When Oodle grows up, it wants to be Craigslist!

May 27, 2011

This blog seems to be turning into a bit of a rant collection… I’ll try to come up with some real content next time! In the meanwhile, here’s a recent note I sent to Oodle (aka Facebook Marketplace):

Dear Oodle.com,

I wanted to inform you of several errors I encountered while trying to use your site today. Sadly, your error-reporting system is also in error.

Maybe you can pass this to your IT or tech support team, since there’s no functional way for me to do so directly. Hopefully you actually have an IT team, or, in marketing terms, “some guys who do the website”. I suspect it’s either farmed out to Pakistan at 30 cents per day, or you have a group of alcoholic monkeys doing the bulk of your programming while the sales team spends the day at the golf course. I guess this issue also affects you guys in sales, since your website is so broken that it *might* affect people’s willingness to pay for your services, and thus your golf budget. Based on the level of quality demonstrated in your help system and user interface, I can only imagine the high levels of simian-based craftsmanship in your payment processing system. I can’t wait to sign up for a professional account and start entrusting my credit card number to your servers!

As an IT and web design person myself, I can tell there’s been little to no time or effort put into your interface, error-reporting, testing, or quality control. I also happen to be the advertising person at my business, and I’m going to advise my boss that we should avoid Oodle.com and Facebook marketplace until your systems are up to some kind of useful industry standard.  If it takes an hour to add a listing to your site, and brings in 0 customers (the record so far), then it’s just not worth my time.  I’ll be making the same recommendation to my friends and family. Why did I use Oodle in the first place? We get 99% of our business through Craigslist, but we thought we could get another 1% by signing up for 10 or 20 second-string Craigslist wannabes. We’ve actually had an Oodle account for several years, and it used to work before Facebook bought or absorbed or whatever you did to it, but now it’s gone from a 2nd-tier Craigslist ripoff to about a third tier, and thus fallen off our radar as a useful marketing avenue. Maybe you could take some of that advertising money from smearing Craigslist, and put it towards some actual website R&D.

For the tech guys,  here are my original issues, step by step:
1: When I try to visit “My account”. An error occurs, and the error page tells me to contact support@oodle.com
2: support@oodle.com bounces, saying it’s no longer in use, and suggests I use a nonexistent “contact” link on the site.
3: the “help” dropdown menus don’t contain options for this exact error, so I use the closest thing.
4: The help system tells me to delete cookies, etc, which doesn’t work.
5: The “this does not answer my question” link brings up some input boxes, telling me to use the description box, but there is no description box. I’ve tried this several times on several browsers, and each time a random number of input boxes appear, not including the “description” box. The code is completely broken.
6: I realize I don’t have time to deal with all this, and I don’t really care anymore. Maybe “My Account” is working today, but I can’t be bothered to go check, because I spent all day writing this letter.
7: I go back to using Craigslist with side dishes of OLX, Backpage, etc, and drop Oodle to the “check back in 6 months and see if they’re bankrupt yet” list.

My suggestions are firstly; make a user interface that doesn’t break. Failing that, come up with some help and feedback systems that work, or at least give out the correct information to users. If the support email is gone, stop directing people there.  Come up with a working way to contact the support team for errors, or you’ll never hear about those errors and people will just stop using your site (as I and my company are doing).  You’re lucky I’m bored enough to let you know about this, I’m sure most people give up after the 2nd or 3rd misdirection. I’ve heard that legit companies do something called “testing” or “quality control” to make sure all parts of their websites work. If you’re not sure what those concepts are, ask your “website guy” (or cut the monkeys back to fewer drinks per day).

Thanks for your consideration, and good luck in your quest to get more than 2 users.