Web Site Giveaway Adventures in Customer Service

Web Site Giveaway Adventures in Customer Service

One thing is clear – gadget-heads love their stuff. We love getting it, playing with all the features, and then moving on to the next new shiny thing. I am certainly no exception, and as a result I have loads of tech sites I track on a regular basis – and loads of giveaways I enter all the time. The overwhelming majority of times I lose – but every now and then I win!

Just over a month ago a giveaway appeared over at GottaBeMobile, one of the sites I track via RSS on a daily basis. They had reviewed and were giving away WiFi2HiFi on their Facebook page, an iOS app that allowed you to use your iPhone or iPod Touch to stream music from your computer to your home stereo. It looked like a great app and I only had to comment to enter, and so I was thrilled to win.

About a week later I got a message on Facebook from Josh Smith from GottaBeMobile saying I had won and providing me with a code to redeem in iTunes. Simple enough – as someone who enters loads of contests, and also reviews plenty of apps, I have no issues using codes. But on the flip side I have done this enough to know that occasionally a code has an ‘issue’, which is generally due to a typo, copy & paste error, or something else simple.

So when I entered the code and was told by iTunes that “The offer associated with that song code has expired”, I wasn’t too worried. I contacted Josh and he said he’d contact the publisher for another code.

A few days later he heard back and sent me a message. Turns out that the publisher was ‘out of codes’, but had offered to send me money by PayPal to buy the app. Being out of codes isn’t a surprise either – here is a snip from the developer rules on promo codes:

* You cannot create more than 50 codes for each version of your application, so plan your marketing to make the biggest impact with those codes.

* Codes expire after 28 days. You do not have to generate all your codes at once, although having a dozen on hand seems prudent when you launch your app or give it a major update.

So I sent a message back to Josh, saying that while I found it a bit strange to take something of actual value from a company rather than a promo code, if that was their choice in how to resolve the issue that was fine by me.

But a week and a half later I hadn’t heard anything so I checked in with Josh again, and he quickly replied that he would get in touch with the developer again.

He also said something that exemplified my entire experience with him on this contest: if there was no reply, he they (GottaBeMobile) would make sure I’m taken care of.

My reply was that he should just send the final email, and that if I didn’t hear within a week we’d call it closed. I in no way held Josh or GBM liable for the app, and was certainly not going to allow them to spend their own money (yes it is only a $5 app) to follow through where a developer had repeatedly failed.

So let me be blunt:
– GottaBeMobile was great.
– Clever & Son (developer of WiFi2HiFi) was not.

Sure that is a simplification, but in my estimation GottaBeMobile did a lot of work to try to make sure I was taken care of, whereas Clever & Son didn’t. Certainly GottaBeMobile has a brand to protect, just like we do at GearDiary, but what of Clever & Son? They have an app that offers functionality that seems cool but many question in the face of features found in iOS 4.3.

I was very much looking forward to trying this app, and actually had a couple of occasions during mid-May when it would have been perfect. Doesn’t it seem like a developer like that should support the free press they are getting by ensuring that a good word and image is spread?

My intention when I won was to play around with the app and they post here about how I won and talk about how great (or not) the app was. Instead I am sitting here a month later having had a nice series of Facebook messages back and forth with Josh at GottaBeMobile, never hearing anything from Clever & Son, and having to assume that in spite of winning, I have nothing to show for it but a bad taste in my mouth and a resolve to never buy or recommend anything from Clever & Son.

UPDATE: Since this post was scheduled, I sent a courtesy email to the developer (to their support email) letting them know of the situation and that I would be posting about it. They did actually reply, and noted that they hadn’t handled the contact with various blogs directly but had been using a freelancer as a go-between. They went ahead and sent me the money to cover the purchase at the same time, so naturally I decided to be a good sport and bought the app. I will go ahead and check it out in the coming days.

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!