Why I Hate Evite

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:19 pm

So picture me sitting around my house one afternoon, when suddenly I think to myself, “Hey, maybe I’ll call up a few friends, invite them over for dinner or a board game or something.”

Then the phone rings.

ME: Hello?

CALLER: Hey, don’t make that call just yet!

ME: Huh? Who is this?

CALLER: This is PhoneVite, the world’s most popular, 100% free phone-based invitation service!

ME: Who? PhoneWhat? How’d you get this number? Why are you calling me?

CALLER: We just wanted to offer you the chance to invite your friends over for dinner or a game tonight!

ME: Um, thanks, but that’s exactly what I was about to do when you interrupted me. I don’t need your help.

CALLER: Yeah, but you were just going to call them up. We’re offering to do it for you, the new, exciting PhoneVite way, for free!

ME: Meaning what, exactly?

CALLER: Well, instead of having to call all of your friends and invite them over, you just give all of their phone numbers to us. Then we call them all up for you and tell them to call a special PhoneVite number. Then when they call the number, they can listen to a special message from you telling them about the get-together! Then they can leave a message telling you whether they plan on coming, how many people they plan to bring, and anything else they think you ought to know. Then you call the number, and you can listen to all of the messages they left! It’s a snap!

ME: Hmm. Pardon my ignorance, but why in Christ’s name would I want to go through all that rigmarole instead of just picking up the damn phone and calling my friends?

CALLER: ‘Cuz then you wouldn’t be doing it the fast, fun PhoneVite way!

ME: Meaning….?

CALLER: Well, in addition to making all of the phone calls for you, we make the invitation fun!

ME: Through the process of….?

CALLER: We add cool music and sound effects and stuff to the phone call!

ME: Uh huh.

CALLER: PhoneVite takes all of the drudgery out of invitations!

ME: “Drudgery”?

CALLER: Sure! In the old days, if you called someone up to invite them over and they wanted to know who else was coming, they’d have to ask! With PhoneVite, all they have to do is call the special number, and we tell them who else is going to be there for you! Isn’t that great?

ME: Yeah, keen.

CALLER: And all for free!

ME: Actually, that’s another question I have. You don’t charge for any of this?

CALLER: Absolutely not! All 100% free!

ME: Why?

CALLER: Beg pardon?

ME: All of this stuff—the phone banks, the recording equipment, the music and sound effects—must cost a lot of money. Why are you doing this for free? What could possibly be your motivation?

CALLER: Oh—uh—because we love you!

ME: No, really.

CALLER: Welllll….we might just make a teensy bit of money on advertising.

ME: Advertising? Where does advertising come into this?

CALLER: Well, when your friends call back to hear about the invitation, they also get to hear about all the great products and services our partners have to offer!

ME: “Partners”??

CALLER: Oh, sure! Restaurants, mail-order catalogs, pharmaceutical companies, software vendors, consumer electronics manufacturers, sportswear suppliers, magazines, television networks, other phone-based service providers….y’know, cool stuff that hip, sophisticated people like you and your friends are just dying to hear more about!

ME: Uh huh. Look, who the hell are you people, anyway? Who owns PhoneVite?

CALLER: Oh, that’s a great story. PhoneVite was founded in 1998 by a couple of guys who just wanted to help folks keep in touch with each other!

ME: Yeah, great story. Who owns it now?

CALLER: Uh, well, it was acquired shortly thereafter by another highly respected conglomerate.

ME: Really? What else do they own?

CALLER: Oh, all sorts of stuff….hotel price finders….dating services….dial-a-joke numbers….er….TicketMaster….

ME: TicketMaster? The company that charges hundreds of percentages worth of markup for concert and other event tickets? The company well-known for its abusive privacy policy?

CALLER: Well, yeah….but some of those dial-a-jokes are really funny!

ME: So let me get this straight. You want me to hand the phone numbers of all of my friends over to some anonymous person on the phone, to do with as you please—

CALLER: Oh, no, we have a very strict privacy policy regarding the contact information we harvest—er, are given stewardship over by our customers. If you like, I can spend the next twenty minutes explaining it to you in exhaustive and bewildering detail, with lots of legal jargon!

