Tim Horton’s Seeming Unfair Contest Policy (March 11, 2009)

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If the overplayed “Canada Land” television commercial is any indication, Tim Horton’s “Roll Up the Win to Win” (RUTRTW) campaign is in full swing. And yes, its pronounced with rolled R’s, “R-r-roll up the R-r-im to Win.”

Seemingly in response, an enterprising Canuck recently re-launched his RUTRTW blog on blogspot.com to document his participating in the 2009 “season.” In its previous incarnation, he blogged a total of 22 times during the 2008 campaign, which began late February and ended early May.

Standard Losing Cup

Standard Losing Cup

Tim Horton’s annual campaign distributes pre-printed paper contest cups to stores across Canada. According to Wikipedia.net, over 30 million prizes are handed out each year. Customers determine if they have won a prize by unrolling the rims on their cups after they finish their drinks to reveal messages underneath. Prizes range from in-store products to new cars.

The image of the losing cup comes from Wikipedia.net.

Apparently, Tim Horton’s campaign is so popular that someone invented a rim rolling aid and tried to pitch it during Season 2 of CBC’s Dragon’s Den.

However, as has been reported by CBC and picked up by Yahoo Canada, Ontario participants maybe somewhat miffed about the prizes available to them. Like last year, Tim Horton’s did not distribute prizes randomly to its distribution regions. Each has its own chances of winning prizes. Of the 281.7 million cups distributed, only 15 of the 35 cups for the top prize, a $32 000 2009 Toyota Venza, have been sent to the province. Thus, the probability of winning a Venza is actually higher in stores located in British Columbia, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. In Ontario, the chance is 1 in 9.9 million. In British Columbia, the chance is 1 in 5.9 million. All other prizes have been distributed proportionally.

Interestingly, the odds of being struck by lightning in the United States is higher, 244 000 to 1 (i.e. chance of 1 in 244 001). So is the chance of being killed by an asteroid impact, 1 in 700 000.

But, I have another theory about the potentially unfair distribution of top prize contest cups. Tim Horton’s, being a responsible Canadian business, made the decision to support domestic tourism. Ontario is the most populous of Canada’s provinces. Having more top prize contest cups in British Columbia, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada encourages Ontarians to visit cities in other provinces.

Yes, I’m grasping a straws. The only other reason, I can think of, for having fewer winning top prize contest cups in a region that is projected to purchase 52.2 percent of all contest cups is because Tim Horton’s hopes that fewer people will come across them.

BTW, Tim Horton’s would have been able to assuage ill-feelings from Ontario had it decided to distribute cars made from any of Ontario’s ailing North American car plants. Unlike the 2009 Toyota Corolla, Matrix, or Rav4, the Venza, while North American made, may not be made in Canada.

Me, until Tim Horton’s starts supporting Fair Trade coffee, I am going to continue carrying my little thermos of coffee from any of Ottawa’s Bridgehead coffee houses. And, I’m not singling out Tim Horton’s. I refuse to buy coffee at Starbuck’s for the same reason.

Here’s a card for Bridgehead. They’re pretty conveniently located in various locations around the city. You can have your coffee fix and support a genuinely responsible and Ottawa-grown business.





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Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.