Ah capitalism, the wonderful economic system wherein you can go broke saving money. Think about it. How many people spend the rest of the year eating ramen noodles after “saving so much money” shopping in the pepper-spray laced stores on black Friday and clogged webstore servers of cyber Monday? Ah, and remember all of those people who refinanced their homes with great low rates from Countrywide back in 2006 through 2008, they “saved” themselves right out of their homes (to be fair, it was predatory lending practices that resulted in many home foreclosures and not necessarily bad budgeting.) It’s extremely difficult to resist the urge to bite on a good deal. Just look at this video of shoppers at a Walmart fighting to get $2 waffle irons that are sure to feel like coal in the stockings of those receiving them this holiday season. (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYeDRKB1RXw) Look, saving money is great when you do exactly that, save money on things you would have bought anyway by finding them at a great price. And while I have also fallen victim to buying things I couldn’t afford just because they were on sale (ask my girlfriend, or on second thought, please don’t bring it up with her), I can’t help but try to learn from my mistakes and live to shop another day.
There’s nothing worse than the buyer’s remorse of realizing you overpaid. Thus, here’s a website that you may or may not have heard of or used, but I can’t recommend it enough: woot.com. The website is actually a portal for getting to a number of different woot sites that each offers a different, great deal every day. The standard woot.com page offers daily deals in tech and gadgets, from mp3 players, to desktop computers, to roomba robot vacuum frisbees, to camping gear (because apparently people who spend lots of time indoors at a computer also love to spend lots of time outdoors away from all of their precious electro-thingies?). Once there, you’ll also see a shirt.woot that offers a new, limited-printed tee every day; home.woot offering things for your home like toasters; wine.woot which somehow legally ships alcohol; kids.woot, because children want things, and sellout.woot because sometimes there is only a few of one product left. The sites, which are owned by Amazon, operate much like a LivingSocial or Groupon for goods as they buy up a bunch of one product, and sell them all at a lower, group-buy rate. Let’s take a look at how these work.
So the standard woot.com is actually more involved than it appears at first glance, and there is a lot you can do there. It’ll help if you follow along with your screenshots, or of course you could just visit the site. So you can see the two tone nature of the background. The lower, green section actually continues further down the page with the main body and central part of the page being devoted to clever stories about the product, and a list of specifications. Witty quips are littered throughout, and the whole team and website has a very pleasant humor that permeates in every written section. The right side of the page shows the products currently offered at each of the other, specialized woot pages. You’ll also find the box marked deals.woot. That little ticker shows current trending items on the community woot page. And like in any modern corner of the web, clicking pictures takes you to places where you can buy things. Woot! capitalism is simple!
Now the top of the page, the white section, first and foremost your attention is directed to the product offered at the moment. Normally each product is available for 24 hours, but sometimes you’ll notice simulated yellow flashing lights and a status bar. That means you’ve stumbled across a Woot-off. During the crazed fire sale, woot sells off remaining stock from past woots, usually at an even steeper discount. And they may have very few of an item. If woot has 18 knife block sets left from a 24-hour deal special three weeks ago, they put them up, and as soon as they’re claimed, a new item is offered. The comments sections for each item under the community tab is always a treasure trove of snarky internet commenting gold as many, many users will stay up for 24 hours or more (they’ve lasted as many as 72!) and watch the woot-off incessantly waiting to crash and overload the server for a random bag of crap. Yes, that’s right, woot will usually offer a random assortment of junk for sale for $3 plus $5 shipping. They put up a picture of a brown paper bag, and users who are lucky enough to get them while they’re steaming are left to patiently wait for a week or two before a box of random gadgety-goodness shows up to your door. You could get anything, a Samsung MP3 player, an HDMI cord, a camera case, sometimes even an HDTV! Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they suck. But it’s always a deal! Watch this video of a guy unboxing his bag of crap:
Back to topic of the standard woot site: you’ll also find a grey box of comments from users on the current offering. There is also a link to the woot blog (the woot staff also releases a podcast, probably for them to listen to themselves I’d have to guess) and the community section where you can scroll through a list of recent woots and access comment pages for each product.
Now on to the deals.woot page, as I promised. The site is much the same in design as the normal woot, and very clean, modern, and intuitive, just how I like my coffee. The deals pictured in the prominent viewing space are sponsored, and sometimes not as good or enticing. However, the rest of the page is devoted to “community deals” or deals that woot users have found around the internet and self-submitted. To the left of each deal is box showing the difference between positive and negative votes the community has given the deal find. As a member of the community, you can search deals, vote on them, comment on them, pose questions about products or really anything in general, and submit the deals you find around the web. You’re ranked for how much time and effort you put in on the site. It’s a bit weird to think about being a ranked consumer, but they poke good fun at it in explanations of how the ranking and scoring system works. If you’re a really good consumer, you’ll occasionally get email coupons for 5 to 20 dollars of free money to spend on any of the normal woot sites, other than deals.woot.
I could probably write a book on woot, and I’m sure many other could too. It’s a rather novel set of concepts and they really do a pretty great job of explaining themselves on their pages. So if you didn’t just refinance your house to buy everyone on your list half-priced $2000 HDTVs this year, I recommend using woot’s sites and deals.woot to cross some items off your list. While you’re not at all in control of what is offered each day at woot, if you’re in the market for what they’ve got, you likely won’t find it much cheaper. Or, you could just hop over to the deals.woot page and search the thousands of pages for the exact item or items you’re looking for. (Warning: Long Lame Metaphor Ahead!) Woot! Is like capitalism that everyone can agree on. There is the socialist capitalism of woot.com, shirt.woot, home.woot, and kids.woot where the big woot man determines what you can buy, and that’s all anyone can buy, so you’re all equal in you’re buying, and you’d better like or be left to forever complain as you rot away in comments. And there is the democratic-republic capitalism of deals.woot where everybody gets to voice their opinion and vote on what you get to buy. And you only have to buy what you want. This is America! Now if only there was an Electoral College or elected board of deal hunters…