Why I Will No Longer Shop With Plum District and Why You Shouldn’t Either

I love entering contests and giveaways almost as much as I love hosting them for you.  I also encourage my readers to enter other giveaways when I find them (unless I really want to win it LOL).

Last night I saw a giveaway on Plum District LA’s face book page that offered a one night stay at the Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach.  The wording on the status update was:

To Enter:
1.Fill in the blank: “My must-have item for the beach is__________”
2. ‘share’ this offer on your FB page (winner must show proof of ‘share’/screenshot if they win)

Here is a screen shot:

I went to check the post for a winner this morning and saw that it was ME!  YAY!  I emailed the person mentioned in the comment immediately and received a response saying I had been disqualified because I didn’t leave a comment on the post. Take a moment and look at that picture again and tell me if anywhere on there it says I had to leave a comment.  Yeah, I didn’t see any either.  I shared the post like it asked and filled in the blank on my share just like it asked.

Here is a screenshot of my timeline:

I followed the directions that were in the post.

The representative apologized for the confusion (never admitting they were wrong) and offered me $10.oo in codes for the Plum District website.  I declined and did some more research.

Face book is very explicit in their Terms of Service for “contests and promotions” on a brand page.  It is pretty much verbotten.  The following paragraph is very easily found in the face book Help Center and should have been referred to before someone decided to host such a giveaway.

E.    Promotions
If you use Facebook to communicate about or administer a promotion (such as a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (e.g., age and residency restrictions), and compliance with regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered in connection with the promotion (e.g., registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals). Please note that compliance with these guidelines does not constitute the lawfulness of a promotion. Promotions are subject to many regulations and if you are not certain that your promotion complies with applicable law, please consult with an expert.
i.    Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.
ii.    Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a.    A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b.    Acknowledgment that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
c.    Disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.
iii.    You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app. For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.
iv.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.
v.    You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
vi.    You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.
vii.    Definitions:
a.    By “administration” we mean the operation of any element of the promotion, such as collecting entries, conducting a drawing, judging entries, or notifying winners.
b.    By “communication” we mean promoting, advertising or referencing a promotion in any way on Facebook, e.g., in ads, on a Page, or in a Wall post.
Every highlighted sentence was a violation.
How to run a face book promotion brings up dozens of results on Google.  The one with the best information (other than the face book page itself) is Social Media Examiner.  They break it down into plain English just in case there is any confusion.

On November 6, 2009, Facebook changed their Promotions Guidelines significantly. Prior to this date, it was pretty much a free-for-all. With the changed rules, Facebook basically went from one extreme to the other.

In order to administer any kind of contest, you had to (1) get written approval from Facebook at least seven days prior to running your campaign, (2) have an account rep at Facebook and meet the minimum ad spend of $10,000 per month and (3) use a third-party app on the Facebook platform.

Then, on November 29, 2010, Facebook loosened up a bit and changed rules.  So, the good news is:

  1. You no longer need written permission from Facebook in order to run a contest.
  2. You no longer need an account rep at Facebook, nor do you need to meet the minimum monthly ad spend.
  3. BUT you still must administer ALL contests on Facebook via a third-party app ON the Facebook platform.

That’s right! You MUST use an app to conduct a contest or risk having Facebook come down on you. Unless of course you’re a big time advertiser with Facebook.

It is obvious that Plum District did not do their homework and research these terms beforehand and therefore did a disservice not only to me and other entrants but to their client the Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach as well.

I just received another email, still no admittance of their error, but they have upped their offer from $10.00 to tomorrow’s promotion, some beauty products.  No thanks.  I am beautiful just as I am.  Inside and out.  Can Plum District say the same thing?

***UPDATED: At 10:30pm a voucher for the one night’s stay arrived in my email box.  Thank you Plum District.

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Comments

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Comments

  1. I entered this contest just seconds before you did. You are correct, they were not clear in their expectations. It was more or less a “read between the lines” kind of thing. I immediately knew they meant for contestants to leave a comment, but it is strange that specific wasn’t better explained.
    I’m also surprised that a company of their ‘stature’ didn’t realize that Facebook had rules in place for contests. I hope they have learned their lesson.
    Desiree Eaglin recently posted..Lets mock represent ourselvesMy Profile

  2. wow! that is just awful. A. You should have won. B. They need to read the rules. We all make a mistake.. but seriously… We all know this and it is a shame when you see big companies not deal with their social media appropriately. sorry

  3. Michelle says:

    Adrienne…I am sorry you are upset. The first step was to “fill in the blank” the second step was to ‘share’ which you did…I see you filled in the blank on your personal page. I’m sorry it was confusing to you.
    We offered to purchase another offer for you of your choice, which you declined. And also offered to give you multiple $10 off codes for your personal use.
    Also, we have just purchased Wildfire to run our giveaways…so I hope in the future it won’t be confusing…and again, I wish I could do something to make it up to you by letting you pick an offer for yourself.
    We apologize for the confusion…and let me know if you want to change your mind and accept a free deal on our site.
    Best,
    Michelle

  4. Michelle says:

    Also hurtful that you would post this on your blog :( as I did apologize for the misunderstanding.
    Michelle

    • Michelle, I told you ahead of time I would be publishing a story regarding this. It was not meant to “hurt” anyone, it was simply to make others aware of the unfair practice by your company.

