Get the latest from TODAY
The Cheesecake Factory might need to call in damage control (again) because a lot of the chain's fans are pretty upset after its latest promotion.
In December, the restaurant chain famous for its massive menu, promised fans 40,000 free slices of cheesecake to celebrate its 40th birthday. Not only did they promote the free food, they told people it would also be delivered free of charge by the third-party delivery service, DoorDash.
Following in the footsteps of other less-than-stellar food promos (remember when Starbucks ran out of red cups?), the 2018 stunt didn't go so smoothly and left a lot of customers unsatisfied. Many customers complained that their orders were delayed or even canceled, and DoorDash delivery drivers had trouble picking up their customers' food. One even got arrested after fighting for a slice of cheesecake.
In what some dessert fans viewed as an act of redemption, The Cheesecake Factory promised (yet again) to give away free food.
This time, the promo ran on Monday for April Fools' Day. The chain offered $25 of free DoorDash rewards to the first 10,0000 people to claim their cut at 4 p.m. ET on the app. That's over $250,000 worth of avocado egg rolls, Buffalo chicken poppers and, of course, creamy cheesecake.
As 4 p.m. rolled around on Monday, the chain received a fusillade of angry comments from frustrated patrons on social media, many of whom said the "button" to claim said rewards never showed, or that the page wouldn't load at all.
"I was on at 3:59 refreshed at 4:00 and it said they had all been given away. I believe this was an April Fools joke . There is no way that 10000 were given away in 1 min," one instagrammer wrote.
The Cheesecake Factory apologized to fans (not over any potential digital malfunction), but for "having all 10,000 complimentary rewards claimed in just over 5 minutes." Many lucky tweeters who claimed to have received the award chimed in happily.
But many who took to social media weren't expressing any joy.
Some claimed that the DoorDash app congratulated them on receiving the $25 gift, but then no prize came through.
Others signed on, found no button and then said that the site crashed completely.
Some tweeters didn't accept the company's apology and said they should have offered $10 worth of rewards so more people could have had a shot at some free grub.
When reached via email, a rep for the chain reiterated the restaurant's reply from its social media accounts.
"The offer was so popular that our website temporarily timed-out for some guests. We were truly humbled by the popularity of the offer and by how quickly our fans responded," Alethea Rowe, a spokesperson for The Cheesecake Factory, told TODAY Food. "We’re so sorry if not all of our guests were able to participate in the promotion — but rest assured, 10,000 fans received rewards." Rowe said that many people have already started redeeming their rewards via DoorDash.
For all the folks who experienced The Cheesecake Factory's DoorDash partnership flop this time around and back in December, maybe it's time to defer to the old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice..."