I actually do not buy exclusively from Elite authors. In fact, I manage over 14 different buyer accounts here and have for several years! I specifically went with the Elite authors for this specific situation because of the themes themselves, the advisement of the Envato support team and the fact that they advertised ongoing support and updates. The fact that they were featured by Envato was also a big plus for me. I, too, have been featured by Envato, interviewed twice, included in a bundle, etc and it brought me great traffic and some wonderful long-term clients. And I am not an Elite author. So none of these things are mutually exclusive. Both of the authors in question had stellar ratings, responded to me quickly before the sale, had tens of thousands of sales, etc. My experiences were not due to lack of knowledge, experience or diligence on my part. And neither of these instances affected only me, but many, many customers alike.
I think many people would be just fine with paid updates. I know I would be. I would love to keep my money in the Envato family, so-to-speak, hence my interest in seeing this handled in a way that works best for everyone moving forward. But it does need to be discussed and addressed for that to happen. That’s why I started this thread. It wasn’t to complain, to be lectured or consoled. It was to get the conversation focused on the points I feel (and others do as well, based upon their own threads in the forums) are really the root of the issue.
It’s all about the quality of the developer
+1 Perhaps this should be the most important factor in elevating an author’s status in the network, rather than just sales! Someone may be great at marketing and driving traffic but not-so-great at developing/coding. But this is what Envato has done, so this is what we are addressing. :-/ This is why this thread is focused on the Elite program and the perception it creates because of the messaging used. When the Envato staff is recommending it to buyers, it should stand for something and meet those new expectations.
Why is my site doing just fine?
Well, perhaps these themes are using features that you do not require for your website. For instance, both of these themes in question are made to be used with WooCommerce specifically. A static HTML site is a different beast from a Wordpress site.
I hope my responses are not coming across as argumentative. Just trying to make sure that the reasoning behind this frustration is explained properly, as I know that this has plagued many, many people.
But the Elite status program has significantly increased sales for Elite authors. These particular authors released these themes as Elite authors, and therefore gained sales because of it. The transparency of the sales statistics here in the marketplaces makes it easy for customers to calculate the overall earnings for any given product. So both Elite authors giving the excuse/reason of not making enough money to update wordpress themes seems out-of-whack form the customer’s perspective after the authors specifically promise that updates are included and support is provided. Make sense? And Envato actively encourages people to shop with Elite authors to help ensure greater satisfaction.
So again, this thread is only about the Elite authors and their themes. It is the Elite status that creates this higher expectation and Envato has really pushed it into being a powerful tool. I was encouraged by Envato support to seek out an Elite author to avoid these types of issues. So this is why I started this thread, because two out of two times I have had the same exact results. Both from very experienced, well-repected Elite authors who promised support and both simply dropped out as soon as they made the cash they wanted. THAT is what this thread is about.
The idea about the contract and Envato taking ownership of abandoned themes was just that, an idea. And we DO have a contract with them as authors, it’s just that the contract does not specifically deal with any of these things. The contract is more of an agreement that we have acknowledged Envato’s standards and expectations regarding policies and procedures. But it does not touch on any of this stuff because of the desire to stay out of the legalities of creative properties in general. Things get gray quickly.
If someone is developing for Wordpress they are well-aware of the fact that it is constantly updating. And if they are Elite authors, they have proven they can develop themes that sell. So I’m not sure where the argument of it being a huge risk for the author comes from. And why should customers have to pay for the assurance when the Elite authors have already earned so much more because of the Elite program? They are endorsed by Envato! Envato recommends them! Why should the customer have to pay more for something that Envato created to increase sales?
Allowing the Elite authors to simply cut-and-run after taking advantage of their elevated status here, leaves them free to take those same themes and play the same game elsewhere. If Envato elevates these people to Elite status in their network, they should be interested in protecting it! At the very least they should be interested in elevating expectations so the customer experience is somehow controlled for the better! The customer experience is paramount and with competition growing every day, all over the world, it should be a larger concern in regards to the Elite authors and what they provide.
Thanks to everyone who has shared their opinions. I hope more continue to over the coming days.
I think it that it is pretty bad that the first thing many people jump to right away is that the buyer must have been ‘responsible’ in some way for their bad experience. Let me clear a few things up! BOTH of these Elite authors advertise supporting the themes I purchased. BOTH Elite authors were featured in Envato marketing and were showcased in other ways, too. BOTH Elite authors had thousands of sales. And both then just disappeared, leaving countless people asking for help in their support areas. Envato received so many complaints about the first one that it was removed from the marketplace eventually. So, obviously, Envato knows this is no good. Time will tell what happens with this one.
I noticed a few of you pointed out that my experiences were to be chalked up to bad luck. Well, a business doesn’t survive and prosper on luck! A customer’s experience should not depend upon luck. Two out of two times, is not luck. Not after we have seen this very thing discussed here countless times over the years. There is a significant percentage of purchases that end this way on ThemeForest and if there is an Elite program, most customers expect the experience to be different.
Again, both of these Elite authors ADVERTISE SUPPORT! In fat, they both advertise free support for all of their items and promise to respond to all tickets within 24 hours. So why should the customer not be upset when support is not provided? All most people want is for these themes to be compatible when they buy them.
For me, it all still comes back to the Elite author program. If there is no other reason to have the special status except for generating more sales and there are no higher expectations for those ‘earning’ all that extra cash, then maybe it shouldn’t be there at all. Personally, I would hope that Envato would ask all Elite authors to sign a new contract when they accept the new status. The contract could simply say that if the author chooses to no longer support a theme that is sold as Elite, then Envato will maintain it and keep the profits. Envato could make more money, which would justify the time and resources to maintain those themes and carry them into the future for their customers.
