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

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.