roll Up The Rim To Win contest.

According to the woman, both presented their coffee-winning tabs to separate Tim Hortons outlets at a local hospital.

But because the tab, in both cases, was torn in such a way that the word "WIN" was either absent or partly missing, they were denied their prize.

One of the disallowed tabs is torn so it reads: "N/GAGNEZ UN CAFE/ COFFEE."

Though the letters W and I are missing from "WIN," it's clearly a winning tab.

But in both cases, the reader said, Tim Hortons staff refused to cough up a free coffee.

Why?

To paraphrase a spokesperson for the coffee seller: Sorry, but them's the rules.

"The person at the store did the right thing (by refusing to redeem the tab)," says David Morelli, public relations director for Tim Hortons.

"In the manager's training guide, which is communicated to all employees, they're actually shown photos of what's acceptable and what's not ... including a tab ripped in half. They interpreted the rules how they're supposed to."

The fine print confirms it.

Section 11 of the contest's general rules states: "Contest RIM TABS . . . which are incomplete, mutilated, altered, reproduced, forged, counterfeited or irregular in any way, are automatically void."

Morelli said it was the first time he'd encountered this situation.

"There are a lot of cups out there, and there are a lot of winners," he said.

Morelli added that there are more than 281 million contest cups and 30 million prizes. "So inevitably, this may happen.

"But the purpose of the rules is to maintain the integrity of the contest," he added. "To make sure people feel confident this contest is what it purports to be."

OK. I understand the rules need to be clear and concise. But c'mon! This is a cup of coffee, not a new Toyota. And in an officially bilingual country, isn't "Gagnez Un Cafe" good enough?

To be fair, Morelli stressed if the aggrieved customers contact him, he'll make sure they received their prize.

He also offered to speak to the outlet managers and encourage them to accept incomplete tabs in future.

But the pettiness of it all leaves a bitter taste. "It's stingy," said the woman.

"Tim Hortons makes so much money, they could at least give somebody a coffee."

IAN.GILLESPIE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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