This weekend, Electronic Arts accidentally gave away thousands of free games thanks to a discount coupon, rewarded to anyone who filled out their marketing survey, that would take $US20 off any purchase of more than $US20. Some crafty gamers figured out that they could use the coupon more than once, and they walked away with a whole bunch of free EA-published games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age.
So on Sunday, EA stopped giving out codes. You could still fill out the survey, but you would no longer receive the coupon for $US20 off a game, as EA had promised.
An EA representative later said they'd be honouring all sales made over the weekend — including the free games — and people flipped out.
EA forum user Kutar:
You are punishing loyal customers meanwhile rewarding those who abused promo code to acquire multiple games.
That is not very nice. Grant us another survey along with coupon and promo code, or just one game price under 20 dollars.
We have the right to demand it.
Forum user Gorgon_Rider:
Are you kidding me? What about those of us that legitimately filled out your survey and haven't been able to use the code we were promised!?
So the guys that scammed the system (some of whom never even did the survey; they just got the code off the internet) get to keep their multiple free/discounted games and those of us that were honest and filled out your survey get squat? I really hope this isn't what you're saying. I really do.
Any response to this?
EA forum user boltfox20 sums up peoples' gripes:
Allow me to put this into perspective for those who don't seem to get it.
A service was rendered, here. The agreement was that we take a survey and the payment would be $US20 off of one game purchase of $US19.99 or more, with some restrictions. That was a fair deal, as many people agree.
The code offered was a universal code, one that could be obtained without completing the survey, and used multiple times. This is the fault of EA who obviously does not understand the internet at all.
Upon realising their mistake, EA immediately broke the code so no one else could abuse it, but they left the survey up. While the survey was still offering the $US20 coupon as payment, EA was not. As such, they are now getting free information by offering a bogus payment. This is known as scamming people.
When confronted on this issue, EA has chosen to respond by honouring the purchases of those who abused the system and not the coupons obtained by those wanting to use it properly after the fact. They have rewarded the abusers and punished their customers.
Believe me, for some of these people, it is no idle threat to take this to court. The e-mail clearly states that there is a payment offered for completing the survey, a payment that has yet to be given to those of us completing it on the second day and after. $US20 is not the only thing at stake here. That is merely payment for services rendered. There is also the ability to have them pay the court costs and to force them to offer compensation to those who did work for them and have yet to receive their payment.
If a payment is not given in some fashion to the amount of $US20 to spend on an item of our choice, then this survey is a scam, something not tolerated by the BBB or the internet at large. EA is in for a world of hurt if it doesn't get its act together. While I, personally, will not be doing anything, I know how the internet works.
EA will feel the burn on this one.
Forum user Ratboy422:
In the same boat. If EA does not fix this for the people that wanted to use the coupon to buy a game, before oct 21st as posted, Im going to Best Buy and cancelling my pre-order of both NFS and MoH. Might as well just steal them because it sure looks like that what they support. Not paying customers.
That's just a sampling of some of the complaints hitting EA's forums, Reddit, and other gaming message boards across the web.
I've reached out to EA for comment and will update should they respond.