Imagine if you will this. You’re off to Tesco to get your weekly shop. For a change of scenery you go to the branch on the other side of town. You get there, fill your trolley with shopping then get to the checkout. The cashier looks at you sternly and says “sorry governor, I’m afraid I can’t let you take all these buy one get one free offers.”
You look at him aghast, you just spent your time filling your trolley, you ask why? “Because you’ve already bought one and got one free at the other Tesco store you normally shop at,” he replies. “In fact sir, you can’t shop here at all. Please leave the store and return to your own store to shop in future…”
You leave aghast, shocked by such behaviour. Can you imagine the uproar? Well, as unseemly is this is in the retail world, it happens in the online bingo world all the time. In fact, it happened to me a couple of times recently with Cashcade and Better Bingo, and it infuriates me every time it happens.
What do I mean? Well, I’m referring to when you go through all the effort of putting your details in to the sign up form at a new site, and then get told you’re not allowed to join as you’re already a member of another site on the bingo network.
I believe it’s a major fail for all networks that employ this methodology, on a number of different levels. And I’ll go into why in a moment. First though, I want to spend a moment on the last episode that really got my back up enough to finally spend a bit of time writing about it. A couple of weeks back, as a member at Mirror Bingo, I received and email inviting me to sign-up at the Mirror Bingo’s sister site 3am Bingo. It even went as far as to offer me and extra £5 free to try it out with the special promotion code.
“Great!” I thought, “I’ll have a bit of that.” So off I went to the site, via the link in the email. I filled in the registration form and BAM! I got the dreaded Networked Bingo Site message. If I was frustrated, then it’s not hard to believe that thousands of other Mirror Bingo members who got the message and thought the same were equally frustrated (disappointed, angry, confused, etc.)
We all know why sites do this – it’s to stop ‘bonus tarts’ and save money, but I think it’s a big mistake and a practice that sites should curtail if they really respect their players. Personally I think it shows contempt for any potential new customers, as well as expecting them to have a level of knowledge about the industry that 99.9% don’t have. Every single bingo site presents itself as a standalone entity, and to my mind if they want to give this impression then they should live up to it.
The fact is, the consumer has the right to take sites up on these offers, whether they’ve taken them up on other sites or not. The consumer doesn’t care or even need to know if a site is part of a network, it’s frankly irrelevant to their needs as bingo players. I really can’t understand why the networks that choose to do this think they need to impose this penny-pinching rule on their sites, especially if it means existing players who want to try a new site stay within their network.
If I try another site on the Cashcade Network, or the Best Bingo Network, or any other that operate this system, then the networks still handles my money. However, if I can’t get this deal on their network, I go to another site that allows me a sign-up bonus and play there instead. The network has lost me. Wisely, not all networks impose these rules. Virtue Fusion, St Minver and other networks allow you to sign up at multiple sites without any hassle, or the need to have further email addresses and bank cards to play.
I think if networks are going to continue this contrivance, they need to make it clearer that they are part of a network. At the very least, they should have a pre-emptive to the registration form that lists their other network sites and asks you to tick if you are already a member of one of them. If you do then you get sent to the network message straight away, rather than waiting till you’ve wasted a few minutes filling in your address and card details. It really is a usability crime as it stands now, and down right frustrating.
Not only is it currently a bad user experience, but on top of that the networked site message leaves the player equally clueless. They tell you you’re already a part of their network signed up to another of their sites, but then they don’t mention what their other sites are. Nope, best thing is to get rid of it altogether. But then again, there’s a lot in online bingo that’s put there to make players lives more difficult and to make companies more money. Come on big companies, start showing your players the sort of respect they get in their local bingo hall, or come to that, their local Tesco.