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Access to Blue Board records and jobs using browniz points and cash to be discontinued as of Nov. 15
Autor de la hebra: Jared Tabor

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:03
FUNDADOR DEL SITIO
A year in the making Nov 9, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:
I would add what you probably know yourself, Henry. Your project to improve the company offer has been developed within a timescale that has allowed for virtually no customer consultation, no examination of the many implications and ways to avoid potential drawbacks, and as a result your customers are VERY unhappy bunnies.

The release of the Plus package has been over a year in the making. I didn't know how it was going to go when we announced things on September 30. Thankfully, the response has been very strong, significantly exceeding my expectations. It now looks as though as many as 1000 people will pre-order the Plus package by November 15. Wow.

This vote of confidence is very gratifying and, as you can imagine if you put yourself in my position, very motivating. Frankly, I'm nervous. We have a lot of new services planned. We can't drop them all at once -- it would be unmanageable for us -- and furthermore, this business is a tricky one in that we can not know the final form of a service until it is released and we get feedback and more importantly, watch usage patterns.

And of course there is much still to be done before Tuesday. I hope we make it.

Speaking on behalf of the site team, we are very thankful to those who have expressed confidence in us and who are choosing to start or deepen their relationship with ProZ.com at this time. I think you will be pleased with what we have to release and announce on (hopefully) Tuesday. I hope you will be. I ask for your open-mindedness and patience, subsequent to release, and look forward to putting our heads together -- all of you and the whole ProZ.com team -- to tune the new services so that they best serve you.


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italia
Local time: 18:03
Miembro
inglés al italiano
Long version Nov 10, 2016

Henry Dotterer wrote:

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
This "ROI guarantee" is being marketed (including the visual emphasis and wording itself) as something extraordinary, while I find it's actually less than the money back guarantee that applies (and applied) to the (old) "standard" membership. More fine print: "If at the end of your first year after purchasing the Plus package ... you have not earned back from clients met via the site at least what you invested in the Plus package, ProZ.com will refund the money that you are "out" on the deal (up the full amount you have paid, less payment fees lost during the transaction)". So, basically, if after a year of "Plus" membership you tell them you have earned less than $149/180 with clients you met through ProZ, you'll get a refund, with the refund being "equal to the difference between what you paid and what you earned, less the settlement fees and sales taxes that were lost in the payment transaction", and then your account gets closed down...


Now, Mirko, you seem to suggest that you don't find the ROI guarantee to be particularly special. I don't know of anyone else on the internet making this sort of offer. Do you? In fact I have been playing with the idea of making this offer for years, and I continue to ask myself why no one does this. I suppose that maybe I will find out.

Put yourself in the position, though, of making an offer to thousands of people that if they somehow are not successful, you will give (up to) all of their money back at the end of the year. (After employees have been paid, etc.) How would you do that? Why would you do that?

In my case it basically comes down to this. I don't want anyone to be dissatisfied when they do business with my company. If it doesn't work for you, I don't want your money.

Of course, consistent with that, if it doesn't work for you, I expect that you are not going to want to continue using the service. This is why there is the "close out your profile" provision. We are putting our money where our mouths are on this. I think that it is fair for those who take me up on the offer to do the same. I hope you see my point there.

To Anton and others: I repeat my invitation to please give membership a try. You'll meet one or more new clients and take in more money than you spend, or you'll get your money back in a year. We are holding the money in the meantime. You can be sure we will work hard to deliver on our end of the bargain so that you can "expand your business and do better work".


Ok, here it goes. I consider this "ROI guarantee" much more as a (cleverly overemphasized) "marketing device" than anything else for several reasons, which can be summarized as follows:

1) This is evidently and primarily aimed at enticing non(-active)-members/non-users of the site and "reel them in" as subscribers of the new top tier service you're offering. They are the ones who have less to lose if their account gets closed down. I suspect that those (both paying and non-paying users) who have invested years in their presence on ProZ, in terms of KudoZ, forums, glossaries, TWB, site localization, WWA, project history, etc. (and whose BrownieZ are being nullified, btw), would never use that option and lose all of those efforts, even if they concluded the "Plus package" was not for them and didn't really help them get more work (and here what Anton was saying comes into play as well). Something similar, to a lesser degree, goes for those new users buying the "Plus package", who are asked to invest their time into building a complete profile, be professional, etc. They would lose everything by asking for a refund, although they're basically the only ones who could have a real use for that refund option without "losing too much".
So, in other words, I see this as a mere marketing move that translates into a gamble you're making to expand your customer base.

