Groupola's iPhone deal and a wonky server creates mailing list of upset customers

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It was always probably too good to be true.

Groupola‘s aggressive campaign to build up its mailing list and create name recognition for the group buying site, appears to have somewhat backfired. The UK Groupon-clone has been running a promotion offering a limited number of its email subscribers an unlocked iPhone 4 for £99, a massive discount of 80.16%.

The deal was scheduled to go live today at 9.30am, but it seems that the majority of those who clicked on the link provided never actually got through due to Groupola’s wonky server falling over.

At the time of publication, the iPhone deal page and much of the site continues to time out (I’ve been refreshing since 9.29am and it’s now after 10:45am), with Groupola saying in a statement that it’s “experiencing a number of website issues which means that it appears down to a high number of users” – that includes me and, judging by the number of tweets and comments left on the official Grouploa Facebook page, many others too.

Here’s the official statement:

Groupola is currently experiencing a number of website issues which means that it appears down to a high number of users. This is because of the sheer volume of people that are trying to access the website to take advantage of the iPhone4 deal. Between 9 and 9.30am this morning more than 5 million people have attempted to log on to the site, far more than was anticipated. We can confirm that a number of people have already bought iPhones for £99. We are working hard to get the site back to its optimum and the iPhone4 deal will continue to run until stocks run out.

If over 5 million people have tried to bag an iPhone 4 on the cheap, then Groupola have certainly achieved their aim of inflating their daily deal email newsletter and generating tons of publicity. However, how many of those new subscribers are seriously pissed off right now, is anybody’s guess. But I’m betting it’s a fair few.

Update: an official comment on Facebook says 200 handsets were for sale and that they have now all sold out.

  • Anton

    Rubbish – they never had any iPhones in the first place. Everyone knows it!!!! Groupola are a pile of cr@p!!!

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  • Pete

    This was obviously a con just like there iPad give away.

  • Terri

    Yeap… they’ve deleted all my posts on their FB fan page, and have removed me from “like” as well. All I did was to give them some constructive feedback to ensure that they don’t mess up their own reputation !! Well done Groupola and I wish you every success with your mentality !

  • Terri

    btw.. they sold 207 phones, then 202 phones, and then confirmed there were only 200. we went through to pages where we actually put down our credit card details.. and then get kicked out.

  • mike
  • Ian T

    Being cynical, even if the offer exists, it might be a great way for them to invest some cash to generate what would appear to subsequent innocent investor a large customer base.

    It’s quite astonishing, but many companies are still being valued in the same way as lastminute 10 years ago – # registered users (with little evaluation of how they were acquired, quality, recency, frequency).

  • Ian T

    200 X ~£300 = only £60K.

  • James Salway

    Apple would never at let people buy that many iphone4’s – for a start they were only allowing one-preorder per unlocked phone from the start.

    Can they “prove” 200 people received an iphone I wonder or was it all part of an elaborate vouchercode scam?

  • Angry Customer

    Well I am not sure if the old saying will work for Crapola “all press is good press”. This most certainly is not the case.

    Fine their facebook page had a few more people join today but that was purely to post hate mail and create anti groupola pages.

    For being a “tech” company they aren’t very quick at understanding the need to increase their bandwidth or what not for the added traffic.

    Just like the iphone 4 they were selling they have problems and instead of holding it differently people will most certainly just switch off to the many better sites our there.

    Keynoir , Likebees and crowdity to name a few.

  • Martin

    When the site finally loaded just after 11.30am (after hours of trying) it told us they had sold 212 phones and they had not sold out – the “deal was still available to buy”. A couple of minutes later they claimed to be sold out having sold only 200.

    Got to hand it to them – they generated great publicity (Guardian et al) promoting this among the thousand free iphone scams out there, will be interesting to see how they deal with the backlash of this debacle.

  • darby go

    Isn’t this just a new take on premium rate phone line scams?

  • Bob

    Lovely scam, wonderful sca-a-m,
    Lovely scam, wonderful S scam,
    LOVELY scam, LOVELY scam,
    LOVELY scam, LOVELY scam,

  • Jon

    I actually won one of the phones. You guys are just bitter because you didn’t get one!

  • Jon Boy

    You didn’t actually win mate. You bought it for £99

    • Jon

      Haha sorry technically no I didnt but I indirectly won £400. So never mind eh.

      I see the bitterness is still lingering 2 weeks on. Shame you didnt get one.

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