Last week we sent an email newsletter with a coupon code to about 6,000 recipients. The coupon wasn’t fully tested, and was not configured to work with the appropriate products. It was several hours until the mistake was found, and naturally most of the traffic from the email had already visited the site.

The site received several orders, some noting the coupon code didn’t work, which is how we realized there was a problem. We had a choice to make… what do we do now? We could simply fix the coupon code and be done with it. We could fix the coupon code and resend the original email. We could fix it and send an apology.

We decided to write an apology and resend to all 6,000 recipients, effectively doubling our newsletter costs. Our response to the problem is below:

I want to apologize. Yesterday, we sent out an email newsletter that had a coupon for 15% off all Propet and Columbia items on our website.

Unfortunately, when the email went out the coupon did not work. In our haste to get the newsletter out in time, I didn’t test the coupon code. Oops!

I’m sorry if you tried to place an order using the coupon code yesterday morning.

We have fixed the coupon code and it now works properly.

We’re extending the sale through Sunday night.  All Columbia and Propet shoes and boots are eligible for 15% off:


Columbia Sportswear

To redeem, just enter “SELECT15” in your shopping cart and click the “Recalculate” button.

Again, I’m sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your business.

All the best,

Brandon Eley

What’s the lesson here? First, test, test, and test again. If you’re sending out a coupon code, test it with the actual products it should work with. All of them.

Second, man up when you make a mistake. Apologize, make it right. We extended the time frame people could redeem the coupon code and sent another email letting them know we had issues. The coupon code had already been fixed, and many people had already ordered successfully (never knowing we had a problem). Apologizing lets them know you’re human… and it lets them know you care about your customers.