Repost: World War 3 Continues On vBulletin

image-214-1Now, two days later after Internet Brands first launched their new look front-page with lots of information posted on it about vBulletin 4, plus full pricing details. And let not forget the rather pathetic 2 week discount time being offered which caused most of the fuss from customers on their official vBulletin forum later that same day. You’d have to say nothing much has changed since!

Yeah! Less customers are having their say two day later, but that’s to be expected really. It would have been hard anyhow to have kept up what went on that first day – which can only be described as “World War 3″ breaking out on vBulletin minus the nukes. Now though it’s all simmered down to be more like an Invasion of Iceland with 20 soldiers armed with French bread rolls and butter.

Sure some customers are still moaning, and talk is still about vBulletin 4 issues in general. But the initial aftermath of that first day which saw the vBulletin beach-head left stained red with IB blood is over. Giving them some breathing space to reflect back on what just happened.

Internet Brands are casting a very dark shadow over themselves, many customers have lost all faith in anything they have to say about vBulletin 4 now or in the future. They could never have planned for the kind of negative reaction they got two days ago, and it’s something they should be very concerned about indeed!

I’ve never seen anything like it

In all my time at vBulletin as a paying customer, I’ve never seen the likes of what happened like that before, with so many customers expressing their anger in no uncertain terms on there hidden forum board. That’s right I said “HIDDEN”, as a guest (none customer) you cannot see what was posted on that forum board at vBulletin. So on the surface all looks serial and calm, which is exactly what Internet Brands want you to see there as a visiting guest.

They’re even venting anger in Twitter

Even in Twitter I’ve been seeing some very senior (customers) from vBulletin, who I just happen to follow. Posting they are now moving over to IPB (Invision) forum software instead, expressing their anger in Twitter for all to see and read. When you start seeing long standing and faithful vBulletin customers doing this who have supported them for many years, it really IS time for Internet Brands to sit-up, take the bull by the horns, and do something now about stopping the rot before it gets worse than it already is.

I can even foresee in 12 months time if things carry on like this, they’ll be left with a company they purchased in (vBulletin), worth a fraction of what they originally paid for it 2 years ago. Here’s hoping this latest WAR on the vBulletin forum teaches Internet Brands a hard lesson:

Never treat your customers like mugs because of greed, they’ll come back and bite you were it hurts most – your profit sales margin butt!

Don’t believe the vBulletin public relations hype

Some staff members at vBulletin are trying to “project an image” that all is going well and according to plan with the sale of the new vBulletin 4 Suite. Keep in mind here that these staff members saying this get (paid) for doing a job, and as such have their own lively-hoods at stake here should Internet Brands (vBulletin) self implode to the bottom of the ocean.

The truth is, many customers have already done a walk and slammed the vBulletin door hard behind them on the way out. Moving over to pastures much greener at IPB (Invision). IPB themselves have posted that they are getting inundated with new angry vBulletin customers, and that they’ve had to take extra measures to deal with the huge influx of extra sales being generated by them jumping ship.

Internet Brands are selling you something that’s not even ready

Remember also, that Internet Brands are trying to sell you something in the: “vBulletin 4 Suite”, that’s not even out yet! In fact, it’s still only in the Alpha testing stage. No time-line has been given as to when they even expect it to go final release, which of course they can’t give with it only being in Alpha.

Now forgive me for saying this, but who the hell is going to buy something that they can’t even see in action on their own official vBulletin forum, let alone be able to download and use after paying good money for it. They don’t even have a working DEMO for people to test before making their minds-up whether to buy or not.

Is it just me, or does this sound a little like: Trying to sell Ice to the Eskimos in summer. I mean really, is it any wonder customers after hanging-on since 2007 (when Internet Brands first purchased vBulletin), have now finally decided enough is enough and are jumping off a sinking ship like rats drowning fast.

The bottom line

You want the truth, I’ll give it you! With Christmas just around the corner, and it being the Biggest Sales period of the year for any company. It’s looking like Internet Brands have not developed vBulletin 4 faster than they’d hoped: “Having it ready for the Christmas peak time sales“.

Because they don’t want to miss this biggest sales window of the year, they now want you to buy something which you can’t download nor even use. This is their so called (leap of faith) which they expect you to take so blindly, just so they can bag the bucks at your expense, leaving you with an empty Christmas stocking!

Extended Sale! With a Price Hike Too!!

Well, Internet Brands announced an extended sale. They might as well call it a brand new sale given the fact that new vBulletin customers have to pay $160.00 instead of $130.00. I wonder who would notice.

Here’s my two cents. It’s my opinion they are  loosing customers and fast. To attract new ones or existing ones, they’re extending the sale. Let us not forget the bonus benefits of burying all the negative articles against them in the last few days. That’s most definitely an added bonus!

But like I said, who noticed the price went up?

