The last week has been a bit bumpy to say the least, and I am extremely PISSED OFF about it. So pissed that I’m spreading the word to anyone and everyone who will listen… if you do business with InfusionSoft, BEWARE!
So here’s how it went down…
Several weeks ago I began testing some list building ideas using simple opt-in landing pages. I wanted to use single optin because my previous small tests with this stuff had shown that I might get 50 optins, but only 3 or 4 would actually DOUBLE optin, for whatever reason. I know a lot of people who use single optin, so thought I would give it a try too.
Very quickly, I hit success. From 1,000 to 2,000 optins per day, with spikes above that, on just two small tests. I built a list of over 60,000 email addresses in a very short span of time! When the people opted in, they immediately received an autoresponder written under a pseudonym, welcoming them to my newsletter and pitching a couple of products to them. Later I added a second message about a money-making opportunity to come 4 days later, but that’s all I did with the list.
Well what I didn’t know was that I had a “very” high spam complaint rate. A few weeks into these tests, I got a phone call from InfusionSoft’s abuse department, advising me of this. According to them, the industry norm for complaints is 0.1% or lower. That’s one-tenth of a percent. My complaint rate was 3.0%, EXTREMELY high. So they shut off my ability to email until they spoke to me about it.
“No problem,” I’m thinking. I’ll make some changes that they suggested, go double optin, and hopefully things settle down. I was advised that they have a “3 strikes” policy and that as long as I brought my complaint rate down below 0.1%, everything would be fine and my email would be turned back on the next day.
So I immediately implemented a couple changes, and emailed them with a question or two. No response. Another day, another email… no response. Over a 4 or 5 day period I sent 4 or 5 emails to the “abuse” department that I had spoken with. Never got a single reply. Then all of a sudden, I received the following email:
You are listed as the primary contact for the Infusionsoft account of niche. Please be advised that we are terminating your service effective immediately. The purpose of this email is to notify you that your account has been suspended due to violations of the Infusionsoft Acceptable Use Policy relating to email abuse. I have included a link to the Infusionsoft Acceptable Use Policy for your review. You will be allowed 14 days to retrieve your data before we permanently delete your account. Please be advised that this decision is final and that further communication regarding this matter, if any, must be in writing.
Thank you for your attention to these matters.
Needless to say I was stunned! I called them immediately and spoke with support, at which point I was advised that they could no longer speak with me and that all communication had to be in writing to Joseph, and Joseph alone.
So… I wrote to Joseph. Here is the entire transcript of our emails back & forth (starts at the bottom):
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2009 09:37:36 -0800
From: “Jonathan van Clute”
To: “Joseph Mask”
Subject: Re: Notice of Termination of Service
If someone opts in to my email list and I send them an auto responder,
that is NOT unsolicited. I accept that I was using single optin
which, now that I’ve tried it, I can see is really not a good way to
go. But they DID opt in. I was not importing lists of scraped email
addresses or anything like that. I was NOT sending UCE. I was
sending autoresponders to my single optin list.
I can’t be the only person in the world doing this. I’m sure I’m not
the only infusionsoft customer doing it either. Granted I’m not going
to do it anymore since I’ve now seen that double optin is probably the
only way to keep the complaint rate down, but I WAS NOT sending UCE.
So once again… I ask that you reconsider since your assertion that I
was sending UCE is incorrect.
On Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 8:29 AM, Joseph Mask wrote:
> Jonathan S.,
> I may not have effectively communicated that the reason your service is being terminated is not simply because the complaint rate was too high. It is because you violated the AUP by sending unsolicited bulk e-mail. The complaint rate is just an indicator of the violation.
> I appreciate your suggestions for making the complaint rate visible from within the product. We are working to get more detailed e-mail reporting into the product. But the fact remains that the line you crossed was not an invisible one, it is one that is clearly defined in the AUP — that sending unsolicited commercial e-mail is prohibited.
> Joseph Mask
> From: Jonathan van Clute
> To: Joseph Mask
> Subject: Re: Notice of Termination of Service
> Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 19:36:55 -0700
> I had NO idea what my complaint rate was until I got a phone call last
> week. I had been running these tests for several weeks, why was I not
> told sooner??? I’m not even an email marketer, I just thought I’d
> experiment with general list building via single optin. I literally
> did not generate one cent in revenue from the entire experiment. No
> joke. Had anyone bothered to tell me I had a high complaint rate, I’d
> have stopped immediately! I began taking the steps recommended to me
> by the person I spoke with by phone, just minutes after speaking with
> him. But then nobody answered me until this termination. What kind
> of looking out for your customers is that???
> Frankly I’d be perfectly happy to delete the entire list that has
> generated complaints. There’s only one, and like I said I did not
> generate so much as a penny from it. I was NOT knowingly sending UCE.
> Every single person I sent mail to opted in and I have the IPs for
> them all. It’s not like I was importing junk email addresses into
> your system to mail to. Hell no! I did get people responding to me
> even seconds after opting in, saying that they didn’t… and I
> manually removed them as soon as they did so.
> This is beyond heavy handed, and is entirely unnecessary. You want me
> to delete the list, fine. But to terminate me without even ATTEMPTING
> to work with me, is just plain uncalled for.
> I have sung infusionsoft’s praises countless times over the last year
> I’ve been a customer. I have a very wide reach via my blogs, forums,
> and customers. I’m an extremely active affiliate marketer (just
> google my name) and have a sterling reputation in the community. Do
> you really want to lose me as a customer over this and have me rescind
> all the good I’ve had to say about your product? With “customer
> service” like this, I couldn’t in good conscience suggest anyone spend
> the extremely high dollars to sign up, knowing that if they step over
> an invisible line once, they could have it all ripped away from them.
