Bloody day for Teahouse

  • February 19, 2014
  • 45311x

We figured there would be interest. But we had no idea that it would overwhelm us like a hellish tsunami. Our mistake. Now, two and a half weeks later, we have recovered only slightly. How did it all come about?

We return to the scene…

9.00 am

It's Friday, January 31 2014 and a day like any other dawns. Europeans are waking up into the last January morning and there is no indication that the British company Teahouse Transport is about to almost bleed out today.

Actually… there is some. We have spent the last two weeks preparing a crazy sale called "1 package for 1 pound". In the last two days, we've only slept for 0.5 hours in total - and we have been fine-tuning the final technical details, so that the campaign works properly.

Everything will be ready in just a moment. We are slightly nervous…

1.18 pm

The first wave of direct e-mails  is sent out to our customers – containing details about the "Friday price massacre". Right after that, we put an explosive post on our Facebook fan page about the "1 package for 1 pound" sale.

In a few hours – thanks in part to our sponsored advertisement – the post is seen by over 300,000 people.

2.00 pm

The tsunami is starting to make its way through the company. The phones are constantly ringing, the mailbox is full of hundreds of emails in a matter of minutes.

The law of conservation of momentum says that the momentum of an isolated system is conserved. The law of conservation of Facebook advertising campaigns says that information virality is inversely proportional to the price, at which packages can be sent anywhere in the world.

In our instance, the virality was total.

3.00 pm

It is clear that this will really be a massacre. The site receives a new order every few seconds. We don't know whether we were coming or going. Finally, our network begins to overload.

But before it crashes, the orders continue to stream in - and due to the lines overloading, we are not even able to "turn off" the sale.

Just to give you an idea: the afternoon between 3 and 5 PM, our website was accessed up to 17 times more (34 000 visits per hour) than it is during a regular working day rush hour (about 2,000 hits).

Yes, we should have prepared for it better. Now we know that, too.

4.10 pm

We finally manage to terminate the sale. And we reap our well deserved applause, both in Facebook comments and in e-mails. Here is one comment for a taste:

"This was a really stupid dirty trick, only sending such an email when the sale starts, when most people don't even have the time to react to it and on a Friday of all things! I bet this email pissed off more customers than it pleased."

And the Czechs and Slovaks in the UK Facebook group saw even more vitriolic comments – the worst of them got deleted by the page admin for their vulgarity.

A few other people instantly began to suspect that we announced the event - and then immediately and intentionally crashed our own website, so that no one would be able to participate.

But nothing is black and white. The sale brought us a lot of enthusiastic praise from some customers. We thank them for those.

So what was the actual result?

Well then: please believe that we didn't want to piss… anger or trip anybody up – and we didn't.

We wanted to make a sale that nobody has done before us (in sending packages, at least).

And that nobody could order Teahouse Transport through the website? It's true that many customers actually didn't make it.

However, many of you did. You sent many packages (to various parts of the world) totaling 7,000 pounds sterling – which we paid ourselves on the Friday of January 31st.

We can't afford anything like this in the foreseeable future.

We are, however, going to continue with such sales – though with smaller discounts so that the sale lasts long enough for everybody to get in.

Look out for it!

Jaroslav Šedivý
(still) Teahouse Transport CEO