complicated way to solve a simple problem


Tired of trying to organize your siblings to contribute to a group gift for your parents? Perhaps you work online, and would like to give a gift to your boss (or favorite blogger?) in a faraway city. How do you gather the money, buy the gift, arrange delivery? This is the dilemma that hopes to turn into a thriving business. My take is, though, that they don't offer anything you can't do for yourself just as easily.

Through, the person organizing the gift group creates a personal group gift page, where the group can kick around gift ideas. Having chosen the gift, the group members can then make their contributions, from a PayPal account or a credit card, to the Paypal account of the group organizer. The collected funds can be used to buy from any site that accepts PayPal directly, or, via PayPal's plugin, at any online merchant. The money can also be turned into a PayPal secure card, a virtual credit card that carries typical credit card purchase protections.

However, I have some grave reservations about this service. The site works through Paypal, not a particularly user-friendly service. One person must serve as the collector, and donations are crediting to this person's Paypal account. A basic Paypal account charges 4.9% plus $.30 per payment made to the account, and is limited to five per month. Therefore, the organizer must step up to the Premier Paypal level, which drops the fees to 2.5% plus $.030 per transaction.

My take: this might be a useful fall-back option for a widely dispersed group, but paying 2.5% to Paypal isn't a good deal for the consumer. Since stands to collect from both Paypal and the merchants when the group buys a gift through's portal, why not share the love a bit with the group by cutting it a better deal?

The fact is, if one of your group wants to go to the trouble of setting up a Paypal Premier account, why bother with You probably already have a working IM group, so why not use that for planning?

In case you're curious, my favorite color is blue.