FedEx Blog

FedEx Blog

What we learned from giving away a million dollars

November 2, 2011

Whoever thought giving away $1 million dollars would be easy?  I thought it would be easy, along with a team of committed FedEx colleagues who also have the purple blood of FedEx. In a social media savvy world, it’s been no secret that FedEx teamed up with American Express on their second annual Small Business Saturday program including a commitment to give away 30,000, $25 gift cards on our FedEx Facebook page. (The remaining 10,000 cards were given directly to some of our customers to distribute.)

While we thought we were ready for a flood of interest in our Facebook promotion, the enormous level of traffic we received when the offer went live at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday led to a server crash. This delayed the giveaway start time and slowed the registration process once everything was finally functional. We are a company that prides itself on keeping its commitments and delivering on time for our customers, and we apologize for the frustrations the site functionality caused. We worked immediately to correct the situation, and once the app was functional, fans snapped up all 30,000 cards in less than an hour.  

A few lessons learned for down the road:

Free gift card giveaways definitely get attention and can result in unintended consequences.   

Social media continues to be a place where sharing content happens at unprecedented speeds, which led to a rapid increase in our fan base. With 200,000 brand new fans, but only 30,000 cards to give away, a lot of folks came away disappointed, which of course was not our intention.

However, despite an experience that frustrated many Facebook users, I’m encouraged by the overwhelming show of support the Small Business Saturday movement received today through this promotion – and the commitment many Facebook fans have to use their cards to Shop Small.

It’s always easier to reflect on a situation and see how things could or should have been different to avoid unintended consequences. We’ll certainly learn from this, and I want to encourage everyone to get out on Saturday, November 26, 2011 and support Small Business Saturday!


    Joy Cole says:

    Dear Fed Ex,
    I want to personally thank you for your generosity in giving away these gift cards.
    I am frankly embarrassed by the way some people act when there is a give away of any kind on Facebook.
    So your site crashed, I, for one, expected it, it always does in cases like this. It was not your fault. You owe us no apology!
    Again, thank you for the generous opportunity!

    Jenny says:

    Thank you for the opportunity.

    Kristen Beck says:

    Renee what FedEx did for small business owners yesterday was awesome! As someone once told my husband, Not everyone can win the lottery! That being said, congrats to the 30K that got the cards, spend wisely and support main street, thats what keeps this country going!

    Allison says:

    You really didn’t think your server would crash? I find that hard to believe.

    Misty Roberts says:

    I wanted say thank you for giving all of us the chance to enter and try to win the 25.00 gift card.

    Janice Heck says:

    I’m glad it worked for those who it did work for, and regardless, I will remain a Fedex customer. I would still like to know how/why I could finally access the form, submit it and not receive the email..therefore, not be successful?

    Kathie Whitener says:

    I was really disappointed because I got all the way to the form page, filled out all the information, hit submit…it wouldn’t go. Tried again…was told all cards had been given a “few seconds” ago. Which means if the submit had worked when I originally hit submit, I probably would have been the last one…. OH WELL!…. I was going to give it to my mom & brother. They are on a limited income. My brother is on disability, cerebral palsy, my mom is 79 years old. We live in a very small town, 700 population. Needless to say they can’t travel far, thought this would help them to buy a few things right there in our little community. Maybe next year???

    Madeline says:

    Live and learn – thank you for sponsoring all the small businesses out there and helping our economy and for spreading a little early holiday cheer.

    Michelle says:

    I am one of those that were on your page for an hour and a half trying to get one of the $25 gift cards. I finally got the sign in page, filled in my info and hit submit. Your site continued to hang and freeze up and by the time that it went through, all the cards were gone. I appreciate the giveaway, and hope you have another soon.

    denise says:

    Less than an hour? They were gone in less than ten minutes!

    CB says:

    I was shocked at the number of people who were so rude about the problems with the giveaway. I waited through the issues, patiently, and ended up being one of the first ones to get through. I just started my own small business and you can bet I’ll be supporting Small Business Saturday with my $25!