    • Apologizing doesn’t make it right. Your giveaway was in violation of terms and you had unclear directions. Any first year contract lawyer would see how in the wrong you are with this. Offering a $10 codes and whatnot is not sufficient…period.
      Maura recently posted..Suits Me To A TeaMy Profile

      • After reading through this conversation, I’m confused. They apologized, and OFFERED to buy you any of the offers… why didn’t you just ask them to get you that offer. She was obviously trying to rectify the situation. Everyone on here should be ashamed. We have all been on the opposite end of things like this. You should be a little more compassionate and understanding. There are companies out there that would do absolutely nothing to fix things, whereas this girl is really trying to make things right.

        Shame on you.

  5. Oh plum district.. no bueno… Sorry that you have to go through that.. kinda sux!

    Not that I need to air out my personal frustrations.. but aside form this.. I purchased a deal through them about 1.5 months ago and I am still trying to get my deal so that I can use it.. OH! It has been paid for btw….

    I also am waiting on a check from October 2011 where they were vendors at my BLP Connect conference last year… first they sent the check made out to the worng name.. have since been waiting for the corrected check….

    crickets….

    I guess maybe they need to get a bit more organized over there?
    laura filipowicz recently posted..MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS **Giveaway**My Profile

  6. BTW – you should have won.. period!
    laura filipowicz recently posted..MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS **Giveaway**My Profile

  7. I allllmmmost entered the very same giveaway, and decided not to at the last minute because it WAS unclear. Nowhere does it say leave a comment on the post. To volley it back to you and infer you didn’t understand the requirements is a complete cop-out on Plus District’s end. I’m sorry you won’t get the one-night stay in Laguna Beach you won fair and square, but enjoy your $10 voucher for beauty products!
    San Diego Momma recently posted..Pretend I Wrote This TodayMy Profile

  8. That is just bad all around. Maybe they’ve learned a thing or two from this experience. Sad that you had to be the one they learned on. :(
    Lolli recently posted..Monster Moth – Give Me Your Best Shot #PSFMy Profile

  9. The easiest solution is to give you what you won. Oh and to not make it sound as if you personally hurt THEIR feelings, like you’re friends or something? What’s that about? This is a business deal, a contest hosted by a BUSINESS. If you want to share it on your website, I believe that’s your right.

    Bad form Plum District.
    Miss recently posted..It’s the Friends Photo Challenge! #FRIENDSpcMy Profile

  10. Michelle,

    I received a plum district email last night stating that only TWO entries had been received for the Laguna giveaway. If Adrienne followed your published rules, you publicly declared her as the winner, then reneged, to whom did you give the prize? A simple apology and a meager $10 is hardly sufficient to assuage the insult. If you truly want to offer her your regrets, give her the actual prize.

    If not, then sadly you are going to find yourself in very low regard as this spreads. I hope you do the right thing.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Lexi… just want to be clear that the contest you are talking about is the one sponsored by the merchant for affiliates that chose to participate…. this is a Facebook contest that she is talking about.

      I know..lots going on! However our entries in the affiliate contest has now skyrocketed! So that’s good!
      Michelle

  11. So sharing this. I hadn’t used it yet but won’t now

  12. Michelle says:

    Hi Lexi…I think you are referring to the contest for the bloggers and affiliates…correct? this contest is one she entered on the Facebook page. The two are separate. Also, the contest for the affiliates gives up to 10 entries per day…and of course after I mentioned that there were only 2 entries…..we then got swamped!

    Hi Laura…I am not sure what offer you are referring to …however I would love to help you by looking into it. If you could email me the offer that you are waiting for I will follow up on that for you..and for the BLP Connect, I am not sure who was invalid in that…was her name Ginger? If you could let me know, I can follow up on that also. I just left you a message on your phone.