> I’m asking you to work with me here. I am not unreasonable, am not a
> spammer, and have NO interest in being one. If I had known how to see
> my complaint rates and known there was this 0.1% mark, I would have
> stopped my tests probably within days of starting them, and this would
> never have been an issue.
> I ask you one last time to reconsider this and not lose me as a customer.
> On Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 5:22 PM, Joseph Mask wrote:
>> Jonathan S.
>> I can understand why you would be upset. Termination of service is never a pleasant thing to have to deal with.
>> We have the responsibility to protect the reputation and ability to reliably deliver e-mail for all of our customers through the Infusionsoft systems. When customers send unsolicited e-mail through our systems, it generates complaints, which in turn jeopardize our ability to provide high deliverability to our entire customer base.
>> The major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a low threshold for SPAM complaints and are very quick to block the IP addresses and domains of the systems that generate them. When high complaint rates such as those generated by your recent “experiments” occur, we have to demonstrate that we are enforcing our AUP by terminating the offending customer(s). If we don’t work diligently to enforce our AUP and eliminate SPAM, we could lose our ability to deliver e-mail altogether.
>> Normally we do follow a three strike policy with customers who are slightly over the accepted complaint rate in order to give them a chance to fix their e-mail practices and lower their complaint rate. But there are always exceptional cases of extremely high complaint rates or blatant abuse that require us to immediately terminate service without going through the three strike process. This is done entirely at our discretion and this is how we arrived at the decision in your case.
>> You may contact our billing department if you would like to request a refund for services you may have recently paid for but did not receive.
>> Joseph Mask
>> From: Jonathan van Clute
>> To: Joseph Mask
>> Subject: Re: Notice of Termination of Service
>> Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 13:39:43 -0700
>> I am extremely upset to be receiving this email!
>> I understand that I may have received too many spam complaints due to
>> my recent experiments with using single optin and building generic
>> lists. Fine, that’s what the email from the abuse department last
>> week and subsequent phone call were for. I spoke with someone, he
>> helped me understand the problem, gave me some suggestions, and I
>> IMMEDIATELY set to work implementing them. I have sent 5 emails in
>> the last 5 days asking for clarification on certain things, and how to
>> set up certain things regarding double optin, etc. I have not
>> received a single response to any of those emails.
>> I was told specifically that InfusionSoft has a “3 strikes” policy.
>> Well this is strike one! Why am I being terminated after my first
>> EVER problem with the company?
>> I have been a customer of Infusionsoft for about a year now, and
>> haven’t had any trouble. In fact I just added the affiliate module
>> and paid a chunk of cash and am STILL paying it!
>> Please contact me immediately to discuss this, I’m extremely upset for
>> obvious reasons and I want to resolve this so I can continue using my
That was 2 days ago… no response until today when I just received this:
We have processed your request to cancel your monthly services with Infusionsoft. Please retain this email as written confirmation of your request to cancel.
Please note that you should remove or back up any data in your Infusionsoft application within five business days of receiving this email.
You will receive no further invoices from Infusionsoft. If you have an outstanding balance, please contact our Billing Department by calling 1-866-800-0004 x3.
We wish you much success in your future endeavors.
MY REQUEST?!?!?!? When exactly did I request to cancel my service??
Now for those of you still with me that don’t know what InfusionSoft is, it is a VERY high end system that does a LOT of stuff. It is incredibly powerful, and I like it a LOT. It’s also not cheap… I paid over $4,000 just to get it plus $300 per month for almost a year. And then a month ago I added their “affiliate module” (which I had thought I already had…) and that was ANOTHER $1,000 plus another $100 per month. So this ain’t no $20/month aweber account we’re talking about here!
And now, they have made it very clear that this matter is CLOSED and they will not speak to me again.
3 strikes policy? Apparently not. I was given no chance to correct anything (despite being told I would by phone), and never knew I had high complaints until it was “too late.”
Is this any way to treat a customer? Now I get to attempt to get my affiliate module (which I really never got to use) refunded, and I’m going to go for a chargeback of everything else too. I don’t know if it will fly, but at this point I’m almost willing to do it just out of spite.
So anyone using InfusionSoft and playing with “aggressive” marketing strategies… BEWARE!! You could have your business shut down instantly with no recourse. I’m very fortunate in that email marketing is not in any way the primary focus of my business.
InfusionSoft, for a company that makes “Customer Relationship Management” software, you need to learn a lot about how to treat customers!
I just attempted to log into my InfusionSoft account so I could download the data that’s in it, and I’m greeted by this (new?) policy I must agree to (red emphasis is THEIRS!):
Email Acceptable Use Policy
Email, Email, Email!
Infusionsoft is dedicated to getting your email delivered.
To do this we maintain a positive email reputation by requiring that our customers abide by all email laws, industry requirements, and best practices.
By agreeing to and following these email best practices you help to ensure that your emails make it to your customers’ inbox.
My email sending complies with the Acceptable Use Policy.
I have Permission to send email marketing to the people I plan on marketing to.
I can verify the opt-in of each person I plan on marketing to.
I did not buy, rent, or borrow any of the email addresses I plan on marketing to.
If I am reported for Spamming my Infusionsoft account could be shut down without any refund.
If you are REPORTED (whether you actually did it or not???) for spamming you could be terminated WITHOUT REFUND?!?!?!
So now I’m nervous… if I agree to this, does that mean they can now staunchly (and rightly, in their minds) refuse to give me any refund??