Fury As Beer Company's April Fools Prank Backfires Spectacularly

A British company has come under fire online after people were left feeling "scammed" following their April Fools marketing stunt.

People took to Twitter to share their anger after receiving April Fools messages from beer subscription site Bier Company that said they were "this month's winner of free beer for life." The email, which came with the subject line "URGENT," read: "We're thrilled to share some exciting news with you: Out of all our entrants this month, you are our fourth Black Card winner!"

The email instructed the customer to follow a link and use a promotional code to claim the prize—but when customers followed these instructions, they not only found they had not won free beer but that they had also been signed up for a monthly subscription costing £22.95 ($30).

Many customers also received text messages from the company informing them that they had won "free beer for life."

Bier Company delivers craft beer and snacks directly to customers' doors in the U.K., with options on their website to buy one-off boxes of beer and snacks, beer-related gifts for birthdays and occasions, and a monthly subscription to their Beer Club.

Rachel Pearce received one of the promotional email and text messages from Bier Company, she told Newsweek: "At first I saw the text and thought, free beer for life? This must be a scam. But then when I saw the email I thought it looked legit so I clicked the link.

"Once confirmed it then said the order thereafter is £22.95 unless promotion applies—so I assumed I could get it free monthly thereafter by entering another code. It wasn't until I went on Twitter that I realized everyone had received the message. Then I panicked and created an account to cancel my subscription but realized there is no way of doing this."

The promotional code sent out by Bier Company read "SLOOFLIRPA," which spells April Fools backwards.

Another customer named Harriet Bolton also received the joke messages. She told Newsweek: "I was a bit skeptical so I got my husband to double-check and when he looked on their website they say they do a monthly competition to give people a free lifetime subscription so I thought it must be real. I signed up and it took my code and said I had nothing to pay. I couldn't find any terms and conditions anywhere, then once I had paid I went on Twitter to find loads of people had done the same and it was all a big con."

Upon discovering they had been signed up to a monthly subscription, people took to the internet to express their upset. Twitter user TheC1derDr1nker wrote: "How NOT to do an April Fools 'joke!' Myself and many others have been duped by this." While user elliebutcher19 said: "Unbelievably bad taste. Will never be ordering from you again."

"It's dreadful," said Twitter user Catleymaowler. "I feel completely scammed into signing up."

​​Bier Company, which registered as a company under the name Bier Nuts in 2017, does offer a "Black Card" competition reward system. Their website explains: "Black Card holders are entitled to a lifetime membership to the Bier Club, receiving their subscription box every month for free!" The site explains: "By simply joining the Bier Club, you will automatically be entered in the draw each month. One lucky member will win the Black Card, will it be you?"

One Twitter user pointed out that this was part of what convinced them to sign up through the email: "I think the worst thing is that the black card is something they actually do, and have been doing and advertising for a while. So naturally, you wouldn't expect it to be a scam as it's tied to an existing promotion."

"I can't find anywhere on the website to cancel the subscription," said Bolton. While Pearce explained: "I have tried email, direct messaging, and calling and they are not responding at all. My next thought is to cancel it with my bank."

After the backlash, Bier Company released an official statement on Twitter addressing the April Fools joke. With the title: "UPDATE: SLOOFLIRPA," it read: "Congratulations to everyone that used the SLOOFLIRPA code—you may have cunningly deduced that SLOOFLIRPA = APRILFOOLS backwards.

"You will ALL receive a first free month of Bier Club, absolutely FREE—well done!"

Later in the statement, the company said: "Our accountants are going bananas—It will cost us £££'s to fulfill this promise!" They confirmed that customers who did not want to receive the box could rectify this with them: "If you want to cancel your free box, simply contact: customerexperience@biercompany.co.uk."

Newsweek has reached out to Bier Company for comment.

April Fools beer joke
A picture from the email sent out to customers Bier Company, left, and a shot of the text message some customers also received, right. The company has received backlash after their April Fools prank backfired. Richard Garvey/Rachel Pearce