As a side note, based on the above and on the statistics you mentioned earlier, this "gamble" looks like a very carefully calculated one...

1a) Linked to the above, while it kind of makes sense that if a new user creates an account, pays for a service, then asks for a refund, the associated account is closed (although it could very well just become a "free" account), the same cannot be said for users with already existing accounts who just wish to try the new offer and go back to the previous situation if they're not satisfied with it because it didn't really serve them "as guaranteed".

2) The "old" prorated refund is much more effective and "valuable" than this "ROI guarantee", as you can ask for it whenever you want, for whatever reason, without having to close down you account, etc.
So, quite paradoxically, if you spend more for the premium offering, the only guarantee you have would cost you your account, while, if you go for the "standard fare", you can pull out whenever you want, get a proportional part of your money back, and keep your account.

3) As mentioned before, the prorated refund doesn't have any condition or "penalty" (which is good, obviously), while, in order to be able to request this, you're supposed to have spent a whole year earning less than the membership fee through ProZ, otherwise you have no guarantee at all, and even if you are entitled to ask that refund, you're only going to get the difference between the membership fee and what you earned... (and then, on top of all that, your account gets closed).
Personally, I'd consider my investment in the "Plus package" a failure even if I were to earn much more than $149/180 in a whole year, as merely repaying the investment is definitely not a succes (also considering the fact that "repaying" is not even the right word here, if you consider things such as VAT on the membership fee, income taxes, etc.).

4) This might be debatable, based on on different points of view and interpretations, but IMO, "ROI guarantee" is deceptive, as the idea it evokes is that ProZ is somehow guaranteeing your earnings somehow, while that definitely isn't the case (also considering the amounts that would be "guaranteed").


I don't know of anyone else on the internet making this sort of offer. Do you?


That question has a sense only if applied to a similar service, aimed at a specific and limited public, doing the exact same things you're doing, with such a specific condition (i.e. generating a revenue lower than the service fee)... How many are there? Besides, as written above, your "ROI guarantee" is so peculiar in its formulation, conditions and implications that it would indeed be difficult to find someone offering something like that...

However, just doing a quick generic search you can easily find companies offering refund guarantees (even lifetime), not just on digital services/products, but on physical ones as well (and I doubt there's a clause stating you won't be allowed in any of their stores if you ask for a refund).

Other than that, you can easily find several service providers offering full refund guarantees in case you are not satisfied with the service or if the service didn't offer what was supposed to, ranging from PayPal's refund policy, to web hosting services. You name it.

As for "ROI guarantees", specifically, I'm afraid that idea is not so original either, after all: http://goo.gl/qiQHiq

Put yourself in the position, though, of making an offer to thousands of people that if they somehow are not successful, you will give (up to) all of their money back at the end of the year. (After employees have been paid, etc.) How would you do that? Why would you do that?


If you were selling a physical product and offered a lifetime unconditional full refund, I would find it commendable, but that is not the case. You are selling a service, trying to expand your customer base and, based on the conditions you set for this guarantee, as discussed above, it doesn't seem to me you are actually risking much to enact this clever marketing move, especially considering the marginal cost vs marginal revenue per additional user.


 

Tom in London
Reino Unido
Local time: 17:03
Miembro 2008
italiano al inglés
Still earning brownies Nov 10, 2016

Why are brownie points still being given out? I just earned 30 about 5 minutes ago, for answering a few terminology questions.

 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:03
Miembro 2006
francés al inglés
+ ...
In Memoriam
Henry says ... Nov 10, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Why are brownie points still being given out? I just earned 30 about 5 minutes ago, for answering a few terminology questions.


In one of his posts yesterday, Henry said that a new use would be found for Browniz and that they would be kept on record.
He didn't actually say that they'd continue to be awarded for contributing to this site in various ways, but they certainly are still being added at the moment. Perhaps they are deemed too trivial to be a "priority consideration" at this feverish time?


