It’s the digital coupon bonanza that never was – and was never meant to be.

A relative newcomer to paperless coupons has just suffered some digital coupon growing pains. And some of its customers are the ones feeling the pain, after getting their hopes up for coupons that seemed waaay better than they really were.

Shoppers who had signed up for emails from the Northeastern grocer Wegmans received their regular email this week, alerting them to a set of new digital coupons that were available. About $9 in coupons were offered for store-brand items like salad and chicken, if you clicked the email to load them to a store loyalty card.

Nothing out of the ordinary there. But then these same shoppers got another email, with $9 more in coupons.

And then they got another email. And another. And another.

Wegmans seemed to be going crazy with the coupons, sending dozens of emails to some shoppers, with coupons in each message. What some shoppers had considered a somewhat lackluster digital coupon program was suddenly offering hundreds of dollars worth of coupons at once, many of which could be used over and over again.

At least that’s the way it seemed. It turns out, it was a big mistake. The emails didn’t contain unique coupons – they just contained repeats of the same ones. No matter how many emails you received, opened and clicked, you could still load only one of each coupon to your card.

Bummer.

“We are so very sorry for the system glitch that caused this to happen, and it’s now been fixed,” Wegmans wrote in a followup email (yes, another one) to its customers. “Thank you for your patience and understanding. And, as always, thank you for shopping at Wegmans.”

“I thought I won the Wegmans lottery!” one commenter on Wegmans’ Facebook page wrote. “I got 13 emails,” another wrote. 20 emails seemed to be a common number. Not to be outdone, one shopper said “I got 38!” And still another chimed in with, “My friend got 70.”

The whole situation is somewhat reminiscent of a situation that occurred at Food Lion last year. In that case, it wasn’t email that was the problem – it was the digital coupons themselves. Shoppers logged into their accounts to find dozens of free-item digital coupons available. Some shoppers clipped them all and rushed to the store, but others were too late – the store caught on quickly, pulled all the freebies, and blamed “a technical glitch in our system”. Free item coupons are sometimes given to select customers, but apparently every free item coupon in the system was accidentally sent to all customers.

Some shoppers complained that they had no idea it was an error, and didn’t find out until they got to the store, checked their digital coupon account, and found that the freebies had disappeared. “It’s not cool that you put 29 free coupons on my account and as I was heading to the store they disappeared,” one shopper complained. “You definitely got my hopes up for nothing.”

In Wegmans’ case, there were never actually dozens of duplicate digital coupons available – the store just spammed everyone’s inboxes with dozens of emails to make it seem like there were.

But, given Wegmans’ status as one of the country’s best-loved grocery stores, most customers aren’t complaining.

“I got 13 emails… but I don’t even care. I love Wegmans so much that it is ok,” one Facebook commenter wrote. “I stopped counting after 15 received but nothing could stop my love for you, Wegmans!” another added.

It’s good to be loved. And after getting shoppers’ hopes up with a coupon bonanza that never was – it’s better than the alternative.

Image source: Wegmans

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