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