ME: No thank you—to do with according to your current privacy policy, which might change at any moment—

CALLER: *Ahem* Well, yeah, sure….

ME: —in order to save me and my friends the horrible inconvenience of having to talk directly to each other about when and where we want to get together and who will be attending—

CALLER: Isn’t that great?

ME: —in exchange for which we will all be treated to a bunch of unsolicited advertising—

CALLER: And cool sound effects!

ME: —and cool sound effects. Have I got that all?

CALLER: You bet! So, who would you like us to call for you?

ME: I dunno, my lawyer? The cops? The Electronic Frontier Foundation?

CALLER: I don’t quite follow you.

ME: Allow me to elaborate. When I decide I want to give up valuable demographic information about all of my friends to a huge company with questionable practices in order to save myself the trouble of making a few phone calls, you’ll be the first people I contact. Until then, piss off.

CALLER: But—but we’re so easy and fun! And free!

ME: Buh-bye now.


7 Responses to “Why I Hate Evite”

  1. YakBoy Says:

    1) If you ever send me a PhoneVite for anything I’m going to sneak into your house at night and saw the legs off your bed while you sleep.
    a) Who comes up with this stuff?
    b) What morons actually think it a good idea and USE this service?

    2) I like the idea of getting together for a game night at some point in the near future

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    1) No worries, no worries. I don’t cleave to any of these so-called “free” value-added services. Another of the really annoying ones out there is Kodak’s EasyShare, where you upload your photos to the site, give them all of your friends’ and family’s email addresses, and they send the pictures to all of them. What could be easier? Except maybe just sending the fucking things to all of your friends yourself in an email….

    2) Actually, I have friends who use the service for all of their parties. I tend to express my opinion by ignoring the Evite and just sending them an email directly. But I was inspired to write this by a posting on one of their sites, where they were lamenting how so few people who viewed the Evite actually responded to it. Another person piped up with an exasperated reply to the effect of, “Yeah, how rude is that? How hard is it to press the little button that says, ‘Yes, I’m coming’??” Rather than post a reply there, I thought I’d find a way to put down my opinion regarding this sort of thing on my own blog.

    3) Oh, fer sure! Although this was not the best weekend, seeing as how our furnace just died, and I doubt you’re quite finished sharing quality time with your new gaming blowtorch. :mrgreen:

  3. Steve Says:

    I’m up for a gaming night too!

    BTW, what happened to your RSS feed? I can get to it from FireFox, but RSS Bandit is giving a failure message:

    Xml Failure
    Refresh feed ‘Misc\Friends\Uncle Andrew dot Net’ failed with error: Invalid character in the given encoding. Line 255, position 98.

    Thought you’d want to know!

  4. Uncle Andrew Says:

    BTW, what happened to your RSS feed? I can get to it from FireFox, but RSS Bandit is giving a failure message:

    Huh, dunno. I’ll look around the WordPress forums and see if anyone has mentioned it.

    As for game night; well, we’ll have to keep you in the loop about that, won’t we? 🙂

  5. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Steve, are you using 1.3.08 or later? Earlier versions of RSS Bandit aren’t compatible with WordPress.

  6. Dalek Says:

    Well, you have at least one friend who only uses the service occasionally, and that because regular email invites she used to send out for parties kept getting blocked by various other people’s spam filters (or such was the claim). Evites don’t, or didn’t, although I agree with you on the whole dubiosity of “here, have the addresses of everyone I know!” thing (until of course you realize that too late, they already have them from other party-givers). And yes, refusing to use the Evite for a response but instead using your own email to send a reply seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do, if you in fact do it. :mrgreen:

    All that being said, I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that trying to give parties is an exercise in frustration. How would you and Jake like to get together for dinner with us sometime, maybe as a way of getting some relief from the remodel?

  7. Uncle Andrew Says:

    I think the trick we have uncovered for our get-togethers is to make them of a type that can be enjoyed by whatever number of people happen to attend. Gaming seems to work pretty well, as does avoiding the potluck scenario.

    I think dinner sounds great. I’ll talk to Margaret.

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