A Maryland lawyer wants to take a raincheck on receiving any more Chipotle-related text messages this week.
When its 1,900 restaurants closed on Monday to address food-safety issues, Chipotle ran a promotion telling customers to text 888-222 with the word "raincheck" to claim a free burrito when stores re-opened on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for Hank Levine, 64, of Bethesda, his cell phone number is 240-888-2222, so people in his area accustomed to dialing seven digits ended up bombarded his phone with texts looking to secure a free lunch.
"Everybody's been tortured by too much email or too much this or that, and now a telecommunications lawyer has been overwhelmed by texts because of a digit error, so I think that just resonated with people,'' Levine told TODAY.com.
Levine's phone started buzzing at 12:03 p.m. Monday, an hour after the giveaway period began.
He got a text saying "raincheck," replied with a question mark, and was soon informed of the Chipotle giveaway.
"The first thing I did, being a good American, is I texted the number to get my own coupon at Chipotle,'' Levine said.
"I thought this could be a problem when I was getting a text every 10 to 15 minutes, and then between 5:30 and 6 on Monday I got a hundred texts. It didn't end."
Once Levine created a Twitter account to let Chipotle know of the situation, his story — and phone number — became widespread.
It wasn't just "raincheck" texts, either. (Though some angrily demanded their "damn burrito," he said.)
"A number of people [asked] for legal advice now that they know I'm a lawyer," he said. "And texts from women who want to meet me, which my wife insists I reply to by saying that I'm happily married."
After visiting a local Chipotle location and having no luck resolving the issue, Levine got in touch with Chipotle corporate via email.
A representative apologized and gave him four burrito coupons.
He also asked for burrito coupons for all the people who erroneously texted him, but the company shot down that request.
Chipotle has not returned a request for comment.
Monday's store closings came after more than 50 people across 14 states were sickened in two separate E.coli outbreaks after eating at Chipotle restaurants.
Norovirus outbreaks tied to Mexican eatery were also reported in Massachusetts and California.
Levine, whose favorite dish at Chipotle is a chicken bowl, feels he discovered something about the psyche of Chipotle customers through the whole mix-up.
"People have a real bond with their fast food,'' he said. "Plus I found out that a lot of people really hate paying extra for guacamole."
And apparently, he wasn't the only one whose inbox exploded.
Levine said he was in contact with another person in Raleigh, North Carolina, who had an 888-2222 number and got overloaded with 500 texts.
The senders were mostly "college students who were drunk and had missed the promotion,'' Levine said the person told him.
Meanwhile, Levine said he was still getting "raincheck" texts on Wednesday afternoon, a day after the giveaway period ended.
Other than a drained phone battery, however, he made it through the experience unscathed.
"I checked my plan right away and saw that I have unlimited texts, so that's not a problem."
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