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Tim Hortons mistakenly told an Ontario man he'd won $10K. Now, he wants to sue


Some Ontario residents who were misled by a glitch in Tim Hortons' Roll Up To Win Contest, and mistakenly told they had won $10,000, are now exploring their legal options against the Canadian coffee chain.

“I expect the $10,000 and [Tim Hortons] will be hearing from a lawyer,” Jeremy McDougall, of Tillsonburg, Ont., told CTV News Toronto Thursday.

A mistake on Tim Hortons’ behalf Monday notified a number of customers that they had won $10,000 from the chain’s Roll Up To Win contest. However, soon after, they were told it was a “technical error,” as the draw is meant to be a prize awarded to only one individual daily.

“We are very sorry that a technical glitch spoiled the first few hours of the contest for some of our loyal guests and caused some disappointment,” a spokesperson for Tim Hortons told CTV News Toronto in a statement. The coffee chain did not confirm how many people were affected or whether it had been notified of any formal legal action against the company.

To express its regret for the disappointment caused by this glitch, Tim Hortons said it has been in contact with and offered a $50 gift card to every customer affected – but some players have rejected the olive branch and are considering legal action instead.


Michael Hendry of Whitby, Ont., said he was quick to try and contact Tim Hortons after Monday’s mishap.

“I emailed them back, and I was like, ‘I know [..] technical issues happened, but [...] you guys should honour your contest, and they didn’t even email me back or anything,” Hendry, 31, told CTV News Toronto.

Hendry says he has been playing Roll Up To Win every year since its inception, and usually drinks four to five cups of coffee a day when working overnights.

Hendry said he has never won anything more than a free donut or coffee before in the contest, and was “pretty excited” when he saw he had won the prepaid $10,000 American Express daily jackpot prize on Monday.

“I was just looking at it, like ‘Surely I didn’t win,’” he said, adding that, when he went back to the Tim Hortons near Garden Street and Rossland Road East, the manager confirmed his win.

McDougall, 37, said he went through a similar experience. After showing his wife that he had the $10,000 draw on his phone, he took a screenshot and drove back to the location he had purchased coffee from.

“I showed [the manager] on the screen, and said, ‘Tell me that’s what I think it is.’ She said, ‘Yeah, congratulations,’ and they all started clapping, and we went, ‘Woo,’ we screamed pretty loud, and walked out the door,” McDougall said.

At that point, he said all there was left to do was to verify the winning code with Tim Hortons.

About 34 to 35 hours later – after he said he and his wife had already brainstormed how they would spend the money, and after several attempts trying to connect with Tim Hortons – McDougall heard back, with the offer of a $50 gift card.

“My heart sank, we thought we won $10,000. I know that’s not a lot of money for some people, but in this day and age [..] we thought $10,000 was a big deal,” McDougall said.

Thankfully, both Hendry and McDougall didn’t spend any money before they received the confirmation that they weren’t $10,000 richer – but both are now considering legal action.

Hendry said he’s considering seeking out legal counsel “if there’s enough people,” while McDougall has already gotten hold of a lawyer.


Nick Poon, commercial and civil litigator in Toronto, told CTV News Toronto that, while customers are entirely within their rights to file a claim against Tim Hortons, there is no guarantee they’ll be successful.

“The causes of action that a customer potentially could have are either a claim of breach of contract claim or a claim of negligent misrepresentation,” Poon said Friday.

In the event of a breach of contract claim, Poon said the customers would be responsible for proving that they were indeed a winner in accordance with Tim Horton’s rules and regulations. He said he thinks this route is not likely to be successful, as Tim Hortons’ Roll It Up Contest terms and regulations likely provide the legal basis for the chain to prove the notification was in error.

“The problem with this type of claim is that there are like 30 pages of the rules and regulations,” he said.

One of the clauses in Tim Horton's Roll It Up To Win contest’s terms and conditions states that every customer who agrees to play, by willingly making a purchase, "agrees to release [Tim Hortons] from any and all liability, loss or damage that they may incur in connection with their participation in the contest and, if applicable, with respect to the awarding, receipt, possession and/or use or misuse of a prize and notifications in respect of a prize."

This clause, the terms state, extends to errors of any kind , including printing production, or online, internet, and digital materials.

“Tim Hortons would likely be able to prove the notification as a mistake,” Poon said. “I think it's unlikely that the customer would be able to prove their claim in court irrespective of breach of contract claim.”

With a claim of negligent misrepresentation, according to Poon, a customer would be responsible for proving that they relied on the misrepresentation and that they suffered damages as a result.

“So for example, if the customer received the notice that they won $10,000 and then they went [...] and bought a vacation and put it on a credit card immediately, that would be an example of reliance on representation [and] they have now suffered damages,” he said.

Jonathan Schachter, a lawyer at Waddell Phillips, echoed Poon’s statements and said he is “pessimistic that a claim against Tim Hortons would succeed here.”

“I wouldn’t advise people not to even try,” Schachter said. “I think it’s great to see consumers try to vindicate their rights, and I think not enough consumers do that, but by my reading of these rules, it’s an uphill battle.”


Nearly a week since the technical error took place, Hendry is still holding out hope the coffee chain will honour his $10,000 win, saying it was “pretty disappointing” to be offered a $50 gift card in return.

McDougall said he’s waiting to see what Tim Hortons' next move will be before deciding on any course of legal action.

“I would expect them to make some sort of statement as to what’s going on with how public this has gone, and how many people are affected,” he said. “So, I think it’s more of a waiting game to see if they’re going to [..] make this right or if something else is going to have to happen.”

For now, though, McDougall plans to buy his coffee elsewhere.

“I literally sent them their [gift card] back because I have no plans on spending money at Tim Hortons ever again,” he said.

“That’s a pretty big insult to give me half a percent of what they told me I won.”

Tim Hortons said, despite the bumpy start to its Roll It Up To Win contest, it has now awarded over 2.4 million prizes to customers, including two vehicles to players in Woodville, Ont., and Brooks, Alta.

The contest runs for another 22 days. 

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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