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Six Apart’s offers “Choose your Own Compensation”

Six Apart took the step of offering active TypePad users affected by recent problems compensation today. Rather than compensating everyone the same they actually left the level of compensation somewhat up to the bloggers themselves and gave them the following options:

- While the performance issues caused me some inconvenience I mainly found the service acceptable last month.
Give me 15 free days of TypePad.

- The performance issues made it very difficult for me to use the service on multiple occasions during the month.
Give me 30 free days of TypePad.

- The performance issues affected me greatly, making my experience unacceptable for most of the month.
Give me 45 free days of TypePad.

- I really wasn’t affected and feel I got the great service I paid for last month.
Thank you for the offer, but please don’t credit my account.

I’m sure that some will be cynical about this approach but I think it’s an innovative way of going about compensating their users in a way that not only gives something to users but actively involves them in the process of determining the impact of the problems. I’ve seen a few bloggers already choose option 1 and comment that it was above and beyond what they thought Six Apart would do.

Read more about it at Six Apart

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jen says:

    During the summer I opened a roadside honey stand that ran on the honor system. (Sticky fingers? Only from the honey!) Not only did no one steal from me — I actually came out a bit ahead from people who left extra when they didn’t have quite the right change. Oh, I know it’s hip to be cynical, but seems to me that there’s a great life-affirming payback in giving people a chance to live up to their ethical potential.
    Bravo! for Six Apart, says I, applauding the gutsy policy move.
    And besides, (the cynical little devil on my shoulder speaks up), just imagine all the great WOM they’ll get from this!

  2. I know alot of people bagged Six Apart when they asked people to pay for MT software (shock!), but my Typepad experience was a good one and my MT experience has been even better. Therefore this sort of innovative approach doesn’t surprise me too much.

  3. duncan says:

    What’s innovative about confusing bloggers with a bizarre compensation scheme after you’ve screwed them around for weeks on end and only really started to apologise for it after you got some bad publicity?

    Makes me soooo happy I’m with WordPress. God bless Matt Mullenweg!

  4. Andy says:

    Duncan,

    It confuses the users, so they they are no longer focusing on how much headaches they had to go through, but now they glee with joy when they choose the 45 day free pass.

  5. Tim Grahl says:

    I’m a wordpress guy myself, however I know typepad has it’s place.

    And I think this is a great way for them to compensate.

    Sure there are gonna be people that takes advantage of this offer in ways they shouldn’t, but typepad is not letting the few liars ruin it for everyone else that will accept the compensation that is right for them.

    Although you can be cynical about it, the truth is everyone would be throwing a fit if they either ignored the problem or just tried to throw their users some pitiful excuse for compensation.

    Bravo to typepad and they deserve the WOM that comes with this.

  6. Jon says:

    This is kind of like Magnatune. When you purchase a CD from Magnatune, you choose your price. The suggestion is $8, but you can go as low as $5 and I’m not sure how high it goes.

    I was listening to John Buckman (is that his last name?) on The Linux Link Tech Show one day and he said that most people actually pay the $8 or higher. Apparently, very few pick the $5.

    We’re not so bad :)

  7. This is certainly an interesting move by Six Apart. I imagine too many people will not take advantage of their offer, but be happy that they made it. Which in turn will create positive buzz for the company. Good move on their part.

    -Bryan

  8. Rickey says:

    I’m one of their many users (I am certain) who sent them an angry e-mail after their CEO sent an apology e-mail for their lousy service. Aside from regular daily disruptions and sluggishness, my site was down for almost three days — and I couldn’t do anything. I demanded nothing less than financial compensation. Factor 3 days of downtime with your AdSense Darren, and see how much TypePad would have owed you. They dropped the ball big time on this one, and even if I am a longtime user of TypePad, I cannot recommend them anymore after this experience. Even my regular readers hate TypePad — and they just use the comments section.

    The real reason why I have not moved on is I have over 500 entries since 2003, and I’m freaked out at having to move all that stuff into a new CMS. What happens to all my Google juice when the structure changes, etc. etc. etc. I am sad TypePad user.

  9. frosty says:

    I’m a MovableType user (self-hosting) and not a TypePad user, but I did notice the whole 6A meltdown.

    I think this move is a reasonably smart way to try to spin some good press and user love out of a pretty big disaster. The potential downside is that for some people (like Rickey above) the maximum freebie will seem too small.

    The upside of course is that they will probably get mostly good press for this move, and it implies they do care about their users’ opinions, and probably a lot of people will appreciate the gesture enough that they don’t take the maximum compensation.

    How they handled the meltdown itself tells you a lot about their culture, attitude and competence. Good things as well as bad things. On the one hand it’s easy to come down on them for only getting into transparency when things were Really Bad; but on the other hand, I can say from experience that when you’re caught way out of your depth on a technical problem, you’re scrambling so hard trying to fix it that you can’t really think straight. On the one hand it’s easy to imagine how differently you might have handled it yourself given 6A’s resources; on the other hand, look at Sony.

    An interesting alternative would be to ask your customers what they think you should do to make things right. Have ready options ranging from “Sincerely apologize” to “Pay me a zillion bucks” and let them select multiple options and have an “Other” option they can specify themselves. Then see what your customers really want from you, and consider how close you can come to giving them that. And tell them about the whole process – post all the “Others,” show the breakdown by percentage of users, that sort of thing.

    6A has a business to run, so it can’t really pay everyone the zillion dollars no matter how much it would like to. But it’s also venture-backed, so not in an existential position money-wise (which is part of what made the meltdown so surprising). If most people wanted an apology and a few wanted their money back, 6A could quietly give everyone what they want. If most people wanted their money back, they could explain that they can’t afford to do that, and offer something like what they’ve just offered.

    Real transparency is letting people know what’s going on when you’re making decisions, not just explaining your mistakes in retrospect. I think that’s what 6A wants to achieve, they’re just not quite getting there yet.