Ever experience that heart-stopping moment when you inadvertently throw that unfurled Roll up the Rim cup in the trash or recycling? What if it was the $32,000 car you just threw away? Or that pre-paid Mastercard?
It seems that phobia is warranted.
Four of the 40 Toyota Camry Hybrids offered in Tim Hortons’ popular contest went unclaimed last year. Just 93 of 100 Panasonic 3D televisions, 896 of 1,000 Coleman camping packages and 4,327 of 5,000 Panasonic digital cameras were claimed during the 2012 contest, according to the restaurant chain.
Still, Tim Hortons spokeswoman Alexandra Cygal says “the redemption rate on the top prizes is excellent.”
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Here are nine important, fun or just plain random facts about Tim Hortons’ Roll Up The Rim To Win Contest.
Ron Buist was the marketing director for Tim Hortons when the chain rolled out its first Roll up the Rim to Win contest. Buist says he came up with the idea because of cost constraints. The chain didn’t have enough money to make cups for a scratch-and-win contest, so he came up with the idea of rolling up the cup’s rim instead. "Like any invention, one person comes up with it, but it's the company that makes it work," Buist said.
Giller Prize-nominated writer Leo MacKay Jr.’s novel Roll up the Rim is “a comic tale of obsession, redemption, divine intervention, and Timbits.” MacKay is selling the book directly, and depending on how much money you send him, you can get the book autographed, get a reading from the author via Skype, or even get an in-person reading. Now that’s dedication.
Some retailers who carry Tim Hortons coffee have reported customers doubling or even tripling up on roll-up-the-rim cups. Some brazen wannabe winners are going so far as to take entire stacks of cups out of stores. Retailers have taken to hiding the cups behind the counter to keep people from stealing them.
A winning Timmies cup became the centre of acrimony in 2006 when a 10-year-old Montreal girl found a cup in a garbage can. With the help of a 12-year-old friend, the girl discovered that the cup was a Toyota RAV4 winner. But the contest win turned into a battle between two families when the 12-year-old’s parents claimed the prize for their own. And the whole issue became even more complicated when a custodian at the girls’ school claimed he had thrown the cup away. In the end, Timmies gave the car to the 10-year-old, as the rules stipulate whoever hands in the cup wins the prize.
A Newfoundland man told the press in 2008 he suspected Timmies employees of sneaking and peeking at cups to suss out winners, then passing along the losing cups to customers. Bernard Delaney said he got a cup that looked like the rim had already been rolled up, and the cup, he said, even had teeth marks. Tim Hortons said a manufacturing problem was to blame for the cup, and denied anyone had bitten into the cup or sneaked a look under the rim.
The Toronto Environmental Alliance criticized the Roll up the Rim contest in 2010, noting that disposable coffee cups of the sort Tim Hortons uses are wasteful and harmful to the environment. "A lot of resources go into making a coffee cup and too often they end up going into garbage. . . . it's a pretty significant waste of resources,” the group said. Tim Hortons said they were looking into alternatives, but hadn’t found one yet that works.
Tim Hortons took some criticism when it emerged in 2009 that your odds of winning are worse in some provinces than others. CBC reported that, though 52.5 per cent of Roll up the Rim purchases took place in Canada’s largest province, Ontario only received 43 per cent of prizes. The best odds of winning were in British Columbia, where the odds of winning were nearly double that of Ontario.
Vancouver Island house painter Matthew de Jong walked into a Tim Hortons in 2009 and presented a winning cup for a Toyota Venza. A week later, the company informed de Jong he wouldn’t be getting his prize because his cup was a fake. Tim Hortons even suggested it could bring charges against de Jong. But when the story hit the news, a 12-year-old girl who lived in the house de Jong was painting came forward to admit she had made a fake winning cup as part of an April Fools prank. Tim Hortons dropped the matter.
In 2011, when Tim Hortons missed quarterly earnings projections, the company blamed the bad performance on “significantly increased food and beverage prize redemptions.” The company estimated Roll up the Rim had cut about a third off of same-store sales growth that quarter. But the company also noted that a coffee promotion at McDonald’s during that year’s Roll up the Rim may have cut into sales.
Cygal couldn’t provide many details on why no one came for them or what happened to the prizes.
“What happens to the unclaimed prizes really depends on the prize as we don’t always have all prizes upfront before distributing,” she said, adding that since agreements with suppliers are confidential, she can’t provide details on individual prizes.
So far this year, six of 40 Toyota RAV4s have been claimed, along with 14 of 100 pre-paid MasterCards worth $5,000 each; 32 of 1,000 Napoleon gourmet grills; and 584 of 25,000 $100 Tims gift cards, as of Monday.
Five of the six Toyotas were doled out to winners in southern Ontario, and one went to a winner on Prince Edward Island.
Tim Hortons says it produced around 261 million Roll up the Rim cups for this year’s contest.
About 17.5 million are distributed in British Columbia; 41.3 million in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Yukon; 130 million in Ontario; 32 million in Quebec; 27.9 million in the Atlantic provinces and 12.2 million throughout the United States.
The odds of winning at least a doughnut or coffee are one-in-six. The company says it audits the odds daily during the contest and those reports are monitored weekly to ensure the odds are always one-in-six.
Winning cups are distributed by a third party and scattered throughout the cup cases, which are randomly distributed in an attempt to ensure no one restaurant gets more winning cups than another.
Roll up the Rim cups will be distributed until Apr. 26 or until supplies last, whichever comes first.
Tims is also holding a concurrent online contest, Rockin' RRRoll Up Roulette, which offers 10,000 more prizes. That promotion ends March 17. Winners of both contests have until May 19 to claim their prizes.