During this extension period, the price of the Publishing Suite will be $160 for existing vBulletin customers with active licenses, a discount of more than 40 percent off of the regular price of the product. New customers can purchase the Suite for the discounted price of $235 during this period.
Source: Marketwire

So once again, being an original vBulletin customers only gets you screwed over more. Plus we’re now paying $160.00, the cost of the original vBulletin license. How poetic.

Paying the Brick Wall to think

Meet the new face of Internet Brands. The level of intelligence and negotiating with them is similar to talking to a brick wall in my opinion. Unyielding and refusing to move or budge. Refusing to compromise or hammer out an agreement
Meet the new face of Internet Brands. The level of intelligence and attempts to negotiate with them is similar to talking to a brick wall in my opinion. Unyielding and refusing to move or budge. Refusing to compromise or hammer out an agreement. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Just a small reminder for everyone today’s the deadline for the license. While all this Internet Brands flames keep burning, at least remind yourself that the upgrade deal still closes today.

But let me say for the record, we’re getting screwed. We are being forced to buy new licenses.

Where I stand, this is how I feel how Internet Brands speaks to me as a customer:

All those updates we were promised for blog. Well, they’re worthless We’ve changed our mind. No more updates, unless you buy a vBulletin 4 Suite License

Your owned licenses? We don’t care about security or updates. No more updates after our license download period expires. No more updates, unless at minimum you buy a vBulletin 4 Forum license. But we think the Suite license is better.

Project Tools? You bought it? Well, guess you’re screwed now. It’s being given away for free. So look at it this way, you’re getting added value for your license!

So for those of us who actually are worried about security are being forced to shell out $130.00. For all us older license holders, stop and think a moment. Think how much in reality we’re really spending. We’re spending far more than we should. If Internet Brands truly wanted us as customers, they’d port our vBulletin 4 licenses at minimum for free to vBulletin 4 licenses, plus give us one year for free. Not make us pay our way into license changes.

We paid our $160.00 owned license. We paid our $180.00 license. We want our promise of paying for updates. We want our access to vBulletin.org. Why are you making us pay 72% of our original license cost? Or 82%? Is it because you want more money Internet Brands?


Oh it’s a suite license? Well then, let me remind me you too that we’re paying at least $290.00. Some are even paying $310.00. That’s more than the $235.00 price tag listed on vBulletin.com.

You say it’s a Pre-Sale Price and that price will go away today?

HELLO!? Do you hear yourself talking? Even after the pre-sale, the price tag goes up to 285.00. Furthermore you’re making the former vBulletin license holders pay even MORE after the presale, to the tune of $250.00 more. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS MORE. So what happened to the $160.00 I paid? Or $180.00?

It’s discounted from $285.00 regular price tag?

I’m just sure customers loved knowing they saved $35.00 to convert their original license over and that they know their licenses are worth pennies.

Internet Brands only cares for you…when you have your wallet in hand.

So as I go off now to swipe my VISA card tonight to pay for the poor, stupid excuse of a license update tonight with Internet Brands, I’ll be doing it as one pissed off customer, for being forced to pay for something I shouldn’t, and at the same time, mourning, knowing that my beloved software, my beloved vBulletin, has been raped.

P.S. Don’t forget our support contract changes too! I was reminded the other day when visiting the vBulletin.com Forums. It goes away too. We have to pay a wonderful annual fee for ticket support. But support via the forums are free! That’s assuming if you’re able to access the forums because you’ve been banned.

More Numbers: Press: 2, History Books +1, Internet Brands: 0

There’s one thing you could appreciate when reading business journals, magazines, and text books: they show you three outcomes, the right way, the wrong way, and the ugly. And boy, it’s starting to get ugly, and it’s not only coming from customers, but from observers outside in the business world.

Internet Brands officially today became a case study on how not to do things. The question now is “How will history look back at Internet Brands?” Will they be looked as a company who made resolutions and gestures to resolve matters with their customer base? Or will they end up as dust in the wind, shunned, and labeled as pariahs?

But do read the case study.

Fair Use Excerpt:

Software licensing can be a tough business. But if you’re able to build a great product and acquire customers, it can be a rewarding business. The founders of Jelsoft, the company behind the popular vBulletin message board software, know that first hand.

Having built arguably the best message board software out there, they sold Jelsoft to Internet Brands in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. And two years later, Internet Brands is facing a violent customer revolt over a new product and new licensing terms.

Bite the hand that feeds you Internet Brands, and that body who controls the hand will fight back, tooth and nail.

Censorship Part Deux

In our previous entry, Veritas went over the topic of censorship. Basically, the vBulletin staff felt it was necessary to enact more “strict” methods of moderation. They first started slow by simply closing threads, then after this didn’t quite work, they started to actually delete threads or move them into private forums, not accessible by the public.
If that wasn’t bad enough, they have now resorted to permanently banning users. Yes, the very same clients who helped vB become what is today are now finding their accounts are banned for simply speaking about vBulletin in a “bad” way, that is, nearly any comment that is negative. Here we have a number customers who are simply trying to get answers, and others who express concern in the direction vB is heading in, and

Clearly these actions are drawing much attention to IB/vB, but it’s probably not the attention they want. It seems more and more sites and blogs are appearing online for people to use as a medium to express their concerns, since they obviously can’t do it at the official vBulletin site without their comments/concerns being censored, but don’t take our word for it – even The Register has caught on to it in their latest story.