    Melissa says:

    Thanks very much – I was one of the lucky recipients. With small businesses helping keep our staggering economy afloat, this is definitely a terrific gesture on FedEx’s part. We’re looking forward to hitting up some of our local businesses.

    sara says:

    Crashes are expected with over 200,000 users. I am very please with how FEDEX handled the overflow. I received my card with minimal effort and lots of patience. Thank you FEDEX for helping with our christmas and our economy. You set a great example for all other big companies in our country…Thank you again!!!

    Sharon says:

    First, let me say I was on of those frustrated Facebook users who tried for a long time in vain to obtain a card. I commend FedEx for acknowledging the problems and also for the wonderful opportunity to win a gift card. I have started to support more small businesses in my community than I used too. Since the economy became bad for so many Americans, I started thinking more about buying made in America products and the small businesses (with great service) that were going out of business. I think FedEx is really helping by getting people talking about it and thinking about it. Although I would have liked to win…LOL, I will still be shopping on Small Business Saturday 11/26. Thanks.

    connie morris says:

    I tried with what seemed forever and never did get it to load. Disappointed.


    Thanks To FedEx for even putting this together and trying. I did not receive one because it did crash on me but to everyone that did I know that they are happy and by the way you all know you can’t please everyone all the time. So just ignore the negative feedback from others and Pat yourselves on the back for doing what you did do and God Bless.

    Sherry says:

    Thank you very much for what you are doing for small business. I’m sorry there were so many rude, immature, and ungrateful responses.

    JOY says:

    Last time I looked, 30,000 cards at $25 each wasn’t a million.

    Donna Cabral says:

    Thank you for both the opportunity to try to win a gift card and the boost to our small business community. I think there should be more apologies coming YOUR way for yesterday, not the other way around 🙂

    Karen Schreiber says:

    I agree with Joy. FedEx is amazing for doing this and people should not complain one bit. I didn’t get a gift card but am happy for all those who did. Hopefully your generosity will rub off on other big companies to do the same. Alot of self centered people out there that dont appreciate kind gestures and its a shame.

    Kristin says:

    I’m sorry to say I wasnt lucky enough to get a gift card and hope the ones that did enjoy them. The link never worked for me. Im suprised ya’ll didnt reseach into and or test your sever before this so it would have been alot smoother. When you tell the general puplic you are giving away money you should have known what kind of responce you would have had. I hope everyone has a Great Holiday Season. Thanks!!

    Wendi says:

    disappointed??? frustrated???? that’s putting it nicely!

    A) I changed my plans to wait at home til 1

    B) I understand sites crashing, Y didn’t u?

    C) I kept checking back to find w/o notice u went live! AND DIDN’T GIVE INSTRUCTIONS…

    D) So, while I was waiting for instructions on your facebook page I decided let me go look at that link….it put me right back at your facebook page! A 3rd party had to give me the web address!

    E) This all took place in about 2-3mins by which at this time, they were all gone? 2-3 mins not an hour….

    I do appreciate companies that do give away things (every little bit helps) but you ran this give away very poorly!!!!

    Brenda Williams says:

    I was on your page at 1 PM and waited patiently for the registration page to be loaded. when it was finally loaded the click here was not a link and did not work. I find it hard to believe all the cards were gone by then. Why didn’t it work??

    sheri says:

    first off I thank you for doing this. I was one of the lucky ones to get thur but it took a lot of hitting the refresh button but it paid off thanks again & happy holidays to all!

    Marisa Perez says:

    It was well expected that the site would crash from those of us who do particiapte in these giveaways. I was one of those who got to the sign-up page at least six times in the two hour time frame and could not get it to go past that stage. I didn’t get one in the end and that is to be expected as the percentage of cards vs fans was huge. What did concern me was that I saw quite a few people saying once the giveaway was done that they got multiples of the gift cards. I do hope that this will be looked into before the cards are placed in the mail. One of your policies before the giveaway occurred was that it would be one per IP address. I hope it was just people bragging and that this did not occur. If it indeed did happen, get the extra gift cards out to those in need or a charity that can make use of them in communities due to the financial hardship going around these days so it is a win-win situation for both small businesses and customers in need of a hand. You have done a very generous deed which is appreciated by many, especially those stores that could use a boost. Hopefully, this will be repeated next year and I get the chance to claim one of the cards. Notwithstanding, I will do my part to support Small Business Saturday since we know that those businesses are the real economic backbone of this country.

