@Depopdrama is the Instagram asking why pay for anger management when you can download an app for free?
In the olden days, a smile and some gentle encouragement could make the difference between selling your dusty old bloomers for a Shilling or a Half Crown (not that I was there). Today, sales assistants swear by mantras the ‘customer is always right’ and ‘there is only one boss - the customer’.
However, since Amazon and eBay launched in 1995, ever-increasing swathes of consumers turn to the Internet for their retail therapy, and e-commerce sites like BooHoo, PrettyLittleThing and ASOS now generate larger revenue growth than their brick and mortar rivals.
Providing customers with quality service is trickier URL and even harder to regulate on a peer-to-peer retail network, like Depop. After the resurgence of vintage clothing as a mainstream fashion trend, teens now use the app to find unique or ‘wavy’ garms. This means kids today no longer need to queue around the block to be dismissed by shop attendants in stores like Supreme and are getting their kicks online via Depop: the Internet’s meanest ecommerce site.
Founded in 2011 by entrepreneur Simon Beckerman, Depop’s growth was achieved mainly through word of mouth and today boasts over 8 million users. Dita Von Teese sells her skimpy lingerie and Emily Ratajkowski is always flogging floral rompers. The app works like the love-child of eBay and Instagram and some users are even ‘Depop famous’.
Operating under the alias @internetgirl, Isabella McFadden boasts almost 550k followers on Depop and finds the direct messaging aspect essential to Depop’s success: “It is very personal,” McFadden told Vogue in 2016. “It is easy as texting. You’re just, like, talking back and forth, like, ‘Do you think this will look good with this?’ You’re in contact with these people and it is casual and it is personal and it is easy.”
Having said that, the wild west of Depop’s direct messaging system caught the attention of one Instagram user, @depopdrama, who began chronicling the secret lives of Depop’s loyal customers and the hairy altercations they get into through the app.
“The beauty of buying and selling on Depop is being able to take really half-hearted photographs of stuff and upload them for the world to see.” @depopdrama tells me over email to keep things anonymous. “When I first started, I just took snaps of a few things I had lying around. Looking back, they were absolutely awful.”
@Depopdrama first logged onto the app in 2015 and says, “Before I knew it, I had an archive of all these altercations. I thought if people I’m surrounded by find them funny, surely others will too, and started uploading them to Instagram.” The account now has a following of 50k and accepts submissions. Though only 10% are vicious enough to make the cut, the account still manages to feed the hungry Instagram beast three or four times a week.
The top 10% are actually very creative when it comes to winding one another up and gone are the days of a simple insult. Here, ‘a freebie’ doesn’t mean a sachet of moisturizer or a quick blowie but nasty surprises like used condoms, old Rizlas, a Greggs sausage roll and stale cat piss.
On this site, buy one get one free is a deal you definitely do not want, but should customer service not be at the core of any store? Depop’s ‘Terms of Service’ clearly states, “Users must not submit or contribute any material that contains nudity or violence, is abusive, bullying, threatening, harassing, obscene, misleading, untrue, offensive, derogatory or uses bad or rude language.”
Having said that, they also will not take responsibility for any issues users have and continue, “Complaints, questions and claims related to a Sale Item should be directed to the seller.”
I asked @depopdrama how long they thought an app like this could last with a customer base hell bent on pissing each other off and they told me, “For me, the idea of buying and selling is such a great thing and one quote always comes to mind — ‘one man's trash is another man's treasure’. This notion could be somewhat tarnished because of the amount of hate people receive. I think for now, it’s still a great place to find new items — but the future could look very different if the hatred and arguments carry on the way they’re going.”
So the moral of the story is, why pay for anger management when you can vent online and get paid for it? Or maybe I’m missing the point...
"It's as easy as texting. You're just, like, talking back and forth, like, 'Do you think this will look good with this"
"Before I knew it, I had an archive of all these altercations"
"Nasty surprises include condoms, old Rizlas, a Greggs sausage roll and stale cat piss"
"The future could look very different if the hatred and arguments carry on the way they're going"