Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Worst Gift Ever on NJ.com


NJ.com, which is the web site for the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper, has a nice article about our web site, MyWorstGiftEver.com. Read it here: Website invites users to share gift horror stories, pictures

NJ.com liked the nutcracker. So did we. It's, um, unique!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Lottay Showcases Holiday "Giftastrophies"

Dec 28, 2009 09:15 ET

Lottay Showcases Holiday "Giftastrophies"

MyWorstGiftEver.com Highlights the Worst Gifts Received This Holiday Season

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - December 28, 2009) -


  • Millions of dollars are wasted on unwanted gifts ever year

  • Top gifting failures featured on MyWorstGiftEver.com include a super-sized Listerine bottle, $5 pre-paid phone card and questionable nutcracker

  • Users are invited to share their own "giftastrophes" by submitting photos and descriptions to worstgift@lottay.com

Lottay, the online gift-giving company, is providing consumers with a way to share their holiday gift misfortunes with others through MyWorstGiftEver.com. The website documents gift-giving gone wrong by featuring a variety of "giftastrophies," such as a ribbed acrylic banana case, men's bow tie g-string, and fruit cake sampler.

Visitors to MyWorstGiftEver.com will find an array of very bad gifts, submitted by people from across the world that are willing to anonymously share their misfortune. Users are encouraged to send photos and descriptions of their own worst-gift candidates to worstgift@lottay.com.

"Every year, millions of dollars are wasted on unwanted gifts like the ones featured on MyWorstGiftEver.com," said Harry Lin, CEO of Lottay. "That's why we made the site equal parts PSA, OMG and WTF by featuring gifts like the Chia Obama and long-handled toe-nail clippers. By doing this, we're calling out bad gift-giving habits to help people avoid future 'giftastrophies.' People can give better, and that's what Lottay helps them do with our online gift-giving service."

Rather than giving a bad gift, adding to the complexity of gift returns, or tying people to a gift card which may be loaded with fees, expiration dates and merchant restrictions, the Lottay online gift-giving and wish-list service helps individuals and groups give the gift of cash. According to a recent Western Union survey, 53 percent of consumers surveyed knew someone who wanted cash as a gift to help cover daily expenses this holiday season.

Through its partnership with PayPal, Lottay is helping consumers gift cash to friends and family for any occasion -- holidays, birthdays, weddings -- in a personalized way with e-greeting cards, customized messages, images and pictures. The cash gift is sent instantly and securely, delivered as a surprise via email and Facebook. Givers can specify the gift they would like the money to buy -- from a cup of coffee to a Caribbean cruise and beyond -- while receivers are free to use the money to buy the intended gift or anything else they want.

For more information on Lottay, please visit www.lottay.com. To get breaking Lottay news and additional perspectives, visit and subscribe to Lottay RSS blog feeds athttp://hintsdontwork.blogspot.com. Follow Lottay on Twitter at @GiveGiftsOnline, and visit the Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/LottayInc.

Additional Resources

Lottay website: http://www.lottay.com

Lottay blog: http://hintsdontwork.blogspot.com

Lottay on Twitter: @GiveGiftsOnline

Lottay Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/LottayInc

My Worst Gift Ever website: http://www.myworstgiftever.com

Our Wishing Wall website: http://www.ourwishingwall.com

About Lottay

Lottay™ Inc. makes giving and receiving the gift of money a personal, heartfelt experience. The free, online service uses e-greeting cards, private messages, images and pictures to wrap money in the emotion of the occasion. Gift givers and recipients enjoy the intimacy of a personalized present and the flexibility of money -- all backed up by the safety and security of PayPal. Lottay was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in the greater Los Angeles area. For more information, please visit www.lottay.com.

