25 December 2006
Good things come to those who wait

But sometimes the Bandolier of Carrots is sold out:

[T]his morning, for about ten minutes, Woot had 3000 bags of "Random Stuff" (stuff is not their word but I don't like their word) for sale. One dollar, plus five dollars shipping. The wooters were there, 1:00 am. By 1:14 it was sold out, they were devastated (except for the lucky 3,000).

There was also this timely advice (de-expurgated by me) to those wooted out:

THE HOLY CRAP COMMANDMENTS v2.0:
  1. Thou shalt expect nothing beyond one bag of some kind and your chosen quantity of crappy items (which should be THREE).

  2. Thou shalt not whine and complain when some people's crap turns out to be nicer than yours.

  3. Thou shalt take a moment to consider whether you might be better off just not buying this crap.

  4. Thou shalt not order just one crap and blame it on anything but your own inattention.

  5. To paraphrase Stephen Stills, shalt thou not get the crap you want, want the crap you get.

Words, albeit stuffy crappy words, to live by.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:17 PM)
5 January 2007
How do I work this?

Tamara K., cracking wise today:

"And you may tell yourself
This is not my one-gig drive!"

Which is by way of saying that, after some weeks lurking at Woot, I actually snagged some wootage this week: an actual two-gig drive, with a real platter and everything, that plugs into a USB port. (Here's the original sales pitch.) I suppose a flash drive might be a tad more reliable, and maybe a little faster, but this thing flat flies, and at eighteen bucks plus shipping, including a USB extension cable, it was hard to resist, especially since the alternative is to burn two or three CD-Rs every time I feel like backing up the files I'd most hate to lose. (I do have a flash drive here at the Shotgun Shack, but it's smaller. Capacity, I mean.)

These sold out in ten hours or so; I suspect a few of them will be sprinkled through future Bags O' Crap.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:12 PM)
30 January 2007
Drinking the Woot beer

Earlier this year I decided it might be useful to keep an eye on Woot, and today it was more so: they held one of their not-exactly-regularly-scheduled Woot-Offs, in which the wootage comes at you fast and furious. It's entirely too easy to get caught up in the rhythm, but so far (I repeat: so far) I have been able to act with a modicum of restraint.

Woots so far: this clock-radio, to replace an overly-complicated Sony Dream Machine, and this digital tape measure, to supplement one of those traditional springy-metal coils. Both these items, incidentally, sold out in less than three minutes.

No Bucket of Chicken, though.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:21 PM)
1 February 2007
The Woot of the problem

"So this is what being a crack addict is like," Trini mused as the Woot-Off entered its 64th hour. And it's a nerve-wracking experience, to say the least. At least I was able to snag a couple of things that sold out quickly.

Whatever my speed, though, it was unfortunately not sufficient to secure for myself a bespoke orange Cadillac.

And after 68 hours, Woot had unloaded more than 52,000 items and taken in something like $2.2 million, which would pay for about one-twentieth of the therapy needed by all the wooters struggling for their very own brick owl cages.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:31 PM)
4 February 2007
Just when I think I've seen everything

Okay, a screen for your projection TV is no big deal, even at 90 inches diagonal.

But an inflatable screen for your projection TV: well, there's no middle ground. Either this is exactly the sort of thing you're looking for, or you wouldn't buy this in a million years even if you won the lottery and your significant other demanded that you put a home theatre system out by the pool you're supposed to put in.

I tend to lean toward the latter, if only because Woot buyers are the fastest frickin' clickers in the online shopping universe, and it took almost nine minutes to log one sale. (As of now, twelve minutes later, there's no second sale.)

Update, 10 am: It appears they've now moved four of them. Perhaps this is their way of making sure they have nothing to do while the game is on.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:21 AM)
6 February 2007
Proving e-commerce is yet unperfected

Seen at the woot.com community board:

Just got this email from Woot:

"Due to a mistake in our warehouse, those ordering the leveler received the tape measure. The leveler will be shipped as well and the tape measure is yours to keep."

If you're wondering "What about those people who ordered the tape measure?" they were issued refunds in full and a $5 certificate off their next woot. I know this because I am one of those people.

Oh, well.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:05 AM)
4 March 2007
Retrieved from the Death Star

I bought this batch of cordless phones during the last Woot-Off, and they do have their quirks.

Three handsets were provided; needing only two, I hooked up the base station and a single remote station, and discovered that the handsets are numbered 3 and 1 respectively. Number 2, I assume, is still in the box. The manual indicates that you can add a fourth, though it must go through a tedious "registration" process; the ones sold in the package have the numbers already built in. The numbers aren't of much use unless you plan to use the intercom function, and since I have no reason to call another room to see if I'm in there, I have no such plans.

