Talkfusion Service Sucks
by quasarboy - 3/15/08 6:29 AM
Hi Buzz Crew. Finally I am posting on the Buzz Town forums. I am a regular listener and so I have been holding back from seeing a Photo of Molly preferring to create my own image in my mind. I am happy to say that actually it was about 90% right. I touch slimmer than I thought which she should like. Unhappy not to get the username quasar though as it was my grandfather who discovered it and named it! Also sorry Molly for the spelling mistakes in this post. I am just plain awful at it
I am sorry for the length of this posting however there are so many unanswered FAQ's of important on this site that you should all ready these before joining up to their service.
Better still, it is my opinion that even if you are thinking about it, join as a starter package and see if you like how it all works. It didn't work for me and I paid around $800 dollars and was unable to get a refund even after only a day or so's playing with the admin backend to see how it all works.
Anyway onto my post about the utter dissatisfaction I have had when signing on and beginning to operate as a new customer with the site and with the customer service at talkfusion (www.talkfusion.com)
Background: I run a large community website with 40,000 members in about 180 countries. I have a weekly email news I've been doing for a few years and every few weeks we like to send a promo to the group. Anyway I got to thinking about video email and after several attempts to lure me via email I decided to further investigate talkfusion.
On the surface it looked a pretty slick site. Nice and colorful but not a lot of useful FAQ's for the hard core adminstrator about what you can and can't do from an admin perspective. So I asked for a 24 hr demo account so I could perhaps take a look to see how it all works. As I said to their support and affiliate you see I send to 25,000 clean emails each send (3-4 times a week) and I needed to know that this would suit my purpose. Anyway this was a NO go, no demo account!! And so then I began asking dozens of questions to ascertain whether this was for me. The month pricing was OK but the set-up cost was a lot ($800+). Questions - stuff like privacy etc, ensuring they don't claim any rights to the material I upload to their servers.
Anyway for all the useful parts of this site I thought I should make everyone aware of some of the issues I found out only once I had joined. I could have perhaps asked even more questions that I did but then this is why I wanted a demo account to play with. So without that these might be some other issues other might face. I post them here to add to the F.A.Q's you might consider worthwhile.
I was concerned about their TOS (terms of Service) read
"Information Collection and Use
Talk Fusion is the sole owner of the information collected on this site. We will not sell, share, or rent this information to others."
I asked them whether they agreed that anything I put on their site (e.g. email addresses, videos etc which are my private data) remain 100% mine and that they have NO rights to use them in any way. My quote "Can you explain. I wish to have confirmed that any email address and or video files that I upload to your server for the purposes of marketing remain entirely mine and that I reserve all rights when doing so. Talkfusion would have no rights whatsoever to any of this data nor would they be able to use any of this data at anytime. "
Their response, not particularly clear "We have no interest in your emails addresses or videos; we provide the service; the video and emails are yours." - this didn't really answer the question
Hmmm I thought. OK so there was a few options, one that gave me up to 10 mins recording time, 20,000 bonus views, a custom template designed for me etc. To cut it short I signed up to this with unlimited emails in my contact list to send to but with a max of 2,000 views a month. Now this cost me $40 per month plus the $750 setup (plus some money for a video webcam that I didn't need but had to buy). I signed up anyway figuring that usually I would usually expect to get around 2,000 views based on a sent to about 20,000 clean addresses. Afterall I could always upgrade if I needed to have more views.
OK here's where it gets interesting. On becoming a member I saw I was only allowed to upload a maximum of 1000 email addresses a day to my account (so it's going to take me 25+ days to upload them all). Then I can only send to 1000 a day (and only 250 at a time, so I have to break my 25,000 up into 100 separate groups of 250) so it will take me time each day to send a promo to the whole group and I need to break the groups into 100 blocks of 250 with different names and remember who was sent to already each month. Shortly I will never be able to send to the whole group as there aren't enough days in the month to do the send!! There's no preview prior to sending, no test send without having to go set the detail parameters up again after that so really this is a real pain in the back-side.
