[rant] Why on earth can’t we charge people like my gym can!

Just a short break from our usual programming for me to complain…

You see, as you may have gathered, we run WPMU DEV, and what’s the biggest problem with WPMU DEV from your perspective?

Yep, thought so, cost!

And I couldn’t agree with you more, $79 p/month is a chunk of change in anyone’s book, I mean it’s worth every cent, and you’re not going to get a team of the best WordPress, BuddyPress and Multisite plugin and theme developers on the web for nothing, but $79 is still a lot of money!

Which is why we provide the option to join for less than $35 p/month… which is much more affordable isn’t it.

But of course, we have to take all those payments upfront for the next 12 months… which is $419… which feels a lot less affordable all of a sudden huh :(

Which sucks!!!

I want to offer WPMU DEV to everyone just like you would an iPhone plan, or cable TV, or a gym membership, or a rented fridge, or a PO Box, or just like anything in the real world.

We should be able to provide membership for $35 per month for a 12 month contract, heck we shoudl be able to provide it for $24 per month for 24 months!!!

How cool would that be huh, Dev membership for $24 p/month!

But of course we can’t :(

It’s the biggest suck about running an Internet business like WPMU DEV, and whoever sorts out how we can do this is going to make an awful lot of money themselves.

Come on PayPal [especially PayPal as we already use you!], Amazon, Google etc. I don’t care if it’s US only at first (worldwide would really rock out though :), but we need enforceable, long-term, monthly-payment based subscription contracts… if my local gym can do that to me (they can, and do) then I should be able to do that too.

It can’t be that hard, just capture some ID with payment and then have a default system whereby if people cancel they need to pay a cancellation fee or get ‘debt collection’ emails / letters and a black mark on their credit rating – just like a regular business.

Pretty please, I’ll pay serious extra fees and all that.

Oh, and if anyone out there has a solution that could work for us, then you get a free lifetime membership :)

Or, this would be the perfect payment startup, honestly, think about it – Edublogs could be $3.50 per month for Pro, so many services that currently require a big upfront payment for cheaper monthly rates could be so much more affordable.

13 Responses

  • It’s not that you can’t charge or shouldn’t charge. It’s simply that we have all been so scammed, swindled and cheated out of money on the internet by promises of support, help, unlimited downloads and more that $79 might as well be $10,000. To me personally WPMU DEV looks and sounds great, its something I would love to join and be a part of IF it is everything that the site says it is. But once again I have heard too many broken promises, read too many false testimonials and I have wasted too much money to once again gamble based on that. If WPMU DEV is everything it says it is then give a 30-DAY FREE, NO OBLIGATION, NO UPFRONT CREDIT CARD and NO PAYPAL SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED trial. If it is all its made to be it would be a huge success. The only reason I see not to make an offer like that is because it is not all it says it is.

  • I dunno, I pay a heap more for a lot of other services and don’t feel scammed at all (seomoz, clicktale, mailchimp, pingdom, tweetspinner, openquery, vimeo, last.fm, screencast and a few I probably can’t even recall!)

    Actually that’d make a good post!

    The thing about WPMU DEV, is that while our value (IMO) is all about the ongoing help, support and new plugins / themes developed off members requests – the majority of people see us as valuable for the downloads.

    Now, you sign up, get the downloads, have a month of Q&A and then I say ‘that’ll be $79’ I wonder how that would work :)

    And I’d love to be able to offer people access to them for much less…

    BTW, all our testimonials are real (feel free to google search them!) and you can see our help and support in action at https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/ (apart from the private ones)

  • Consider this possibility: you buy 1 year($150/month) worth off services from a site. After 5 months someone decides to make a website with the same service but better support and better pricing. What do you do then?
    Here’s another scenario: let’s say you subscribe for 1 year, but after 3 month, the site just stops updating. Now what do you do?
    Think about it, this kind of service would not only be used by Google, Amazon and eBay but by anyone. What guarantees do I have I will still get an updated service? Right?
    There are just so many ways this can be used for bad purposed that it’s better that we don’t have it all.

    Prom a seller point of view, yeah, it sounds great, but I wouldn’t buy anything that would force me to pay month after month without the option to cancel.

    PS: you have a ‘tabindex’ problem with this comment form.

  • Yeh, the design here needs revamping as do the comments :)

    The thing is though that what happens if my gym closes, or the fridge company breaks, or my phone reception goes bad, or my roof starts leaking… same as in the real world, you get recourse.

    And I bet you have ‘real world’ contracts – I imagine most people do.

    Oh yeh, interest-free pay-nothing-for-12-months payment terms… I want them too!

  • This is a great point and something I’ve thought about quite a bit recently – we’re hoping to roll out some sort of membership-style product and have been researching ideas. There’s something here in the UK called Snap which is designed specifically for this: http://www.snapdda.co.uk/ — it sets up a Direct Debit Agreement which (I believe) is a UK-specific payment process which links the setup to a bank account.

