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McDonald’s exercise in upsizing still has a Monopoly on confusing

October 18, 2018

My breakfast stickers on the first day of the 2018 Coast to Coast Monopoly contest.

Hey! Your one-in-five chance not to win $10,000 but probably pick yourself up a few free food prizes at McDonald’s Canada restaurant locations is back. That’s right, the fast food chain’s popular Coast to Coast Monopoly contest is in effect until November 11th.

For the next three weeks, select McD’s product packages will be adorned with pairs of Monopoly stickers for customers to peel and collect, all in hopes of completing property sets and winning the related prizes—everything from instant win food prizes and barbeque sets, to gas for life, or a cool ten grand in cash!

Seniors still have a high chance of losing!

The nearly 90 stickers I have collected so far, including the five food prizes.

In the case of medium, large and extra-large coffee cups, Monopoly stickers have replaced the usual McCafe loyalty card stickers.

However, McDonald’s customers who are retirees on fixed incomes and used to buying the small-size coffee at the senior’s discount will find that their little cups have lost the McCafe stickers but not gained anything in the way of Monopoly stickers.

The placement of these stickers, it should be remembered (in fact, half of the purpose of the Monopoly contest itself) is to drive customers wanting the stickers to upsize to larger and more expensive food portions.

So, nothing personal seniors, it’s just business.

Otherwise, there’s nothing really all that earth-shakingly new about this year’s Coast to Coast Monopoly contest.

I suppose the biggest news is the return of the SnapFish online prize. Oops! I’m sorry, I meant to say—the introduction of the CanvasPop online prize—to replace SnapFish.

CanvasPop, like SnapFish, is an online service that will take your treasured digital snapshots over the Internet and print the bits and bytes onto real-world objects. CanvasPop is more specialized but, as an instant win Coast to Coast Monopoly prize, it is every bit as confusing as SnapFish ever was.

Meet CanvasPop—the new SnapFish

“CanvasPop $25 Gift Card” instant win prizes from the 2018 Coast to Coast Monopoly contest prizes—free for anyone who wants to go online and redeem the codes (four from me and two from a friend).

For many McDonald’s Canada customer’s the SnapFish instant online win prize that was part of the Coast to Coast Monopoly contests, going back to at least 2013, was a proverbial enigma wrapped in a riddle and stuck on the side of their fry box. The prize had a meaningless name and it required effort (and a computer) to redeem.

Well, there’s no SnapFish prize in the 2018 Coast to Coast Monopoly contest. However, McDonald’s Canada apparently believes that its contest is not complete without some kind of digital photo printing prize.

This year it’s CanvasPop,

While the U.S.-based SnapFish will put your digital photos on a plethora of real-world objects, the Canadian CanvasPop is an online provider of on-demand photo printing with a decidedly artsy artisan vibe.

As the nine-year-old, Ottawa-based company’s name suggests, its special expertise is printing digital images onto actual artist’s canvas fabric. Additionally CanvasPop will print photos onto throw pillows, along with the more mundane medium of paper. There is a choice of sizes and picture frames.

The framed canvas prints are described as hand-stretched and the imaging on the 18″x18″ plush “photo pillows” is full-bleed (edge-to-edge) and apparently (though not explicitly stated) durable and colour-fast enough to stand up to laundering.

Judging by the reviews I’ve read, though, the biggest virtue of CanvasPop is its relative affordability.

One particularly sharp review draws attention to the so-so fit and finish of CanvasPop’s canvas prints and the fact that it only accepts images in JPEG (JPG) format.

JPEG is not a format that professional photographers use. It is the output format of your average point-and-shoot camera. It embodies destructive “lossy” compression that permanently degrades image quality to keep file sizes small. The more you enlarge a JPEG the worse it will look.

That it is CanvasPop’s image format of choice is a clear indicator that the company is not competing at the high end of online printmaking.

All the same, according to the above review, CanvasPop’s canvas prints start at around the $40 mark, so the $25 CanvasPop gift card you can win in this year’s Monopoly contest is less of a free prize than a potential discount.

