Two weeks ago, I enthusiastically blogged about a new app called Drop, where you can automatically earn extra points on (top of what you already earn) that you can then redeem for e-gift cards to select merchants. It was such a seamless process, and I was genuinely excited about connecting my cards and using the app.
After having the app for a day, I was thrilled when I generated enough points through referrals and regular spend to redeem for a few rewards (a $5 Starbucks gift card and a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card). Those rewards were delivered to my inbox within hours. Drop earned my trust, and I was eager to continue to earn rewards on my everyday purchases.
Over the next few days, more referrals started trickling in (thanks guys!), I made some Amazon purchases, and took a few Uber rides. I soon had enough to redeem for a $25 Lyft gift card and then $20 worth of gift cards to Amazon. Thinking the rewards would arrive in my inbox within a few hours like they have before, I became concerned when a few days passed and I still haven’t received anything, so I sent an email to support.
I received an email back the next day stating there was a delay in fulfillment due high volume, but not to worry because my rewards would be delivered within 2 days. That seemed like a genuine response, and I can only imagine the influx of new users they were dealing with, so I was patient and understanding.
After another 5 days, I still haven’t received anything, so I sent another follow-up email to support and got the very same canned message back, word-for-word, that my rewards would arrive in 2 days. I felt the responses weren’t sincere after all, so I decided to send a tweet to see if I could get a better answer.
As of today, nothing has been delivered. I have communicated with some other readers and travel friends, and they all seem to be having similar issues.
Ironically enough, out of the blue, Drop sent me a personalized email thanking me for all of the referrals, and asking if I wanted to create my own custom invite code. Now that I had an identifiable human contacting me directly, I used the opportunity to voice my concerns and to hopefully get a clear answer about what’s going on.
This is the message I sent back:
Thanks for reaching out. While I appreciate the opportunity to have a custom invite code, I will be honest and say that I am a bit disappointed with my experience with Drop so far, and I was planning on writing a follow up post about my own negative experiences with the app, and I know several others are reporting similar experiences as well…
Specific issues include: awards not being fulfilled, support sending canned messages, and an overall feeling that Drop is untrustworthy to those who use the app rightfully.
I personally have $65 in outstanding rewards that have not been issued:
- $25 Lyft reward June 27
- $10 Amazon July 3
- $10 Amazon July 3
- $10 Amazon July 9
- $10 Amazon July 9
Until these issues are resolved, I do not feel comfortable recommending Drop to my audience anymore. Please let me know your thoughts or if there is an official statement I can relay to my readers who trust my recommendations. Thanks for understanding.
Since we’re still in a soft launch phase, we’ve been taking extra precautions to ensure our US users have an amazing experience before we fully launch in September.
We’ve recently been hit with an influx of users who have been using manufactured spending to earn a large amount of points and then redeeming large quantities of gift cards. Our engineering team has flagged these users who we suspect have been using manufactured spending due to repeated purchases of the same amount at the same retailers. This may be why some users are not seeing their points show up and are receiving the “Error” message when trying to redeem. However some bloggers, such as yourself, have been caught up in this process.
We didn’t anticipate for “churning”/manufacturing spending to happen, and as a result, there’s been a backlog of gift card orders. Right now our support team is working hard to ensure that points for redemptions are not coming from manufactured spending and manually sending out gift cards.
I’d like to apologize for this inconvenience. We’ve un-flagged your account and I’ve let our support team know to send you your Best Buy gift cards ASAP. Since it’s a manual process, this may take a few days. Again, I’m so sorry for this situation and want you to know that we’re working hard to ensure all valid users receive their points and rewards by the end of the month.
Thank you for being a user and we really hope you stick with us as we continue to learn and grow within the US.
Thanks so much for your prompt response and explantation of what has been going on.
If you don’t mind, I’d like to share a few thoughts:
- I did not redeem for any Best Buy gift cards – just the ones that I listed below (Amazon & Lyft).
- I do not promote manufactured spending at all in my content, and all of my purchases are legitimate, so I am not sure why I was automatically flagged. Was I flagged because I was a blogger? Did you flag everyone’s account? It just seemed a bit upsetting that I was flagged under the assumption that I was abusing the program. Truthfully it’s a bit insulting because I felt like I was an enthusiastic voice and advocate of the app.
- How are you communicating to those people who have been “flagged”? In my honest opinion, it’s probably best practice to at least contact those who are flagged for whatever reason, so they do not sit there for days or weeks waiting for rewards that may or may not come. A lot of people signed up with their trusted banking log-in information under the impression that Drop would deliver rewards for spending with merchants as advertised.
- Lastly, I do understand that your ideal user does not engage in manufactured spending, but to play devil’s advocate, there was no where in the T&C that stated gift card purchases were excluded from earning rewards, so rather than just ignoring those users, maybe update the terms and communicate effectively to the members, instead of going MIA. It just helps give credibility, especially during the early stages of development, so customers can decide if they want to continue to trust and continue using Drop in the future.
In short, communication is key. And loyalty and trust is a two way street. There have been countless examples of airline loyalty programs that made sudden changes to their programs without offering any notice or communication to their members, and that just leaves a negative impression to the people who put their trust in the program. I don’t want that to be the case with Drop because I truly think you have a great thing going…
Thank you so much for being very honest with your communication – I certainly appreciate it. I’m 100% intending to continue using the app when the issues are resolved. I think it’s a great platform and I am sure it will be even better once the kinks are worked out.
[Update 7/10/17 at 5:30 PM] I just received the following response back:
My mistake — our support team is working to get you those Lyft and Amazon rewards.
Again, I’m so sorry you were flagged as suspicious. What happened is that our engineering team created a code that automatically flagged those who were earning a high amount of points in a given day. Due to the number of referrals you have, you were wrongly included in this group despite your legitimate earning. We’ve reiterated on this code to work better at flagging users who are using manufactured spending. We’re also manually double-checking the transactions of these flagged users to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.
Truthfully, we never imagined that there would be so many users who would be using our app to further their manufactured spending earnings. We’re relatively new to the US market and are still working out all the kinks. Our team is currently updating our ToS to reflect these changes and we will go live with it by the end of this week. We’re also discussing how we want to communicate with upset users while still sticking true to our values. Your suggestions have been an integral part of our discussion as we decide what to do moving forward.
We really wanted to reward our users for their every day spending and hopefully these changes will protect the experience for those who are using the app legitimately and cut down on users who are churning. Thank you so much for being honest with us and taking the time to give us all your insightful feedback. It’s been exceptionally helpful for us to get user perspectives on the US market and how we’re doing.
Let me know if I can answer any other questions that you may have!
It seems like they are in the process of updating the ToS to exclude gift card purchases, and it should be interesting to see how they will move forward with communicating and dealing with the users who earned rewards prior to the changes.
Overall, I do appreciate that they are taking accountability with their responsiveness, and I am happy to finally get a real human response from someone within the company that can help clear up the confusion and frustration that users like myself are experiencing.
While know beta stages of a tech company come with a lot of growing pains, it’s important to communicate with users openly and honestly as much as possible, especially when users blindly trust the platform by handing over personal log-in information to their financial accounts. In the end, I do hope Drop can make this right for all and continue to promote an enjoyable experience for the users who earned rewards within the platform.