Why You Should Never Buy From A Woot Off

Have you ever shopped at Woot?

For those who aren’t familiar, Woot is one of the originators of the one-item sold for one-day.  You can buy many products, often leaning toward electronics, at what can be pretty good deals.  Typical items they sell are:

  • Televisions
  • MP3 Players (not so much anymore)
  • High end vacuum cleaners
  • Knife sets
  • Gaming accessories

I subscribe to the RSS feed so every day I happen to be in Google Reader, I’ll see the deal for that day.  In the five years or so I’ve been following, I’ve bought less than a dozen items.

The biggest purchase was my first.  I bought the Dyson vaccum cleaner that we use at home.  Before moving into our house in 2007, we determined that we wanted a Dyson and were shopping around, when one came up for $100 less than I’d seen anywhere.  It was a no-brainer.

I’ve bought a couple of items since, pretty small in nature: I bought a pack of sprinklers for the backyard which I needed when I did some overseeding a few years back, and wanted to concentrate the extra watering to the particular areas I was working with.  I also bought some water alarms which I’ve placed around water-using appliances, and they’ve actually saved me a couple of times.

One of the things Woot is most famous for is their Woot-Off.  Every so often, maybe once a month or so, they’ll have a Woot-Off, where instead of one item per day, they’ll run a whole slew of items, likely leftovers from previous Woots.  They’re usually discounted from even their regular Woot prices.  Some items in a Woot Off last mere seconds, others last for hours.  You never know what’s coming next, but often you can score a deal.

The biggest item people clamor for, ironically enough, during a Woot Off is the ‘Bag of Crap’.  For $8 Woot will send you a box of stuff.  You have no control over what’s inside nor any idea what’s coming.  Most people receive exactly what the name suggests, even receiving parts of items or broken items.  The reason people clamor for these is because, every so often, Woot will sneak something valuable in.  People have been known to get a large screen TV, or even a pallet full of electronic keyboards.  It’s like a mini-lottery.

I often follow the Woot Off, but I don’t buy.  Why?

Because it’s a form of impulse shopping.

Most items people buy on a Woot Off are available for a limited period of time.  Minutes, maybe an hour if it’s slow.  I believe in mulling over a big purchase, so although I’ve been tempted to buy a TV or other ‘big’ item, I never have because it’s too big a decision to make in that short of time.

But, obviously people don’t care because these things sell out quickly.

I suppose that if something did hit that I was planning on buying I might make a purchase, but I’d say it’s pretty rare that people happen to buy something on a Woot Off that they would have gone out and purchased anyways.  I’d guess 98% of purchases are impulse buys.

At least a regular Woot item, you have the entire day to think about it (assuming that they don’t sell out) so while there’s pressure, you can talk it over, look at your finances, and be somewhat truthful about whether you actually need the item.  But a Woot Off item gives you none of that, so I’m fine with just watching the RSS feed fill up over the course of the day and leave it at that.

Still, it’s fun to watch.

Do you ever watch or participate in a Woot Off?  Do you buy from Woot?

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This Michigan Local Lawn Company Almost Burned Me…And Likely Burned Living Social

My rule of thumb when it comes to buying things from Groupon, Living Social, or any other deal-of-the-day site is to purchase things that I would likely have purchased anyway.  Typically this has limited us to buying vouchers for restaurants (since we eat out sometimes anyways), and for stores where we do shopping anyways (e.g. Amazon, CVS, The Body Shop).

I knew I was stepping outside of my ‘comfort zone’ a little bit when I saw a Living Social for a lawn and garden company named Final Touch Lawn and Landscaping, based in Livionia, MI.  They were offering lawn aeration for $45.  This is a service that I had been planning to do sometime soon anyways.  For those who aren’t familiar, they basically come with a machine that pulls plugs of soil (about the size of a wine cork) out of your grass.  These create thousands of holes, and the idea is that it loosens the soil, it provides space for the roots of the grass to grow into, and allows space for fertilizer and water to penetrate.  The plugs eventually break down, and the soil works its way back in, though now looser.  It’s not an essential service but one that I’ve never had done and was hoping to do.

Living Social tells you how many people have purchased the deal, and I think I was roughly 110 or so on that deal.

After purchasing and receiving my voucher, I tried to contact the company.

That was my first sign that something was amiss.

Their phone number went to voice mail, which instructed you to go to their website and fill out a form if you were redeeming a Living Social or Groupon (so I guess they did both).

I did so.  I wrote that I had purchased my voucher, gave them the e-mail associated with the voucher, and asked that they contact me to schedule when they were in my area.

I got an automated form response back assuring me that they would follow through.

In fact they did.

About a week later, I got a call that I couldn’t take.  It was someone from the service telling me that I was scheduled for May 23rd between 3-5pm.  I actually did call back because I had some questions about what prep work I would need to do but assured that them that time would work.

Never got a call back.

Still, the time worked for me, and so the night before I gave it my best shot.  I put flags by all the sprinkler heads, so they wouldn’t run those over and break it in half.  I also crudely marked off a couple of areas that I didn’t want them to cover, one because of a cable line I know is buried shallow and another because of some soil erosion that I know has left some sprinkler lines close to the surface.  I actually did this the night before, which was my wife’s birthday, so after everybody went home, there I was in the dark sticking flags and such everywhere.

I get home around 4:15pm every day, so I thought I might catch them the next day when I got home from work.  Not a sign of them.  I figured they’d be toward the end of their window.  Nothing.  I thought, well, maybe they’re running late and will be here sometime in the evening.  No big deal.

Nobody showed.

I called the number and this time I knew it was trouble when the ‘voice mail box was full’.

The next morning, I went to their website and filled out the same form, politely asking them when they’d be able to re-schedule, and hopefully it’d be soon since I still had flags all over the property (which I’m sure my neighbors just loved seeing).  Didn’t get a call or e-mail, and this time didn’t get any automated e-mail back.

Not good.

I waited one more day and now was getting angry.  They have a Facebook page, so I went to it and they bragged about how they’ve been in business for five years (apparently, this is a long time for landscaping service companies) and it even gave the names of the two co-owners.  Typing their names in Facebook’s search box took me to their page.  One of them had his occupation as owner of Final Touch, so I knew I’d gotten the right guy.  I wrote a message explaining the situation and asked them to make it right.

No response.

Parallel to this, I went onto Living Social and opened a case.  They’d now blown it by 48 hours and had many opportunities to contact me back.

My guess is that Living Social had been hearing it from other customers who had been ignored by these people, because they immediately issued me a refund.

I wrote one more Facebook message to the owner indicating that I no longer wanted them to contact me, and in fact, that they would be trespassing if they did come to my property.

These deal of the day sites have been around long enough that there’s no excuse for this anymore.  At first, I did feel bad when businesses got overwhelmed by demand that they weren’t anticipating, but that information was well distributed, discussed, and is readily available, so that excuse doesn’t fly anymore.

As far as I’m concerned, Final Touch Lawn and Landscaping of Livonia, MI deserves to lose all of their customers.  I hope that Living Social didn’t have to eat my refund or refunds to other customers that they surely had to issue.  I sincerely hope that Final Touch Lawn and Landscaping had to pay back every single last penny for their incompetence.

(Note: There are likely other companies around the country with the name Final Touch, I would go on record as recommending each and every one of them wholeheartedly.  Just stay away from the one in Livonia, MI.)  And, thanks to Living Social for stepping up.  Big props to you.

Ever been burned by a company that refused to honor the deal that nobody twisted their arm to offer?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.