An open letter to woot, wooters, and Amazon.
A little background... I was a loyal wooter for several years. I spent thousands on woot, buying multiple items each week from woot.com, shirt.woot.com and sellout.woot.com. I probably introduced 60 or 70 people to woot and routinely recommended it to total strangers when they would comment on my newest PC accessory, my Zune, my backpack, t-shirt, tools, etc. But then I'd occasionally have a problem with a purchase. I'd politely email customer service and get an automated reply to the effect that they would get back to me in short order. Except they NEVER got back to me.
I tolerated the occasional order that didn't go through due to poor programming or shoddy infrastructure administration by woot's employees. But the frequency of their gaffs only increased, as did my dissatisfaction. Finally, during a wootoff in December 2008, they had woot lights! I had to have those! I dutifully entered all my info to buy 2 sets, but the transaction wouldn't go through. Here I was trying to buy a symbol of my devotion to woot, and still getting the shaft. That was it! I emailed customer service, still politely, but demanding they rectify this injustice. They OWED me those sets of lights. They could charge my card; the information was stored on their servers – just sell me those lights. I deserved those lights, but was denied the privilege due to their incompetence and apathy.
All I got was the standard "We'll get back to you" autoreply. A friend said they put hundreds more of the light sets up for sale later in the day, but I had already closed my browser and wasn't ever going back if they didn't make this right. If they were going to ignore this message from a loyal customer, we were finished.
As I said, that was in December of 2008. I never got any response. I also never returned to woot - until today. My wife called this morning and said I had to go back and get her a Kindle 2. Against my better judgement, I agreed to give it one more shot … maybe they had improved, maybe they had canned all their old customer support and IT people. I dredged the years old password from my memory and went to complete the order. Oh, but wait, they had cleared out my credit card information, I had to enter it again.
"If everything looks correct, click I want one." I clicked the gold button. The page repainted with the same instruction to click the gold button.
Several more times I tried. But each time the screen refreshed and each time taunted me to click the gold button. But the order wouldn't complete.
Then I scrolled all the way to the top of the screen, above the credit card images, and there - in the smallest font their developers could apparently find - were the words saying the item was sold out. Why not display a NEW page if the item is sold out, instead of wasting people's time in the false hope that they may still get the item?! Such design can only be malicious, or if not that, then programming which is the product of a diseased simian brain.
So, after more than 18 months, nothing had changed, apart from making the experience even worse than before through the use of an even smaller font in a ridiculous location for a message that could be presented in so many different and sensible ways. And upon reflection, I need to correct my earlier assessment - such design can only be the product of a malicious diseased simian brain. There's no OR about the situation.
And to add insult to injury the reason it was sold out when I clicked the gold button was because woot had cleared my credit card information from their database. I checked the bunions and discovered I had missed getting a Kindle by less than 30 seconds - the time required to dig out my credit card and type in all the information.
I hear Amazon has bought woot. Perhaps, if there's any justice in the world, they'll fire all the worthless and uncaring woot employees and they can then devote their time to more useful pursuits, like trying to get on Maury, so they can track down their fathers. But more than likely, woot has now infected Amazon with their special flair for shoddy customer service, in which case I won't be using my Amazon account ever again, either.
Hey woot staff, before you turn out the lights, disable my account. Naturally, you don't provide any such self-service mechanism on your site - that would be good customer service. And don’t bother replying, I blocked all email from woot over a year ago.