Skedsheet Blog

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How to make sure your customers never come back

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no escapeAbout five years ago we started using WebEx for technical support and sales demos. They offered a 3-month trial to try it out, and the contract renewed automatically for an additional year if we didn’t cancel.

After using it for a bit, we were having trouble getting users on the other end of the phone to figure out how to click the right buttons to share their screen and keyboard with us. We found another service called GoToMeeting, which did what we wanted, was a little cheaper, and had big obvious buttons for “Show my screen” and “Give keyboard & mouse control” which makes life much simpler when you’re telling someone over the phone what to click.

So we canceled our WebEx contract 3 weeks before it expired, and immediately started using GoToMeeting.

A few weeks later we got a bill from WebEx for $5000 for the entire next year of service! It turns out they had some fine print in the contract that said you had to cancel 30 days before the contract expired. (So their 3-month trial was really a 2-month trial, but they didn’t call it that.) We told them that was ridiculous, and we weren’t going to pay. We had our lawyer review the contract, and he said they had no basis for charging us, and not to pay the bill.

Eventually WebEx handed the bill off to a collection agency, and we told him why we weren’t paying it. He understood and never called again.

The sad thing for WebEx is that we’re going to be paying for this type of screen sharing software for probably the next 20 years. (It’s been 5 years so far, and we use it every day.) They likely have already addressed the issues we had with the service, and are probably very competitive with GoToMeeting. But I’ll never know or care, because I don’t want to do business with them again. All because some sales manager they had five years ago thought trying to trick people into paying for an extra year of service was a good idea.

At Moraware we have always had a simple philosophy about this: if you’re using our service you should pay us, and if you’re not using it, don’t pay. That’s why we have a 90 day money back guarantee, and you can cancel any time without paying us anything more.

I understand the temptation to lock people into contracts: you want to recoup your sales and support costs as part of the initial contract. But if a customer signs up for your service then cancels quickly, who’s fault is it? You either screwed up the sales process by not ensuring you were a good fit for the customer’s needs, or you have problems with your product that makes your initial support costs too high. Either way, you need to fix your own process rather than trying to pass the problem off to your customers.

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Written by Ted Pitts

June 11, 2009 at 5:03 am

Posted in Customer Service

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