Good marketing or bad customer service?

I read an interesting story today about the founder of My Voucher Codes, Mark Pearson, who is under fire after offering the new Apple IPhone 4G for £99 on his website Groupola.

Groupola were offering the IPhone 4G at just £99

Sounds great right?

Especially considering they are retailing at a massive £499 in normal stores – most of which are already sold out.

The site had just 200 of the handsets on sale, but when the deal opened at 9.30am this morning 5 million users attempted to log in to get their hands on the cut price phone.

Subsequently the site crashed – resulting in problem number one.

This lead to an outburst on Twitter, with many consumers assuming the deal was fake – becoming problem number two.

But, as Real Business reports it’s not the deal, or either of those problems that is under scrutiny – it’s the way in which the site went about advertising the deal in the first place.

They say:

Consumers’ main gripe is that they had to pre-register their interest for the iPhone 4 by signing up to Groupola’s daily alerts. This is the main problem. If Groupola had just held it as a regular daily deal (where you don’t have to pre-register for Groupola’s marketing emails), I’m fairly confident the backlash would have been less strong. Don’t forget that Groupola claims to have received over five million hits this morning – so that’s a lot of people signing up to Groupola’s daily email alerts.

Fair point I suppose (though if the site hadn’t  frozen would the backlash have happened at all?)

To be honest I feel a bit bad for Groupola – it was a great deal, but one where supply would always be far outweighed by demand. But they were very honest with the terms – there would be a limited amount available and to have a chance you had to sign up to the email alerts.

A two minute online form and a daily email (which you can unsubscribe from easily) seems to me a very small price to pay for the chance to win, and I’m sure the 200 lucky winners aren’t complaining.

But it does create an interesting question.

When does a good marketing ploy become bad customer service?

Would you quit Facebook?

Last week saw ‘Quit Facebook Day,’ a day set up by a Canada-based duo Matthew Millan and Joseph Dee, who wanted to get the masses to quit the social networking site after the controversy surrounding its privacy rules.

Unsurprisingly, the day was a huge flop with only 33,000 users reportedly quitting.  

But why? Especially when so many people have been complaining about the site?

The fact is Facebook has become an integral part of modern life. Just like you couldn’t imagine living without a mobile phone, most people now can’t imagine living without Facebook.

Think about how many times your phone breaks, or the signal leaves more to be desired. You don’t turn round and say ‘well, that’s it I’m quitting mobile phones.’ Hell, most people won’t even go through the hassle of changing service providers!

Facebook is the same. Yes, it has its negatives but they are far out-weighed by its positives and despite the rise of other social networking sites such as diaspora I still don’t think Facebook will fall from grace for a very long time.

I’ve had my profile for 6 years and keep in touch with friends and family all over the world. It’s used for arranging events, sending birthday wishes, making friends, joining new activities and god knows how many other things.

Socially, it’s become a lifeline and the idea of having to start all over again elsewhere is quite frankly, not something I can be bothered with.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I’ve just got back from a university reunion in sunny (yes, really) Preston, Lancs and Facebook was integral in organising it. Where else can 14 people liaise so easily – and for free?

And to be honest – is the privacy thing that hard?

Of course online privacy is incredibly important but I feel strongly that it’s the user’s responsibility to ensure that they have their settings how they want.

Social networking sites are essentially a business and what they sell is YOUR personal details and access to your likes and dislikes.

The owners of the sites have no commercial interest in making things too easy. As long as the privacy options are there they have covered their responsibility, it’s up to us to utilise them.