Hoover just can’t seem to sweep up the mess from a sales promotion that became one of the bigger blunders in corporate history.
On Thursday, some four years after Hoover Europe offered two free overseas airline tickets to anybody in Britain or Ireland who bought a vacuum cleaner, disgruntled customers who never flew are taking Hoover to court.
The promotion turned into costly embarrassment for Hoover after hundreds of thousands of people realized the obvious: Vacuum cleaners cost less than air fares.
Travel agents hired by Hoover were unable to cope with the demand.
“It’s mind-blowing what went on in their brains at Hoover, if they had brains at all,” said Denis Whalley, a Liverpool lawyer who spent two years preparing a case for the customers.
After realizing the gravity of its error, Hoover first tried to deter people from flying by attaching conditions to the deal.
But many had bought the vacuum cleaners, for as little as 100 pounds ($165 at current exchange rates), only so they could fly. They refused to give up.