Said manual, incidentally, is labeled as "Part 2". Part 1, so far, is conspicuous by its absence; I'm guessing this was one of those "quick-start guides" that routinely get stuffed into new electronics packages these days, though this set I bought is a refurb (rox0rz!).

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:22 PM)
19 March 2007
Poorhouse, next exit

BagsofCrap.com has predicted a Woot-Off for a week from Monday.

I predict that Avaricious Bank and Trust Company (Member FDIC), where I keep my accounts, will not be delighted.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:35 AM)
22 March 2007
Attention diverted for the duration

Woot-Off! The red ink flows, dear.

(Last one ran three whole days.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:21 AM)
23 March 2007
Hence the word "crapshoot"

I don't know if this is the smartest guy on Woot, but this observation of the Woot-Off process is spot-on:

People want to believe in the Blinged-Out Cabbage. They sincerely WANT to fight for the chance to get a box, in which is a bag, in which is some spectacu ... crudly ... er ... well ... p-o-o-p. Oh, yes, and one person in 4500 gets something neat. Which is like a lottery, except here at least you can get a kazoo or something for your $3.

Frankly, it's the best marketing tactic EVER. It makes many people here glue themselves to the woot-off, and everyone is literally DROOLING when the bar finally makes it down to zero and the "Sold Out" sign flashes.

Sad, isn't it? But, there you go. We're all crazy people, waiting for a chance to spin the wheel ... gamble $8, and get ... nothing. Not much different than Vegas if you think about it for a sec.

Except for the fact that I don't actually drool (at least, not on these occasions), there's scarcely a word here I'd change.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:18 PM)
1 April 2007
If "gullible" were, in fact, in the dictionary

Woot pulled off a suitably wack little stunt today: at midnight, they had the much-desired Brisket of Cow, though priced, not at the usual $1, but at $1 million plus $1. (Screenshot here.) I went ahead and ordered the damn thing anyway, just to see what sort of excuse they'd come back with when my MasterCard was duly declined for $1,000,006 including shipping.

They came back with this:

Whoops! Lucky for you that we just ran out of room in our money vault, so we can't take your million dollars. But if you have that kind of money to throw after garbage like this, email jtoon — at — woot.com. We can work something out...

Nicely done, gentlemen.

Update, 12:35: They put the "I want one" button in Bounce Mode just before 12:30, just to add to the general level of perturbation, and some members of the community are arguing that it was, in fact, possible to buy the Blistered Old Crow, had you followed the simple instructions which were hidden in plain sight. Which, if true, makes this even better a stunt.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:15 AM)
3 April 2007
What's Turkish for "Woot"?

Apparently this is. (Translation: "I want one too.")

There's no real overlap here: Woot doesn't do any business in Constantinople Istanbul. (Heck, Woot doesn't do any business in Juneau.) Still, you have to wonder when the lawyers are going to show up.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:41 AM)
12 April 2007
Das Woot

Woot is spreading.

Earlier this month, I made note of a Turkish knockoff of America's most deranged e-commerce site. Today, Trini spotted a German variation on the theme.

Cyberport.24, unlike Woot, does two items over two days, but otherwise they're working the same turf: electronics and gadgets, probably manufacturers' overruns, at prices that simply invite disbelief. If nothing else, this proves that you can't keep a good marketing shtick down.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:47 PM)
24 April 2007
Still haven't sold any Ottomans

Bendeistiyorum.com, a Wootalike based in Turkey that I mentioned about three weeks ago, has redone its front page to look less like a blatant copy of Woot, though the functionality remains much as it was.

What caused this sudden change of interface? That's nobody's business but the Turks'.

(Alternate title: Im in ur market sector steelin ur look.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:07 PM)
25 April 2007
Another reason to read the fine print

I didn't have much use for 2.4-GHz cordless phones, especially since I'd just replaced all mine with 5.8-GHz cordless phones, so I didn't read to the bottom of this Woot product description:

The sun fought the clouds that morning over the little green house in the Carolina hills. While the human inhabitants fussed about getting ready for work, the householdís three cats lounged around the living room. And as cats will do, they gossiped. Mercilessly.

Which, if you're familiar with Woot, is not especially unusual for a product description: getting to the point is only occasionally necessary.

But somewhere in the midst of all that feline gossip:

"Velcro, where's the romance in your soul? Termite, have you noticed the way they check Woot together every morning? Like, today, they probably don't need that Uniden 2.4GHz Cordless Phone With 4 Handsets & Digital Answering Machine — not even with features like intercom, call transfer, two-way Directlink mode, baby monitoring, and speakerphone. They don't look at Woot because they need a digital answering machine or Caller ID with 100-number memory. No, for them, sharing the Woot experience is just one more way they express their love. And the couple that Woots together stays together."

