After years of living in a cramped Tokyo apartment, I’m going to move to a slightly more spacious one. Finding an apartment went smoother than I could have imagined, and in half-a-day, I had found a new apartment. The following day I set out to take care of the tasks surrounding the move.
First up is finding a mover. After some searching, I come across 価格.com’s moving company estimate site.
価格.com is a price comparison site, which I’ve used in the past to find deals on electronics. I decide to try them out, and fill out their form with the details of my current place and the place I’m moving to.
Within a minute of submitting my information, my phone rings. I answer, and it is a moving company calling to confirm my details. I spend about ten minutes going through my details, and receive a quote.
When I hang up the phone, I notice that I have four missed calls. It hits me: all the estimate service does is submit my information to all the companies that have registered to it.
The companies are like sharks that have just smelled fresh blood, and are swarming on me. The moving companies must have people ready to pounce on any lead that comes in, racing to make the call before their peers. I wonder if these ferocious companies will really give me a good deal, or will try to fleece me.
I realize I don’t want to deal with these companies. But it is too late, as they have my phone number already. Ignoring email is a lot easier than ignoring a ringing phone. By the end of the day, I’ve received fifteen calls from different moving companies.
The moving company estimate site provided me with a horrible experience. With the internet, we are used to it being a passive experience. We can browse at our own pace, stopping at any time. This service broke that paradigm, making me fend off different moving companies. The only thing that they automated was the submission of my information to more companies than I would have ever wanted.
The user experience here is broken for everyone. The potential customers get overwhelmed by the companies calling them. The companies waste time calling people who don’t want to talk to them. 価格.com’s service shouldn’t exist as it stands.
If you are someone wanting to do a startup in Japan, there’s a great opportunity here for you. The experience of finding a moving company could be made infinitely better. There is already a market, and a clear path to monetization. It might not be the sexiest startup, but it has a real chance of success. Let me know if you want to talk more about it.
Oh yeah, and while I was writing this post, I got yet another call from a moving company.