Love is in the air for the month of February and besides hoping for a Valentine, people can usually count on Tim Hortons to deliver a potentially-winning Roll Up the Rim cup.
And if they’re lucky, a Honda Civic may just be what is needed to get over a Valentine’s Day gone sour.
But has the promotion outlived its usefulness?
The game period began on February 1 this year, but of course, that meant longer line-ups and a few not so happy customers.
Since 2007, Roll Up the Rim to Win has been a tradition for the company founded in Canada. According to a company press release, “The game is bigger than ever this year with guests having the chance to win one of more than 49 million prizes.”
Various tweaks to the game such as double-sided roll up cups in 2014 and a yearly shift of prizes have tried to maintain a positive relationship between the company and its customers. Some prize examples over the years have included bicycles, grills, free coffees for a year, Smart TVs and of course cars.
“People go nuts during Roll Up, I’m just here for my coffee like always, but now I’m having to wait 10 or 15 minutes longer,” said customer John Roberts. “For those of us who don’t care about winning and just want their coffee and sandwich in the morning, yeah it can be pretty annoying”.
In St. Catharines, the 24-hour Tim Hortons at 275 Geneva Street has seen almost 2,000 winning tabs pass by its counters. Shift manager Kayla McLaren knows that Roll-Up time of the year is busier than usual, but thinks it would be a good idea to have another system in place to deal with the extra customer traffic of Roll-Up season.
“Our employees do our best to ensure that we are able to handle the needs of all our customers, but it’s hard to juggle service to a tee during this time,” McLaren said. “Certain restaurants, like McDonald’s, now are beginning to turn customers to making orders on the self-serve computers to ease the line-ups and this is something I think could help a lot more.”
The company was purchased by American-based Burger King in December of 2014 and this has seen a difference in marketing strategies for the game.
In the past, fans of the game were able to track an online updated map of Canada that would show where more sought-after prizes like $100 gift cards, televisions and cars were being claimed through the company’s website. As well, an online game could be found on the company’s webpage that allowed players to have a chance to roll up a winning tab.
Both of these features have been scrapped this year.
Online community boards like reddit.com show Tim Hortons fanatics feeling somewhat upset about the changes.
“Looks like you now have to buy a Tim’s product (like a tin of coffee from the grocery store) and upload the receipt,” said Reddit user Ian Hardy.
“The ‘no purchase required’ option requires you to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to them. Big fail, Tim’s. That online game was fun and you blew it,” said Kristopher Ranger another Reddit user.
“This is unfortunate as there is no indication as to how many prizes have been awarded or claimed — especially the 40 cars up for grabs,” said Hardy who referred to the interactive map. “Hopefully this will return”.
The chain’s head office in Oakville had expressed a lack of participation last year as their reasoning behind removing their online versions of gameplay and prize tracking tools this year.
“We remain committed to providing our consumers with a fun experience with Roll-Up, but we have seen a fall in the number of users of our web content and so, for now, it’s not a priority for us,” said TDL group corporation spokesperson Erica, who did not provide a surname.
Some others say that it’s harder to find time for more generous moments involving customers paying it forward by paying for other customers during Roll-Up season.
“Honestly, I don’t think I would be doing that at a time like this,” said customer Mike Tamane. “I just feel like that one time I were to buy that coffee for somebody, that they would end up getting the car.”
Sometimes, the Roll-Up time period brings the worst out of people and not everyone has played by the rules.
On Feb. 7, three people from Belleville, Ont. were charged with break, enter and theft after they tried to sneak away with several boxes of Roll Up cups from a storage facility.
But with the bad of course comes some good.
Cec Joyal, a graduate and development officer at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Elementary School in Hamilton, started an awareness effort around homelessness back in 2000. She encouraged others to come together to donate winning rims for her Roll-Up drive to those in need of something to eat and a place to keep warm.
“They can’t just sit in Tim Hortons and not order,” Joyal says. “This way they can get off the street and get out of the cold. It also gives them some dignity. They can get a hot cup of coffee and some food in their bellies and they don’t have to ask people for money.”
The contest continues until April 14 or as long as supplies last.