Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why I No Longer Woot

I used to hit the website every day--and much more if they happened to be in the middle of a wootoff. But now, not so much.

In case you aren't familiar with them, Woot is a site that offers one product at a discounted price every day. At 1 am Eastern time, the new item goes up for sale. You can have it for the listed price plus $5 for shipping. Sometimes it's a great deal, sometimes it's junk, sometimes it's a great deal for some people and it's junk for others. Sometimes it sells out right away, sometimes it doesn't sell out at all. And every now and then they have a wootoff, where they list one item after another to get rid of the things that didn't sell out.

I used to buy a lot from them; I'd get things at pretty good prices, with an occasional mega-bargain in the mix, and they stood behind their products. If it didn't work, they'd give a replacement or a refund.

Then I got a Slacker G1 portable internet radio player from them... and right out of the box, it didn't work right. Problems galore, failure to function, needed to be restored every few days. I contacted Slacker, and they were little help; send it us at your expense, they said, and we'll try to fix it but we don't really support that unit any more, so if it's not fixable, you can apply the price you paid towards a Slacker G2 and pay us the $149 difference. The thing was, I would never have bought a Slacker G2 at $79 plus $149; I bought the G1 because $79 was about right for an 8gb 40-station internet radio player that I could carry with me to listen to in the car, etc.

So I contacted Woot and said "this doesn't work and the manufacturer won't replace it without a hefty upgrade fee. What can you do?" And their response? "Talk to the manufacturer; there's nothing we can do."

I still have the G1; it still doesn't work right, and it still fails about once every three or four uses and has to be reflashed with firmware to make it stumble along for a few more days. I won't renew my Slacker subscription when it expires--no reason to, really, since the hardware is only semi-functional. I didn't make a big stink of the issue with Woot, but I decided then that they were no longer a Trusted Vendor on my list. Now I hit their site once a week or so to see what sort of stuff they're listing, but you know what? I think I'd rather pay a little more to get it from somewhere else where the seller ships me functional merchandise or stands behind the product...

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