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Tim Hortons adds ‘pre-cup agreement’ to annual Roll Up the Rim to Win promotion

Ron Buist, director of marketing services, who developed the "roll up the rim to win" campaign.

Peter Tym/The Globe and Mail

You've heard of a pre-nuptial agreement? Get ready to take part in a pre-cup agreement the next time you order a double-double.

The rumours are true: Tim Hortons has revised the rules of its popular Roll Up the Rim to Win contest, which kicks off this week and runs to April 25.

More specifically, the Canadian coffee outlet is looking to avoid any confusion in regard to the millions of prizes that customers could potentially win in the contest.

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Toward that end, Tim Hortons has introduced the Roll Up the Rim pre-cup contract, which is designed to clear up any confusion as to who's legally entitled to collect that free donut or medium coffee.

Or even that spiffy new car.

The affably written contract, which can be seen on the coffee chain's website or Facebook page, seeks to ascertain whether the prize recipient (a.k.a. the "Happy Roller") or the original product purchaser (the "Well-Wisher") is entitled to the prize listed on the soggy, chewed-up cup rim.

To quote the contract directly, the proviso "may help avoid those awkward situations like unfriending on Facebook, being blocked on Twitter or getting the cold shoulder at parties."

The document also makes clear that the pre-cup contract is in no way legally binding.

Regardless, the pre-cup decree has drawn attention to the annual Roll Up the Rim promotion, now in its 28th year.

And while most Tim Hortons customers are content with claiming their cruller or medium coffee, there have been conflicts in the past.

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Back in 2006, a 10-year-old girl found a discarded Tims cup in the trash can of her school in Saint-Jerome, Que. Since she was unable to roll up the rim, she enlisted a 12-year-old friend to help her. Both girls were astounded to discover the cup entitled them to a new SUV.

And so were the 12-year-old's parents, who believed they were legally entitled to half the value of the car. Soon after, the school's custodian claimed that he had actually purchased the coffee and tossed away the cup.

After much discussion and rattling of legal sabres, Tim Hortons eventually awarded the vehicle to the younger girl who originally found the cup.

Also in 2006, a hairdresser in Sault St. Marie, Ont., purchased a Tim Hortons coffee for a co-worker that revealed a new SUV worth nearly $30,000. The two women happily shared the prize.

All legal machinations aside, Tim Hortons has enhanced the Roll Up the Rim contest, with the new rules released perhaps not coincidentally a few days ahead of its 2013 fourth-quarter results this week, and the planned unveiling next week of its five-year plan to boost sales in Canada and the U.S.

The biggest change: Tims patrons now have two chances to win on each cup of coffee purchased.

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Starting this week, hopeful customers can roll the rim twice in search of prizes, which this time include a new car, a $5,000 pre-paid Visa card, a $100 Tim Hortons card and millions in coffee and food prizes.

The second roll on the same rim allows customers the chance to win one of 10 more new cars. And there's also an online contest called Roll Up Roulette that offers even more prizes.

According to the Tim Hortons website, the chances of winning a prize in the Roll Up the Rim contest stand at 1 in 6.

And whether the winner collects a small box of Timbits or a sports-utility vehicle, they can probably leave the lawyers out of it.

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