O Smack Daddy, Where Art Thou?

January 10, 2008 · 0 comments

I’ll admit it. I’ve been slacking off on Jellyfish‘s Smack Chat lately. I’ve been using the site often for shopping and price comparisons, but my ability to keep up on the day-to-day chat drama has been impeded by, oh, I dunno, REAL LIFE lately. I have had an ongoing saga with a Smack Shopping purchase from November that still hasn’t been delivered, and I’ve never had to wait this long before for anything I purchased through the Smack. So, I figured it was time to stop in and how Jellyfish is doing, especially in light of their purchase by Microsoft.
Sorry to say, the news isn’t all good.
First of all, I found out by checking the My Info page on the site that Jellyfish has shut down its refer-a-friend program. This was done as of January 4, and although I have referred 401 people to Jellyfish’s site, THIS WAS THE FIRST I HEARD OF IT. While I am happy to see that they will continue to pay referral earnings on referrals made prior to that point (for their first year of membership), it irks me severely that Jellyfish made no attempt to communicate this MAJOR change in policy to its members. One can only assume that they don’t want this policy change publicized immediately because it removes people’s incentive to bring new members into the site. The “old Jellyfish” wouldn’t have operated like this. This is sign #1 of Microsoft getting its dirty little hands on the program.
Second new change: Smack Daddy, the host of Jellyfish’s noon-time weekday chats, is no longer there. According to his (her?) member page, he hasn’t been online for 1+ months. How long that is, exactly (2 months? More?) isn’t clear [Update, 1/12: Jellyfish member BlackFriday tells me SmackDaddy's last appearance was the noon show on Black Friday -- thanks, BF!] and I don’t know first-hand, but one would have to be deluding one’s self to not connect the dots and connect this to the Microsoft buyout. Why does it matter where Smack Daddy is? It’s simple. Jellyfish as a site did not explode until Smack Shopping appeared. Smack Daddy hosted Smack Shopping. He kept everyone amused, kept order (okay, not so well but he tried), and kept the chat going with ongoing dialog that had some continuity from one day to another. There was even a Smack Daddy drinking game for a while! Smack Daddy served as Jellyfish’s Representative to the People…and now he’s gone — a victim of the megaconglomerate that is Microsoft.
And Microsoft wonders why people hate them?
On the pro side, there have been other changes to Jellyfish in recent weeks. Smack Coins can now be used to purchase $25 gift cards (though it takes 2500 coins, requiring luck and/or significant effort to earn). Jellyfish has also increased their everyday shopping rates pretty much across the board since my shopping rebates comparison chart in late October (examples: Book Closeouts went from 7.5% to 10%, Brookstone went from 7.5% to 10%, Classic Closeouts went from 15% to 20%, Crucial.com went from 5.2% to 7%, Eddie Bauer went from 4.5% to 6%, Fossil went from 7.5% to 10%, Gap went from 3.7% to 5%, Joann went from 6% to 8%, Magazines.com went from 26.2% to 35%, MrsFields went from 6% to 8%, Personalization Mall went from 7.5% to 11.5%, Shoebuy went from 15% to 20%, Shoes went from 10% to 17.5%, Starbucks went from 7.5% to 10%, Target went from 5.2% to 7%)…harnessing the gargantuan buying power of Microsoft, I suppose.
The net effect of all of this: Jellyfish feels less personal and more corporate. The members that at one time rallied behind Jellyfish as not just a website but a community, that felt such a strong personal connection with the management of the Jellyfish program that they sent in home-baked goodies, a crocheted cap, beer, even flowers “just because,” now find themselves with no figurehead at the helm. It’s disconcerting as a long-time member (I joined on day 2).
Microsoft, I think you underestimate the importance of the personal connection Jellyfish members had with their staff. Bring back Smack Daddy, and bring back Carl (the cartoonish head of finance that served as Smack Daddy’s foil). Without strong, friendly personalities to represent management, it would be really easy for the community that once rallied behind the program to turn against you, and this would not be a pretty sight. (Boston Tea Party, Jellyfish-Style!) Update, 1/11: Sign the petition to Bring Back Smack Daddy here!: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/smackdaddy
I will continue to refer interested people to Jellyfish, even without the referral incentive. But you’re on notice, NuJellyfish: you have the stink of Microsoft upon you now. It won’t take much to turn those fiercely loyal members into just plain fierce. Don’t screw up Jellyfish (any worse). We’re watching you.

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