SAINSBURY'S shoppers are furious after Nectar card users were mistakenly sent an email saying they had won a £200 voucher.
Customers are demanding compensation after they received a "disgraceful" follow-up email hours later telling them the original email was sent in error.
Between December 13 and December 14, it is understood hundreds of Nectar customers received an email claiming they had won a £200 e-gift card to spend at the supermarket and other retailers.
The email from Nectar opened with "It's your lucky day!" and told shoppers they had "only gone and won a £200 e-gift card".
But around four hours later, those customers were sent another email apologising for the error and revoking the prize.
The follow-up email said: "Oops, sorry! Our last email stated that you had won a £200 e-gift card. However, this was incorrect. It was actually supposed to invite you to participate in a survey."
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A spokesperson for Nectar told The Sun: “A small proportion of Nectar members recently received an email from us which said they had won an e-gift card. This was not correct.
"We have contacted these customers to explain and apologise for any confusion this may have caused."
Customers were furious at the flippant way Sainsbury's dismissed the mistake after they had been ecstatic about winning the prize money.
One customer said: "Imagine Nectar emailing you to say you’ve won a £200 gift card just before Christmas and then just sending out another generic email saying whoops sorry for the confusion. So awful! Especially as so many people are struggling."
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Another shopper who had been misled by the email said: "You have to offer some kind of compensation for this – you cannot email customers to tell them they have won a £200 gift card and then FOUR hours later say it was a mistake!"
Posting on forum Mumsnet, another Nectar customer pointed out that four hours was long enough for them to verify the email was from a genuine Nectar email address and start getting excited about what to spend it on.
"£200 right before Christmas! Who else is as p****ed off as I am?" they fumed.
One shopper complained they couldn't believe Sainsbury's hadn't offered any compensation for the error.
"Not even an offer of Nectar points as a gesture of goodwill…", they said.
Consumer expert Scott Dixon, who founded blog The Complaints Resolver, said that while Sainsbury's is legally in the right to refuse to honour the vouchers, they could morally have done much more to remedy the situation.
"Especially at this time of year, cash-strapped shoppers would have been delighted to have won £200," he said.
"A well worded sincere apology and a token gift of £25 or £50 would have been a great PR win and welcomed by customers."
The Sun has asked Sainsbury's whether it would consider offering compensation to affected customers and we will update this story when we hear back.
When customers sign up to loyalty card schemes like Nectar, they are required to hand over some personal data like their email address, which is stored in a database.
It was revealed last week Sainsbury's and rival Tesco had made around £300m a year from selling information collected through their loyalty card schemes.
Critics have pointed out that storing vast amounts of data could lead to mistakes if it's not handled carefully.
One customer said: "That is a really bad mistake. You need to be a lot more careful about sending out emails like that to loads of people."
What are my rights if I'm wrongly offered money or a prize?
If you're told you've won money or a prize in error, unfortunately companies are lot legally obliged to honour their offer.
However, they may choose to do so as a gesture of goodwill. Write to the company and explain what happened, as well as what you'd like to them to do to put it right.
If you're sent money by mistake, you're not legally entitled to keep it and may be asked to send it back – but you can dispute the return if you feel it's unfair.
You can make a formal complaint if you're not happy with the company's response, and failing that, you can use a third-party resolution service like Resolver to help liaise with the firm on your behalf.
If you've actually lost out financially because of a business's mistake, you may be able to request compensation for the distress caused.
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For example, if the error was by a financial company, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for free.
If the FOS rules in your favour, it will make the company put you back in the position you would have been in if it hadn't made a mistake.
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