Sometimes a company will grind your goat to the point where you must make a stand. Buycott, a free app for Android devices, lets those who want to fight the power quickly scan product UPC codes with their smartphones to see if an item is from a company that’s part of, or does business with, an evil empire. Buycott delivers information to Android devices in a flash, but numerous issues (crashing, some head-scratching feature omissions) keep it from truly reaching its potential.
Bring the Noise
Here’s how to it works: You boot up Buycott, use your smartphone’s camera to scan a product’s barcode, and then wait for the app to fetch the company’s profile information. It’s a surprisingly fast process; almost as soon as my Samsung Galaxy Note II’s camera focused on a product’s UPC code, Buycott delivered the company’s name, address, phone number, website, and other pertinent information within seconds. If you scan an item that isn’t in Buycott’s database, the app will prompt you to manually enter the relevant company data. As Buycott relies on the wisdom of the crowds, I’d suggest double-checking all findings for accuracy before picking up a picket sign.
More importantly, you can trap the Family Tree tab to reveal the companies behind a product. Say you’re still angry at Electronics Arts for its perceived hand in the now-legendary Sim City debacle. You don’t want to give the company (or its partners) money in any form, so you scan an EA game like FiFA Soccer. The Family Tree reveals that Electronic Arts, Inc., does business with Diamond Comic Distributor and Dark Horse Comics. Now you know that every time you buy an issue of Angel & Faith, you’re dealing with a company that tosses EA a few coins in some fashion—though not whether EA makes money off Angel & Faith specifically. This lets boycott-conscious shoppers speak with their wallets.
Unfortunately, Family Tree has some issues. Buycott displays the number of known products that a company has in partnership with another (Dark Horse Comics has 11 known products with EA), but Buycott doesn’t list their names. That would go a long way in helping users know the specific items to boycott. Unlike GoodGuide (a similar barcode-scanning app), Buycott doesn’t provide health, environmental, and social rations for each product.
Buycott also lacks a search engine, which could prove a useful tool should a person want to research a company when a product or barcode isn’t available (GoodGuide, on the other hand, includes a search engine). Finally, large Family Trees can be difficult to read. Buycott offers zoom options, but a company as large as EA has lots of partners. That results in lots of scrolling and pinching.
Fight the Power
Bringing a finger to the Campaigns tab shows all the active campaigns against a company (such as Oppose Internet Censorship and For Ecological Responsibility). Each campaign entry displays the number of members and the type of campaign (such as “Women’s Rights”). Tapping a campaign shows lets you read its mission statement and/or join the campaign. You can also view a list of target companies that do business with the boycotted company. You can’t, however, contact those fellow boycotters or create your own campaigns (the latter feature is available on the desktop side). Buycott also alerts you should you have campaign conflicts.
Buycott, sadly, has numerous bugs that dulled the experience quite a bit. Sometimes launching the app would result in a blacked-out screen; at other times the app would just immediately close. It’s a shame that this potentially useful tool is plagued by performance issues.
BuyCott for Android lets customers follow product manufacturers’ bread crumbs and unveil which companies are worth your dollars—and which aren’t. Semi-frequent crashes and some navigation/search issues dull the experience a bit, but if you want to boycott companies that have gone to the dark side, this is solid tool.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc