Many email marketing companies charge their customers based on the number of subscribers. The more subscribers you have, the more money you pay.
Sounds fair, doesn’t it?
However, it seems that by “subscribers” at least one company understands also the people who unsubscribed from your mailing list. No, I’m not the one who’s kidding ;-)
I’m not talking about a newcomer in the email marketing industry…
I’m talking about… No, I’ll tell you later. What’s the hurry?
Let’s start with the beginning and put myself in the prospect’s shoes.
I’ve read their features overview. Very nice indeed!
Then I moved to their Pricing page. “Pricing for over 500 subscribers”…
Everywhere I’ve seen the word “subscribers”. So they’ll charge me based on the number of subscribers. Good to know…
Then I’ve read also their terms of service and the help article “How Does the Billing Work”.
Do I really need to read more? What do you think?
They have tons of help pages. But I’m not a newbie. I’m not going to spend a whole week or even more by reading newbie stuff like “What is spamming?” and other similar articles.
If I sign up for their services, I have to agree with their Service Agreement. I am not requested to agree with their blog posts, help articles, political views or anything else.
Wrong! It seems that the opinion of this email marketing company is that I’m supposed to read and agree with their help article “How Do I Delete My Unsubscribes?”
Doesn’t it sound weird? Why should I read that help page? Who is this company?
Well… It’s a company many marketers consider as being the best. I told you it’s not a newcomer… It’s AWeber.
And that theoretically unimportant help page should be read because it includes one vital piece of information that it’s buried there…
What does that mean?
Here’s a practical example… You’re an AWeber user. You have 481 subscribers and during the last 5 months 20 people unsubscribed from your list. Well… Surprise… If you didn’t delete these 20 unsubscribers, you won’t pay $19/mo. as mentioned in the Pricing page (under 500 subscribers). You’re billed for 501 email contacts: $29/mo.
That’s quite a difference, isn’t it?
I’ve noticed that some users were angry because AWeber charges for the people who unsubscribed from their mailing list.
I don’t agree with such complaints. Any company is free to decide what’s included in their service package. It’s not unexpected to charge for a service that it’s provided. If the user doesn’t delete the unsubscribers, they remain in AWeber’s database and reports that include them are available to the user.
Do you want access to the most accurate old reports? You pay for them. Don’t you need them to be accurate? Delete the unsubscribers, they won’t appear in the old reports and you’re not charged for unsubscribers.
What do I think about such a policy? It’s not important. As long as it’s posted in a visible place – Service Agreement or the Pricing page, I can read it and then it’s up to me whether I still buy the service or not.
These days, many people buy different things online without reading the Terms of Service. That is very wrong, and it’s only their fault if they miss something important. They aren’t supposed to agree with the ToS without reading them.
However, in order to find out important pieces of information, such as what services you’re charged for, you’re not supposed to read tens or hundreds of help pages, are you? Expecting someone to do that is… No, I won’t be rude and I will stop here.
What If Aweber Didn’t Notice the Users’ Problem?
Their team is very active online. It’s a great team actually. It’s impossible for them not to notice many articles and comments posted by their users who were surprised when they found out that they paid for unsubscribers.
Actually I found out about Aweber charging for unsubscribers by reading this recent article.
What if AWeber knew that some of their users weren’t aware of the extra charge for unsubscribers, and didn’t ask themselves what the reason for their users not being aware was?
I don’t believe such a reason being a realistic one. But anyway, now they know…
The tweets shown above are part of a Twitter chat we had more than one year ago. Nothing changed in the meantime …
I pondered a lot… Sorry, guys, but I see only 4 possible conclusions…
1) According to AWeber, a person who unsubscribed from a mailing list is still a subscriber. Forever. Unless someone deletes that contact from their database. Or…
2) AWeber knows very well what a subscriber is, and it charges hidden fees (not mentioned on the Pricing page) for the people who aren’t subscribers anymore and who weren’t deleted by the users from AWeber’s database. Or…
3) AWeber considers that the Service Agreement includes every little phrase posted on their website, even if the agreement doesn’t state so. That would include my comments posted on their blog. Or…
4) The phrase that mentions the billing for all unsubscribers who aren’t deleted is included in the Service Agreement or posted on a main page, prominently, and… I still haven’t see it. Neither have many AWeber users. Neither has that person who runs AWeber Support on Twitter.
I don’t know what the right conclusion is… Maybe #3 …
What I know for sure is that this isn’t an “I hate AWeber” article. For one reason or another, I’ve never been their user. They never hurt me in any way. So why should I hate AWeber?
I’m just disappointed…
Disappointed with AWeber. And especially disappointed with many marketers I know, who published ‘AWeber is the Best’ raving reviews while hiding such an useful piece of information.
To your email marketing success!
P.S. There’s at least one other company who applies the same policy. However, there’s a fine difference between them and AWeber: they don’t claim that they charge customers based on the number of subscribers while actually charging also for people who aren’t subscribers anymore. They charge based on the number of contacts.
Contacts, not subscribers. Not fully satisfactory, but slightly better. It’s almost the same thing, but there’s a fine line between them though… While I’m 100% sure that someone who unsubscribed cannot be called subscriber, I cannot say the same for the word “contact” ;-)
P.P.S. What do you think? Are you an AWeber user? Did you know about this issue? Where have you read for the first time that you’re paying for unsubscribers?