Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nightmare Customer Services

Back in 2001 I think I spent too much time answering emails - see below one of my favourite's so far that I have found on how to win over people. 


Dear Steve - Tosser!

On your magnificent website, there is 1 person from my ex-school whom I
know, and even he seems to be more fun than you are, despite also being a
complete ******* (just like you). Anyway, thanks again for this most
informative(not) e-mail about your crap site. I will remove myself from your
site as soon as I have sent this mail since I don't want to be associated
with it any longer. Come on everybody, let's pay 5 pounds to e-mail someone
who can be found in the phone book, or simply by asking around. I'm sure you
will keep sending me junk mail once I've left the site but that's to be
expected, and a BIG SORRY for not being Scottish and not having an
interesting story. Luckily for you, some people will still pay for your
non-services. Tell me, how do you justify the money you charge again?

Maybe you and your friends can somehow manage to extract my credit card
details from somewhere and rip me off. Good luck and a BIG GOODBYE. Please
publish this e-mail in your 'customer comments' section. Please do write
back to me to with your reaction to this. I am a professional person who has
taken the time to write this nasty e-mail. The last but one e-mail I
received from your site was to supposedly tell me about all the "NEW"
members who had joined. These 'new' members happened to be all the existing
members I had already seen, but never mind - I felt so wanted having been
sent an e-mail from a computer. Maybe you should call your site
"www.Billy-no-mates.co.uk". Now, I've wasted enough time on you. TIP - If
you want to make a website work and make money, do it like the Americans do
it and actually offer some kind of service for the money and miss out the
spam and the bullshit because people (like me) see right through it. I do
hope your website is a hobby as opposed to your livelihood, for your sake.

If I don't receive a reply to this e-mail I will assume that either I am
talking to a badly configured computer, or a faceless dickhead lacking the
guts to reply. Please, make my day and justify your existence Steve!

Jason xxxx.


Wow - thats some email. Ive been running the site for nearly a year and personally answered over 10,000 emails, yes some of them complaints, but I must say yours is the best. I shall try to "justify my existence" but I feel the battle is already lost. I must say its the first time Ive had abuse (thats out of over 100,000 members)
Firstly about the charge. The charging for full membership came into force in March. It gives you access to send contact emails and add to the message board. Normal registration and use of the rest of the site is and will remain free. We dont push anyone to pay - in fact you can carry on using the site and all its memories and teacher boards etc and just wait to be contacted.
We started the site a year ago as a trial and this year it has become very popular, so much so that it is taking up lots of our time and also costing more and more in ISP services. Because of this we reluctantly decided to charge people for full membership to try and cover our costs. Lots of members are also urging us to start advertising but again this costs money. We tried banner advertising to earn revenue but this pays peanuts. We had no idea whether people would pay for this service, but if we didn't try, the site would ultimately have to close down, which obviously we and the tens of thousands that have registered will not want.
The overwhelming verdict on the charge is a positive - people who do find someone think £5 is a small price to pay. I can believe some people can think we can run this as a charity.
The emails, all emails are sent because you subscribe to them - which you can change your options at any time. We do not spam. If you didnt want to receive emails then why did you set the options when you registered. Thats normal proctice. No one else has ever accused us of spamming.
Yes - some schools are pretty empty (its early days) and probably some will remain empty. Others already have over 200 members. Read the succes board - the site works, 1000's of others have also contacted their old friends.
The american site I think you are talking about (classmates) costs $29.95 and offers the same plus some freebie vouchers.
By all means add your comments to the guestbook - I hope you come back and read the replies because for every 1 like yourself I get 100's thanking us for the service - yes I know that sounds crap but unfortunately its true bullshit.
In fact Ive already spent to much time on this email so Ive now removed your details from the site.
So finally - a BIG GOODBYE
the faceless dickhead