    A global system, from what I gather doesn’t exist and I can’t see it happening in the short term because of the complexities of contract law in different territories. I really do hope someone proves me wrong, though.

  • James – might be worth having a look at Amazon Flexible Payments Service:

    http://aws.amazon.com/fps/

    Full developer API, and as the name suggests, seems pretty flexible with regard to recurring payments. You can even charge customers based on their usage of the service you provide. You can enable regular payments with amounts differing according to service usage.

    FWIW.

  • My calculation is simple. I am a renewable 3 months subcriber since more thant 4 months so payed 2*149 usd. Will go yearly asap. God !

    Economy generated : more than 5000 USD in dev services.

    I agree with many considerations here. But please… they run edublogs ! Moreover, if support get weired they will lost their subscribers. That cannot happen.

    Please renew, and renew, and renew and……..

  • There is a solution to be able to go to monthly membership for U.S. members. It would have to be by contract.

    1. The buyer must be willing to sign the contract, provide picture ID with signature, Social Security or E.I.N and home or business address.

    2. The address would have to be verified. It can be verified with Paypal if its a business account. Business accounts with PayPal are attached to a bank. Anyone without a Paypal Business account will have to have app sent by snail mail. If the app arrives and filled out it is assumed the address is for the home or business. The app and other information need listed in #1 can be copied and email, faxed or snail mailed back to the seller.

    In the event the buyer quits paying by canceling payment through Paypal then you have the right to collect. You can not turn off the membership while your trying to collect unless it’s spelled out in the contract. Then you will only be able to collect the unpaid amount per the contract.

    Example: Joe gets 1 year membership for $35 month for 1 year. The contract states if he cancels early his membership will end immediately and Joe will be responsible for $44 month for each of the months he had a membership. That adds up to $79 a month which is the normal monthly fee. Of course I’d work on the wording more but you should get the general understanding of what I mean.

    Collection of unpaid amounts can be handled as such.

    1. the first 90 days a statement must be sent by snail mail to the address given by buyer with amount owed.
    2. After 90 days it can be turned over to a collection agency and the agency will try to collect. During that time they should report it to the credit bureaus.

    Of course all this has to be spelled out in the contract. It would be a major deterrent for anyone to want to cancel over such a small amount. Having a bad mark on your credit is embarrassing. Should the buyer have an honest reason and have to cancel they need to contact you for to determine if it’s a hard ship case or not.

    As I said this will only work for US customers. I’d be happy to be the first unless you give me the free year membership for telling you how it has to be done. That is if you decide to do it.

  • Hi Dapadoo,

    Thanks v much for the time and effort you put into this, get in touch with me for a free account :) james (at) incsub (dot) com

    I guess my biggest issue is that I want all of this to be handled by a third party.

    BUT, I guess that we could hack in the address issue via the PayPal API, and even better, automatically confirm ID, so that this could happen automatically that would be great.

    Then, we could automatically send out the collection stuff via email (they would need to have a verified email address).

    And then, there must be a way to automate snail mail on 60 days or something.

    And then handing over to a credit agency would be good too.

    We could just limit the payment option to US IPs too.

    Mmmmm… this is possible (I hope :)

  • I read this post when it first came out and thought about it for a bit… just now getting back. At first, with my entrepreneur hat on, I was thinking, ” yeah, that would be a great idea” but then I remembered how I hate it when my gym continues to charge me when I haven’t been there in xx months. So I’ve changed my mind… the idea sucks. :) From the perspective of a consumer, it sucks. I hated it when I lost my iPhone and had to buy a crap replacement but still got stuck paying the remainder of the contract full price. There are too many variables in life to consider when obligating one’s self and so I really appreciate that the practice hasn’t took to the web as well.

    But I’m not writing to just troll… I think there is a better solution. Licensing that talks back to the mother ship. I’m also a web host and use a billing tool called WHMCS… (no affiliation I promise) Although they’re best known for supporting hosting, the billing module can be used for anything and I’ve used it for other projects. They also offer a simple and effective add-on that allows software developers to license web based apps. They use the system themselves. As long as my sub is up to date I’m good… if I’m late, my admin section becomes blocked with a note to handle my business and, as a stroke of genius, my users are wholly unaware unless I fail to resolve the matter for some set time frame. I’ve never used it but the licensing add-on they offer here apparently allows for setting those sorts of parameters. I’m not endorsing them directly but I think the concept is grand and elegant… non-obtrusive and the way premium web plugins, themes etc. should work. I get charged a fair price for my monthly consumption of usage… if life’s variables change my needs, I’m not obligated to pay for something I’m no longer using… something that only buys a vendor poor public image in the long run. In any event, I don’t think it would be difficult for you guys to integrate if you chose to go that route. I also like the fact that there is a remote and local key concept, so that if the remote server can not be contacted for short periods, access isn’t stripped unnecessarily.

    Lol, I just realized if you guys do use it I could have gotten referral fees. But it’s an altruistic post I promise. :)

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