Amanda Schwab is totally pissed at me.
Amanda approaches most challenges I give her with a special kind of Lacrosse-like, can-do intensity. But yesterday, I may have pushed the normally unflappable editor of our PandoLists too far. “Please don’t ever make me do that again!” she beseeched me last night at the end of a long, long rant.
Mean bosses take note: I am going to give you the secret to totally alienating your staff. Make them use a Samwer Brother app.
I was making some calls about Wrapp’s US launch yesterday, and in general the recent mania of the mobile gifting economy. The Samwer clone of Wrapp, DropGifts, came up a few times in conversation. There were the now customary stories of the site claiming to have relationships with big US retailers like Amazon that — shocker! — it doesn’t actually have. (See similar past scandals with the Samwers’ Groupon clones and Fab clone.)
Gilding the truth to get users is one thing. But yesterday I was hearing that DropGifts, which (in a Samwers’ first) actually beat Wrapp to the US market, was completely unusable. One source told me he tried to buy a gift card to the Gap, had to download and print it out, took it to the Gap, and the sales clerk and manger had no clue what it was and refused to accept it.
I realized in all the digital ink I’ve spilled over the Samwer brothers, I’d never actually used one of their apps. Most are aimed at ripping off US companies for European audiences, after all, and I don’t live in Europe. So I didn’t actually know if the experience was awful or not.
As an entrepreneur, I hate everything the Samwers do on general principle, so I asked Amanda — who tends to love everything — to try DropGifts out. Our managing editor, Nathan, went on Facebook and bought her a gift. And then she spent four hours trying to download a PDF of it. The site crashed her computer several times.
After that she went online to try to redeem the gift. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out what to do with her sad $5 credit. In frustration, she asked Trevor Gilbert for help.
As she vented, I wondered if this could just be Amanda. On the scale of Web savviness the Pando staff goes Nathan (who I believe was sent here from the 1890s to edit a tech blog, as some sort of Jules Verne research experiment), then Amanda, then me, then 19-year-old digital native Trevor. Greg Kumparak is probably the only one on staff more technologically savvy than Trevor.
Here’s what Trevor had to say about the experience:
Using DropGifts was one of the worst Web experiences I’ve ever had. The most prominent problem is the use of PDFs as a key to using the service. Upon receiving an email from the company that I had been given a gift (From whom? The email didn’t say), I was told to go to the site and download an oversized PDF. After waiting for it to finish downloading, the entire document consisted of directions to print it out, with only a giftcard redemption code. Oddly, the code is only available online, which makes printing out entirely pointless.
The PDF could have been integrated as a simple line of text on the website, but I imagine that pushing users to download the file gives the company the metric of “X thousands have download the gifts for use!”
Aside from the downloading/printing ordeal, the entire design and user experience of the site is off. It never tells you who sent you the gift, it requires Facebook integration, with no real value add. It advertises the service as a gift, when in fact it gives out gift cards that require the recipient to purchase products just to use the gift card. Throughout, the service is slow, buggy, and not entirely useful.
I really hated this thing.”
That’s actually Trevor photographed using DropGifts above.
In March, Wrapp’s CEO said he was accelerating his plans to combat the Samwers’ clone efforts. Yeah, I don’t think he has much to worry about.
I have a whole new sympathy for German Web users.
(Suicidal Trevor courtesy of Shutterstock.)