A Newfoundland and Labrador woman learned a hard lesson in social media Monday when she shared her Roll Up the Rim win at a local Tim Hortons with her Facebook friends.
"I knew that I had won something bigger than a donut or a coffee because I remember the story of the lady from Clarenville last year, and they said now they print their verification numbers of the bigger winners in the middle of the tab," Margaret Butler Coward told CBC Radio's On The Go.
"So, of course, I got all excited … I thought I had won a car or something," said Butler Coward, who lives in Conception Bay South.
The win wasn't what Butler Coward had hoped — she actually won a $100 gift card — but said she was excited just the same, and phoned a few family members before sharing the news with friends online.
"I was so excited, I took a picture of my cup and shared it on my Facebook page," she said.
"My caption to my post read, 'Yahoo, I'll take that.' Within literally seconds, all my friends were liking it."
Friends advised her that she'd have to keep the entire cup in order to redeem her prize. But, on a past win, Butler Coward said she was asked to fill out an application.
'It was too late'
Not knowing the proper protocol, she said she called the store and was told by staff that all wins are now processed online.
"They said, 'No that's what that number is for on the front of your cup … you can just go right in online, fill out your email address and put in that number."
'Don't post anything on Facebook until you have your prize.' - Margaret Butler Coward
Butler Coward, who had left the cup in her truck, pulled up the photo on her phone for the information — and that's when it hit her.
"I thought, 'Oh my goodness. If I know that now, I wonder does anybody else know that?'"
She quickly took the photo down from her Facebook page "just in case," but she wasn't fast enough.
"Within that half hour, it was too late. Someone had already redeemed my prize," she said.
Butler Coward said she thought only friends could view her Facebook post, but it's possible that a mutual friend viewed the photo.
"I was a little bit upset with myself, but also upset because of the fact that someone had betrayed me, taken advantage of me."
One Tim Hortons representative she spoke with recalled hearing similar stories of this happening. Butler Coward said she asked for the email address of the person who entered the code, but was told their information was protected under privacy laws.
Butler Coward said Tim Hortons representatives were sympathetic but ultimately said that nothing could be done.
"I'm not out to get a $100 gift card now … I just hope the person who did claim it, buys some [other] people coffee with it," she said.
"I just want to make people aware: don't post your winning cup on Facebook. Don't post anything on Facebook until you have your prize … lesson learned."