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Old Oct 18, 2009, 12:24 PM   #1
ct2k7
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Internet Brands + vBulletin = fail!

What can I say, I am deeply shocked...

On 13th October, Internet Brands released the new website for vBulletin - the most powerful forum software available, with by far, the largest customer base. This revelation included 3 new items apart from the new design:

New Business Name (vBulletin Solutions)
New Licensing Prices
New License Agreement
Firstly the new business name. Internet Brands acquired Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd in 2007. Until now, vBulletin has been operating under Jelsoft, however, earlier this year sparked a major incident whereby several key team members left, including the lead developer. Internet Brands appointed Ray Morgan as General Manager of vBulletin (Internet Brands, Inc. - Internet Brands Appoints Ray Morgan as General Manager of vBulletin).

Several users became suspicious under this change with regards to their private information. A customer contacted vBulletin, and confirmed that Internet Brands held customer data. ICO or Companies House list that no data transfer has occurred out of the EU. Internet Brands seem to respond with either closing the forum theads (as happened with the majority of complaints or the removal of the thread in the first place) or providing a reponse then possibly closing the thread. This attempt to attain a response from staff regarding this has prompted the closure of 3 thread, with partial answers coming from staff. The staff say that it doesn't matter becuase the data (on the server) has remained in the same place for the former years, however, they do not seem to understand that Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd is responsible for the data, and must declare if transferred to a third party, vBulletin Solitions, a division of Internet Brands, such as Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. This saga continues with customers threatening to make a complaint with the ICO.

Second comes the new Licensing Prices. There is currently a presale and it is obvious through staff comments and the website that they prefer that customers buy the vBulletin Suite: pricing it lower than the classic forums, in presale terms. Primarily, customers with expired licenses had to pay significantly more than those with active licenses. This price was also above the price for a new license. Customers were astonished to find that the "Project Tools" addon had been canned due to "low sales". Ray Morgan had informed us that Project Tools, Blogs (addons) and the new CMS were to be the main compontents of the vBulletin Suite (in additions to the forum). Customers with Blogs from the current 3.x scheme still pay the same price as active customers without. Those will multiple licenses, are given no discount, and subsequently feel cheated. We are seeing costs of up to $5000 for the payment of licenses in the presale period. Support via ticketing is no longer complementary, and costs $80 more. As a result of a backlash from customers, some issues were resolved, the price that non-active license holders were lowered. Customers had been pre-warned about the pre-sale and informed that it was in our best interests to keep the licenses active. The pre-sale time itself is less than 3 weeks, and ends at the end of this month. Many are unhappy at this time constraint and find it unacceptable that they are having to cough up money at such short notice. Many customers explained the reason for this to boots income and revenue in time for the Internet Brands Q3 report, due on the 28th October. Customers are concerned that they will face a similar situation in 18-24 months time, at which point we are expecting to see another software release. Many customers have been banned from the forum, one questioning the detrimental reliability (promissory estoppel).

The license agreement has sparked quite a few conversations, mainly with the younger audience as it now states that those under the age of 18 cannot download the software, without parental consent. This may be as a result of the license being subjected to Californian law as stated in the agreement itself.

Raging customers have sent messages to Bob Brisco, CEO Internet Brands via Twitter, he has not reponded yet. Former employees are making sly remarks about the event, however, these have since been removed, for whatever reason. Threads are being closed and removed on the vBulletin forums to try to cover up the outcry from the customers.

The upgrade for forum owner for 3.x to 4.x was marketed as being free, but it was very limited, some even went as far as calling it a lie. It is free up to the time you get to the end of your 3.x license. At this point, you must pay $175 to continue use the software ->gain updates. Another issue making people's blood boil.

