I think it also highlights the need for a consistent support/update policy here, which is good that envato is working on.
Some authors provide regular updates, eg whenever a new Wordpress version is released, others flake out and never update. (before I buy, I check this type of thing carefully).
Some authors provide timely fast support (bestselling good authors) while others flake out or take forever to answer questions, if at all.
It’s very challenging to develop standards given so many different individual author approaches, time they have to support, and more.
As a buyer I focus my energy on buying (often multiple licenses) from those authors who support and update their products, included at time of purchase.
I see the challenge envato faces with so many diverse authors; everyone has different micro-business models that have different resources and value, expectations.
I guess a helpful question is, what do Authors think is a fair ‘grandfather in us prior buyers’ policy to use? Put yourself in our shoes, eg I bought a single-site $58 license for one theme, to use on just one site (which is expensive, compared to other theme companies that don’t restrict usage as tightly), and when I bought it, I saw there’s always support, and I get unlimited updates. Thats’ the expectation you set when you sold it, because that’s how things have worked. Then all of a sudden you want to start charging for support, which when I originally bought, was included free .WTF? is what all us buyers are saying. So we’d end up buying less, most likely, in the future, and go to competitors that don’t charge extra for support.
It’s not easy, and I’m sympathetic to a desire to be paid extra for support, but that’s not what us buyers signed up for when we originally bought so much. So what idea for ‘grandfather in’ /cover us prior buyers? what’s fair for both sides? changing the rules after taking our money isn’t fair to buyers, maybe for new buyers charge them is ok.
What’s valid is the conditions in place at time of purchase, as shown by “typicality” (to use legalese) of observed policy, which historically has been never charging for support or updates here. As a buyer for example if I’ve always gotten updates and support and that’s been typical of all purchases to date (which it has), then it’s a “reasonable expectation” (another legal phrase commerce attorneys use) that the same level of service/support is provided post-purchase. Whether or not that’s in the official tos is not as binding/valid as typicality of use experienced/demonstrated at time of purchase.
So ‘grandfathering in” pre- vs post-support/update charge policy is important. Someone mentioned a similar instance where a theme company that used to offer lifetime theme updates changed to an annual model, those buyers who bought lifetime model are grandfathered in and not charged for updates/support, though all New customers are. That’s fine, and legal.
It’s important you all realize the ‘reasonable expectations’ that were set at time of purchase (nowhere is there for-pay support nor for-pay upgrades here), which is WHY many of us buyers have bought so much. We expect to get what we paid for at time of purchase, which is ongoing support/updates. You can’t take our money then change the rules or tack on new charges for what had been included, After we bought.
If envato wants to start charging for support/updates that’s their perogative, but only for NEW post-TOS change purchases, not for previously-bought items for which we have a legal ‘reasonable expectation’ of ongoing support based on observed behavior by current authors. Feel free to check w/your attorney/ACCC/FTC for clarification. Just like you can’t sell under one license model, then all of a sudden change licensing terms to enforce with older-purchases done under prior license. What Counts is what was in place at time of original purchase. Ask any commerce/trade attorney. I did.
As a top buyer I expect my purchases to be supported, I would never pay additional for support, that’s not what was advertised nor how envato has run for years.
When I bought over 1,500 items, it was without limitations on support, and my expectation (and I’m sure other buyers as well), is that we’ll continue to be supported and get updates since that was in place WHEN we Originally Bought things here.
That was a big part of our purchase decision, is that we saw that ongoing support and no limits on that or updates. That was how envato’s markets operated as ‘general standard practice’ (whether or not in tos/legal docs, what counts is what behavior/generally expected outcomes were the way the site has run historically, is what FTC/ACCC would look at).
Noncompliance or change in terms without grandfathering in support for prior purchases would result in civil actions/complaints via ACCC/FTC for noncompliance of what was provided/advertised at original time of purchase.
You can’t sell something under one set of rules then all of a sudden start charging for what had been included at original time of purchase…check with any legal compliance attorney. I’m sure envato would face legal and ACCC sanctions if they tried to do so (in addition to civil litigation from disgruntled buyers), unless some ‘grandfathering’ in of continued support/updates As Originally Sold/advertised that was in place at original time of purchase.The ACCC is Australia’s equivalent of the FTC for consumer protection: https://www.accc.gov.au/
If envato wants to ‘change their business model’ and start all of a sudden charging for support and/or updates, you need to do so only for NEW purchases made After the TOS/terms have been implemented.
Pre-existing/PRIOR purchases must be supported with business practices that were in place at time of purchase (whether or not in tos/docs, what counts is what was actually provided as a general ‘standard of business behavior’ at time of consumer purchase, which here is no additional limits or additional charges for updates/support). Check with any attorney. I did.
lol great photo…. “keep it simple” is good advice, don’t turn authors into cpas
Good discussion and a lot of valid points made.
However as a top buyer who’s spent thousands on items already, with the current system in place (lifetime updates + support were how the marketplace has worked / what I paid for when I originally bought under the current business), how does that impact all us current buyers?
When we bought, it was with what the observation of what we’re getting for our money, which is unlimited updates/support, is what I paid for. You could use a new model for New purchases made After the new support model is in place…
...but for all of us who’ve been spending a fortune on buying themes/plugins with the current model, Envato is legally obligated to honor the terms that were in place at time of sale. So you need to grandfather in the terms of a) ORIGINAL pre-change in support plan TOS/sales that were made, vs b) NEW Buyers who purchase after the new support/update plan is rolled out.
It’s like in licensing, if you sold something to someone under one royalty-free/usage license that customers bought from in 2013, that’s what counts in court/ACCC (the license that the item was sold under), even if you subsequently choose to change/modify licenses or business model years later.
