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And you thought TimesDeal voucher code was an accidental leak? Here is the BIG deal (possibly)

2 days back, India web was abuzz with a free voucher code (“test123 “) from TimesDeal (details) that gave all the users access to free deals (multiple usage for same account). The code was shared all over the web – social media, Facebook, Twitter etc and TimesDeal promised to honor all the purchases.

Great stuff!

But, here is a simple question : Is TimesDeal so bad at monitoring social media that they couldn’t see the promo code being shared? And does it take an army of engineers to remove 1 promo code from the site?

With all the buzz going for more than 10 hours, I am not sure if that’s the case.

Drama @Staging

Well, there is something interesting happening that caught my eye. I took a look at what’s cooking at TimesDeal and here is what I see : the staging portal (the URL was so damn easy to guess!), i.e. staging.timesdeal.com.

Take a look at the current homepage of TimesDeal:

TimesDeal : Buy
TimesDeal : Buy Button @Homepage

And the staging page looks like this (note: same deals)

TimesDeal : Steal Button [staging server]
TimesDeal : Steal Button @staging
What is the ‘Steal It’ button?

Well, you steal a deal. You get it for free. It follows a different workflow than the ‘buy button’ and maybe, TimesDeal was actually testing the virality of the feature.

There is no need to buy a deal – you get it for free and you can avail it without any upfront purchase – important to note that all deal sites first ask you to buy the deal and avail it (even TimesDeal in its current avatar).

Timesdeal : Current homepage
Timesdeal : Deal details (INR *ZERO*)

Why would TimesDeal do that? Because free goes viral (proved successfully with the code leak) and free kills the competition.

So was voucher code leak a planned leak? We don’t know, but a look at  staging server surely tells us that it’s a feature ready-to-be-announced and maybe, TimesDeal was doing a PoC (Proof of Concept) with the code leak?

Update1: TimesDeal has taken down its staging site, after this article.

Update2: The entire voucher code drama was staged by TimesDeal itself (details).

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