    Abe Daniels says:

    Thanks FEDX I got 12 Cards… MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

    Sue says:

    To the person who said 30000 wasn’t a million you are right BUT 30,000, $25 gift cards on our FedEx Facebook page. (The remaining 10,000 cards were given directly to some of our customers to distribute.)

    Thank you for Offering this fedex! I think its terrific you are giving back 🙂

    Lindsey says:

    I posted my sentiments on your Facebook post(s) yesterday but I wanted to take a chance to pass them along again. I was not one of the lucky ones to receive a giftcard and I am in no way angry, frustrated or disgruntled by the events that took place yesterday. I appreciate the effort(s) made by AMEX and FedEx to help promote a really great cause to shop locally and shop small business. I find it disheartening that people are so upset about this whole situation because they did not get a FREE promotional item that was being offered to 200,000 people when only 30,000 were available. I find it frustrating that people feel they deserved the giftcard or needed the giftcard. They truly missed the point and the good natured intent behind this promotion. Thank you again for your generosity and hopefully next time some of us who were not able to receive a giftcard will have better luck.

    Alison Emery says:

    First of all why are there so many Fed Ex pages? That was the first piece of confusion. If they are not your pages then please request that FB shut them down. I was disappointed that the link did not work until all the cards were gone. Thanks for the link to the Am Ex page and for supporting small businesses.

    ti says:

    @JOY, They gave out 40,000 cards, 30,000 of which were on facebook. The others were distributed a different way. It does add up to $1 million.

    Dayla says:

    Thank you for a great giveaway. I believe that apologies should be given to you all. It is embarrassing for me to read all of the complaints that people were/are making when things to not go perfectly in their favor. It is my belief that you handled things amazingly well and hope that those that did receive their cards remember the intent of the giveaway.
    Thank you again, it is wonderful to see companies coming together to be part of the solution.

    Wayne says:

    It took a lot of patience, but I got thru even on my slow wi-fi speed! Thanks!

    As for the complainers, this was just like a old time radio call in show…not everybody who calls get to be on the radio, and no one blamed the DJ because they didn’t get thru!

    LaVerne Turner says:

    Thank you FedEx. I was able to get through and I will enjoy my gift card.

    Lisa says:

    I want to thank FedEx for giving the economy this boost. Yes, I did receive one and will use it to boost a small business. The only time I became frustrated was “listening” to the other people comment and they posted a link that was not true. The link where you had to have a credit card. FedEx did the right thing and quickly came back to say that no that was a separate offer and they would be posting the gift card offer very soon.

    Presley says:

    I think Fedex did a great thing with this promotion! I was able to get through after refreshing many times. It was a little frustrating but not unexpected with the amount of attention it drew. The giveaway was even mentioned on the morning news. By the way, to those people who are complaining that they left work early to get home in time and were not able to get one….you’re idiots for leaving work and your paid wage to go get a gift card most likely less than what you earn. Just a thought there people.

    Anjanette says:

    I was one of the lucky ones, but even if I had spent my hour on there yesterday and walked away empty handed, I would still be here to thank you. Anytime a huge company like FedEx gives away that kind of cash to support local small businesses, it renews my hope for a decent, moral corporate America. Don’t let the haters ruin a good thing, and $750k to complete strangers on Facebook, and another $250k handed out through your customers is a GREAT thing. Thank you!

    SMITH says:

    All the companies that have tried this have server failure. Those that did not expect that have probably not done this before. In the future it may be better to run the promotion that you give one out for every 10 registrations and you can only register once. That makes it more fair for everyone. I am one of the few who got the card. This was actually the first time I succeeded in the many times I have tried to do offers like this.

    Katie says:

    I recieved one…alot of patience and waiting…but I got it! TY!! @Joy…the article states that they gave out 10,000 more to customers 🙂

    Chris says:

    One Million Dollars is nothing to sneeze at. You can’t do a promotion to give away $1,000,000 and run it like a cake walk at the local elementary school frolic.