As for my custom template well I am then told the one I want which was like one in their example link next to the custom templates will actually cost me extra!! I start yelling, I just paid $500 more for the exec package (compared to the starter package) to get the custom template and a few more "features".
Then I work out that the likelihood of using this scenario to use my bonus 20,000 views ever is unlikely (p.s. I am not sure they have this any longer). So I say to the guys, come on. Your admin doesn't let me do what I need to do. I cannot send to my whole group without logging in every day, to add to that I cannot remove all the addresses from the contacts list as they claim anyone who unsubscribes from the list will have their details kept on their servers even when I requested my data to be removed.
But to be friendly I say perhaps this is all a communication issue and so don't refund me, just move me to the starter package which was $250, no custom template, same monthly view and credit my account with them for the $500. This is NOT Possible was their basic come-back to that one.
So back and forth, call to credit card companies to complain and ask for a refund. Problematic as I am in the UK, card is in Australia and site is US based I think. The guy who introduced me did try to help out by paying for the extra on the custom template so thanks to him for that but now I asked them to change one word in my custom url link (to improve my tracking on my template) and they said NO! I said I thought a custom template would have some consultation back and forth until the client was happy?!? But no.... I even made a pretty darn good mock up for what I was after in photoshop and they still said NO, not for a simple word change in one simple url link on the templatenm- about 8 darn characters!! They didn't even offer to do it for money!!
OK, so I just figured $800+ bucks down the drain for a service that does actually work but not for a power community user. Maybe for someone who only sends up to 250 emails in one time.
Oh and the user accounts lets you make logins for a few people but they share views, so you can allocate so many views to each account. I was hoping to be able to allocate account to my partners and block them each to say 2,000 views but this is not possible. They can have separate account but must share monthly view limits.
From there support after finding out this issue... "The Executive Product, which is 5 Users, will not allow you to split views. If you have 1000 views, the 1000 is for the 5 to use until 1000 is used. It is designed for a company to use that will have different departments such as marketing, Accounting, etc."
OK, so know I want to kill a small rodent and then comes the peace de resistance. After only a few weeks as a customer I get a bill for a new amount per month. Now it's $50. I quickly look to see what's going on and see my product dimensions have totally changed. Not only is it more per month, but now I can have unlimited views of my videos (excellent I think) but that my charge will be based on the amount of emails in my contacts list (Oh my god, tie me down and sedate me, I'm turning green!).
So now my account, that would be over 25,000 had I uploaded them all in the first few weeks, had changed its monthly cost from $40 per month to over $200 per month, irrespective of whether I sent a single email to anyone. You see you are now charged based on the email addresses that they are storing for you, not the bandwidth associated with the views people are watching. I suppose they worked out that even with a big list it does mean that you'll get huge view counts? I don't know, why else totally change the dimensions of the monthly payment algorithm.. Wow gmail would make a fortune. Of course they said they reserved the right to change anything at anytime as long as they sent me an email about it first. Of course as I had already received so many emails from them they are already all marked as spam and I don't therefore read every one.
I am told me they send me something that said "Effective January 28th, 2008, the new Monthly Subscription plans will be billed based upon the number of "Active" email subscribers in your Talk Fusion Address Book. We've deleted the "Deleted" Folder and changed it to an "Inactive" Folder, for your ease of use."
And on asking to be downgraded to a lesser account (as I then removed all my contacts tnhat I could), which they did, but also to get a $10 refund for the over charge that I figrued they had made as I then removed all my contacts. They said no and referred to their point:
"Please note that there will be no refund forthcoming as we reserve the right to make enhancements to the product. Per the Policies and Procedures see below:
Because international, federal, state, and local laws, as well as the business environment, periodically change, Talk Fusion reserves the right to amend the Agreement and its prices in its sole and absolute discretion."
