Ocado has left thousands of users disappointed after offering a '£20 off £40' code and pulling it before many could use it.
The offer, run through daily deals site Crowdity, available only on Wednesday, promised a code to get £20 off £40 of shopping, provided it was used before 30 June.
All users had to do was sign up to Crowdity and wait for the code to be added to their online Crowdity account.
After being approached by Crowdity, MoneySavingExpert.com reported this in the weekly email. The details of the offer spread onto many other forums, as these types of offer always do.
Crowdity said there was no cap on the offer and an unlimited number of people could sign up for the code. Many reported successfully using it before the guillotine was brought down this morning by Ocado.
Protecting existing customers says Ocado
An Ocado spokesman says: "Ocado puts a major emphasis on delivering outstanding service to its thousands of customers week in, week out.
"The overwhelming take-up of our offer with Crowdity this week was such that if it had been left to continue it would have compromised our ability to serve both new and existing customers to the high standards we continually demand and that they expect (there are only so many orders we can fulfil in a day).
"A difficult decision was therefore taken to end the offer earlier than expected and ensure Ocado deliveries continue to run smoothly. We are aware on this occasion that some new shoppers have been unable to try us out but, at the same time, we have a major responsibility to our existing customer base and the overall quality of the Ocado service."
Martin Lewis, creator of MoneySavingExpert.com says: "This is more than disappointing, it is a massive let down to those who signed up. The fact the offer was a lot more popular than it predicted should not give it the right to pull the entire deal for all those wanting to take legitimate advantage.
"Frankly for an online business it should realise that in the internet world, anything has the potential to go viral and should have planned accordingly, it's not rocket science.
"Part of the problem here seems to be the communication between the two companies, Crowdity who promoted the offer and Ocado who had agreed the deal.
"Ocado seems to believe it's acceptable to get out of this by enacting its ‘subject to withdrawal' clause in its voucher - yet it really should've planned better, confirmed more with its partner and thought this through first."
"We always do diligent checks before telling you about anything in our weekly email and this was no different. And while there's little we could have done, on behalf of MoneySavingExpert I'd like to apologise to all our users who didn't pass through the gate posts in time.
"We're spitting teeth about it and have tried to push hard to get them to sort this out and continue the deal, but to no avail yet. Thankfully, large numbers of people did manage to get their discounts before it was closed, but for the rest we sympathise."
Crowdity says sorry
Rob Berrisford, Crowdity CEO says: "Firstly as CEO of Crowdity I would like to profusely aplogise on behalf of Crowdity and Ocado to any disappointed users.
"It is my sincere regret that Ocado had to take the decision to close the offer early.
"Originally distributed via official channels to Crowdity users, this offer spread out of control through forum leaks to unmanageable levels. It is our deepest regret that genuine customers who signed up through genuine channels missed out on this offer due to the unauthorized use of the offer and we will work tirelessly to ensure this could never occur again in the future.
"We will take some fundamental learning’s from this experience as a small and relatively new company, but we will continue to work hard for our customers to provide market-beating discounts and genuine savings."
Disappointed MoneySavingExpert.com forum users have lashed out at Ocado. One says: "Just checked my email and got the one saying they've basically cancelled the offer - not impressed! So now we've given our e-mail addresses and details to a company for absolutely nothing. Expected more of Ocado!"