Every once in a while the enterprising spirits of small businesses invent brand new and strange business models. And sometimes it’s so strange, that they simply stump me.
Today’s example of such “um… what are they thinking?” business models is YBuy.com.
To start, it uses that “traditional” groupon-like model, where you can’t really see what the deals are without giving email address (or requesting an invite in this case). Marketing people love that, because you can hide crappy deals behind this veil and get a valid email address before user has a chance to look at what you offer, potentially making big eyes and never returning again.
But that was a small obstacle, hide a popup and all links work normally. Hooray.
As I understand the business model it’s a “try before you buy club”. For $25 a month, you’re offered one product to try for a month, and, if you like it, that monthly fee gets credited to the total price of the item. Theoretically sounds cool. Practically such service seems to be useless.
And here is why:
– Selection of “products” is limited. The site claims to pick “the best” products but do you really need a concierge to pick you a new coffee maker or an iPad every month?
– Like those “CD Clubs” this club allows you to “skip” a month. Except you still pay, but that amount is stuck in the account for “future purchase”.
– Price is the same as on Amazon (I checked for a few products, the difference is negligible)
– Nowhere does it say who pays for return shipping on “tried” product. Amazon’s return policy is way more clear.
– Aside from a few typos in their Terms and Conditions (which probably means a lawyer hasn’t really touched that text) there is a rather stern warning about chargebacks (that they will try to recover those funds by any means “demed[sic]” necessary) and that their involvement ends as soon as the item is given to their shipping carrier (and no signature on delivery “[b]ecause many instances may occur at your delivery address”) and that there is a chance of loss. Ew. Maybe they don’t really mean it, but sounds rather bad. And if they don’t mean it, they shouldn’t write stuff like that in T&Cs.
In the end this seems to be a proxy between you and Amazon that prods you to buy the most expensive items from some arbitrary categories and charges you in advance $25 every month.
Now, why exactly you can’t buy an item yourself (and return it, if you don’t like it)? Confused…