    I wish I could have PD purchase the hotel stay for you…it is hard to be the ‘middle man’… I wish I had plum dollars in my account to purchase it for you. Again I am sorry. If I were to purchase it for you, I would have to do so with my personal money…if it would make you happy, I am willing to do that.
    Michelle

  13. Michelle, kudos on the FAB spin job. Now man up and do the right thing.

  14. Michelle says:

    Hi Lexi. I have offered to purchase this offer for her out of my personal account. She has not wanted anything..so there is nothing I can do at this point. I’m sorry.
    Also, just want to make sure that you understood the difference between the giveaway on Facebook and the one with affiliates.
    Signing off. Wish I could have helped. Not much I can do but apologize and offer to give you Plum Dollars etc…all of which you have refused.
    Michelle

    • Michelle,
      This is not about making me “happy”. This is about Plum District stepping up and doing the right thing. Plum District held a contest with unclear and undefined rules. I was declared the winner and then told I didn’t follow said rules. It was not my mistake it was Plum District’s. I appreciate your apology and your offer to purchase the promo from your pocket. However, I find that to be disengenuous for two reason. First because it was made in the comments section on my blog for all to see (look at me, trying to make her happy but she is being defiant), and secondly because the offer was not made by Plum District which is where the blame lies. Had you simply told me there was a promo voucher on it’s way or had one appeared in my email, that would have made me happy. It is what I asked for in the very beginning.
      Lexi is right, you have put a nice spin on everything. You have made it all out to be my fault. My fault the rules were unclear and my fault I wouldn’t accept your offers of reparation. Remember that emails are forever and I have no record of you offering me anything other than the $10.00 codes and the “beauty products” until the blog post was published and the commenters started agreeing with me. Your statement that you have tried over and over to make me happy was simply a ploy to make yourself look good and point out to my readers that I am the bad guy. But they like me see right through you and your company.
      I don’t know whose “fault” this is at your company, whether it is your personally or it just happened to fall on your shoulders. but I do know for sure it is not my fault and I will no longer allow you to try to place blame upon me.
      If you and Plum District truly want to make me happy, you know what to do. if not, well, that’s fine too.

      Since you have brought all of your “offers” to the blog comments, this email will also be published there.
      Adrienne Van Houten recently posted..Why I Will No Longer Shop With Plum District and Why You Shouldn’t EitherMy Profile

  15. I will never shop with them after reading this. Ew.
    Jamie recently posted..Mother-at-Arms: Stephanie DeckerMy Profile

  16. Michelle, the point is not which contest it was, or how many entries there were. The point was that you publicly declared someone a winner, you had ill defined rules and omission of your intent, and blatantly disregarded the rules Facebook has set out for such postings. Plum District and/or you SHOULD absolutely pay for Adrienne’s prize.

  17. Thank you for keeping us informed.

  18. This is absolutely awful. What happened to you is awful. Adding insult to injury is that a major brand is expecting it’s followers to play by rules they don’t.
    alexandra recently posted..If Emily Posted – On Kids and Intellectual PropertyMy Profile

  19. The most annoying part of this story to me is that you had to waste your time researching all the ways PlumDistrict breached the contest rules on FB. A contest entry that should have taken you a few minutes has now sucked hours out of your life.

    I thought everyone knew FB contests needed to be run through an APP. Period. I guess this is one of those instances where everyone DOESN’T know and that’s how things break down…..

    I’m so sorry this turned into such a FIASCO!
    angie recently posted..The Thing I Love Most About My JobMy Profile

  20. This is so unprofessional. And I’m not talking about Plum District. I’m talking about you and your post. How ridiculous that you chose to lash out at a company over such a petty thing. I normally don’t interfere on issues like this, but it is pretty clear here that you didn’t follow the rules of the giveaway. Let me just quote what they said:
    To Enter:
    1. Fill in the blank: “My must-have item for the beach is _________”
    2. ‘Share’ this offer on your facebook page
    If I read this, I would assume that I would need to first leave a comment answering the question, and THEN share it on my page. It seems pretty obvious to me.
    But back to your bashing blog post. This is just flat out ridiculous. If you have an issue with a company, you should try to work it out directly with THEM. Writing a post bashing a business is almost like throwing a huge temper tantrum. In the past, when I have had similar issues, I simply contacted the appropriate person, and explained that it was an honest mistake. Almost every customer service rep has greeted my kindness equally, and helped me rectify the situation.
    I hope you enjoy your free nights stay, and feel super good about the way you got it. Throwing a fit online, and making sure you bash the company good is a great way to win a prize. I would be super pleased with myself if I were you.

    • I had been emailing their rep all morning. During the emails the only “offer” that was made was $10 in codes for their site. It was not until I wrote about the incident that other “offers” were made.
      This was not a post to “bash” anyone. I spent many years in customer service (15 years as a retail manager), I usually only publish about good customer service because not enough people talk about that. However the way this was turned around on me was unfair and unjust and I felt that I had no other recourse than to take it public.
      I appreciate your opinion on this, as I have all of the comments.

    • This is really no different than her telling her friends and family what happened and I’m pretty sure everyone would have done that. The rules are unclear, and if she didn’t follow the rules they shouldn’t have said she was the winner. Period.

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