 

Fabrizio Zambuto  Identity Verified
chino al italiano
+ ...
Money machine Nov 10, 2016

I'm not only disappointed but really angry at this money-above-all policy you're implementing.
You already have a lot of paying members and i'm sure you already have a solid net worth. What's the problem, it's never enough?
You're already giving a lot of advantages to members: member only posts, priority over job applications etc.
Now this.

In the past i have considered becoming a member but never did it. Today it's the last thing I'd do.

Ambition is
... See more
I'm not only disappointed but really angry at this money-above-all policy you're implementing.
You already have a lot of paying members and i'm sure you already have a solid net worth. What's the problem, it's never enough?
You're already giving a lot of advantages to members: member only posts, priority over job applications etc.
Now this.

In the past i have considered becoming a member but never did it. Today it's the last thing I'd do.

Ambition is good but greed is a sin.
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Arabic & More  Identity Verified
Jordania
árabe al inglés
+ ...
Wallet Balances Nov 10, 2016

Thank you for replying to my inquiry about wallet balances. Let's say I don't want a refund (because of the charges involved) and I don't want to become a member at this time. Are you saying there are no other uses for wallet balances? Like if I wanted to pay for an advertisement or a webinar or something...could I apply the $19 currently in my account to these charges?

Thank you for clarifying.


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:03
FUNDADOR DEL SITIO
I think you can use it Nov 10, 2016

Amel Abdullah wrote:

Thank you for replying to my inquiry about wallet balances. Let's say I don't want a refund (because of the charges involved) and I don't want to become a member at this time. Are you saying there are no other uses for wallet balances? Like if I wanted to pay for an advertisement or a webinar or something...could I apply the $19 currently in my account to these charges?

Thank you for clarifying.

If I am not mistaken, you can use wallet balances to pay for trainings. If there is one you want and it is not possible to use the wallet balance for it, just enter a support ticket. It is your money; we keep all wallet balances in a separate account. We will find a way for you to get it or use it.


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:03
FUNDADOR DEL SITIO
Not marketing, not free Nov 10, 2016

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
If you were selling a physical product and offered a lifetime unconditional full refund, I would find it commendable, but that is not the case. You are selling a service, trying to expand your customer base and, based on the conditions you set for this guarantee, as discussed above, it doesn't seem to me you are actually risking much to enact this clever marketing move, especially considering the marginal cost vs marginal revenue per additional user.

That is true for Standard, it is not true for Plus. The Plus package includes a number of things that we would have liked to include in Standard package over the years, but the math didn't work. You might be surprised at the costs involved in the Plus package. Believe it or not, at $149 I am hoping to break even on it. So when we thought about doing all of these things with partners, etc., if we were going to do it, we had to either (1) raise the price for everyone, or (2) provide choice. (Obviously choice is better -- not everyone is interested in these other things.)

We can't buy a license for you from a third party (or five) when you join in March and then refund all of your money in April. So we went with the other approach: we've resolved to earn it all back together (ProZ.com and the Plus subscriber), or ProZ.com will take the hit.

In short, this ROI offer is real.


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:03
FUNDADOR DEL SITIO
To Fabrizio Nov 10, 2016

Fabrizio Zambuto wrote:
Money machine

I'm not only disappointed but really angry at this money-above-all policy you're implementing.
You already have a lot of paying members and i'm sure you already have a solid net worth. What's the problem, it's never enough?
You're already giving a lot of advantages to members: member only posts, priority over job applications etc.
Now this.

In the past i have considered becoming a member but never did it. Today it's the last thing I'd do.

Ambition is good but greed is a sin.

Hi Fabrizio. I appreciate your honesty. It appears to me that you have been using the site for seven years and have not chosen to be a member. This is fine, and not at all uncommon. Although ProZ.com is basically a membership site, we invite people to use the site, without paying, and we are happy when they do. You have helped other professionals in KudoZ, for example, and although this in no way benefits ProZ.com financially (in fact it costs money), it is a cost that we are happy to bear because we take satisfaction that we have enabled such collaboration among professionals. It is what we do.

