Customer Support For $292/hr


Thursday, 30 April 2009 at 6:58 am Pacific USA Time.

This blog is the Marketing Hall of Fame, and if we had awards, this would win the award for biggest balls, if you don't mind me saying that.

Customer support. It's a sticky subject! Looking around the eBay industry, some companies have email-only support.. but you should get help, and it's free. Some companies have phone support. Some is free, and some is paid. Some companies pick up their phones while others leave you in an endless voice mail universe.

Today, I saw this blog post about Frooition charging for customer support. Before you get your undies in a bunch and say I'm just saying bad things about my competition, they're not my competition. You can't get what we do from them, I refuse to let my company do work that looks like that, and I certainly don't treat my customers like this. I compete with them about as much as a BMW 7 series car competes with that really tiny Kia that doesn't have power windows. :)

So Froo have decided that just as their clients are having a lot of problems with all their broken eBay Stores, eBay listing templates with amazing elements that can work against your sales, and Froo server downtime, now's a great time to start charging people to solve their problems.

The most amazing move is that evidently NO customer service is now free. If you want to email and not pay, you may never get a response, as the Froo site describes it. So free email support is now gone. If you need help, you're opening your wallet.

£199/hr is what you'll pay if you want your problem turned around in one day. With the British Pound around $1.47 right now, that's $292.53 an hour for customer support.

If you have a non-urgent problem (?), you can pay £99 per hour for a 5-day turnaround time. That's $145.53 to us Americans.

If you've ever been to the Froo site, then you may have seen their "we have open jobs page," where they were hiring a "junior designer" for £12/hour. So some guy works for £12/hr, and you get to pay £199/hr for that. Froo certainly know how to mark stuff up to make some profit!

We bill at $100/hr, but then again, we don't charge people to fix things we broke. Froo happily sold you a non-compliant eBay Store that they knew broke rules, they sold it to you up to the moment eBay announced they were cracking down on those Stores, they are charging to "fix" these Stores (they call it an upgrade), and now you can pay for customer support time.

I think that if Froo are doing this, not only must they be in financial trouble and under pressure to bring in revenue and profit, but they are also just not very good at this whole marketing thing. They should still have free support, especially when their servers are going down, and especially when eBay is cracking down on rules that make Froo eBay Stores break. And they should mark up their rates just slightly. For example, if you're paying staff £12/hr, and a good eBay consultant might charge £30/hr, charge £40/hr. You're still making a huge profit, and you're still taking a rate people might pay to get help.

But to jump straight to £99 and £199/hr says, "Don't get in touch with us. We don't want to give you support, so we're pricing it so high that very few people will ever take advantage of it. Just don't call us… we don't want to hear from you." It also says, "We don't care if you stay with us or leave to hire another company. Between charging you to fix your eBay Store and charging you for support, we'd rather just not deal with you."

That's what it says to me, and that's bad marketing. It tells me that they don't want to hear from people asking about the servers going down or asking about their Store breaking. You can pay to ask those questions, or just not ask them to save money.

To Froo customers, I say speak with your British Pound, and go somewhere else. There are plenty of companies out there who would love to have your business. My company welcomes you as well. :) We give $500 discounts to anybody dropping a Froo template to have us work our magic. We're always compliant, and our contract says that we fix broken things that are our fault for free. Imagine a company standing behind its work. :)


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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

Comments Closed

14 Responses to “Customer Support For $292/hr”

  1. Two posts from Frooition back to back!

  2. Yo! what dya want for yo’ supper tonight brother!? I caught some fresh buffalo down on th’ prairie this past noon, he’s a big ‘un! YEEHAWW

  3. I can screen shot the IP number you’re using to post, and that will reveal who you are.

  4. dude i’d TOTALLY love that. i’d be famous or something. y’hear that Henry, i’m gonna be able to afford internets now!

  5. awesome! can i get that Paris Hilton replica chihuahua thing i always wanted???

  6. What a shame that you guys have the spare time to write fake posts in my blog.
    • Commenter name: Henry Stalwart Robinson
    • Commenter email: henrystalwartrobinson@live.com
    • Commenter URL: http://www.lordsofpain.net
    • IP address: 81.149.12.149
    • Authentication: None
    I think everybody should follow that IP address to http://81.149.12.149.
    So you find my blog post, and rather than explaining yourself or defending yourself OR sending the “we love Frooition” brigade to my blog, you post a bunch of meaningless crap as fake people. Really? That’s the best you can do?
    Good luck, Frooition. If this is how you handle discussion of your own moves when you should be proud of those moves, you have much bigger problems than my blog.

