Thousands of book readers have been left disappointed after an online giveaway by a UK internet book retailer was overburdened with requests.
Visitors to YorkshireBooks.com on 17 February were offered a free Penguin Classics book. Participants were told their book would arrive within the next few days, but weeks later many are still waiting.
YorkshireBooks.com said it had been flooded by requests for free books and claims many of the requests were not genuine.
"We think we were attacked by some email pranksters. At one point we received 20,000 orders in four hours and it was virtually impossible for us to tell which people were genuinely interested in the book offer," said a spokeswoman.
The incident graphically demonstrates the power of email marketing and sends a stark warning to other website operators considering similar promotions.
"We have sent out around 500 books already and can only apologise to those people who have not received theirs. People genuinely interested in the offer should contact us again so we can determine them from those that are not," the spokewoman added.
One customer told vnunet.com that she was disappointed she had not received her book. Laura Williams, a marketing executive from London said: "A friend let me know about the offer via email. Nearly a month later I still haven't received my copy of The Karma Sutra. It seems a little shortsighted of the company that they didn't expect so many people to be interested in the offer."
Jay Marathe, an analyst at Durlacher, said the problems YorkshireBooks.com had encountered underlines the need for online retail sites to have a good strategy and PR plan. "Companies will need to ensure they can communicate effectively to the customer and will need to have measures in place to cope with a high volume of customers."
"With the internet, companies should be aware that if an offer is too good not to pass on, it will get around on email quickly," he added.
Contact details can be found at www.yorkshirebooks.com
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