Good-bye, Woot

In Tech and Internet by Daniel M. Clark0 Comments

Call it sour grapes, but I can't help the way I feel. A few days ago, turned four. Yep, four years of a daily deals, Photoshop contests (one of which I took 1st place in) and Woot-Offs. Four years of the Bag of Crap, or BOC: that elusive “treasure” that a few thousand lucky people can order periodically. Why is the BOC so special? For the low price of $1 (you can order up to three at a time, max), Woot will send you a package (not actually a bag) containing a few random items. By random, I mean really, really random. You might get a calendar, a stuffed monkey, or a 52″ HDTV. It's the promise of a chance at things like a giant TV that gets people worked up over these things.

On the days that Woot offers a BOC, the servers get slammed. On most days, the BOC just sort of shows up unannounced and the server hit is significant. Can you imagine how the servers would get pounded when all Woot users expect it to show up?

Here's my problem. On Woot's birthday, they offered a BOC. I logged into the website shortly before 11pm, which is the time of night (in my timezone) that Woot updates the website with a new daily deal. I refreshed the page after the deal went live, and I actually saw the BOC and the “I want one” button. Usually, I show up after it's sold out, so I eagerly hit that button. Then I waited… and waited… and waited. The order screen eventually came up, but the quantity selection isn't a dropdown or text box, it's a javascript-powered button. I pressed the “I want three” button many, many times before it finally changed the quantity. After twenty one minutes of wrestling with the server, the site finally accepted my order – and then kicked me back to the beginning with an error message saying the item was sold out.

I was furious – furious that the site wasted my time, got my hopes up, and then dashed them against a rock. To make matters worse, in Woot's message board, long time members were openly hostile and insulting toward anyone who complained about the poor site service.

After four years, Woot couldn't figure out how to prepare for an event that they must have known was going to be extremely stressful on their servers. After four years, they still don't have any moderation in their forums that is willing to tell people to keep the personal attacks and insults out of the discussion. After four years, they've managed to prove that they're just not up to the task of running this type of service. It's a damn shame, too. I've been a fan for a long time. From here on out though, Woot will not receive my business or my attention.

I do like my daily deals, though… so what's a guy to do? I looked around and found Yugster – a Woot competitor since 2006 that not only offers a daily deal, but gives members a preview of the next deal plus a side offer called Yours Til it's Gone. In the years that I spent checking Woot on a daily basis, I only ever bought a handful of items. In the few days that I've been checking Yugster, I've already purchased something – a computer screen cleaning kit for $6.95 + $4 shipping. Unlike, where refurbished items are the norm, refurbs at Yugster are rare, according to their FAQ list. Yugster even has their own version of a Woot-Off, called a YugDown, where new items are posted as soon as one sells out for a period of time.

I will be keeping an eye on Yugster and will report back my opinions in the coming weeks – but at first look, this might just be a Woot-killer… for me, at least.

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