    Very poorly handled. The server crashed .. opps, that happens .. but where was plan “B”. The promotion should have been shut down and re-launched at a later time when everyone had an equal opportunity.

    April says:

    Let me be the first to apologize for the angry people that are posting how upset & disappointed they are. I also like to take part in freebies & giveaways but never get upset if I don’t get what I wanted. These companies don’t owe us anything and are under no obligation to give us anything. For you people that are angry & complaining that you didn’t get one, Stop being so damn selfish. Sometimes you’ll get it and sometimes you won’t. It’s a risk you take with the internet no matter what website you are on and whatever reason you’re on that website. It’s people like you that make companies second guess people like us. If you got the gift card, it was just a bonus you didn’t expect. Thank you to FedEx and American Express for caring abour small businesses and helping us support them as well.

    peter says:

    My experience yesterday was mostly frustration. Let me preface this by saying I did get a card and a confirmation email. But Id suggest a few things be done differently in the future.

    1) communication was lacking. Myself and many others were online at 1pm sharp ready for the chance to get a card. I understand so many people hammering the site slowed things down, but your facebook site did not crash or even slow. Getting somebody on there within a short few minutes to say there was a delay would have been wise. 9000 comments ticked up pretty fast when there was no updates for such a long time. 5 minute updates should be the policy going forward.

    2) make sure you explain (and maybe cross promote) your partners promotions when they are similar but different. Amex ran a very similar promotion that when linked in your comments made many people turn away with anger because they thought you had tricked them.

    3) Comments should NOT be the best place to find updates and links. Here is how I got my gift card. I opened IE, Chrome, and Firefox and opened your page in all 3. Then I would refresh the page constantly in one of them. Also refreshing the comments and reading them for leaked links. About an hour into the ordeal somebody did leak the correct link in comments which then slowed the form down to a crawl. That leaked link was then passed around via comments for about 20 minutes before you announced that the link was up. So by the time the rest of the people could even have a chance I would estimate most of the cards were gone via the comment readers.

    4) The facebook tab needs to go up early next time. This problem happens when anybody does these giveaways via tabs. When you put up a tab during a high traffic event on facebook it seems to take a while to propigate that update to the entire facebook server. I can tell you from first hand experience that while loading your page on 3 browsers I only actually saw the ttab a few times. This is most likely due to load balancng between the facebook servers where some of the ones being hammered with traffic may not get the update as quickly. It wasn’t until maybe 15 minutes after the cards were gone that all 3 of my browsers would refresh the page and see the tab load each time. MANY people complained the entire time they couldn’t see the tab while others were saying got one in comments. That’s frustrating.

    5) you should absolutely do this again. As a small business owner I am impressed and thankful. Nobody is out there supporting small businesses and its refreshing to see 2 companies willing to do so. In return I will absolutely bring my business to fedex in the future. Its a great promotion that hopefully does put the money into the local community and I’m sure you’ve won some fans over by giving away money so close to christmas.

    Thank you for the opportunity to win something ( I always lose these things) and thank you for supporting local small businesses

    Rob Luck says:

    Thanks for being there for America’s small businesses and their consumers. The server crash is understandable if not inevitable. Keep up the great work!

    Monica says:

    Thank you for being so giving, I was very fortunate to get through and sag one of the 30,000 gift cards. Looking forward to the day it arrives in the mail!!

    Sabina Hayden says:

    As a small business owner I would like to say thank you to Fedex for doing this to give us a boost!

    Pam B. says:

    Thanks FedEx for the opportunity. I tried but was not one of the lucky one to receive an Amer Ex card; but this was a great giveaway. It upset me to read all the extremely negative comments. People should have realized that a TON of people were going to try and there could be some issues. You cannot win them all.

    Valerie McCadden says:

    Thanks to FedEx for their generosity! I was, and am still, horrified to read the ungracious comments posted when the registration form did not appear at 1:00. I am equally horrified to read similar comments written at the end of this blog. Looking a gift horse in the mouth makes no sense to me, nor is it remotely attractive. With all the complaints about “corporate” greed running amok in our society today, it is astounding to see how many individuals exemplify the crux of greed. FedEx deserves nothing less than sincere thanks for the opportunity they afforded us!

