Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Tippr Backstab

Tippr, like it's compatriots Groupon and LivingSocial, offers insanely good deals on local stuff. This morning, I get this deal in my inbox:
I think to myself "Oh, nice - they have one in Fremont and I'm going there today to have lunch with friends. How perfect is this?"

So I buy it, thinking that my friend and I will eat like kings for $5 each. After I buy it, I go into the "My Account" section of the website to print out the deal. This is what I see:
Pending. For how long? I'm not sure. I'm hoping not that long because I'm hoping to use the thing in about 90 minutes. I check for the confirmation email and here's what it says:
Hi Dustin,
Thank you for purchasing this great deal from Tacos Guaymas.
Your credit card ([redacted]) will be charged within 24 hours of the offer ending (Monday, December 06 2010), at which time you will receive another email notifying you that your voucher is ready. When you receive that email, simply click on the provided link, go to the "My Account" section of our website, and then click on the voucher number to print it. Remember to take your voucher with you when you visit Tacos Guaymas.
I take great pains not to "bash" when I do these little UX reviews, because I know people work hard on this stuff and sometimes you can't get it all right, but... fuck you, Tippr. The deal I thought I was buying and using today won't actually be ready to use until Tuesday? That's bullshit. Want to know what's even more bullshit? Now that I know what's going on, I don't want the deal. I want to cancel. I don't actually have the deal - and I haven't actually been charged any money yet - so canceling should be easy, right? Do you see a cancel button up there? Nope. You don't. So I've managed to buy something I didn't want, and there's no way for me to correct it (short of calling and yelling at someone).

I went back and re-read all the text on the deal page (the first image up there)  - which no sane user can ever be expected to do, btw - and it says I have 4 days left to still buy this deal but there is nothing - nothing - that says the deal won't be available to use until after the sale closes. I only get told that on the back end of the deal, after I've already ponied up. This is dangerously close to a dark pattern and is really not a very polite thing to do to users.

At this point, someone from Tippr reading this (which will probably happen - companies tend to find this inconsequential little blog somehow) is probably about to spout off some excuse about how I just don't understand how their system works. First of all: yes, that's my point. I wasn't able to discern what would happen before it did happen. It's your job to make sure that I can. Second of all, now that I've been slapped, my eyes are open: because the savings is dependent on how many people buy the deal - whether the deal "tips", as you say - you don't issue the voucher until the deal is closed. But here's the thing (as you all can clearly see in the screengrab up there): it's already tipped. It's done. You can now safely issue the vouchers. But, of course, you won't.

What makes me particularly pissed about this is that I also happened to buy a Groupon today. Check it out:

And would you look at that. I can use it right now. Today - the instant I bought it, in fact. That's exactly what I expected, because that's how eCommerce is expected to work. It's ok if it sometimes doesn't work like that - like, say, when Amazon has to ship something to you - but that expectation needs to be made crystal clear and in advance of the transaction.

I won't say I'll never use Tippr again - they do have good deals - but I really wish there was another way for me to learn that lesson.

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