Even the most creative marketing plans can go often go awry.
Paytm has been running an offer that promises cashbacks when users buy confectionery products. Users buying a bar of Snickers, or a pack of Parle biscuits, are asked to find a code within the pack that could be entered into the Paytm website for an instant cashback. It’s a clever ploy — most cashback offers target the online consumer, but Paytm was tapping into newer, offline markets with its offer. And the cashbacks being offered were generous — the company giving half the value of the products off.
But many users trying to avail of the scheme have been left disappointed, and have been taking to social media to voice their displeasure. For starters, some have said that the QR code printed on the pack that’s required to be scanned doesn’t work.
— nithin p (@letszaps) September 6, 2017
— Mr.Bajaj (@marshalbajaj) August 27, 2017
— Rakesh (@raakeysh02) August 12, 2017
— Ajay Sadanande (@ajay_sadanande) September 4, 2017
Users also had the option of looking inside the pack for a multi-digit code. Several users reported the code inside their packs was missing.
@Paytmcare bought a hide and seek packet with Rs. 15 paytm cashback but there is no code inside the pack????
Aisa bhi hota Hai Kya???
— They call me Gaurav (@garv_gr8) August 31, 2017
— Ronak Kagrana (@rKagrana) September 1, 2017
— Manmohan Singh (@msmanmohansingh) August 30, 2017
— KashyapPatwa (@KasPatwa) August 18, 2017
And many others, who managed to find the code, couldn’t get it to work.
— Mr. Mishra (@srvmi) September 6, 2017
This is in regards with the Paytm cash of rs 15 with hide&seek biscuits. I am entering the voucher code in the packet but it's saying incorr
— AsuraOfHeavyMetal (@metalpsyc) August 30, 2017
@Paytm I have a RS15 PAYTM cashback code from a Hide & Seek pack I purchased but the app is unable to process the code 😬
— Ayush Mishra (@AyushKharghar) August 30, 2017
We decided to get a pack of Hide and Seek ourselves to check how hard it was to get a cashback. Like many of the users here, we couldn’t scan the QR code. It’s printed on the outside of the pack, and a part of it is on the pack’s crimp. This causes distortions on its surface, and makes it hard for phones to recognize. We tried stretching it out, but still couldn’t get it to work.
And we initially thought that our pack had no promotional code on the inside either — after opening the pack, it appeared to have a regular plain sliver surface. But upon closer inspection (and with some help from lighting effects), we were finally able to see it. The code is faintly embossed in silver on the silver pack, but is virtually impossible to spot unless you hold up the pack next to a light.
And when we thought we were nearly there, there will still more pain in store. We tried entering the code into Paytm Mall’s site, but the site repeatedly told us to enter a valid code. We tried different permutations (that looks like an O? Or is it a C? Maybe try Q?), but nothing worked. After spending nearly an hour on the endeavour, we were still no closer to getting a cashback.
Paytm’s latest cashback scheme looks like a good plan gone horribly wrong. The idea must’ve looked impressive on paper — by giving cashbacks on physical goods, Paytm could’ve tapped a whole new offline market that could’ve used the cashback to transact at the many physical stores where it accepts payments. But its execution makes it nearly impossible to actually get the cashback. Choosing to print the QR code to a raised surface makes it very hard to scan, and the choice of faint embossed silver text on a silver background has to be some designer’s idea of a cruel joke. And while some codes work, as we were able to confirm with some people, ours didn’t in spite of our best efforts.
At times, the execution can matter as much as an idea.