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Click Frenzy rebuts the critics, kinda

Following last night's 'interesting' launch, Click Frenzy has responded to criticism with 'interesting' comments.

After iTWire's rather strident criticism of the Click Frenzy launch last night, the company's representatives have contacted us to explain their side of events. Very little of what they say we believe. In the following paragraphs, the organisation's responses are in italics.

Following an initial three-hour downtime of the Click Frenzy site at the start of the 24-hour campaign, Founder and Organiser of Click Frenzy, Grant Arnott, said that the event registrations increased from 250,000 to over 800,000 in the hours just prior to the launch.

Huh, they say that following three hours of downtime, registrations increased before the launch? Is that even English?

Next we hear that Overall site traffic reached a peak of 2 million simultaneous hits at the time of the campaign kick-off at 7.00 pm yesterday evening. Surely they're not telling us that a full 10% of the country's population was hitting the site bang-on 7pm. Was there NOTHING worth watching on TV? Was no-one in the pubs?

"The number of users hitting the site was unprecedented and multiple times greater than what we had initially forecast. This is a strong reflection of consumer adoption in Australia for online retail. At its peak, the site was processing 20,000 pre-registrations per minute, and received millions of requests in the first few minutes of the campaign going live," said Grant Arnott.

No, that's wishful thinking. Arnott is making the classic mistake of equating tyre-kickers with intending buyers.

In addition, the organisation was making endless comments in the hours before launch that they had assessed the level of interest to be over a million and that they had sized their servers to cope with this level of demand. Also, over what period were they counting concurrent hits? How easy was it to count the same user hitting 'refresh' over and over as multiple users?

"UltraServe responded quickly in provisioning significant additional capacity to support the traffic which was four-fold greater than the expected volume. The additional capacity was put in place shortly after 9.30 pm and returned the site to full functionality," said Grant.

Wrong again. This writer was still blocked from the site (despite repeated attempts) at 10:30pm and was finally able to get access well after 11pm. Numerous comments observed by this writer on Twitter suggests many others had a similar experience.  Be aware that UltraServe is the cloud provider contracted to deliver hosted web services.

Note that last night iTWire performed a simple traceroute to identify the affected servers and miss-identified the hosting organisation. It is correctly UltraServe.

"A team of engineers were on standby and worked through the night to support the customers by caching more of the application. This allowed us to restore their shopping experience as quickly as possible," said Samuel Yeats, CEO of Ultra Serve.

I'm sorry, but that's pure political garbage. Why on earth would it take "a team of engineers" to "cache more of the application"? It might take one engineer a couple of minutes to configure this prior to the site being launched, if this is all that was done to help manage the load, the rest were playing bridge in the meal-room.

"We continue to see very strong traffic and demand on the site since restoration of the traffic last night, and we hope to achieve significant sales for the consumers and the retailers involved by the time the campaign is completed at 7.00 pm this evening." said Samuel.

Said Grant Arnott, "Traffic volumes have been very strong today with tens of thousands of users concurrently transacting from the early hours of this morning. The average page load time is around 2-3 seconds which is fast for such high volumes."

Finally, a couple of statements we agree with!

…and now a few that we don't!

Other key statistics include:

  • average page load time since 9:45pm Tuesday has been 2.5 seconds

One assumes the failed-to-load page impressions between 9:45pm and 11pm have been averaged out over the stellar performance experienced after midnight!

  • over 16 million products have been successfully viewed on the site since it launched

Ummm... is that 16 million unique products, or 100 products viewed 160,000 times, or 1,000 products viewed 16,000 (or some other combination)? And how many of those were by journos checking out the system? And repeated attempts to view by annoyed potential customers repeatedly bashing the reload button?

  • the platform has handled over 1.4 million unique impressions

Hang on; weren't you trying to tell us you had 2 million simultaneous users when the site opened at 7pm?

iTWire understands that associated vendors were slugged $1,500 to simply be listed, up to $30,000 for a featured position. Good luck justifying that investment when the general shopping consensus was that you (the retailer) failed to offer any significant, genuine, bargains.

As part of this report, iTWire was interested in investigating the organisation's privacy policy. Apparently, its available here but clicking on it merely loops to the main after-party page. One wonders why the organisation, which has collected a truck-load of PII from advanced registrations, no longer has an accessible privacy policy (which we're quite sure is required in accordance with the relevant legislation).

Despite any and all attempts to reframe the event, it can only be described as an unmitigated disaster that will end up being the best thing ever to drive Australian online consumers directly into the arms of offshore vendors (those few who weren't there already, of course).


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