I would like to be sure that you are aware, however, that there are costs involved in maintaining a site like this, computers and licenses and such, and more importantly, that there is a team of people behind the site -- living the US, Argentina, Ukraine and Japan -- who make their living building and maintaining the site. Like anyone, we have families and children. We work hard and we take pride in what we do, and we charge for our services, just as you probably do when you work for commercial customers. (Which you are to us -- that is, you are presumably using ProZ.com in connection with paid work. If not, let me know.)

The costs of running ProZ.com are paid by people just like you who choose to invest in their businesses in the form of paid membership. In other words, the costs of this site are paid by your colleagues here. In that sense, one might say that you are a guest of the members here.

Once again, guests are welcome. Please continue to use the site, whether you choose to be a member or not, if you continue to find it valuable. But please also keep your mind open to the possibility of becoming a full paying member. The idea is that we should profit together when you do.


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:03
FUNDADOR DEL SITIO
Right, Jenny Nov 10, 2016

Jenny Forbes wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

Why are brownie points still being given out? I just earned 30 about 5 minutes ago, for answering a few terminology questions.


In one of his posts yesterday, Henry said that a new use would be found for Browniz and that they would be kept on record.
He didn't actually say that they'd continue to be awarded for contributing to this site in various ways, but they certainly are still being added at the moment. Perhaps they are deemed too trivial to be a "priority consideration" at this feverish time?

Yes, that is pretty much it. We have definitely gotten the message on browniz and we plan to revisit the discussion after release of the Plus package.


 

LegalTranslatr2  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 12:03
portugués al inglés
+ ...
Thank you for the response Nov 10, 2016

Unfortunately, this is the first I have heard of this transition.



Henry Dotterer wrote:

LegalTransform wrote:

The list of benefits does not include website and email hosting (http://www.proz.com/professional-membership)

Will this still be included in either the standard or Plus membership packages?

Thank you for asking. We took hosting out of the list of benefits a year or two ago. We have been downplaying this service for three or four years, and encouraging people to look into hosting elsewhere, because others do a better job of offering hosting than we do. We started offering hosting many years ago, at a time that something like 3% of ProZ.com members had their own websites, and our goal was only to get people started online, and with their own email addresses. Obviously it was a trend bigger than ProZ.com, but I am very proud that we helped thousands of translators (6000?) to build their first website.

About 1800 people still host with us. We are not going to stop supporting any member who has a hosting account with us, at least not without providing notice and a migration path. But we stopped inviting people to the hosting service about a year ago and do not currently have plans to market it again in the future.

As some of you know, despite arguable conflict of interest, I am a strong advocate of having your own website, outside of ProZ.com, as a freelance translator. (I met a client online, using my own website, before creating ProZ.com.) I just think/know that it is something in the best interest of our members. Therefore we are going to do some new things to support that -- engaging with customers and colleagues via your own website -- in connection with the Plus package.

We have also considered rolling in a service that does not involve site hosting, but that enables people to use an email address with their own domain name, without having to pay what that costs elsewhere. But it is not going to make it into the initial Plus package.


 

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
inglés al ruso
+ ...
I agree that the "ROI guarantee" is misleading as is vs. the old refund approach Nov 10, 2016

The crux of the issue is that while you can indeed get back your monetary investment in a year of membership, at the same time you'll be losing all your non-monetary assets on this site, most importantly the hard-earned KudoZ points, for what may be years and years of site usage. As opposed to the old approach to refunds, this would make no sense to me and, I guess, to most people who would take a serious look into this option.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia y Herzegovina
Local time: 18:03
alemán al serbio
+ ...
Don't understand all the talk about brownies. Nov 10, 2016

Would you like someone offering you to pay for your translation with brownies instead of cash?

I never accept smiley stickers in grocery stores, I just pay with cash. I expect the same for my services, cash only please.

I have been on ProZ for 7 years and never used brownies to pay for anything.

Also, if you are running a business, there's always a risk with investment, it may pay off and it may not, what's new about it? It's not an in-house employment with
... See more
Would you like someone offering you to pay for your translation with brownies instead of cash?

I never accept smiley stickers in grocery stores, I just pay with cash. I expect the same for my services, cash only please.

I have been on ProZ for 7 years and never used brownies to pay for anything.

