RIP JustDespair

04 Jan 2016

Just Eat is the bane of my subsistence. My wallet, waist and wellbeing are dogged by it. It enables me to obtain horrible food with minimal effort. I’ve even ordered food for delivery while still on the way home from the pub. But I’m aware we are in a codependent relationship, so the best I could do was attempt to key the metaphorical car in which it drives me to work every morning. Thus was born JustDespair. I had been considering the grim implications of the well hidden historical orders section on the Just Eat site for a few months when one night @andrewwja made reference to trends in Just Eat ordering habits and I figured that was goading enough to go through with it.

JustDespair was initially a simple Python script that was received with a gratifying mixture of delight and disgust. After getting a few months of intermittent reports and complaints from friends and strangers about the totals returned by the tool, it became obvious that making this competitive would be a much more vindictive thing to do. I cooked up a simple Flask application around the library and set it up on justdespair.com. On principle and also out of laziness, I designed the application to try to store no user information other than totals. Surprisingly, despite the giant warnings displayed before and after logging in, people were more than happy to turn their passwords over to a web application run by some rando and ultimately around 500 people logged in to check their totals (by design I have no way of logging whether a user logged in twice).

Just after JustDespair launched, Just Eat massively improved their website - new, more responsive interface, better navigation but mercifully, the same structure for storing order information (which is TERRIBLE - check the parsing code for examples). However, I could tell an ill wind was blowing as credit card details were now being stored by Just Eat itself, requiring only a CVV to use. At this point I started to worry about whether hosting JustDespair was in any way ethical even with any precautions I could take, but thankfully in early December Just Eat themselves made the decision for me - a reCAPTCHA is now required for login, and that was enough reason for me to give up on the project.

The final highest total recorded by the web application was €9165.39, over 4 years of purchases. Somewhat worryingly, before the web application was made, an acquaintance reported a total that exceeded €15,000, but this could be verified. Perhaps for the best.

Published on 04 Jan 2016 Me on Twitter