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Roll Up To Win customers seek $10,000 each from Tim Hortons after false boat win

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A lecturer in business law at the University of Waterloo does not expect a proposed class action lawsuit against Tim Hortons would be successful.

Montreal-based law firm, LPC Avocats, filed an application with the Superior Court of Quebec on Friday for a class action lawsuit. According to the firm, around 500,000 customers across Canada received the emails from the coffee giant on Wednesday, erroneously claiming customers had won a boat and a trailer worth more than $68,000 from the Roll Up To Win contest.

The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages of $10,000 for every customer who received the email and potential other damages.

Tim Hortons says lawsuit has 'no merit' 

Tim Hortons apologized, asking customers to disregard the content of the email last week. The company told CTV News in an email, a human error resulted in the incorrect information.

“When we became aware of the error, we quickly sent out an email to guests notifying them of the error and apologizing,” the email to CTV said. "Despite this human error, we firmly believe there is no merit to the lawsuit and we will address this through the court."

The lawsuit has yet to be certified, but a lecturer in business law at the University of Waterloo said it's asking for a bit too much.

“They're likely isn't strong grounds for that type of claim that is being made,” Darren Charters, a lecturer in the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo said. “$10,000 per individual is likely going to be a stretch.”

According to Charters, customers did not technically lose anything.

“They haven't lost anything that they had. So it was an opportunity that they lost,” Charters said.

Charters said the claim will have to establish some kind of breach of contract or breach of the Consumer Protection Act.

“It probably is not enough, provided the company has put in place at a prior point contest language, policy language that provides them that out,” Charters said.

LPC alleges Tim Hortons violated the Consumer Protection Act, which states merchants are bound to statements or advertisements about their services.

In 2022, Tim Hortons settled in a suit over customer privacy, by giving a free hot beverage or food item to those affected.

Charters said something similar will likely happen in this case and does not expect it to get to trial.

“Will it be settled in some nominal way? That's more the likely outcome," Charters said.

With more companies running electronic contests these days, Charters said similar situations would likely happen infrequently in the future. It’s best if businesses deal with it before it gets to the courts.

"But often if you can get out in front of it and 'hey, we're sorry, here is what we're going to do for the inconvenience,' that's probably the better way," Charters said.

Customers can register for the proposed class action lawsuit by clicking here.

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