Such good intentions from Italian carrier Alitalia¬†when launching what it now says would’ve been its most wide-ranging promo ever – but ended up licking its wounds following technical issues with a coupon.
In short: a worldwide promotion went awry when thousands of customers were able to book flights anywhere on the carrier’s network for a paltry and joyous ¬£195.
That the saga unravelled within the full glare of the company’s Facebook¬†page meant the airline has been on the back foot ever since.
So what happened?
Alitalia wanted to offer a 25% discount to fans of its Facebook page (close to 875,000 folk), using the usual discount code system employed by countless retailers around the world.
This happened smoothly and according to plan, except in Japan where for “technical reasons” the carrier was forced to create an e-coupon worth around Yen 25,000 (¬£195!) to be used for flights only originating from Tokyo or Osaka.
Due to a “malfunction”, the airline says, the system did not recognise the coupon should only be used on routes from Japan, meaning anyone could pick it up and claim the discount on any other flight.
A “dramatic surge in visits” to the carrier’s Japanese website, as news spread on Facebook and other social networks, saw hundreds of customers claiming the coupon on tickets across its network, often obtaining a fare for free or next to nothing.
The increase in traffic triggered what the carrier calls a “security system alert” which effectively froze all transactions temporarily.
In an emailed statement, an official says:
“The promotion‚Äôs objective was to spur and increase the sale of tickets at a discounted price, and not to issue tickets for free or at a minimal cost.”
To its credit, Alitalia (not known for its financial buoyancy) says it will honour those that have “committed an albeit minimal amount with their credit card” and booked tickets on its Japanese website with a value greater than Euro 1.
The carrier also extended the 25% discount promotion for users elsewhere following the saga.