It started out as a neat way to get folks to keep weekly tabs on the country's most popular online store. Two weeks ago, (NASDAQ:AMZN) launched a weekly promotion where users would vote for one of four jaw-dropping deals. The store would then offer the winning items, in limited quantities, every Thursday.

The first week's winner was a Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360 system for $100. It normally retails for $299. 1,000 units would be made available on Thanksgiving Day at that price.

A feeding frenzy was obvious as consumers no doubt kept refreshing the Xbox page as 2 p.m. Eastern approached. Amazon must have loved the attention but this is a dangerous proposition when you're offering something that most visitors aren't going to get.

There is no free lunch. And for most consumers, there is no $100 Xbox 360 either. As expected, Amazon's user forum has been livid with folks whining about not being one of the chosen thousand.

To Amazon's credit, the e-tailer also offered the three other items that received fewer votes, in the same limited quantities, at a less outlandish price. Kudos for the nice touch on providing compensation gifts, even though those too ran out fairly quickly.

That brings us to this week's disaster. One would think that, a week into the process, Amazon would have it down to a science. The polls close on Tuesday. The deals go up on Thursday. However, yesterday came and went without the sale.

"Due to the popularity of Amazon Customers Vote, we are extending the Week 2 voting period," reads the site's landing page. The company expects to email a new feeding frenzy date -- this time for what appears to be 1,000 portable DVD players for $25 -- by Saturday.

Amazon is usually classy about its transparency, so what's the deal here? Wasn't the first week's deal popular too? Why should popularity delay an offering? You blew it, Amazon. Own up to it. Don't lay the blame on the potential customers. Don't make it seem as if extending the deal works in their favor.

Amazon is in rare form here because it's usually the dependable one over the holidays. After Toys "R" Us got raked in the media for botching Christmas gift deliveries a few years ago, the company quickly turned to Amazon to run its store (until giving it a second go on its own this year). Leading retailers like Target (NYSE:TGT) and Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) have let Amazon run online outlets for them because of Amazon's sterling reputation for dependability.

So come clean, Amazon. You already have a clever promotion that is stirring up pockets of resentment, and things can only get worse if they don't see you as a straight shooter. Keep it up and popularity may no longer be a problem.

Amazon has been recommended to Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter subscribers. Microsoft is an Inside Value pick.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been shopping online for about as long as has been in business. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. T he Fool has a disclosure policy.