In conclusion, there is a catalogue of business errors that are alienating customers and some feel that the product is becoming more geared towards the enterprise market.
Wow, that's a long post.... but I needed to vent my anger.
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Old Oct 19, 2009, 04:44 AM   #2
iBlue
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Not really sure what to say to all that. vBulletin is the bee's knees for forum software and it's a shame this is going on. I wonder what Arn and the admins think of this and how it affects them.
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Old Oct 22, 2009, 01:36 PM   #3
banger
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Originally Posted by iBlue View Post
Not really sure what to say to all that. vBulletin is the bee's knees for forum software and it's a shame this is going on. I wonder what Arn and the admins think of this and how it affects them.
From what I read in a memo that appears to be legitimate, Internet Brands are just a bunch of money whores who could care less about people and customers. The reasoning in the memo and very clear to the customers is as follows.l

vBulletin was created by developers. They treated you well, appreciated the value of developers who made the product successful, and had a sense of honor in delivering a very fair price and reliability, year after year.

Internet Brands sees vBulletin as being worth more than it is currently being sold. But it's worse than just raising the price. They believe that there aren't better forums and, the pain of having to change everything over to a new forum means you're not going anywhere even if you have to pay three times what you used to pay for a forum and treating you like garbage. They think that even abusing you like they have with people who bought a new forum a month earlier and aren't given any special pricing, you will stuck bow down to them and pay their fees even without a product being delivered.

Their accountants calculated that even with all the hatred towards these people now, they will still make more money in the long run because new people unaffected will buy the software because it's a cheaper solution than other stuff overall (maybe, maybe not.)

What is even worse is that they say every successful vBulletin forum is an advertisement for them to show how awesome their product is. So they get to abuse you financially and as a customer and they can laugh in your face getting free marketing and promotion from you. That was my impression and very shabby if you ask me.

I am switching over all my forums. I have other integrated solutions and I dont need their latest piece of garbage cms with crappy urls.
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Old Oct 22, 2009, 06:02 PM   #4
ct2k7
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One user has 25 licenses, he will not be spending thousands of dollars upgrading, I won't be upgrading all of my 7 licenses. They're going to lose.

Also, their forum went offline for vB 4 Beta 1 upgrade this morning, since, nothing back up. It's been well over 5 hours that they stated, been over 12 hours I think.
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Old Oct 23, 2009, 11:09 AM   #5
banger
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vbulletin aka best-forum-software.com aka Internet Brands has their award winning software (that isn't even in existence) completely offline for over a full day. So what do I make of this?

1) Embarassing and humiliating example of an inability to upgrade their own pre-beta software that they are demanding all customers pay huge amounts to upgrade to?

2) Extended takedown of forum due to humiliating barrage of comments by current customers easily exposing Internet Brands / Jelsoft / vbulletin the greedy folk who they are who intend to soak their customers for cash even worse than microsoft ever did and insulting them at the same time?

I dont think i have seen a more unprofessional, arrogant and poorly managed process in my life. the supposedly leaked memo makes perfect sense. internet brands is telling every forum owner who invested in vbulletin and helped make it great that you are a sucker! your forum software sells more forum licenses for our company and since you invested in it and wouldnt want to move elsewhere, we will soak you for cash to the point where our accountants say is one notch less than more insulting than the bailout. first they arrogantly tell you that you have no choice but to upgrade only to their suite and insult our intelligence by spinning it to say 'look how much you're saving by buying the suite now!" some 6 figure making marketing nitwit with his team of accountants explained how all of us are too stupid to realize the spin. and they have the gall to be jumping for joy how the community with their forums sell the software for them so they can gauge the eyes out of the customers and giddily expect them to be a showcase for their sales efforts.

internet brands is a plauge upon the development community. The founders of vbulletin creating a fair and beneficial system for so many people. they made plenty of money and were happy and in the process had happy customers. internet brands thinks they are the google of forum software but the difference is that they can bend over their customers for money.

but here is the funny part. most of us have content management systems. ours integrates pretty well with vbulletin 3. i have so many essential mods and a template that works really well. if i have to replace everything it is no better than just switching to another open source forum and not having to deal with this terrible company and their policies that i am sure will rear their ugly head again in the future, perhaps with 2-3 paying upgrades a year. keep the forums offline. youll just get your customers even angrier. we see right through you.
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