  7. Frooition Customer says:

    Hi Debbie, a few months back you emailed us to tell us that our Frooition shop was about to break because eBay were cracking down on non-compliant ‘advanced’ designs. At first reading, part of me thought ‘what a cheeky so and so’ while another part of me thought ‘surely that can’t happen’.
    Problem is, EVERYTHING you told us turned out to be 100% accurate, while everything Frooition told us turned out be meaningless spin.
    Frooition admitted that their existing product wouldn’t work with NSE but promised an enhanced customer experience with additional features and functionality as part of an ‘NSE Upgrade’. Price £100 plus VAT. What was delivered was a pale imitation of our old Frooition shop with features and functionality that simply don’t work. Here’s a list of just some of the issues that still affect Frooition’s NSE shopfronts and listings:
    Ill-looking, poorly functioning Promotion Boxes – half of the item title is missing and the boxes often fail to display at all. Many Frooition customers have reported that clicking on the items in the boxes can often generate a pop-up blocker warning
    Missing Shop Pages Links in both Storefront and Listings
    Poor quality of FrooFlow box – distorted images and missing item titles
    Failure to integrate eBay generated slideshows (which was always possible before NSE, and I’ve been told should still be achievable)
    Incorrect reordering of categories in existing listings (which Frooition have now admitted to me they have no intention of fixing)
    Poor quality work when embedding header into eBay standard pages
    Freedom generated listings do not show correctly in eBay’s new version of the listing page
    They told me that they are keen to make improvements and ‘the sooner the better’ – but they could not commit to any timescales. I gathered from their comments that they didn’t have, or wouldn’t fund, the additional resource required to carry out the remedial work. Either way, it came across as low priority – after all they’ve got our money now.
    Frooition also ‘forgot’ to mention before taking our upgrade money that the design would not show on category pages or on shop custom pages.
    Sooo, you’d imagine that Frooition would be keen to get their customers back on board and make up for all of this? Not likely!
    When we asked for answers about all the bugs, Frooition either 1. Blamed eBay, 2. Ignored us, or 3. Deleted the ‘help’ ticket altogether. When we wrote to Frooition about these issues, they wrote back to say ‘if you don’t like it, just leave’.
    Now they’re charging £199 per hour to give same day response to issues that they are clearly responsible for creating. This weekend just gone their servers were down for hours on end. We opened a ‘free’ support ticket (not guaranteed to be answered say Frooition) to complain about the outage at our busiest time, and guess what…no response.
    I thought long and hard about posting here, simply because I’ve now experienced first hand some of the tactics that Frooition will employ on their customers – but I couldn’t let it go without warning others, especially those who might be considering a Frooition design for their own listings / shop.

  8. Frooition Customer (not employee) says:

    No professional response from Frooition?

  9. Froostrated says:

    It does not seem to have registered with the staff of Frooition that their company is on the rocks. They should be doing everything possible to salvage some of their reputation before they are looking for new employment. With Frooition on their CV finding a job in ecommerce design is not going to be easy.
    They need to fix the bugs with the eBay store, scrap the £199 per hour support charge and invest in customer service.
    An email to all their customers from their Managing Director acknowledging the issues with the Frooition NSE eBay Store, giving a timescale for when these will be fixed, confirming that the monthly subscription continues to cover support and apologising for the poor service they have received in recent months would go a long way.
    The departure of Grenville Whelan and his replacement by Phillip Molloy as MD seems to have coincided with the contempt that is shown to their customers.
    Who is going to have Frooition design their eBay shop? Anybody thinking about doing so would soon find plenty of negative feedback when researching the company.
    As subscriptions come up for renewal many I expect will not renew, with a shrinking customer base, few if any new customers, is the £199 an hour support charge sign of a last desperate attempt to get some cash flow.

  10. Liz says:

    It is their employees I feel sorry for. I am glad I was made redundant 18 months ago and set up on my own when Frooition had some kind of reputation intact.
    I hope with Frooition still on my CV it won’t make clients run for the hills!

  11. tula says:

    Wow, if I treated my consulting clients that way, I wouldn’t stay in business long. With this down economy, you’d think they would be bending over backwards to retain their customers. After all, keeping the customers you’ve already got is cheaper than trying to find new ones, isn’t it?