31 Responses

  1. WooThemes cannot be trusted » BjornSennbrink.se
    WooThemes cannot be trusted » BjornSennbrink.se

    […] Other opinions on WooThemes´ move: Woothemes Proves We’re All Amateurs […]

  2. WOO Thems killt den lifetime Support und wird somit massiv teuer. | Texto.de - Mein WordPress Magazin
    WOO Thems killt den lifetime Support und wird somit massiv teuer. | Texto.de - Mein WordPress Magazin

    […] bringt eine kritische Analyse dieser Aktion und meint […]

  3. Sisir

    Where is the share button!!! :D

  4. Justin Tadlock
    Justin Tadlock

    Where I think Woo first went wrong (from a user and support standpoint) was months ago when they dropped the support forum. Your own members can be valuable assets and has been what has kept Theme Hybrid going for so long as a one-man show. I understand their reasoning for moving to a different support system, but they lost a lot of their existing knowledgebase and the ability for some of their community to handle the support burden. This basically happened overnight. I’m not sure how this really affected their business, but from my experience, it wouldn’t have been good.

    But, this is also about fostering the right kind of community. If users aren’t helping each other out, it’s probably your fault for not nurturing that type of community. That’s why I always think of my support forums as more of a community water cooler rather than a ticket system.

    I’m no business genius, but I always thought from day one that “lifetime” memberships were a bad idea. I couldn’t imagine supporting a particular user for multiple years without some form of continued compensation. I do occasionally give away lifetime memberships. Sometimes, I screw up something on my end and pass along a free lifetime membership to the user. The other time is when I have an outstanding member of the community (for example, a theme author who adds his own free theme to the site). Other than that, it’s a yearly fee for support.

    I was all set to agree with their pricing move and thought it was pretty smart until I saw the part about existing lifetime users losing their lifetime status. At best, it’s an unethical move that will at least allow them to keep the fanboys as paying customers while still pulling in new customers to replace the old. At worst, it’s illegal and could make for some hard times ahead for their company.

    I do wish Woo all the best though and hope they’ll reconsider truly grandfathering in their old customers with existing lifetime memberships.

    1. Steveorevo

      For the record, I agree with Justin about lifetime agreements. It’s simply not sustainable. Thanks for writing this up Tung. I’ve been guilty of glancing over terms of service agreements but changes that peddle backwards are seldom welcome. I’ve been asked to do promotional bundles with lifetime agreements but always decline. My thoughts are if your product is good enough and you want to see it evolve and grow, that growth needs regular watering. Ignoring that triggers my suspicion about a products future. For me, it really boils down to how one arrives at valuation. How much time are you saving your end user? By the end of the week, are you saving them just a few minutes, a few hours? Over months, years even? Granted, the “value” is really dependent on your customer’s own hourly rate. It is without question that most of my end users are, in turn, developers themselves and this “value” can add up quickly.

      I’ve seen a lot of under priced products out there too, but less under priced “services”. And along that note, I consider support a “service”. Whether exercised or not by the end user, support is an essential. Even if it is just maintaining a forum or processing tickets, it affects all my users because it will in turn shape the direction of my product and additional services. Chris Lema has some excellent write ups on valuation, and recently wrote about the popular moving of support from forums to tickets (http://chrislema.com/support-forums-ticket-systems/).

      Personally, I can’t imagine ever dropping my forums. As a former one man show, my forums are essential. With a couple of new partners on board, we’ve adopted HelpScout and it’s made a big difference in efficiency. Did I need a ticket system by myself? No. The forums and email were good enough. But I can’t leave the forums. Not because the user to user interaction was self helping or built community (in my case that is quite rare). However, the forums have greatly helped shape future article topics, and product changes based on publicly visible feedback. Users would say “I have a similar problem to …”, but even if they were wrong or right about an issue being related, the “issue” would drive a future documentation or a new product feature. That kind of service benefits all users, helps us understand our user’s needs, and I my opinion, is worth having and paying for.

  5. On WooThemes Pricing Changes | Redact Web
    On WooThemes Pricing Changes | Redact Web

    […] reading all 490 comments on Woo’s official post on the matter, the post on WP Tavern, and the post on DevPress (which is my favorite take on the […]

  6. Jon Brown
    Jon Brown

    At the moment, Woothemes has a team of 28 people and profits in the millions to hire new support staff. Justin Tadlock has a team of one and no millions. Yet, the one always complaining about being crushed by support is Woothemes and it’s the same problem they’re using to justify the recent changes.

    Maybe if their prodcuts were better they wouldn’t be crushed by support. Honestly, I’m not just being snide. Every time I have to work with Woo products I want to pull my hair out whether it be unwieldy theme options or 13 WooCommerce add-ons to get basic features implemented.

  7. Steven Gliebe
    Steven Gliebe

    “A profitable, debt-free company like Woothemes should pay for its own mistakes over time.”