The confusion of online Monopoly prizes

One thing that the substitution of CanvasPop for SnapFish hasn’t changed is the confusion and frustration caused by such online prizes. They look just like the instant win food prizes but take one to the till in a McDonald’s and you will be told—rightly and perhaps wrongly—that you have to go online to claim your prize.

On Tuesday (October 16) a homeless friend asked me to help him claim the Monopoly contest prize he had won earlier in the day at a McDonald’s near Cambie Street—a “$25 McDonald’s gift card” he said.

Staff had given him a Coast to Coast Monopoly-branded McDonald’s gift card, which had to be activated online, they told him. They had also given him a smaller piece of plastic, with some printed instructions and a marked space where the original gift card prize sticker was supposed to be stuck.

I saw two immediate problems. First, the McDonald’s Canada prize redemption website made no mention of a McDonalds gift card prize with a value of $25—only $10 and $50. And second, the sticker was not, in fact, stuck anywhere on the little piece of plastic.

McDonald’s staff, apparently, had mistakenly kept the sticker. And without its 12-digit code I could not begin to activate my friend’s McDonald’s gift card.

I got him the phone number of the McDonald’s head office in Vancouver and pointed him back in the direction of the fast food chain’s Cambie Street location, where he said he had won the prize.

Coincidentally, the same evening another homeless acquaintance found me in the McDonald’s in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue and asked what he should do to get the $25 McDonald’s gift card that he had won.

Feeling myself on firm ground, I advised him to get the un-activated McDonald’s Monooply gift from a manager at the counter and—under no circumstances—relinquish his winning sticker.

The McDonald’s manager he spoke to contradicted what I had told him, saying that he didn’t need anything to redeem the online prizes; he just needed to go online.

Waiting until Wednesday morning and a different store manager, we were able to get an un-activated McDonald’s Coast to Coast Monopoly gift card. Between that and his prize sticker, my friend and I thought we had everything needed to go online and claim the $25 McDonald’s gift card.

Except, when he handed me the sticker, I saw that it was actually for a $25 CanvasPop gift card—arrrggh!

He and two McDonald’s managers had recognized “Gift Card” and assumed the rest. No doubt the same thing happened with my other homeless friend and the manager he dealt with. That would explain why he thought he had a “$25” McDonald’s gift card that the price redemption website had no listing for.

Talk about having to read the fine print carefully! On top of any other possible changes (like maybe using a QR code to optionally streamline the online prize redemption system), McDonald’s Canada should think about making the Monopoly prize stickers bigger. Click the images to enlarge them.

  1. tim mellsh permalink

    i want to claim my prize


  2. Mr. Flushed the toilet at McDonald's 100x for revenge permalink

    And it’s a pretty useless prize. Nearly everything on canvaspop costs more than $50 and one can enter the code FALL50 to get 50% off. They even give you the code on the website, given the ripoff prices.

    And it’s not a gift card. You can’t use the $25 gift card with the Fall50 discount.

    Hence, unless you are buying the least expensive option, the sticker is totally useless.

    Bottom line: a gift card should be like money. Instead they have misnamed the winning prize a gift card, instead of the correct name: a discount card that cannot be combined with any other offers.

    Canvaspop is simply offering a non-prize to drive people to it’s website.

    Total bs


    • I agree. I don’t think McDonald’s Canada does itself any favours having such a time-wasting non-prize in its lineup of Coast to Coast Monopoly booty.


  3. Al Sorensen permalink

    For being such a huge company you would think that McDonalds would be more fair and honest to the people that made them such a huge company. Im not impressed with them at all and i will never eat there again. Sincerly. Al Sorenson


  4. Al Sorensen permalink

    You would think that the manager at a McDonalds would know something about the monopoly game and its prizes, ive asked the manager at 3 differant McDonalds and all they said was not quite sure and dont really know that much and dont follow it at all. Boy! They were a lot of help. Sincerly. Al Sorenson👎


    • Part of the problem is that the exact prize redemption procedure for online prizes has changed again this year and become (if possible) even more intricate. My sense is that McDonald’s Canada is trying to capture more customers as online users and thus targets for online advertising and tracking. For many years customers ave been able to convince themselves that the Monopoly contest was good, harmless fun but I think that the mask is slipping. There really seems to be less customer interest in the contest this year, at least in the Vancouver McDonald’s locations I frequent.


