Success with Cardpool

As part of getting a 5k iMac for one of the kids birthdays, Apple sent me a $150 gift card.

I listed it for sale on cardpool on Dec 5. The demand for Apple store cards seemed to be high so I listed it at market price rather than making an instant sale to cardpool. First buyer didn't confirm but a second was found quite quickly. A few days went by for them to verify something and then I was told the transaction was complete. Almost instantly, the gift card balance was reduced to zero (from spending). This is good because I am liable for 1 year if the buyer claims somebody else used their gift card so good to know it's not waiting to be spent after being emailed to someone as a gift.

The check arrived today, 5 days after cardpool told me it would be sent. This was within their 3-7 business day promise.

I lost 7% of the value. I could have earned 6% more then I did if I redeemed for Amazon credit. I declined since I can buy Amazon gift cards for 6% off any day already. Rather have cash than an imperative to spend at Amazon.

I have a largeish Best Buy gift card balance that I haven't used and following this success, I'm tempted to cash it in too.

Cardpool are a silicon valley startup type company. There were actually some website issues when I was attempting to list the card. They were very responsive so I stuck with them and I eventually figured out why they were having the technical error and sent the fix to be passed on to their development team. There was another bug that I saw afterwards but I didn't tell them about it because it is kind of interesting.

It is interesting to see what they're trying to do to create a secure market for gift cards. They have some pretty bad reviews out there along with some better ones with experiences like mine but without the bugs I experienced.

Had I relied only on the average rating, I would have steered clear, but I looked through their website and it looked well designed and well thought out. I surmised that they had proper investment behind them so the bad reviews were probably particularly bad startup problems. Conversely, when I took a look at cellnuvo's website back in February, I was put off enough to disregard any positive reviews.

The main thing is that they seem to offer the best rate for selling a gift card if you list it on their marketplace and sell direct to another buyer. The other giftcard sites are fixed price and the best one offers almost the same fixed rate as cardpool. So with cardpool, if you're willing to wait a little to sell in the marketplace, then you don't lose as much. If I'd taken an Amazon gift card, we're looking at only losing 1%.

True startups like these have software bugs because development cycles would take too long if an attempt was made to perfect the code each time. So they focus on getting the software into production and fixing bugs quickly instead. The danger with something like cardpool is that we're talking about monetary transactions so there is more of a danger, however, I think the processes they have in place to validate users and transactions probably prevent any software issues turning into transaction issues that cannot be reversed.

The thing is, that once you are familiar with technology and startups and the pace they do things at, you understand the difference between a true silicon valley type company and something like cellnuvo done on the cheap. A silicon valley startup sells their idea to very knowledgeable people who are willing to take a risk on an idea and on the right people. As the company grows, they move onto further stages of funding and have to prove more about themselves at each stage. Funding stages last only months. Results have to be delivered in a matter of months because if the idea is good, it needs to get out into the market before someone else copies it. Funding needs to be adequate to do things right and fast meaning these companies run at a loss during a time they are not at a scale representative of their potential.

If you were to compare what goes on in silicon valley startups to a cellnuvo and to some extent R+, then you'd understand why any talk about supporting innovative disruptive companies and people like Karl and Tom is just BS.