Just then, the cats heard the humans speaking, and:

"Termite, you speak a little human," Onyx said. "What did Logan say? Was I wrong — are they breaking up?"

"No, no," the gray-and-white cat replied, his cynicism melting. "You were right. He said 'Beth, will you marry me?'"

Even this particular scenario isn't too far out for Woot, but this time there was method to their madness. All is explained in the newsletter:

Love was in the air last Friday as Logan Buell of Black Mountain, NC proposed to his girlfriend Bethany Rice in the most romantic way known to man: through a Woot product description! Our staff worked with him to nestle the big question in the writeup for some cordless phones. After he and Bethany checked Woot together like they do every morning, Logan presented the ring in a refashioned Woot box for maximum matrimonial style. We wish those kids nothing but the best! Get your hankie ready and read the whole heart-tugging story.

Oh, and she said yes.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:40 AM)
26 April 2007
Attention diverted for the duration (2)

Evidently I was prescient. Last night I wrote up the checks for the mortgage and the car payment; today there's a Woot-Off.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:32 AM)
3 May 2007
That wristful feeling

I own three watches. The Helbros, acquired in 1966, stopped working in 1980 but still looks pretty good. (It's been to the repair shop once; a new crystal was installed some time in the middle Seventies.) At the time, the combination of penury and hardware lust led me to acquire a Casio digital watch — pace Megadodo Publications, I still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea — which is still in use today, though its band (a knockoff of the Speidel Twist-O-Flex) is seriously worn and the pins that hold it in place, well, don't.

As usual with me, Plan B took precedence over Plan A, and I purchased an Abacus "atomic" watch from Woot. It was incredibly bulky compared to my old Casio; more to the point, it had a Rolexoid bracelet that Fossil, Abacus' parent, had thoughtfully prepared for the wrist of one of the Kansas City Chiefs. I spent about an hour and a half resizing the band, mostly because I had only the vaguest comprehension of how to work the pins. I wasn't even sure that "pins" was the proper term.

A few minutes of Googlage led me to the storefront of The Watch Prince, which patiently explained that these things are properly called "spring bars." What's more, they actually offered a tool to compress the skinny little troublemakers, for a measly nine bucks. It looks vaguely dental, except for its matte black finish, which is probably useful if you have bad eyes since it contrasts with the band and the watch itself. I had to have one, even though I'd finished redoing the Abacus' band, simply because at some point in the next 40 or 50 years I may have to do this again.

While I was at the site, I picked up some spare spring bars (a stunningly-negligible dollar a pair), and just for the heck of it, dialed over to the bands and ordered a genuine Speidel Twist-O-Flex for the old Casio. The Prince, reasoning from my shopping cart that I didn't have a farging clue, threw in two sets of bars to fit the Speidel. The Casio is now back in play, the Abacus is sitting on my dresser downloading a time signal from WWVB, and I'm starting to wonder if maybe I should have the old Helbros fixed.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:27 PM)
23 May 2007
Not to be confused with Hilda Doolittle

Much to my amazement, I now have HD. Sort of.

Monday I ordered this little LCD HDTV set for not a whole lot of money, and it arrived today in entirely too pretty a box.

In fact, that may be the whole issue with this set: it's too pretty. Functionality is there, mostly, but you have to look for it, and my capacity for finding such seems to be on the wane of late.

For instance: this set seemed perfect, at a mere 15 lb, for the articulated arm that sticks out of the bedroom wall to accommodate a television set. And indeed the arm isn't strained in the least. On the downside, the set is too narrow to take full advantage of the supports provided, and there is one noticeable form of strain: eyestrain, since I apparently can't see up that high anymore without craning my neck, which would cause yet another noticeable form of strain.

So it sits on the dresser, atop a DVD player. Noticeable good things:

  • This being a factory refurb, there might be some concern over bad pixels. I didn't see any.

  • The picture was nearly perfect as shipped; I didn't make any of my usual video tweaks.

  • Distinctly better tuner than my Sony Wega.

Noticeable bad things:

  • The program guide is utterly useless, since it's dependent on having the correct time, and there's apparently no way to set the time manually: you have to rely on PBS's time signal, which OETA doesn't deign to transmit. (I never could get the Sony to pick up the time, either.)

  • Actually, that's about it.