Hi Steve,
I already feel bad about what I wrote and I really do apologise. I went over the top for sure. OK, let me just put it this way - I work in the computer business myself, over in Holland so I know basically what the crack is. Until today, I had nothing against your site. Since I joined, I got 3 e-mails and each time I opened them, I was expecting something good. The first one told me about some new members which were really already existing members, the second one told me about a real new member (so this one was OK) and the third one today was little more than an advert.
Anyway, what I want to say is that I would be very surprised if anybody who saw my details up there and wanted to get in touch with me (little chance) would pay your site 5 pounds to do this. They wouldn't! They would look at what I wrote and find me some other way, like by asking my parents for my address. OK, I admit that there will be the odd person who really has no other way to get in touch with someone and go for the 5 pounds option, but surely, the number of people who would do this has got to be quite low? And the amount of money you make is going to be low too. Only you can know this.
The reasons I attacked you in the first place are:
* I was convinced I was talking to a computer and not a person (looking forward to me expletives being sent back to me by a computer)
* I really like the idea of such a database, but done a bit differently.
I don't have the experience to create such a site myself, but if I did, I really would do it as a hobby for the sake of getting people in touch. I really have nothing against charging, or even making money, but if you just charged a bit less, like 1 pound, but maybe per e-mail, and not unlimited, you'd get more positive responses. Again, I do feel bad about the mails I sent you, but when I saw a new e-mail from your site in my inbox, I was hoping it was something proper. Why not make the header of your e-mails indicate that it's just an information e-mail rather than a contact?
The guy who joined the other day - the real new person (john Mellor), I know about anyway. He lives in the same town as I work in the Netherlands, I have his address and everything. The fact that he suddenly appeared on your site tells me little more than that he wants to be contacted, not a way to get his address. I already have his business card anyway!
What I'm trying to say here is that if everybody registered, your site would be great, but unfortunately, there are too many people like me, who as soon as there is mention of payment, feel they're being ripped off.
If I were you, I would change the disclaimer at the beginning slightly. Don't make it too pushy. People like me who want to get in touch with people, or at least know about the existence of other people, need a different sales pitch. I am a writer, so I know a bit about writing to a specific audience. Try and make it sound more romantic and don't mention the charges until the very end. Also, 5 pounds is too rounded. Why not 4 pounds or 6 pounds or 6.37 pounds? When you put 5 pounds people just think its a value too easily arrived at - a fiver.
I would be the happiest guy if a website like yours succeeded and it was my disappointment that provoked me into writing the shitty e-mails I wrote - sorry again, it's not really like my, honestly. But you do ask people to send their comments. Of course, after getting a reply from you, I don't want you to put my bad comments on your 'customer comments' section, just perhaps change the way your site works, for your benefit. I genuinely did think I was writing to a computer and that at best I would get an automatic reply, thanking me for my message. The fact that you replied, and so quickly too, proves that you are doing this properly. I simply think you need to bring the human aspect of your site across a bit more on the site itself. Make it look less professional and more human. As I said earlier. the kind of people who want to get in touch with old mates are more emotional than normal and will go for a more humane angle on the manifesto.
Sorry again for the out-of-order e-mail I sent you. I really did get the impression I was being spammed. Sorry. The fact that you replied at all (and so quickly) impressed me a lot. I really hope the site is a success, seriously mate.  I think your list of people is quite large, but I can't stress enough the importance of drawing people in by the idea of getting in touch with lost mates.
Please try and ignore the previous two e-mails.  JASON.


No problem - I'm just glad I didnt send you my first email I wrote. Apologises accepted but I must admit it got my blood boiling. The site is so busy its taking up every hour of the day at the moment and I get pretty knackered (doesnt help the baby got me up at 5 this morning and Ive been on the computer ever since) so when I receive complaints I set to them straight away.
I do take your points. I always try and accept critisism of the site and where possible make changes. I suppose the problem with something like this is that its really hard to please everyone. FOr instance, you say to make it more human and less professional(which in a way is a compliment) - whereas I get of people saying they love the site because its so human and not commercial. Also, some people complain that we dont mention the charge up front.
Having said that - there are loads of things that I want to do to make the site better and friendlier and add content to it. I suppose the incredible growth weve had the last couple of months is the reason why I havent had a chance - basically it did start as a hobby but because so many people were hitting the site, my wife and I decided to go full time on it and have a go at making a living. So far so good, yes it is a small percentage of people who pay, but with a large membership thats growing weve been pleasantly surprised. I suppose only time will tell. The publicity band wagon is also taking up huge amounts of time.
Hopefully over the coming months you will see suptle changes to make it better. If not then let me know (without the abuse hopefully) - I'll do my best


Again, sorry Steve. I must just be too emotional myself, whether in a good way or a bad way. I happened to be not in the best mood this morning when I arrived at the office, the stress of moving house and the lack of sleep that goes with it all. It's really not like me. I do hope the site is a success because it's a great idea and I have the vision of the future as everyone being connected (whether they like it or not).
So, all the best and again, sorry for what I wrote earlier. What you wrote below made me laugh, about how you didn't send the first e-mail you'de drafted - fait play there, you bit the bullet and kept the raply professional, just explaining to me the way the site works, and that, I don respect. I should have just written you a constructive criticism rather than an abusive e-mail and I realise that now. If nothing else, it made your ears prick up, but in the worst possible way. Anyway, I won't take up any of your time now. Glad to hear you're overrun with hits. Keep on keeping on and make it work. In a similar way to what you said previously, I'm sure that there are 100 others like me who look at your site, so do make sure you cater for them too..... I feel a lot better knowing I wrote to a person and not a software package. Best wishes,  Jason.

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