Timbit troubles

I came across a great article in the Globe and Mail today by Carly Weeks.

Everyone has heard the story about the Tim Hortons employee who got canned because she gave a toddler a Timbit.


Well, as Weeks points out, a lot more came out of the company’s wallet than just the cost of the sixteen cent Timbit.











(from the Globe and Mail)


The situation turned into a PR nightmare. Instead of just having to write up a pink slip, there were crisis communications plans to create and execute, external communications with the angry public and angry customers, media relations, internal communications efforts to carry out regarding policies when it comes to handing out “freebies” and communications to calm angry staff members.


Whoever you point the finger at for this mess – the manager or poor internal communications efforts – Tim Hortons’ communications department definitely has their cups filled to the rim with work.


(Any interns in Tim Hortons’ communications department got a crash–course in crisis management).


Long before I began college, I worked as a salesperson at various stores and the one thing every single one of my managers told me was:


“A customer who receives great service will tell a couple of friends, but a customer who receives horrible service will tell everyone any chance they get.”


Living in a world where conversations are taking place online all the time, it is easier for bad reviews to get around to the most people.


You had better believe that an unhappy customer will not forget to write a post about the bad experience they had at a store/restaurant.

 And once people start coming across that strongly–worded post, other people who can relate to it will surely reply in agreement. Then, TIMBER!


Weeks writes:

“While most coffee shops, bars and restaurants across Canada have rules to prevent employees from giving their friends and family freebies, most allow – and even promote – occasional giveaways as a simple way to reap long-term benefits…Freebies can help cement relationships with customers, and it is common for grocery stores, fast-food outlets and coffee shops to regularly dole out free items, particularly when children are involved.”

I agree and I’m sure many people out there share the same opinion.

In terms of PR, not only will the company have to dump money into traditional forms of PR, but because of all of the tools social media has graciously bestowed unto the public, money must also be budgeted to create and execute effective social media relations.



  1. Quite true! The Internet gives individuals a level of influence previously only associated with large organizations. I have had multiple clients suffer significant financial and reputational harm at the hands of very small groups of people who were unhappy with them.

    Jonathan Bernstein
    Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.

  2. Maricel said

    Thank you for the comment Mr. Bernstein!
    I found out this morning that Tim Hortons has ANOTHER PR problem to deal with. An employee scolded a customer after he bought food for a pregnant homeless woman because she decided to eat it in the restaurant.

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