And yes, this was bought from Woot, which sold over a thousand of them in nine and a half hours, most of which were dark.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:55 PM)
30 May 2007
Preview of coming distractions

It's another Woot-Off, so some of the time I might otherwise be spending coming up with stuff for this page will be devoted to pressing F5 for the next item. You have been warned.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:05 AM)
6 June 2007
Woot unto others

This situation is less hypothetical than you might think:

Let's say, hypothetically, that you and some co-workers (about 5 people, friends who you socialize with outside the office) are watching the Woot-Off. Let's say you refresh your screen, and you discover the beloved Bog of Crop. Do you:
  1. Instantly alert your co-workers, so that you all have a maximum chance at the bags, or
  2. Quietly get your order in, then alert the others.

To my knowledge, there are four wooters at 42nd and Treadmill, and two of them weren't actually monitoring the situation. The other two (in more or less adjacent offices) did in fact score Broken Ogre Combs, and they did so rather loudly, as I recall.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:48 AM)
10 June 2007
The customer is always ...

How you complete that sentence probably depends on whether you've worked any substantial time in retail. I haven't, so I tend to think in terms of "... drunk" or " ... retarded," based on the last few phone calls that the irritated customer-service people (our customer-service people are always irritated, and having worked the phones myself a few months, I don't blame them) told me about. Others with more experience tend to be a bit less kind in their descriptions:

I canít even count the number of times that I have had a customer come in with the misconception that they are right about everything, even though they have never received either the formal education to back up their claim, or any information regarding their claim.

We have some of that too, though we usually don't have someone else to blame:

Just because you think that software created by Microsoft is an issue caused by the retail store, does not mean that we are responsible. If you were to read the fine print, you would understand, and therefore be educated to the fact, that in this instance Microsoft would be the one you need to contact for resolution, not the retail store.

I went looking through my own desktop box, and under Control Panel / System / General I found a Support Information box, which tells me exactly whom to call and when they're open. Perhaps other manufacturers — this box was a custom job from PC Club — aren't quite as forthcoming about their support options. On the other hand, people, I suspect, will bring stuff back to the store for any reason whatsoever, no matter whose fault it is. Your dog peed on your keyboard? Demand a replacement. (It occurs to me that someone is now going to sue a hardware manufacturer for selling components that are not urine-resistant and failing to warn in BIG RED LETTERS that one should not whiz on one's computer. My apologies to the defendant.)

It's things like this that make me appreciate Woot:

If you buy something you don't end up liking or you have what marketing people call "buyer's remorse," sell it on eBay. It's likely you'll make money doing this and save everyone a hassle. If the item doesn't work, find out what you're doing wrong. Yes, we know you think the item is bad, but it's probably your fault.

They'll take it back if it's really, truly defective, but if you're just a bonehead — well, you've given me another way to complete that sentence.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:01 PM)
12 June 2007
Let there be crap

And there was crap, and the crap was as follows:

  • Targus Travel Accessory Pouch (retail value $30.00)
  • Magnetic "Shake" Flashlight ($9.99)
  • Belkin Patriotic Mouse Pad ($1.00)
  • Logitech EasyFit Connector ($3.00)
  • Heart-shaped "Cupid" clock (2"x2") ($5.00)

And the actual retail price of this Showcase Barrel O' Crud is $48.99 $3.00.

Plus $5.00 shipping.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:59 PM)
18 June 2007
Das Woot booted

Cyberport.24, a German Wootalike, closed up its virtual shop today after eight months and about 400,000 visitors. To their credit, they gave it a decent burial.

The Turkish delight continues.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:01 PM)
1 August 2007
In case of any doubt

Trini got her first shipment from Woot's T-shirt operation, and it's a pretty decent piece of work, executed in 100-percent cotton by the American Apparel guys.

One thing is troubling, though: the fabric-care tag contains the ominous notation "not for use as pants."

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:41 AM)
2 August 2007
Escargot handling

Woot is now shipping low-cost and/or low-mass items via SmartPost, a venture in which FedEx does the front-end work and then hands your parcel off to the Postal Service. How it's supposed to work, according to FedEx:

FedEx SmartPost offers you an efficient, value-oriented, and timely way to ship high volumes of low-weight packages to residential customers. We pick up, sort, line haul, track and deliver your packages to the post offices closest to your customers. The USPS makes the final delivery to the residence. As a result, you reduce transit time, minimize handling, and maximize postal discounts.

The T-shirt department is shipping everything SmartPost unless you ante up $5 for FedEx overnight. (If you don't, you pay zilch for shipping.) And you can be sure that not everyone is happy about this. From the Woot message board:

Woot needs to make the SmartPost logo on the main product page link to either this blog or somewhere in the FAQ about how SmartPost will take longer than normal.

