If you’ll recall, almost exactly two years ago, fast food chain Steers got severely flamed for spectacularly cocking up its R10 ‘Whacky Wednesday’ rib burger promotion, having seriously underestimated the South African consumer’s appetite for a bargain (and for its rib burger, evidently).

In dropping the price of the rib burger from the regular R25.90 for the once-off promo, the head burger-flippers at Steers HQ missed a few basic tricks, resulting in angry – and presumably hungry – customers accusing the company of false advertising and calling the promotion a farce.

In short, by mid-morning, many outlets had run out of stock, as Steers had underestimated the rush on its stores and, more unbelievably, also failed to impose a limit on the amount of burgers that could be ordered per customer. So, basically, Steers simply lacked the capacity to cope with the demand that it

You’d think that we would have learnt something from the burger bungle. But alas… I’m not so sure we did... because it happened again.

Only this time, it was ’s customers who saw red. The country’s largest mobile operator decided to “treat” its subscribers – all 33 million of them – to some free data, as it celebrated its 20th birthday. Very nice. Or so it seemed.

The catch was that the free gig of data was only valid on Sunday,11 May, which meant that giveth and taketh away – within the space of 24 hours. It’s hard to believe that the mobile operator did not foresee what would happen next.

From personal experience, I can tell you honestly that there was little to celebrate, but rather much frustration as I tried to use my free gig – along with millions of others. Sadly, but rather predictably, ’s network buckled under the weight of the traffic and no one had a particularly good time, as evidenced by the backlash across social networks the following Monday.

Not surprisingly, subscribers expressed frustration about not being able to connect to ’s network at all or, if they could, the speeds were simply appalling.

I do not for a second think that was unaware of the impact its promo would have on its already-oversubscribed network, or that – as a result – most of its subscribers would not even be able to make use of the free data they received.

Sadly, reputational damage seems to have no real lasting effect and probably knows this. Instead of expressing some form of humility in the face of the mass criticism it was subjected to, the operator decided to blow its own horn, announcing that more than eight million users participated in the promo, thus setting a record amount of data moving through the network on a Sunday.

I guess we just have to accept that while thousands were left fuming, Steers still sells burgers and will continue to sign up subscribers.

Happy reading!

Martin Czernowalow