Lottay is a trademark of Lottay Inc. Other product and company names are property of their respective owners.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

USA Today: Cash is king this year for holiday gift givers


A "right on!" article in USA Today this week: Cash is king this year for holiday gift givers

Can we say that we love Anna, one of Lottay.com's customers who was quoted in the article? We don't know who she is, but we love her :-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Most consumers are less than halfway done with holiday shopping


So are you "most consumers"? That headline is from a survey just released by the National Retail Federation. Let us guess ... you *are* one of those last-minute shoppers :-)

I was at a Target store near downtown Los Angeles on Thursday evening and it was hard to find a parking space in what is usually a fairly open lot there. And inside the store, crowded house! Lots of shoppers in the aisles on their mobile phones -- "Well, what did Grandma say she wanted? What? Fuzzy ones or smooth ones? I dunno! They got both kinds here at Target but one costs more. Well is she there can you ask her?"

And the checkout lanes were insane.

All in all, a near-miserable experience. Yay for moi.

And that's why we started Lottay.com. So you can, without shame, tell people what you'd like and have them just give you money so you can spend it on what you want. And so you can give people money without embarrassment and be over and done with it from the comfort of your Snuggie and your PC.

(Poster image from Despair.com)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The glamour and peril of gifting, by DeepGlamour


Nice ruminative article about gift-giving on this fun blog, DeepGlamour (great name!): The glamour and peril of getting gifts

And thanks for the shout-out to Lottay and this very blog :-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dude: Admit you're clueless and that's half the battle


The Wall Street Journal has an amusing (and rather lengthy) article about bad gift giving and the men who practice such. Read it here: The gift that needs forgiving

The article has this classic line: "Men seem to be more clueless than women."

(That was referring to giving good gifts. Though some women might just apply the sentiment universally to everything we men do.)

Here at Hints Don't Work, we've also blogged about this, here and here. Oh, and here.

Ladies, if bad gifts do come your way from your menfolks this season, take a picture of the giftastrophe and send it to our share-all MyWorstGiftEver.com.

(Illustration from The Wall Street Journal.)


MyWorstGiftEver.com (Or, "Wow, an ugly sweater - thanks a lottay for that!")


Readers of our Lottay.com blog know that last week we launched a fun little diversion called MyWorstGiftEver.com. The site has people posting photos of, you guessed it!, their Worst Gift Ever.

We got a nice write-up in the Chicago Sun-Times today: New Web site highlights the worst gifts ever

(I hope my parents don't read the article - I never told them how bad that graduation gift was - yikes!)

Monday, December 14, 2009

These socks are like the best gift EVER!


Not!

Great funny post on the DoubleX site (no, dude, it's not a porn site): These socks are the best present EVER

The dialogue is a discussion of etiquette ... what you should do when presented with a really sucky present. The title of the posting is also a hint: "Lying about bad gifts - how do you do it?"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gift cards: It's called "breakage" and you know why..?


From last week's New York Times, in an article about gift cards:

In the industry, this is known as breakage, and here’s what it means: If you buy a gift card for a family member or friend, there’s a good chance you’ll give a little gift to the retailer or bank that issued it as well.

But wait! There's more:

But we could put an end to all of this waste if the givers got wise to the billions in annual giveaways to retailers and banks and just handed over cash.... Nobody neglects to spend cash. The reason they came up with the word breakage is that the gift card system was more than a little bit broken.


You know what Lottay.com sez: Gift cards are the new fruitcake!

(Image: New York Times online.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PayPal Launches Send Money Application for Facebook


PayPal
announced today that it's launched a new "Send Money" application on Facebook. We think that's great; another way for people to take advantage of PayPal's rock-solid application.

As you know, our company, Lottay.com, is built on PayPal's "Send Money" platform. Lottay's mission is to make the giving of cash as a gift as excellent as possible and by utilizing the world's fastest and safest online money-transfer system (that would be PayPal), we've done that.

When you send money to a person using Lottay.com, you "wrap" that money transfer in a gift experience. Try it and feel the love!

AOL's WalletPop writes about Lottay.com


WalletPop is AOL's personal finance blog, and today they posted a piece about Lottay.com. See it here -- Give 'em what they really want: Online dollars to use as they please

The article describes one of our Lottay customers, a doting uncle in San Francisco who's going to use Lottay.com to send gifts to his 11 nieces and nephews this year.

