Note: see the latest on Boomertowne’s closure here.
Update, 4:45pm: After being forwarded a copy of an email sent by BoomerTowne.com founder Herschel Peddicord to chat moderator CherBear67, I decided to email him myself with some of the questions I have been hearing from upset BT members on forums and in BT’s own chat (still live at this link). He replied within the hour. My email and his response are below:
Dear Mr. Peddicord,
I run CompareRewards.com, a website that provides reviews and news of points programs like BoomerTowne. I’ve been following the developments with your site and am getting a tremendous amount of traffic from your members, all of whom are disappointed and hoping for some answers.
Is the site down permanently? Is it possible that the site could be sold and return at some point? Are there any plans to honor the cashouts that have been made up to this point, even at half or some fraction of their value?
At what point did you decide to take BoomerTowne down? Is this a decision that has been in the works for a while now? Have you been trying to find potential investors or to develop an alternate business model that might be more profitable?
Isn’t it difficult to abandon the site just months after PC Magazine named it the #1 Website for Boomers? You have a reputation for being a shrewd entrepreneur; there’s no way to make the site financially feasible?
I know these are a lot of questions and at no doubt a time when you’re already upset about having to make some tough decisions. Any insight you could give me that I could pass along to your faithful members would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time, and I wish you the best.
RE: Saddened by the news about BT — a response if you could, please?
Sunday, September 21, 2008 4:37 PM
From: “buzz peddicord” <hommed_1@[deleted]>
Unfortunately illness, economic downturn, and mass cheating drove the company bankrupt. Several millions were lost by investors and even though we tried to sell and raise capitol, the lousy economy made that impossible. The investors including me lost millions of dollars trying to build a real community. When the economy went south companies quit advertising and income dropped to 10 percent of what it had reached. That combined with mass point cheating made it impossible to go on. No site that offers rewards will succeed as long as people devote so much time trying to beat the system. It tells you something about our society.
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My response to this: While most of the points-based rewards programs have gone the way of the dinosaur, there ARE points programs that have survived for years despite economic downturns and people trying to game the point systems. Gather.com has paid members for generating content for a few years now. Freeride has been up and down with different owners but is still at it (it’s the first rewards program I joined, way back in 1997). MyPoints, the granddaddy of them all, is still very much alive and well. Even Memolink is still up after years of financial troubles. The difference between these programs and BoomerTowne? Sufficient staffing for moderating content and site usage to thwart cheaters. Limitations on memberships per household or per IP address, or proof of individual ID requirements. Point valuations that are sustainable over the long run, taking into account all overhead — including referral incentives, with allowances built in for cyclical lulls in advertising revenue. Enough management staff in place to delegate projects when one person gets sick. (I’m sorry if that sounds cruel; I’m sympathetic to Mr. Peddicord’s health issues but this was a *business* and he owed it to his members, partners, and investors to find alternate leadership in his absence.)
I spent a while in chat last night and again this afternoon, and while many of the BT members coming through chat expressed frustration and anger at being told by BT Help that no gift cards would be forthcoming, there were still a large proportion who said they were just sad at losing the community they had helped build. Several voiced an interest in continuing on as contributing members of BT if the points system was eliminated altogether. Alternate chat rooms and alternate forums were being discussed so that friends would be able to stay in touch.
It sounds to me like BoomerTowne met a need in many people that was more than just free gift cards. Perhaps with some retooling of the points structure, or reintroducing the site without points altogether (after a cooling-off period), the site could become financially successful. It seems an absolute shame that the top rated website on the internet for Boomers would have to go bust.|
Click Continue Reading to read CherBear67′s email to BT owner Peddicord, as well as his reply.
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Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2008 15:21:11 -0400
Subject: Hello Buzz
I just thought I would write you this letter and hopefully you read it and will reply. I know that you are getting alot of email’s and phone calls out there. Alot of people are angry that BT has close and they won’t be getting paid. Hell I am not angry just a little hurt. I was really hoping for this money as it would have heated the house for the winter. I am unable to work right now so there isn’t money coming in the house. Oh well, I guess another lesson has been learned. This is my last time I join a site like this.
I know a friend of mine emailed you and you replied that with your sickness and the economy that bt is gone. I hope the illness isn’t to serious. Is there no chance at all of keeping it up without the points? I know alot of people loved that chat room and we really are going to miss it.
All I wish you would have done is at least let us know months ago that we wouldn’t be getting paid. I think alot of people would have understood that. I know I would have. I put alot of blood, sweat and yes tears into trying to make a go of this site. I am sure going to miss it.
I do want to thank you for a great site while it lasted. I made alot of wonderful friends here at Boomertowne and wish I could have kept in touch with all of them.
I really don’t know what else to say. I am at a loss for words right now as my heart is heavy with this news.
From: buzz peddicord <hommed_1@[deleted]>
Date: Sun, Sep 21, 2008 at 4:10 PM
Subject: RE: Hello Buzz
Bt gave me alot of joy, and ultimately cost me and my partners millions of dollars. I got sick and investors were afraid to put money into it. The economy went to hell and companies stopped advertising. The cheaters were a constant problem but ultimately there was more money going out than coming in. It ruined me financially and physically. I’ll miss the good people.