    I think that sums up the whole issue. The new pricing model is responsible. Not grandfathering in customers who paid a price that specifically included lifetime support and updates is questionable. Unless they were absolutely going to tank TOMORROW, the best thing would have been to do their customers right and suck it up for a couple years while the new model takes force.

    It looks like they are now giving existing customers the choice to be grandfathered in for life. I doubt very many will accept their plea to voluntarily pay more money. They’ll probably have to suck it up after all. http://www.woothemes.com/2013/08/an-important-update/

    On a side note, I think all 150+ theme shops providing support and updates for “unlimited” sites might realize a similar sustainability problem five years down the road. My opinion is that they should take the lead of the commercial plugin sellers who are providing support and updates on a per site basis. I do like how Woo limits their biggest license for WP extensions to 25 sites instead of “Unlimited”.

  8. A New, Sustainable WooThemes | Ansel Taft
    A New, Sustainable WooThemes | Ansel Taft

    […] I really, really enjoyed Tung Do’s take on the WooThemes’ announcement. I feel he captured the essence of my arguments, as well as captured the language of my own […]

  9. M

    Life means life…

  10. Jason Coleman
    Jason Coleman

    I have learned that I need to hang and chat with Justin Tadlock more.

  11. Woothemes stellt liefetime support ein | News | Webdesign und Kartographie
    Woothemes stellt liefetime support ein | News | Webdesign und Kartographie

    […] Zum Beispiel bei DevPress […]

  12. ravidreams

    Interestingly, StudioPress offers Lifetime All access theme pack and sees no problem with that model. I contact their support desk only very rarely and mostly they are for bug reports. For anything I need about Genesis, there is excellent documentation and free plugins available all over the web. I think they have done a good job of nurturing a community.

  13. Bayou Bill
    Bayou Bill

    I think this will open up a HUGE market for 3rd-party alternative offerings of WooThemes/WooCommerce extensions that will not be subject to Woo’s new terms and conditions. I don’t see how Woo can possibly control the market for extensions to their products now that their own offerings have gotten so expensive.

  14. Nathan Walker
    Nathan Walker

    I summarized Woo’s history of changing prices and policies around WooCommerce, along with simple math that renders their “support volumes” claims baseless..

    Read it here, along with what I think is a solution for WooCommerce – http://wpavengers.com/

    Would like to get your opinion / feedback.


  15. PaulB

    So… Does that mean my lifetime membership here is gonna be killed???! :O

    I’m just kidding Tung! :D I posted when I first joined that I’d be happy to pay an annual subscription, and I meant it! And I’ve said before, you are not stupid, just young and inexperienced. And the only cure for that is time. You are learning faster than I did, but I didn’t have the Internet and it’s vast resources at my disposal when I started in the 80′s. ;) :)

    This is a good post l and I agree. I’ve been going a bit crazy because it seems that many Joomla! templates aimed at eCommerce lately are bundling WooCommerce because it’s *free*! Sure, the framework may be free, but if you want it to actually useful, the extensions can get pricey.

    Anyway, I have my own beef with WooThemes from 2008/9 when I paid for a subscription for use with J 1.5. Old history I know. *shrug*

    And you are quite right. No ‘Lifetime’ model can work in the long run. Good support costs. And trying to support themes, templates, extensions, etc. for extremely dynamic products such as WordPress and Joomla! can become a nightmare, especially when a new versions comes along and things break! ‘Your’ customers don’t want to really know that it’s WP or J! fault, they just want the product fixed (even if they do actually understand. They paid for working product. and that’s what they expect, and have a right to.) And that has to be built into any business plan for online businesses such as your’s or WooThemes. As I said, I have my own issues with WT, and don’t plan to use any of their products for some time, if at all.

    For what it’s worth, I think you are on the right track here. I like where you are going. :)


  16. No, you can not trust WooThemes!
    No, you can not trust WooThemes!

    […] Woothemes Proves We’re All Amateurs […]

  17. Michelle

    SO. I am not a techy sort of person, but from what I gather here WooThemes sucks? Well that sucks!
    I uploaded the free wootique and have it all set to work but I need this shipping plug in. Can get it for 49.00 or from 79.00 – seems to be connected or very similar – the 2 different websites that I can get this from, but I can not purchase them. Neither site will allow my CC to go through and I can’t get any real support to get anything done. I am beginning to think it’s a scam and bogus all together.
    I don’t have a lot of money and am tired of paying Etsy & other such places to sell my products. I’d like to have it all on my website controlled by me.
    I don’t mind paying for something but I don’t want to get ripped off either.
    Can anyone point me in the right direction? Will I have to re-enter everything?? :( It’s depressing to work so hard on something and then need help and not be able to get it. I have also been dropped by 2 “knowledgable woo themes guys” that said they would help and then I just never hear from them again – maybe it’s me?

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