Spreading happiness -- that's what we want :-)

Lottay Documents Gift Giving Gone Wrong


  • MyWorstGiftEver.com launches to reveal gifts to avoid this holiday shopping season
  • Chia Pet donkey, men’s bow tie g-string, among top gifting failures
  • Users invited to share their own “giftastrophes” by submitting photos and descriptions to worstgift@lottay.com

LOS ANGELES — December 10, 2009 — Lottay, the online gift-giving company, today launched MyWorstGiftEver.com, a website that documents gift giving gone wrong and reveals the gifts to avoid this holiday shopping season. Top gifting failures to date include a Chia Pet donkey, men’s bow tie g-string, and faux wooden art. Users are invited to share their own “giftastrophes” by submitting photos and descriptions to worstgift@lottay.com.

“MyWorstGiftEver.com is equal parts PSA, OMG and WTF,” said Harry Lin, CEO of Lottay. “There’s a certain, rubber-necking quality to MyWorstGiftEver.com. I mean, how many wish lists include the Chia Pet’s distant relative, the Chia Obama? Or a pair of long-handled toe nail trimmers? Not many. People can give better, and that’s what Lottay helps them do.”

Visitors to MyWorstGiftEver.com will find an array of very bad gifts, submitted by people from across the world who are willing to anonymously share their misfortune. People can also vote for which gift they think should top the list of worst “giftastrophes” ever. Users are encouraged to send photos and descriptions of their own worst-gift candidates to worstgift@lottay.com. By establishing an unofficial “don’t give” list, Lottay hopes to improve the 2009 holiday gift-giving experience.

People seeking a more satisfying gifting experience may consider the “most wished for” items from Lottay’s 1,000-wish survey, including the Nintendo Wii and Wii games and accessories, cash and travel to France, Disneyland and Las Vegas. Or users can come up with their own creative, thoughtful gifts which they can give in the form of cash wrapped in Lottay’s e-greeting cards, personalized messages, images and pictures, and then delivered safely and securely via PayPal.

For a social snapshot of online gift giving worldwide, people can also visit Our Wishing Wall, http://www.OurWishingWall.com, which prompts people to create wish lists that reflect what they really want for the holidays and other gifting occasions.

For more information on Lottay, please visit www.lottay.com. To get breaking Lottay news and additional perspectives, visit and subscribe to Lottay RSS blog feeds at http://hintsdontwork.blogspot.com. Follow Lottay on Twitter at @GiveGiftsOnline, and visit the Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/LottayInc.

Additional Resources

Lottay website: http://www.lottay.com

Lottay blog: http://hintsdontwork.blogspot.com

Lottay on Twitter: @GiveGiftsOnline

Lottay Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/LottayInc

About Lottay

Lottay™ Inc. makes giving and receiving the gift of money a personal, heartfelt experience. The free, online service uses e-greeting cards, private messages, images and pictures to wrap money in the emotion of the occasion. Gift givers and recipients enjoy the intimacy of a personalized present and the flexibility of money — all backed up by the safety and security of PayPal. Lottay was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in the greater Los Angeles area. For more information, please visit www.lottay.com.

###

Lottay is a trademark of Lottay Inc. Other product and company names are property of their respective owners.

Tags: Lottay, PayPal, GiveGiftsOnline, MyWorstGiftEver, gift cards, online shopping, holiday shopping, gifts

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Here's a great new article about Lottay.com in AuctionBytes, a trade publication for online merchants:


Thanks for the wonderfully thorough write-up, Julia and AuctionBytes!

(Picture of AuctionBytes writer and author, Julia Wilkinson.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dude: Your mother-in-law is your Ally


Have you heard this mother-in-law joke:

Lawyer to his client: “Your mother-in-law passed away in her sleep. Shall we order burial, embalming or cremation?”

Son-in-law: “Take no chances. Order all three.”

