There are calls to boycott the workwear chain after a $100,000 cash drop incident caused chaos.
More than 1,000 people gathered in Auckland’s Aotea Square on Saturday in anticipation of the Safety Warehouse gathering, which was designed to thank the New Zealanders for their help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But as the cash gift promotion came to an end, very few attendees actually reported receiving any money.
Instead, several left with retail vouchers crafted to imitate $5 notes, NZ Herald said.
Managing Director Andrew Thorn denied that the $100,000 figure had not been reached, and said that the promotion had 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 signed the Change.org petition calling for the retailer to turn vouchers to real cash, while others are calling for a broad boycott.
John Murphy said that he and others “expected that REAL CASH would be thrown into the crowds, not fake worthless vouchers that probably 99 per cent of the people there could not or would never 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” and shared 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 he was “absolutely disgusted” by the news of the vouchers replacing the cash.
“People in need from across the region gathered, clearly hoping their hardship would be alleviated,” he said.