I thought the USA were the kings of customer support and understanding and even compromise. Not these guys, well not in my case anyway.
This was there not on my email to them about this "What this means is that the company reserves the right to change its pricing and subscription plans. Accordingly, all Associates, including yourself, were notified of all of the enhancements via notices within your backoffice and email communications; all of which are time and date stamped. Hence, it is easily proven that all Associates were provided with the requisite notice."
Uploading your own video files.
Of course I am not mentioned the problems uploading a 5MB compressed video file (about 7 mins in length) to the site. I have a 8MB download service in the UK and of course the upload is a bit slow as most are over here, about 3-400K. Each time I tired it looked like it worked but my video was always cut off at about 90-180 seconds. Again I queries support and they said
"377 kbps is not enough bandwidth to upload a video more than a few minutes long over the internet due to its size. Please contact your Internet Service Provider to increase your upload speed. I recommend that you move it up to about 1000kbps. Cable and Fios will have these speeds available."..."We still do not provide business services such as those that you are requesting. As an independent business owner you are responsible for conducting your own Talk Fusion business. If you do not have the appropriate internet service to upload videos over the internet then it is your responsibility to upgrade your service to the minimum speed required to complete the tasks you are asking of it.
If you are wireless, plugging in with a network cable can increase the probability that a larger video will upload. I recommend cable or fiber optic service with an upload speed of about 1000 kbps for larger videos. A good rule of thumb is about 100 kbps for every minute of length of the video."
Oh and also a bit of info on other browers sent to me from tech support at the time (Jan 2008)
"Firefox is not compatible with Talk Fusion. The only fully compatible browser is Internet Explorer. Firefox and others have not built in the components necessary to allow technologically advanced websites like ours to function with Talk Fusion, so there is nothing to test, does that make sense?"
So that doesn't work for me either, despite me being able on my plan to have 10 mins record time. So my plan to do some educational lessons via this medium of about 7 mins is not possible on the "basic broadband" connection in the UK. Of course I could upgrade my whole service to some higher end business tariff but I already have a business account with a static IP from a large service provider. Should I have to pay more to have this service work. Maybe this is just something I have to learn about video transferring on the net and so I can take the hit on this one and just note that for now it is not right for me. As a result I'll keep things to a 1-2min max promo.
And so what to say, I could go on. I could just shut up but these guys infuriate me. I understand a price change but in this case they have totally changed the product on offer as well. Oh and No refunds after a few days? Is this legal?
If you wish to have something less expensive that really works I would suggest uploading you vide files to youtube. Then to send the emails to the link page you display them just join Brent Livingston's excellent email service at www.ezinedirector.com. I have been using them for years and they are fairly priced and offer a great range of useful features.
I'd like to leave you with their presidents final words of encouragement to me should I speak ill of them on any Blog or forum. I feel here I have just presented some facts. Perhaps a few important answers to others FAQ's. Nothing more so i figure this is OK. If not please feel free to take this down.
"As clearly proven, Talk Fusion clearly has the right to amend its agreement and we did. As a courtesy, all Associates were given the opportunity to downgrade their subscription before the next billing cycle. However, you did not make this request. Pursuant to your request at this time, we will downgrade your monthly subscription to Plan A and also give you a hand with your inactive subscription request. Those requests will be responded to separately by firstname.lastname@example.org
Pursuant to your comments to xxxx, I would highly advise you to thoroughly read the Policies and Procedures before you attempt to slander and libel the company on blogs, etc. You better understand, and quite clearly, that this company will not hesitate to IMMEDIATELY file a civil action against you with our UK attorneys. If that process is started, I will not stop it. xxxxxx, nothing is more distasteful to me than someone who makes threats when there is simply no basis for it. Rest assured that Talk Fusion will stop at nothing to defend its great reputation and if that means spending $10,000 USD or $100,000 USD suing you, then so be it. I will be more than happy to spend that money. So, keep that in mind."