Now, that's terrible. OK, funny too, but it's terrible. What's really terrible isn't so much that's it mean, it's that it buttresses the notion that the woman who gave birth to a married man's eternal love (uh, that would be his wife - just to be clear) is the enemy.

Au contraire, mon frere!

Guys: While it's true that you picked your wife and you were just stuck with your mother-in-law, the fact is that your relationship with said mother-in-law is a vital lever in your relationship with your wife. Yes - the woman you love, the woman who raises your children, the woman who makes you your favorite pancakes, the woman who does that thing that you really really like.

The mother-daughter bond is a primal dynamic, a force of nature. It is usually dysfunctional to some degree, of course, but there's no denying that Mother-in-Law holds much power over Daughter/Wife. Even polarity power (Mother-in-Law says "Stop!" so Daughter/Wife goes "Go!").

As Sun Tzu might've said had he been on an episode of Oprah about mother-daughter relationships, "Win the mother-in-law, win the wife." Or maybe that was from Gladiator.

Anyway, the point is that you are stuck with your mother-in-law, and she has tremendous influence over her daughter, and her daughter [presumably] adores you, so the last thing you should be trying to do is antagonize, insult, demean, ignore, or belittle your mother-in-law. Your wife is her daughter. Dude, think on that awhile.

So turn your mother-in-law into an ally for you. Treat her with respect and affection. Laugh when she annoys you, shrug when she is being incomprehensibly difficult.

And get her a supremely thoughtful holiday gift.

What? You don't know what she wants? Of course you don't - she's your mother-in-law! So get her a Lottay gift :-)






Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lottay's CEO Harry Lin is on TV!


Blogs were invented for self-promotion, right? OK, so then it's cool for me to tell you that I've been on TV - woo hoo!

I am a new commentator of the PBS show Nightly Business Report. NBR is a half-hour news program dedicated to covering business and investing news.

My first commentary is "Instant Info", and you can watch it edited down here. Or you can watch the entire November 24th episode here (psst: my commentary comes at the end of the program).

I wrote an accompanying blog post for my commentary. Here it is in its entirety (or, read it on NBR's blog here):

Instant Info

posted by Guest Blogger at 5:02 PM on 11/24/09

Harry Lin, CEO Lottay.comAuthored by Harry Lin, CEO of Lottay.com

In a world where Google, Wikipedia, and Twitter can tell you almost anything almost instantly, are we smarter or dumber than we've ever been?

Think about these examples:

- You're with a group of people and the question comes up, "When is daylight savings time?" Someone whips out their iPhone and Googles the answer. They can even tell you which countries follow daylight savings and which don't. This info takes about 60 seconds to find, and you could be anywhere, as long as there's Internet connectivity.

- You're in Best Buy shopping for a digital camera and wonder if that sale price is a bargain. With your iPhone, you snap a picture of the barcode and upload it to an app that scans a database of UPCs and tells you that camera is available at Amazon.com for $9.45 less, plus free shipping.

- It's Thanksgiving morning, you're in the kitchen preparing to cook, and you suddenly realize you don't know what to do with that acorn squash you picked up at the grocery [because it just looked so autumnal!]. Go to Twitter, tweet your question ("Best recipes for acorn squash?"; 30 characters!), and your followers tweet back links to web sites with great recipes, including reviews from other cooks.

The breadth and depth of information currently available literally at our fingertips is remarkable.

But has this made us smarter?

Not yet. Because there's a gap between information and knowledge and we're just starting to cross it.

That gap is the difference between a library and a librarian or a school and a scholar. One is a place with information, the other is a person with knowledge. You can also think of it as the difference between data and comprehension.

Within the Internet industry (my career for the last dozen years), we constantly talk about What's Next? What is "Web 3.0"?

For some Internet companies, the answer is knowledge. Some companies are attempting to close the gap between the library and the librarian.

New search engines such as Hunch and Wolfram Alpha are less about matching keywords and more about knowledge discovery. You type in "How do I find a marketing job in San Francisco?" or "Should I move to Seattle?", and these next-generation sites actually give you a meaningful set of answers. (Play around with Wolfram Alpha; it'll blow your mind.)

