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Botched New York Times promo gave away a Google Home for $17

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Whoops

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Select customers got a Google Home for a major discount yesterday after The New York Time Co. offered the smart speaker for free with a new digital subscription. The problem? The company failed to stipulate in its legal terms that the subscription needed to be for at least a year, so people were able to cancel after paying $17 for only their first month of subscription.

Commenters in our original article noted that after signing up, the code to redeem a Google Home in the Google Store would be sent to them in three to five days, but some received it immediately. That allowed them to also cancel their subscription right away after getting confirmation of their Google Home order. “When I chatted with a rep, she assured me I could cancel anytime. I also received the code for my Google Home within minutes of placing the subscription order,” said another customer who shared their experience on Slickdeals.

A few hours after the deal went live, The Times changed the language on the promo page, requiring customers to a binding annual subscription to qualify. By the end of the day, the deal was no longer available. The NYT did say supplies were limited, so it’s not entirely surprising that the snafu meant all the Homes were snatched up in less than 10 hours. Sadly, you’re out of luck if you were actually interested in both the Home and a NYT subscription.

For those who are looking to get a Google Home, Google just announced a new version of the device that’s smaller, a little more colorful, and costs $50. It’s not $17, but it is a significant discount from the $129 price tag of the original device.

Update October 5th 9:25 AM ET: The New York Times has followed up to The Verge with a statement, claiming the promotion was meant to be offered on a month-to-month basis before customer “abuse.” The full statement is below:

​"​The subscription offer was for one year and it rolled out as intended, with the appropriate legal terms. As with many of our offers, we give our subscribers the option to pay monthly or annual upfront. It is our standard policy--and the legal terms on this offer clearly state--that subscribers may cancel anytime. The abuse of this customer-friendly policy by a ​small group impacted our ability to deliver this special offer to committed subscribers. Because of this, the offer is currently paused but we are working to reinstate the annual upfront offer, as we continue to see strong interest from prospective subscribers.​"​