Part of why I bought so much here is the support/update model that is in place at time of purchase. Even if it wasn’t listed in the TOS that updates/support is included, that was the “typical selling model/purchase model in effect at time of purchase” (to use ACCC/FTC compliant wording), based on typical usage at envato. Typicality of how buyer/seller relationships operated at ORIGINAL time of purchase is what’s binding, whether or not specified in legal tos.
So my question is of course, where would new support/update plans leave us buyers who bought with understanding we purchased unlimited updates/support since that was in place at time of purchase? You can’t sell it with unlimited updates one year, then change/reduce support terms post-purchase, as that may create legal/ACCC/court action claims due to false/deceptive change-in-terms advsertising. I bought so much because of the observation that I get unlimited updates/support, so that needs to be honored moving forward. For purchases made after any new company policy, then those terms would be in effect.
But for all my 1,000+ purchases I made up til now, I expect I will continue to get updates/support, since that was how the market place has always worked here. I’m sure most buyers would agree. I wouldn’t have spent thousands of dollars here if you had a paid-upgrade/paid support model in place. If you decide to change your business model to charge for support and/or updates, that goes into effect for New purchases under new TOS…but how about all the grandfathered/earlier/current buyers? Where do we stand?
good points… the main thing we can probably all agree on is you authors Do need to be protected from moron customers who send in 10+ support tickets a month for different things that go beyond what’s provided… as a buyer I want you authors to have time to keep creating great products I can buy, not answering the 15th ticket from a time-leech customer.
it’s more, what’s fair at least from a minimal/reasonable support standpoint, that makes for a happy middle ground..
hey digitalscience, i bought some of your products (flashden?) from the early days…and never sent in a support ticket, lol – great content, thanks
btw only things like codecanyon and TF should require any support, I think… right? no support at All should be needed for activeden, videohive, AJ or graphicriver content, I’d think. I mean aep & fla files, wav, psd, mp3, jpg, mov, bmp shouldn’t need support. just wp themes and plugins since they often don’t play well together.
in 6 years i’ve personally bought over 1,600 things here and asked for support for less than 18 items, total (almost all wp themes/plugins w/bugs, or minor css mods needed for appearance). being a good high-spending low-maintenance customer is good for everyone i think
btw BRIGHT IDEA: Blacklist your pita customers. In my business I’ve blacklisted nearly 200 customers in 15 years, of thousands, in my 1SC merchant account, because there’s always a few a-holes you’d rather not do business with (serial refunders, time leeches, pirates and morons who don’t RTFM/read directions) top the list. You’re better off without the tiny <5% morons who leech your time, it ends up costing you big-picture, it’s good to ‘throw the drunks out of the bar’ w/blacklist bouncer. So you can focus on the 95%+ of good nice normal customers. Identify and blacklist/ban the tiny few jerks, is what I do.
in my business I’ve personally answered over 3100 support tickets myself and hundreds of emails in just the last few years alone, that’s a cost of doing business…long hours, but satisfied customers come back and buy more, knowing they’ll be supported (within reason) post-purchase.
it could turn into an endless debate, it comes down to what’s fair for both sides… some support for non-working bugs/fixes is bare-minimum at the least, it’s debatable how much support is fair and reasonable..
I’m glad envato did a survey, I’ve been recommending that for years; the main thing is to make decisions based on customer survey data, the facts (even if you disagree with them; customer expectations are important, to retain and keep customers).
example: I did a customer survey several weeks ago, got valuable info from hundreds who took it, and then spent over 110 hours extra this past month building out new site features singlehandedly for my sites.. i listen and take action based on (reasonable) customer demands, and it works well
Take a careful look at the buyer expectations:https://speakerdeck.com/envato/buyer-survey-key-results-item-support
also note the level of support your competitors offer; most have forums and no limits on support, especially for wordpress themes, as it’s necessary and expected.
well over half your customers expect solid, timely, one-day turnaround professional support to be included. Particularly if we’re paying way up at $60ish for a single WP theme for a single-site restricted expensive license like you sell.
If you don’t provide expected reasonable support, we’ll buy elsewhere. At least half of us. There’s no shortage of WP theme sites. I’m a top buyer who’s been here from the early days. Agree you need to control for unreasonable 10-questions-a-month people, but for most of us we may have 5-10 support questions a year max, which is reasonable. Many times when I request support it’s for a bug-fix, which the author makes… we end up bringing problems/bugs to author’s attention, which also need help.
On that survey, note that 78% of TF buyers expect response turnaround within 24 hours…because that’s the service standard your Competitors, most other WP theme sites offer; often with author responses within 2-4 hours. Some authors here are awful with lack of support; I don’t buy if i see slow multi-day response times in the comments/support area. You get paid, you’re expected to support what you sell.
I hear a lot of whining from lazy greedy authors who want to charge for support, or not support what you sell. In today’s competitive marketplace, especially WP themes, you’re expected to support what you’re being paid for. Period. Other buyers feel free to speak up. The thread here seems to have a lot of whiney-lazy authors, let’s hear from the people who pay everyone, us buyers. Google “wordpress themes” and see how well the other marketplaces/themeshops support, with dedicated forums.
Some authors, usually the topsellers (like avada, the7, revslider etc authors), provide great support (thanks!). That’s good, and so they get my repeat business.
P.S. In my own business, I have thousands of customers and reply to All customer service requests within 4-12 hours, I have for the 15 years I’ve been online fulltime, and I am one of the most financially successful and top-reputation people in my industry. I work my a__ off 16-hour days for my customers, because I VALUE my customers. Not whine.
When it comes to support, as Yoda says, “Do, or do not. Do not try. There is no try.”