Today, though, we're still just drowning in data. The Internet is mostly noise. That's exactly why the consumer yearns for comprehension. The Internet businesses that innovate in that direction will be the next successes.

Harry Lin is CEO of Lottay.com, an Internet startup based in Ventura, California.




Gift Giving Without the Dreaded Fruitcake


I thought about titling this blog post "Tooting Our Own Horn" cuz that's what we're doing!

Today in sCommerce, a blog about social commerce, we see a great review of our Lottay service.

I like how the reviewer said that the idea of Lottay sounded "a little goofy" but that it's "kind of fun".

Of course, we think it's very fun :-)

And here's a terrific review in Examiner.com. Love how the reviewer's 10-year-old niece wants cold hard cash for a gift! Don't we all? :-)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy [Cyber] Monday!


I love this headline from
US News and World Report: Cyber Monday Is a Fake Holiday.

Far be it from Lottay.com to dissuade people from shopping online, but it's true that there's not much true about "cyber Monday", that's it's a very recent invention by marketers.

That said, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that market analysts expect record shopping online today.

And, of course, retailers are hoping that Cyber Monday is real - and big.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Your loved ones are hurtin'; give 'em cash

We just read this article in USA Today today about how families are hurting this holiday season: "Families that cut a little last year are cutting more now"

*ouch*

We know from our own circle of families and friends how bad the economy is and how much that's hurting people. People are saving money everywhere they can. But with the holidays upon us, the pressure to give gifts to people, there's an emotional pain welling up.

We think you should give people money if that's what they really need. We know that you know that that's what they want.

But don't lose face, don't insult them. Maintain their dignity (and yours), be creative and fun with your gift of money. Give them a Lottay cash gift. It's an online, secure, personalize-able cash gift, from your PayPal account into theirs, "wrapped" like a present.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our Wishing Wall


Today Lottay.com launched a new place for your wishes to be posted: OurWishingWall.com!

On Lottay, you create wishes for anything and your friends, family, co-workers - anyone - can give you money toward your wish. It's the gift of cash, but you specify what it's toward.

The range of what people wish for is so imaginative that we created Our Wishing Wall as a place to quickly throw your wish out there for anyone to see. As one of Lottay's users said to us in an email, it's like tossing out your wish to the Universe and seeing what comes back ...

Our Wishing Wall is anonymous, so divulge [to the Interwebs] what you really wish for. Or comment on someone else's wish. Or just lurk and enjoy....

Happy wishing!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lottay Cautions “Gift Cards Are the New Fruitcake”

Lottay Cautions “Gift Cards Are the New Fruitcake”

Launch of ‘Our Wishing Wall’ Provides Social Snapshot of Online Gift Giving Worldwide; Prompts Wish List Creation to Avoid Unwanted Gift Cards (and Fruitcakes)

  • Consumer Reports survey: 46 percent plan to buy gift cards; only 15 percent want them
  • Our Wishing Wall inspires creative wishing and gift giving for holiday shopping
  • Wish lists may be shared with friends and family via Facebook and Twitter
  • Visit Our Wishing Wall at http://www.OurWishingWall.com before Black Friday, Cyber Monday

LOS ANGELES, Calif., Nov. 24, 2009 — Lottay, the online gift-giving company, today cautioned holiday shoppers and the public at large that gift cards are the new fruitcake. To counter the perpetuation of unwanted gift card (and fruitcake) giving, the company launched Our Wishing Wall, http://www.OurWishingWall.com, where people can anonymously post their wishes for all to see. The new site provides a social snapshot of online gift giving worldwide, prompting people to create wish lists that reflect what they really want for the holidays and other gifting occasions.

“With all due respect to fruitcake fans, the object of your affection has become the popular, brandy-soaked symbol of the gift nobody wants,” said Harry Lin, CEO of Lottay. “Now, gift cards are vying for that title, sans brandy and green maraschino cherries. Instead, the ingredients of unwanted gift cards are expiration dates, service fees and lock-in to a single store. Our mission is to help you give better gifts, and Our Wishing Wall is a place to inspire and be inspired, where wishes can be anything, from anywhere, limited only by your imagination.”