What are your thoughts? Were any of you given a warning, or have had your thread closed/deleted, or even worse, been banned for speaking out?

Casualty Count

I’ve been watching from the sidelines as the Internet Brands PR machine have been spinning and spinning everything possible. We saw the launch of vBulletin 4.0 Alpha.. I mean Beta (heck, it feels like an early Alpha) on vBulletin.com.

But between last week’s announcement, and this week, I wanted to know what have you decided as a license holder. I’ve seen it all on the last few weeks, but Internet Brands spins it that they’re achieving record sales. Yet the question I want to ask to everyone is Who what have you honestly decided? Stay? Moved to IPB? MyBB maybe? Or another solution?

Let’s try to quantify the number of who has actually decided to stay or move on from Internet Brands and vBulletin. Leave a comment and let the world know whether you decided to stay or not, and why.

You can say anything you want…only if you say what we want to hear

CensorshipDid you read this? A new policy on forum moderation. We’re being censored. We’re being silenced.

Quote:

As vBulletin has grown over the years we have often allowed posts on our forums which frankly are not constructive and which other companies would not allow on their sites. We have done this in the belief that most people can be reasonable and conduct themselves maturely and constructively. We still believe that most people act this way.

However it is clear that this policy has only opened the door for types of conduct and comments that are simply over the top and not acceptable. This is going to change as of now.

Please be aware that we will no longer allow posts with non-constructive rants, inflammatory language and trolling on our forums. We are aware that some people are used to being allowed to get away with such things. But beginning now that will no longer be the case. Such posts represent a distorted picture to current and potential customers and while we would like to be able to trust people to act maturely, events have proven that is simply not possible. We will, of course, continue to respond to real questions.

To the vast majority of our customers that have supported us over the years and that have responded to the vB4 Pre-sales event positively with their record orders, we say thank you and will do everything in our power to reward your faith and vote of confidence with exciting new things for the future.

If you didn’t catch this particular portion, well I’ll shine a bit of light on it.

Such posts represent a distorted picture to current and potential customers and while we would like to be able to trust people to act maturely, events have proven that is simply not possible.

It pretty much allows Internet Brands to deem any post as distorted and delete it.  So much for the ability to post constructive feedback.

Breach of Contract? Internet Brands might have violated one

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, and I will not pretend to be one, so please consult one to verify my opinion. I’m merely voicing a legal opinion based on my understanding of law.

Second, I’m tired of reading on vBulletin.com from Team Members and Internet Brands that they have not violated the license agreement. They are correct that they have not violated the licensing agreement. However, our vBulletin license is governed not simply by a license agreement; it is also governed by contract law. We as license holders entered into a contract agreement with Jelsoft (now Internet Brands) when we purchased a vBulletin License and that contract is still very much enforceable.

Let me explain further:

West’s Business Law Tenth Edition defines a contract as ” ‘a promise or a set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as duty.’ Put simply, a contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties who agree to perform or to refrain from performing some act now or in the future.”

Jelsoft promised to sell us a license for vBulletin. Jelsoft ALSO promised a set price for renewal of vBulletin. The promise at the purchase of my license was $30.00, however I also agreed to a price increase of $40.00 before sixty days or $60.00 after sixty days on April 29, 2008. This in essence is part of an ACTIVE contractual agreement. The contractual agreement (implied and expressed during the pre-sales process) states that after one year, we are entitles to another year of downloads should we pay a certain said rate, thus the price being forty United States Dollars ($40.00) before sixty (60) days or sixty United States Dollars ($60.00) after sixty (60) days.

With the acquistion of Jelsoft, Internet Brands assumes fidicuary responsibility and therefore our contract agreement is with them. However, with the introduction of vBulletin 4, they’re trying to force us to buy a new license and into a new contract. Here’s the problem: They’re breaking our original contract (promise) to allow us to renew at the 40.00/60.00 rate. They’re forcing us to accept a new contract and new license agreement. The problem is they can’t make us. They can’t force us into a new contract. As of right now, they’re in breach of a contract by not allowing us to renew at our previous promised rate. We have to enter into a new contract at our choosing.

I think it’s time we take a hard look at what Internet Brands is saying. True they have not violated the license agreement, but that’s only partially the truth. We still have an ACTIVE contract with them. Until we accept the terms of a new contract, we’re still bound by the old contract, just as Internet Brands is bound by the old contract.

Where’s the proof? See http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showthread.php?t=268714. It’s written out. It’s expressed. It’s considered part of a contract. I encourage everyone to print out a copy before that thread mysteriously “disappears”.

Don’t let Internet Brands confuse you. Don’t let Internet Brands change the terms of YOUR contract. We as license holders still contractually bound and it’s time we remind them to uphold their end of the contract.