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Cyberfox
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Greetings, @Buildaroo - Maybe you missed the part about 2/3 of PayPal employees being customer service? The customer service folks were not idiots, but (as far as I know) for financial reasons they had clear instructions that preventing fraud was more important than making users happy. If it was your account someone was trying to steal from, I think you'd prefer that choice also. The Paypal payment service was definitely not buggy. What you describe is semi-automated fraud management. The fraud management was aggressive, but that's partly because the fraudsters were VERY aggressive. One of the first things eBay did when buying Paypal was to consciously accept a higher fraud rate, in exchange for a less aggressive fraud-protection program. Still, the underlying issue is not one I entirely disagree with. What I'm saying is that good customer support IS important. However at scale (eg. 30 million customers or more) it's not just 'hire non-idiots'. What would it take for YOU to do customer support? I'm not sure there's an amount you could pay ME, unless my primary occupation disappeared. Strip out the people who can do other tasks for more money (or less, but they don't have to get screamed at several times a day as part of their job!) and you're left with people who either don't want to be doing it (most) or are REALLY into customer service. The latter are diamonds and, like diamonds, RARE. Customer support just doesn't scale. So any company whose core product DOES scale successfully is going to run into a customer support wall that they're going to have to figure out how to solve. Also, the higher touch your business, the less it scales successfully as far as I can tell. /ramble -- Morgan Schweers
Greetings, Excellent article! One can only hope you're right. On the flip side, then there'll probably be a business opportunity in aggregating your subscriptions so you pay a single service provider, and they farm out your payments to everybody else and you have a single place to manage all your paid subscriptions. :) One of the great things about the Rails ecosystem is that 37signals has been preaching this screed for a WHILE now, and have been making inroads into how people think. I think it's accepted wisdom in the Rails community that 'ask the users to pay' is the way to go. You're touching on the downside of making a business where the users don't pay for it; they (37signals) talk about the upside, eg. the need for revenue focuses the mind on making a great product. There are some great companies out there working on making it easy to get subscription right, like Spreedly (no affiliation, I just like them). I'm really hoping Paypal makes subscription payments easier someday; it's a royal bear to set them up without a full-on $30/mo. Payments Pro account. Of course if I was still there, I'd fix that, but...I'd also be a screaming lunatic, after all the eBay crap. :) Glad to see you're still kicking ass! -- Morgan Schweers
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Feb 1, 2010