SmartPostBecause you're never going to be able to tell from looking at the logo. (Disclosure: I have had no issues with SmartPost, though the sample size — two — is not statistically significant.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:19 AM)
30 August 2007
Attention diverted for the duration (3)

Good grief, it looks like we've got ourselves a Woot-Off.

Will I get a battered old colander? Stay tuned.

Update: No.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:02 AM)
5 October 2007
So much for a placid weekend

We got us a Woot-Off. (Lord have mercy on my MasterCard.)

Update, 7 pm: Well, that didn't last long. (I spent a total of $13. Fortunately, I missed the 37-inch Vizio LCD TV for $519.99.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:38 PM)
25 October 2007
Results of the Woot-Off

No, you can't have a Bag O'Crap

(Photo swiped from Mat.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:45 PM)
15 November 2007
To everything there is a season

And right now, it's time for a Woot-Off. Time to kiss my budget goodbye.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:36 AM)
17 November 2007
It's certainly diverse

I always found this "Celebrate Diversity" T-shirt amusing, mostly because it hews to the actual definition of the word, as distinguished from the Officially Sanctioned Version that prevails in academia and certain political circles. And besides, I like guns. As one-time Presidential candidate Patrick Layton Paulsen once pointed out, "Who knows when you're walking down the street and you'll spot a moose?"

Or perhaps a pirate, which covers 8.33 percent of this T-shirt sold by Woot for about an hour and a half this morning. This is the graphic thereupon:

Diversity

It's just a matter of time before you see these symbols everywhere, so commit them to memory now.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:06 PM)
25 December 2007
A crappy little Christmas

Bag O'Crap

I'm having one. Ain't life grand?

(Should this prove unduly mystifying, an explanation awaits. I will point out only that 4,500 of these were sold in seventy-five seconds.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:28 AM)
26 December 2007
Woot hog or die

This thread showed up on Woot:

Is there an easy way to figure out what I've spent in woots?

I think it would be an interesting number for me. Any idea who has spent the most? If you can't divulge that info, how about what the most spent has been?

I am quite certain I am not the one who has spent the most, inasmuch as I have purchased only 41 woots (albeit some in quantities up to three); a couple of years ago, Woot reported that someone had bought 338 items and someone else had spent $16,286.

Just the same, I sat down with a spreadsheet, and eventually came to the truth of the matter: in one year, and not including shipping (41 x 5 = $205), I've managed to spend $1,289.59. Six dollars of that went for Bags O' Crap.

Damn, but that's a lot of wootage. I should point out here that at least $250 of this was spent on stuff for other people, for which I was subsequently reimbursed.

Addendum: I bought one of their damn calendars, so add another 87 cents.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:52 AM)
7 January 2008
Once again, let there be crap

Contents of my most recent Bag O'Crap:

6 2Wire PC Port Phoneline 10Mbps USB Adapter [$144.00]
1 MGM Grand "EFX" Plastic Dragon w/Castle Figurine [$5.00]
1 "Flying Thing" #7 — Monstermobile [$0.49]
1 GI Joe Dog Tag/Bracelet set [$2.27]
1 Elgee Water Blaster [$0.29]
3 Faded Glory Pink Butterfly Luggage Tags [$11.64]
1 Tenba D-Series Prodigital Cable Management/Accessory Organizer Set [$19.99]

Total $183.68

Previous crap here. Other recipients have listed their, um, items at BagsOfCrap.com.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:37 PM)
15 February 2008
The end of the world as we know it

Well, not really. On the other hand, my budget might take a beating: yes, folks, it's another Woot-Off.

The best I can hope for is that I've already bought all this crap once before and don't have to do it again.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:11 AM)
29 March 2008
Small and flat and light and lovely

The next-to-next-to-last item on this week's Woot-Off was a Logitech Brazilian Office Internet Keyboard, which sold for the princely sum of 19 cents. (This being Woot, of course, there's the usual $5 shipping charge.) The obvious question for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere is "What's the difference from a 'regular' — by which we mean 'our' — keyboard?"

This isn't quite the answer, but I liked it anyway:

So, this keyboard only has keys along a narrow strip in the center, right?

Actually, this is the layout I will encounter. (I bought three, which I plan to merge into the corporate keyboard stock just to see if anyone notices. Seldom do I get to pull a prank that costs as little as $5.57.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:03 PM)
30 April 2008
Wootlessness

Woot.com appears to be down today: there's no response from any of the three regular sales channels, and their spot on the front page of Yahoo! Shopping is blank.

I blame screaming monkeys.

Update, 10 am: They're back. No explanation so far.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:40 AM)
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

These archives begin 6 September 2006. For items beginning in August 2002, click here and select the desired category.

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