A fall in fake money has caused a backlash, with calls for a boycott of The Safety Warehouse and demands for real money.
A disgusted visitor has started a Change.org petition demanding that people with vouchers get real money and planned a complaint to the police, saying that vouchers that looked like $ 5 bills were scattered among the crowd in Aotea Square in Auckland.
More than 1,000 people gathered in the square at noon yesterday after the company promoted plans to drop $ 100,000 from the sky.
But chaos broke out when a crowd rushed forward to catch fake money coming from what looked like a gun.
Furious members of the audience, including Levin’s John Murphy, called the event a waste of time, claiming that many attendees were from poor backgrounds who felt cheated.
The business owner, Andrew Thorn, said earlier that he really gave away $ 100,000.
But Murphy said visitors only received coupons that looked like $ 5 bills.
“I attended the event expecting it to be the highlight of my short trip to Auckland, but it was going to be a disaster,” said Murphy.
He has since started a petition, which has more than 280 signatories, demanding that The Safety Warehouse convert vouchers issued during the event into real money.
“I know people from outside Auckland who have been stranded. Many of us, including myself, have been injured,” Murphy added.
“People pushed, pushed and threw themselves over each other in an attempt to get real money.”
He said one person who appeared to be an organizer shared a laughable suggestion that the $ 5 vouchers could be exchanged for real money at the bank.
Murphy also said he would ask police to investigate whether the vouchers could be counterfeit.
Thorn did not answer his phone or return a message on Sunday.
But he said earlier that the company was already giving away real money, with discounts on fake money on top and 40,000 coupons printed.
And he said an employee was hospitalized after the crowd got angry and an object thrown through the back window of a company car smashed glass into his eyes.
A marketing professor at Massey University said the company should apologize and hire a good public relations firm to save its reputation.
Prof Malcolm Wright told Radio New Zealand that the stunt had violated customers’ trust.
‘I don’t think they would have gone out to deceive, of course they wouldn’t have gone out to cheat. Someone just sold it too much and went a bit far. ‘
But some in attendance were outraged.
“I’ve wasted my gas, time, and money … I could have spent the day doing something more productive,” a Papakura woman wrote on Murphy’s petition.
“Waste of time, babies hurt, ripped us all off, made fun of us,” said another signatory.
Cam Hore wrote, “What a bloody shame. Anyone who attended this event should be compensated and the company fined for misleading people.”
Jon Duffy, CEO of Consumer NZ, said any company running a promotion should make sure it can meet the terms of the promotion.
“If the company didn’t actually give away $ 100,000 in cash at this event, they would be in violation of the bait advertising provisions of the Fair Trading Act.”
The fair trade law forbade anyone from promoting goods or services at a specific price if they had no intention of supplying those goods.
“Bait advertising is where you advertise something that is a really good offer to get people in, but then doesn’t respond,” said Duffy.
“Once you get them there, you try to sell them to something else.”
“And we understand that people got vouchers from the fake money being handed out here, which gave them some sort of special deal,” Duffy added.
“If that’s all that was offered, then this offer could be misleading. I think we should just see what happens.”
‘I haven’t seen the real money [but] it sounds like the event didn’t go the way the company had hoped. “
“And obviously people didn’t get what they thought they got.”
The event was ostensibly held to thank New Zealanders for their support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thorn said he started the Safety Warehouse business through his Christchurch-based company Greenback Capital, to provide workwear, then moved into masks, hand sanitizers and other equipment when the Covid-19 pandemic started.