Why Free Services Can Be Costly

January 22, 2012

I stumbled upon a interesting post where blogger Tyler Nichols lamented the way that customers mistreat and inherently devalue free services in the article “I am Done with the Freemium Business Model.” 

According to the post, Nichols obtained this opinion after creating a free Letter from Santa site over this Christmas holiday. Despite the 1,000,000 page views and 50,000 free Santa letters created, Nichols noticed that his customers refused to follow simple directions and fagged his follow up thank you letter as spam.

Nichols concluded:

Free customers are higher maintenance than paying customers. I think it’s because they aren’t paying, they show little or no attention to directions. I focused on making the UI of the site drop dead simple and easy to use. I created a pretty thorough FAQ to answer 99.9% of the questions people might have. I even linked to the FAQ in the email response they got with their download links to the letter they created. I still had hundreds of free customers ask for help with simple questions that were answered in the FAQ.

It’s no surprise that paying customers place a higher value on their products and services than the one’s that receive it for free. But we wonder if this frustration over the freemium business model will inevitably spill over into open source search. We are monitoring, which is a free activity.

Jasmine Ashton, January 21, 2012

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