British Columbia

Uber's free ice cream promotion leaves Vancouver social media users bitter

Many users complained they were unable to get the free ice cream promised by the promotion. Business partner Earnest Ice Cream even declared the stunt "a mistake."

Business partner Earnest Ice Cream declared the stunt "a mistake"

Uber cars were supposed to deliver free ice cream to users who downloaded the app and made a request, but demand outpaced supply. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Many Vancouverites were left in an icy rage after a sweet promotional campaign from the ride-hailing service Uber quickly turned sour Friday.

The online app promised to deliver free Earnest ice-cream and Uber promotional items to anybody in Vancouver who downloaded the app and requested ice cream within the hours of 11 am and 3 pm PT Aug. 25.

Uber also promised to donate $1 to the Vancouver Sun Adopt a School meal program for every request made.

But instead of a sweet treat, many users were met with an "Ice Cream Unavailable" message. Many took to vent on social media, declaring the promotion an "uber fail."

Although a lucky group did manage to savour their free swag, shortly after the promotion ended Vancouver based Earnest Ice Cream distanced itself from the promotion calling it a "mistake."

"Last week we made an agreement to sell ice cream sandwiches to a business who's values do not align with our own," wrote owners Ben Ernst and Erica Bernardi on Facebook.

"As we educated ourselves more thoroughly about Uber, we recognized that this is not a good fit for us. We apologize for not doing our due diligence ahead of time and we hope to rebuild the trust that may have been lost with some of you."

A list of scandals

Uber spokesperson Susie Heath defended the promotion and said the company was able to deliver hundreds of ice cream sandwiches and raise thousands of dollars for charity.

"Uber Ice Cream was about connecting people in Vancouver with a local entrepreneur and help contribute to a worthy cause," she told CBC News, noting that demand outpaced supply.

Friday's frosty fix pales in comparison to the much larger scandals the tech company has faced this year: from numerous sexual harassment allegations, reports that it targeted officials investigating the company, to the resignation of its embattled CEO.

Although Vancouver has not approved ride-hailing apps like Uber, it has expressed great interest in coming into the market. This month, it even started a month-long mapping project in Metro Vancouver in anticipation of provincial approval.

That provincial approval became closer to reality earlier this week when B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver promised to introduce legislation to enable such ride-hailing services this fall.