  5. LMichelle permalink

    I just went through the process of uploading my photo to be turned into a canvas and in small writing it said I would be charged in USD. Wtf???! F**k you McDonalds “Canada”


  6. Lloydstarr permalink

    I am boycotting McDonald’s. Instead of giving me a free coffee your going to waste my time with a $25 fake gift card. Is any company honest anymore? There has to be consequences for this type of business practice. I have been constantly punked from microsoft to home depot. The only company that actually improved on their product and went above and beyond what I expected was a rigid shop vac. Good work Rigid. Gates and Ronald can eat a fat #$%@.


    • Hopefully you will find another restaurant chain that treats you to an honest product for your money. I personally think A&W makes good, tasty stuff and I applaud them for their meatless burger.


  7. Mike permalink

    Shame on MacConlord. You’d better not use my personal information you have collected to con me twice. Canvaspop is the cheesy marketing that is bound to backfire. Now your elegant artwork in my opinion is stamped with greasy burger


  8. Bren Jones permalink

    McDonald’s suck I thought I won 25.00 worth of your product instead you screwed me!


  9. east 154 upper governor st. preaston ns b2z 1g2 permalink

    no comment


  10. Christine permalink

    I just went through a flipping nightmare with two different McDonalds locations. Long story short, I left in tears and ready to rip my hair out. I “won” a 25$ “gift card” from the monopoly game about a week ago. I am on disability so I have very little funds. I put this gift card away for one of those days near the end of the month when I don’t have money. This evening, I go to McDonald’s to use this gift card and was told I don’t know what to tell you, come back tomorrow and talk to the daytime manager. I had no no money, other than this gift card and felt like a complete moron.. And to top it off the driver behind me, got out of his vehicle, came to my window to yell at me and ask me if there was as problem. Horrible customer service and a TOTAL SCAM. I’m hungry and irritated. Sorry I just needed to share this as many other people have as well. I hope McDonald’s gets the name for itself that it deserves. Complete shit.


    • Thank you for leaving your comment. McDonald’s Canada should not have made you go through this frustrating, deceptive and ultimately fruitless rigamarole! Not you, not any of the homeless people who came to me, thinking (like you did) that they had won themselves a $25 McD’s gift card—not one Canadian McDonald’s customer should have had their time and trust wasted and abused by this marketing campaign deceptively disguised as a “prize”!


  11. lovnit orfakit permalink

    bullshit and waste of matériel and extra production on top of the waste of our time and to all supposed efforts angainst pollution enviromentaly concerned my ass and making considerable winners my ass again. i join any law and justice against McDonald’s. last thing they Care about is homelessness and pauvrety. i know how much food go to waste . i know why they close dine in at 11 pm or earlier and how they boot out homeless ppl first.. they are used to be better. open later. or true 24hr. better easier deals and more human like a free frie for the wait …. !!!!! now its like pay first. eat it. and fuck you. happy or not

    its opposite of any décent restaurent foodlfoody # 1 principlesprincipales in America. north south east West . ordre taste it . eat it . like it and to finish . evryone ?!?!?!!? happy tummy?! ok now if so then lets pay a respectable result of considerable amount of trades and team work Well tunned to serve. mcdonald is well tunned time for the opposite . make cheap shit to suck the Whole shit out of you. your ass and Wallet your health and life. over the health of our planet. eat it or not . you will get the shit of it all . loving it or not . who cares. they love it …. improimprove worsten up Evry aspect they can. who will stop it? who can? why not


  12. lovnit orfakit permalink

    interresant recours collectif public


  13. Cheryl Sillers permalink

    Your 25.00 gift card are useless that’s not what they say you won it’s a good way of fals advertising


  14. Ms. Sarah Gilmore permalink

    I was under the impression that I was to receive a $25 gift card to redeem at Mcdonalds, I entered my code on-line and after waiting two months and nothing was mailed to me, I came on to check out what the hold up was. Now I get it, Mcdonalds is a scam by deceiving people into thinking it was a gift card for their products but instead some shitty prize to cash at another business. Well done Mcd’s! You can keep your canvaspop and I will not be playing your Monopoly game again (hence LESS purchases from me) while you start up for 2019.


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