Our Wishing Wall and the Gift Card Fail

The shortcomings of gift cards have been documented most recently by Consumer Reports and a flurry of regional warnings. According to an October 2009 survey by Consumer Reports, the “perils” of gift cards include:

  • Unwanted – 46 percent of people plan on buying gift cards but only 15 percent want them.
  • Unused – About 12 percent of people had yet to redeem at least one of the gift cards they received during the 2008 holiday season.
  • Overspent – 65 percent of people who received a gift card in 2008 typically spent more than the value of the card.
  • Limited – 41 percent of people with unused, 2008 gift cards hadn’t found anything they wanted to buy.
  • Expensive – Gift cards can include fees, expiration dates, etc.

Our Wishing Wall helps avoid the perils of gift cards and other unwanted gifts. An aggregation of wishes from around the world, Our Wishing Wall encourages people to “wish outside the box.” Likewise, gift givers are prompted to “give outside the box,” coming up with creative, thoughtful gifts they can give in the form of cash wrapped in Lottay’s e-greeting cards, personalized messages, images and pictures, and then delivered safely and securely via PayPal.

Visitors to Our Wishing Wall can scroll through its pages, viewing what other people are wishing for and posting their own wishes. It also offers an at-a-glance summary of the site’s most popular wishes. All wishes on Our Wishing Wall are anonymous. People who want to share their wishes with friends and family members can create their own, personal wish lists on Lottay.com and post them to Facebook or Twitter or simply email them to whomever they want.

For more information on Lottay, please visit www.lottay.com. To get breaking Lottay news and additional perspectives, visit the Lottay blog at http://hintsdontwork.blogspot.com. Follow Lottay on Twitter at @GiveGiftsOnline and visit the Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/LottayInc.

About Lottay

Lottay™ Inc. makes giving and receiving the gift of money a personal, heartfelt experience. The free, online service uses e-greeting cards, private messages, images and pictures to wrap money in the emotion of the occasion. Gift givers and recipients enjoy the intimacy of a personalized present and the flexibility of money—all backed up by the safety and security of PayPal. Lottay was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in the greater Los Angeles area. For more information, please visit www.lottay.com.

###


Company holiday gifts will be smaller this year


Years ago I was an executive at a large media company headquartered in Los Angeles. Every year near Christmas time, one of the company's top executives would send out holiday gifts to all the managers within his business unit, me being one of them. He always sent Harry & David fruit, usually the pears. I love those pears. I came to expect them every Christmas.

When I left that company, of course I stopped receiving his H&D Christmas pears, and I was sad. I suppose I could just order myself some of those pears ... but it ain't the same as gettin' 'em from the boss as a gift.

Well, according to the news, lots of people will be getting smaller gifts from the boss this holiday year. See this USA Today story here.

The economic slowdown has manifested itself nearly everywhere, including in how companies spend their cash. Holiday gifts for employees will be hit.

I wonder if that exec still sends out the pears...?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gift Cards Will Never Trump Cash


I actually stole that headline from the
Wall Street Journal. (The photo above, too.) Their Cheapskate column has this wonderful diatribe today. The subhead of the article is "Gift Cards Are Useful; Give Me Cash".

That's exactly what we believe here at Lottay.com. The article points out that recipients of cash as a gift are happy with the money. I mean, really, who doesn't want to be given MONEY? Cash is fantastic. Even moreso nowadays, right? The article says that the givers of cash as a gift are the ones who don't feel so great about it.

So use Lottay.com to give cash as a gift. You won't feel crass or thoughtless. You create the gift with your message, images, an e-card, even have other people contribute money to the total (so, a group gift). And it's totally safe and secure because the actual money transaction from you to your recipient happens through PayPal.

As the Wall Street Journal article says:

Somebody already invented that go-anywhere gift card. It's called cash.