This would create loyalty on all sides! Envato would profit more, customers would be very happy and the authors could walk away from themes they are tired of.
I would also like to clarify that I have asked for no ‘support’. It is not ‘support’ that is being terminated but rather keeping the theme compatible with the platform it is build for, thereby effectively killing the theme. Without any kind of guarantee in place for buyers, and the industry breaking open all over the world right now, ThemeForest needs to make a change in how all of this is handled quickly or it will impact all of us, as that marketplace generates more cash-flow than any other for them right now. And much of that comes from Wordpress themes.
If an author doesn’t want to keep a Wordpress theme updated, maybe they should just be building HTML templates? Perhaps Envato needs to provide the customers with a guarantee that every Wordpress theme will be updated for at least two years from inception? There are plenty of directions this could be taken, but the customer should not be the one chasing solution-after-solution just because they trusted authors who Envato has advertised as being ‘Elite’.
So, just to be clear, this is about Elite status authors and the perception their status creates, Wordpress themes and compatibility updates, NOT customizations or ongoing support involving anything but standard updates so the theme remains relevant and functional for the platform(s) it was specifically developed for. Allowing authors with an elevated status to ‘cut-and-run’ at any time is not a sustainable business model.
That said, the ideas raised here for solutions to some other problems are good. I hope that some of the points made in this thread are brought into the larger conversations the dev and legal teams for Envato have.
At the very least, Envato should remove products immediately when an authors announces they are no longer updating a theme of this kind. Allowing it to be sold while it is no longer comparable is unethical and is a guaranteed bad customer experience waiting to happen. Again and again…
I am interested to hear what everyone else thinks about this topic. It centers around the Elite status we all strive toward here in the marketplaces and the benefits it provides. As customers we view Elite authors as special. They have sold more and therefore earn more, as well as enjoy a greater status and therefore visibility and presence in the marketplaces they sell in.
Over the past two years I have made the decision to purchase themes from Elite authors on ThemeForest instead of elsewhere because I like to support those who are in the Envato family and feel that you are probably doing something right if you have reached this pedestal. A short period of time after purchasing the first theme, the author decided that he would not provide updates for the theme. This was a WordPress theme built around WooCommerce, two platforms that are constantly upgrading. If the theme developer decides to not update their theme it breaks and so does the website of the hundreds/thousands of customers who have just purchased it.
I decided to go with a more reputable Elite author the next time around, as I had just lost money, time and clients because of the first author’s decision to leave us all out in the cold. Now, this second Elite author has just done the same thing. They claim that they simply don’t make enough money to justify updating their themes. They have made a lot of money here. And the many, many people, businesses and fellow authors are now losing much more money than the theme developer ever made off of the sales to begin with.
I fully understand that the online world has its pitfalls and issues like staying compatible is an ongoing struggle. But so should the authors who sell these themes. Right? If someone earns so much money here that they are now classified as being better than the rest, how is it that there are no rules to keep at least a basic level of decent expectations in place for both the customers and the authors alike? Envato has created this Elite status, which in turn brings a lot more business to these people compared to the rest of the authors. I see no problem with that at all. But after having the same exact thing occur to me twice here, and hearing countless stories form others, I would now like to know what everyone else thinks about this. These authors are making a ton of cash and then bailing on their customers as soon as they get their fill. If everyone here did this, Envato and the rest of us would be out of business here. So why do the most elevated of us get away with it so easily?
I have lost thousands of dollars and weeks of times because of all this and there is nobody to provide me with any kind of compensation. I have worked in some rather high profile agencies in the past and understand exactly what goes into keeping a Wordpress theme up-to-date and I know what kind of wages the people who do this work get. The authors who earn Elite status here are doing much better for themselves by-in-large. So why can we not have a rule in place that say if you accept the Elite status, you must agree to a certain level of expectations that are also somehow Elite? Within reason, of course.
I have found this entire thing to be absolutely appalling and sickening, as I have lost so much and there is nothing so much as an apology from the authors or Envato. Instead, the canned response of ‘there is nothing they can do because they do not require authors to support their files after purchase’. So, my questions are, “Is this right? Can we do better? And how in the world can we possibly expect to succeed in this when this is what happens?” ThemeForest is the backbone of this empire and I have now experience what I have heard countless others complaining about for years now. So, why should we support this trend? It has become a financial impossibility to continue using ThemeForest products for me and several of my clients.
I have personally come to the defense of ThemeForest and other Envato marketplaces and the policies that ‘control’ them. I’m not going to do that anymore, at least not with ThemeForest and the issue of keeping Elite status items/authors held to a higher standard since they enjoy greater profits and a higher level of customer traffic than anyone else in the network. They are featured as being the best and, unfortunately, it only takes a few to ruin it for everyone else. Envato has provided an amazing platform for these authors to enjoy a superior experience (marketing inclusion, preferred placement, customer perception, etc) but ask nothing in return from them for it. It’s not right.
Why should we allow this to continue to happen? Can’t Envato take control? Can’t they include something in the contract that says that if you decide to stop updating a theme that has been sold under the guise of being Elite, that Envato will take that theme and update it themselves and retain all future earnings or something? There needs to be a way to protect the customer. We are talking about someone making a ton of cash, very quickly, and then leaving everyone behind in a terrible situation because of greed. This is not right.
I know I have a stellar reputation here and do not ever voice negative things in the forums. I hope this is perceived as constructive and not just whining. Because it really is a very serious issue. So, what say you?