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Omaha Steaks Social Media Marketing Turned Internet Reputation Debacle

[ad#250by250]Just a heads up, this post is from Kristie, and the lead in is a bit complicated, so bear with me!

Yesterday, I was visiting a blog that I read regularly where I learned about an Omaha Steaks deal layed out by another blogger named Catherine.  The deal was a little complicated, but to sum it up, there was a $25 Omaha Steaks e-gift card being offered by GEICO, as a reward for signing up for their GEICO Privileges program (a reward program with discounts to various retailers). On top of that, Omaha Steaks was offering 12 free steak burgers with your first purchase, via a promotion that Omaha Steaks shoppers were explicitly invited to pass along via email and Facebook and Myspace widgets.

Put together, that was going to make for a pretty sweet deal.  So, I signed up, got my $25 gift card code, and clicked through the email link to snag my free burgers.

After everything was said and done, I placed the order that’s summarized below.  As you can see, I got an order of sausage and 12 burgers, for a total of $1.98 after my “Reward Gift Card” was applied, and I was happily awaiting my package to arrive on October 24th.

Email Order Confirmation

Today, I got an email from Omaha Steaks customer service stating that they were confident I’d be “delighted” with my order, but I wasn’t getting my free burgers. Whatever made them think I’d be delighted about not getting part of my order, I’m not sure. Apparently, it was stated on the free item promotion that it couldn’t be combined with any other offer – said offer being a gift card received from another merchant.  In addition, a quick check of the Omaha Steaks website showed that my new order arrival date had been pushed back to October 29th.

I responded back, stating that neither my GEICO gift card, nor their free burger offer had made any statements about combining anything, and this was the oh so helpful response I got back:

Dear Ms. McNealy,

Thank you for contacting Omaha Steaks. We apologize for any
inconvenience.

As stated in the free item promotions, the free items cannot be combined
with any other offer.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to email us or contact
us at 1-800-329-6500. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Julie Davis
Omaha Steaks Customer Care

Hmm. Good thing I saved a screen capture of my offer.  I sent another email back, including said screen capture.  I’m still waiting for a response.

Omaha Steaks Offer

While I was at it, I went back to the original blog post where I found out about this deal, and found dozens of other commenters, many of whom are bloggers, who had also had their orders altered or even canceled by Omaha Steaks. Of course this happened after they received order confirmations and some people had had their credit cards charged.

Now obviously, Omaha Steaks made a mistake.  They didn’t expect so many people to jump on these two deals.  That’s ok – everybody makes mistakes (wait, isn’t that a Hannah Montana song??).  The problem lies in how they handled it.  When the two promotions went awry, they could have ended the free burger offer, or changed the terms for subsequent offers.  Instead, they chose to ruin their relationship with new customers over the cost of 12 burgers (now selling on their site for $14.99).  Seriously, how much do those burgers even cost Omaha Steaks?  Is it worth saving a few bucks per order to end up with dozens of negative blog posts and hundreds of blog comments scattered over the internet?

If Omaha Steaks had taken a step back and really thought about this, instead of running off and changing a bunch of confirmed orders, they could have mentally written off the burgers as an unexpected marketing expense.  Had that been the case, these new found happy and satisfied customers could have gone on to order holiday gifts (December is right around the corner…) and tell their friends how great their experience was.  Instead, these customers are spending time taking down those cute little widgets Omaha Steaks told them to post, they are talking and blogging about the total lack of customer service they’ve received, and they are convincing their friends never to order from Omaha Steaks again.

Congratulations Omaha Steaks, instead of creating raving fans, you’ve just pissed off a bunch of mommy bloggers.

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