When it comes to websites that people check on a near-daily basis, there are only a select few that make the list. Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter and up there for most. Whatever news, current affairs, or pop culture website you frequent (hopefully including us) might be up there as well. Your online banking platform of choice is also a strong contender.
Oh, and if you live in Australia, most probably OzBargain.
According to Alexa (the benchmark for internet rankings), the website that crowdsources smashing deals from all over the nation is among the top 50 most visited websites in Australia, outranking such mainstays as Seek and Apple. Based purely on these rankings and my unscientific conclusions, you’re more likely to try and find a way to save a couple of bucks on your next purchase than to find a job.
The reality, however, is that OzBargain is among one of the wildest, loosest websites in Australia. Over the past 11 years, a committed user base has turned OzBargain into not only a one-stop shop for finding the latest Domino’s vouchers and online shopping discount codes, but into a roller-coaster of a website, full of in-jokes and memes.
At the top of it all is Scotty Yang, the founder of OzBargain. He still runs the site along with a small team, as well as a sister website in New Zealand. But, as he told PEDESTRIAN.TV, he’s more keen with the website being a smaller, community-based enterprise than being anything that’d challenge any social media giant.
“At the beginning, it was just a hobby. I didn’t expect it to be that big. But in terms of now, I don’t want it to become too big. I’m trying to run it with some moderators. I don’t think I’m able to handle something even bigger.
But I’m happy with the rate that it grows and I’m happy that it’s not too big like Facebook or Twitter.”
That said, Yang also understands how OzBargain has changed the shape of Aussie internet culture, complete with the term “OzBargained” (when a website crashes after posting a sale) becoming a part of commonly accepted internet slang.
“I mean, the memes are quite interesting. Because the site sort of becomes a culture in itself. There’s a lot of memes, like getting “OzBargained”, or we call someone a “Broden”, meaning someone who goes in to a sale and buys a whole lot, and then off-sells it all on eBay for profit. It’s great to be part of an internet culture, especially in Australia, that people recognise OzBargain and the changes we have made to the internet community here.”
There’s also a long history of weird and insane happenings within the orange-and-white walls of OzBargain. From finding unique McDonald’s hacks to translating foreign Amazon websites to get a better price on PC parts, the website – and Scotty – has seen it all.
“The most memorable [moments] were from the beginning, when OzBargain started and it was unheard of among the retailers. CatchOfTheDay was one of the earliest adopters, using OzBargain to promote themselves. I think there was one early – 2008? 2007? – they were having a big 24 hour sale. And OzBargain just totally smashed their server. Those ones, the big sales, where a lot of people come in and talk and comment and try to discuss. The shoppers helping each other to get a good deal. Those are the ones I remember.”
OzBargain’s relationship with businesses have always been tricky: while a literal heap of merchants and websites are keen to cozy up with the website, a whole bunch of others (including some big corporations) aren’t too keen with them existing at all. Yang, however, isn’t fazed either way.
“The businesses that want to support OzBargain or don’t, is not really my concern. Our focus is mainly on the shoppers. The ones who actually want fun bargains… I don’t want to know who actually pays for the advertisements on OzBargain. I don’t want to be seen as associating or trying to promote a certain business. We much prefer to be on the shoppers side, trying to work out good deals, trying to build a platform that can help them find the best deals for everyone.”
Yet, of all the wacky happenings on OzBargain, one sticks out above the rest: the website’s bizarre, near-obsessive devotion to Eneloop rechargeable batteries. Yes, batteries.
“I think it started with Dick Smith being the biggest Eneloop seller. And people liked them, especially when they were made by Sanyo and made in Japan. It just became a meme, somehow. Like, this year for April Fool’s Day we converted all the prices into the number of Eneloops.”
From it all, Scotty Yang says that one of the biggest takeaways from OzBargain is that bargain hunting and saving money doesn’t have to be the domain of boring nannas.
“We have a culture where bargain-hunting does not have to be very serious. People can find fun in participating in this kind of community. When you look at any of the comments, yes, there are people discussing the products or features. But a lot of the comments are just people having fun together. I think that’s the value of what we’re trying to promote. It’s a fun website, everyone can participate.”
Who knew saving money could be so much fun?