There are calls to boycott a workwear retailer after an event marketed as a $100,000 cash drop sparked chaos.
More than 1000 people gathered in Auckland’s Aotea Square on Saturday in anticipation for The Safety Warehouse event that aimed to thank New Zealanders for their support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
But as the cash giveaway promotion came to an end, very few attendees actually reported receiving any money.
Instead, many left with retail vouchers designed to resemble $5 notes, NZ Herald reported.
Managing director Andrew Thorn denied reports the $100,000 figure was not met, and stands by the promotion that has been “unfairly characterised” as using “fake” money.
“In truth, real funds were given away as anticipated. The vouchers that were also presented at the event were in addition to the cash that was given away,” he said in a statement to the outlet.
“We never could have expected the inclusion of the vouchers would have created such hostility and a misunderstood narrative.
“There was no intent to deprive, mislead or embarrass any person of any demographic or race. We wanted anyone and everyone to attend and to be a part of a great event.”
‘Wasted my petrol, time and money’
More than 600 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding the retailer convert vouchers dispensed into real cash, while others are calling for a widespread boycott.
John Murphy said he and others had “expected REAL CASH to be thrown into the crowds NOT fake useless vouchers that probably 99% of people there cant or never would use”.
“This petition demands that The Safety Warehouse NZ do the right thing and give all participants the REAL CASH for there USELESS notes,” it reads.
“Wasted my petrol, time and money used on carpark! I could have spent the day doing something more productive,” one woman wrote on the petition.
Another woman said she felt “really misled”, sharing that she had collected more than $365 worth of fake notes.
“To exploit people’s desperation and poverty with a fake $100k cash drop … is just such an entitled thing to do,” another signatory said.
Greens MP Ricardo Menendez tweeted that he was “absolutely disgusted” by the reports of the vouchers replacing the cash.
“People in need from across the region gathered, clearly hoping their hardship would be alleviated,” he said.