Also, if you are running a business, there's always a risk with investment, it may pay off and it may not, what's new about it? It's not an in-house employment with benefits and guarantees, it's business - dynamic and unpredictable.
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Arabic & More  Identity Verified
Jordania
árabe al inglés
+ ...
Non-members Nov 11, 2016

Again, the Browniz system was something offered by Proz itself, not something that non-members came up with to game the system. If I earn "points" at the grocery store, I do expect these points to be honored, especially if I decided to shop specifically at that store for the discounts I could obtain. Imagine that you have amassed enough points to get a $50 discount, and the store suddenly tells you that the deal is off. As a customer, I have the right to voice my disappointment and discuss the m... See more
Again, the Browniz system was something offered by Proz itself, not something that non-members came up with to game the system. If I earn "points" at the grocery store, I do expect these points to be honored, especially if I decided to shop specifically at that store for the discounts I could obtain. Imagine that you have amassed enough points to get a $50 discount, and the store suddenly tells you that the deal is off. As a customer, I have the right to voice my disappointment and discuss the matter with management.

Further, non-members may be "guests" (as asserted above), but many of them make extremely valuable contributions to the site with their knowledge and willingness to help colleagues with terminology and other matters. For various reasons, people may not need or want membership, but they are still willing to help others by participating on the site - and Browniz are a way of rewarding this participation.

Would you like someone offering you to pay for your translation with brownies instead of cash?


Please note that it is actually PROZ that pays translators for their work in Browniz...not the other way around! If you write an article for the knowledge database, for example, you get 2,000 Browniz...not cash, as professional writers would expect to earn. And if 4,000 Browniz is good for a $10 discount off membership, that means that a typical article of 800 words is only worth $5 even though a "low" rate for freelance writing is about 10 cents per word, or $80 for the same article elsewhere. Articles, Kudoz participation, etc. all contribute to the value that Proz offers its users. If these contributions are of no use to Proz, then the site should purge all of the content contributed by non-members over the years.
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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 12:03
FUNDADOR DEL SITIO
Exactly right, Amel Nov 11, 2016

Amel Abdullah wrote:

Again, the Browniz system was something offered by Proz itself, not something that non-members came up with to game the system. If I earn "points" at the grocery store, I do expect these points to be honored, especially if I decided to shop specifically at that store for the discounts I could obtain. Imagine that you have amassed enough points to get a $50 discount, and the store suddenly tells you that the deal is off. As a customer, I have the right to voice my disappointment and discuss the matter with management.

Further, non-members may be "guests" (as asserted above), but many of them make extremely valuable contributions to the site with their knowledge and willingness to help colleagues with terminology and other matters. For various reasons, people may not need or want membership, but they are still willing to help others by participating on the site - and Browniz are a way of rewarding this participation.

Would you like someone offering you to pay for your translation with brownies instead of cash?

Please note that it is actually PROZ that pays translators for their work in Browniz...not the other way around! If you write an article for the knowledge database, for example, you get 2,000 Browniz...not cash, as professional writers would expect to earn. And if 4,000 Browniz is good for a $10 discount off membership, that means that a typical article of 800 words is only worth $5 even though a "low" rate for freelance writing is about 10 cents per word, or $80 for the same article elsewhere. Articles, Kudoz participation, etc. all contribute to the value that Proz offers its users. If these contributions are of no use to Proz, then the site should purge all of the content contributed by non-members over the years.

Everything you say here is right on, Amel.

The only thing I would add is that the discount was not taken away here recently, but rather it, and a further discount, was extended to everyone. I know that it is not the same thing as keeping the relative discount, i.e. making it so that the browniz holder pays less than the person who does not have browniz. But the absolute amount being paid is lower, even to the browniz holder, and that does matter too.

And now, after hearing from you all, we have offered a further discount to browniz holders, in order to restore the relative discount. So I feel that we have done right by our browniz holders (member and non), as we should and as you deserve. I hope you agree!

In retrospect, having been the person to introduce the browniz system, I should have understood the importance and symbolism of the relative discount. (Jared did.)

Anyway, again, Amel is 100% correct above. This is particularly well-put: "For various reasons, people may not need or want membership, but they are still willing to help others by participating on the site - and Browniz are a way of rewarding this participation."


 
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