    Crystal says:

    I have to say I was one of the FB fans that sat for the hour +. Yes it was some what frustrating, but people were VERY rude. This company didn’t have to do this promotion and for one hour of our time people could have been more understanding. I am thankful I got my card, although I wasn’t sure I was getting it from refreshing and waiting, but I got my email later that day. I had hoped I would get one, but wasn’t sure and I went away from it glad that I tried and crossing my fingers. Especially thought it was funny that some people had 10 computers hooked up to the site trying to get through… In my opinion they obviously don’t need the gift if they can afford 10 computers, maybe that is just me. I know it will be put to good use since both my 3 year old and soon to be one year old have birthdays coming up and Christmas right around the corner. We are hoping to use it at a local small business also since that was what this was all about! Just want to say THANKS so much!

    Noelle says:

    WONDERFUL promotion!!!! I didn’t get a card, but what the heck? 30,000 other people did and they will go a long way to helping small businesses. As far as the server crash, it happens all the time with
    in-demand promotions and events – just ask Ticketmaster and they do it all the time. Thank you, Federal Express!

    norma says:

    I like the idea $25.00 Gift Certificate Great Promo Thanks.

    Jason M. says:

    my apologies.

    Cheryl says:

    I just want to say a simple thank you. Things happen to the best of us.

    Jessica Plautz says:

    I want to thank you. While both me and my husband were very patient and got our cards, I wouldn’t have been upset if we didn’t as I was not really expecting to be one of the lucky 30,000 out of 250,000. We are grateful none the less and apologize for those people who were nothing but nasty and completely rude when you were having issues. Patience paid off in this case and I am very appreciative.

    aisha denson says:

    Thank you Fed-Ex for this wonderful promotion. With the economy is such a slump this was a wonderful idea for your company to help jump start spending with small businesses. I was fortunate enough to snag a gift card however; I have also been on the other end of not receiving anything. It’s unfortunate how impatient and ungrateful our society has become, full of complainers and people that would rather be handed something than having to do a little work for your reward. Why can’t you just be content with maybe next time I’ll win and be happy for the fortunate few who were able to take advantage of this opportunity. I’m really sorry of behalf of all the ungratefuls that posted such mean an unwarranted comments on your Facebook page. I’m sure the lessons learned with this promotion have been valuable and I look forward to using your business during this holiday season. Thanks again Aisha Denson (Sensible Shoppers) small business owner.

    Carol Hollenbeck says:

    As one of the lucky recepients, I would like to thank Fed Ex for their gracious gift to the consumers and small businesses of America!

    Ruth Utterback says:

    I was at work and not able to participate in the giveaway. While I did not receive card I think it was a very generous thing of fed ex to do. Hooray to fed ex and congrats to all those that did receive a card

    Maria says:

    I didn’t really know much about FedEx before this contest. After reading so much about their employees and activities on Facebook I’m impressed. The giveaway was an awesome way for a successful business to give back to communities. Sorry your company took some mean hits about glitches in the process. Stuff happens. Your heart was in the right place. So KUDOS to FedEx!

    Susie says:

    I was one of those FB fans that kept hitting that submit button on the form for 2 hours and still did not get through. A little sad, but thanks so much for the opportunity. I was also excited to learn that Amex was also offering a credit to their card customers.

    Both programs are an excellent way to promote and support small business. Congratulations to all the Amex customers and FedEX Facebook winners.

    Tonya says:

    I did recieve a card and I’m so thankful. Still trying to figure out what small business to use it on. Thank You Tonya

    David Williams says:

    Me and my wife both got our $25 cards Thanks!!!

    Altaira McCarrell says:

    I was extremely lucky to be one of the few that got a card. Being a single Mom, finances are tough this year. My son will be so excited to receive this on Christmas Day and we will choose a small business to use it on. I’m very grateful and excited to see his face when he opens it on Christmas morning. Thank you so very much!

    Jeliana says:

    very good job.

    Jeliana says:

    very good job in all types of enviro performance.

Post a Comment

You may also like:

September 21, 2017

The Bremont Road Trip

More like this in blog