Ben, I really appreciate you taking the time to post this here and demonstrate that you take this seriously, but your cofounder is currently publicly ridiculing customers who have paid good money and been dissatisfied with your service.
As a current customer of WPEngine (who has had issues), nothing makes me want to bail on you guys as much as those two tweets. From the CEO.
Let's give the man the benefit of the doubt, he is obviously sorry about this and said it was "an unfortunate mistake where I didn't know what I was responding too" (see links), let's not crucify someone on a field trial, none of us want to be in his shoes.
I'm neither justifying nor criticizing what he said, just let's be careful not to burn someone or something based on one mistake that we all can one day find repeating.
I don't see what you think is disgusting about these tweets, they express a personal opinion, here they are in case they are deleted:
@billmcneely yup, there's always someone bitter and hateful. Sometimes they even have a point, but choose to make it in a destructive way.
@P_Doubleya @gozmike thanks guys. That's also why I ignore HN. There's always haters.
That's not ridiculing customers, and it's not disgusting or disrespectful, it's just saying that there will always be people critical of your service (not even necessarily customers), particularly when an online mob forms as in this case, furnished with a one-sided story of how things went wrong.
Of course you may disagree with the tone, or the content, but disgusting is a little strong isn't it? Can we dial down the hyperbole a little?
No, he's basically brushing the OP and everyone in this thread off as being hatful and bitter, and not really worth interacting with. It's incredibly dismissive, especially since multiple people in this thread (myself included) have mentioned that they've had issues and are or were paying customers.
I'll grant you that "ridiculing" is probably not the right word...maybe dismissive or condescending would have been more accurate.
And yes, I do find it disgusting that he's publicly behaving this way towards a customer.
I'm not convinced a public forum is the best place for customer support - witness Ben's very reasonable statement above which is still accruing negative responses, in spite of going well beyond the call of duty in refunding money paid to a completely different service. It's quite hard to interact with a crowd baying for blood - emotions run high, and people tend to pick sides and pick holes in any argument. One response to that is to ignore the crowd and try to deal with the particular customers - that's what I take the tweets to mean.
It's fair to criticise those tweets and I don't feel they are appropriate really, but I don't think they should be classified as disgusting - misguided and inappropriate at this particular time, perhaps, but not disgusting. Isn't it better to deal with situations like this without escalating emotions further and degenerating into both sides insulting each other?
He spent weeks trying to get help from them, to no avail. It's more than reasonable for him to post a negative review at this point, explaining the situation, taking blame where he should, and warning others to think twice.
All I want to see from the CEO in a situation like this is: "I'm sorry. We fucked up. Here's how we'll make it right, and here's how we'll make sure it doesn't happen again."
And if you genuinely can't say that because you don't think the customer is right and you're not willing to do anything for them, just keep your mouth shut.
I'm not convinced a public forum is the best place for customer support ...
I think a great heuristic here is this: your customers can be publicly negative, but you cannot.
If you publicly flame a customer then, no matter how deserving the customer was, some future potential customers will look at that and say "That could be me." Most businesses, I think, can't afford to risk that.
There are some notable counterexamples, in my opinion they are the exceptions which prove the rule, i.e. when the business wants to fire the customer and make an example of him/her for others.
Sorry, it's just my personal opinion as a WPEngine customer, and I stand by it. I don't want to see the CEO of a service that I pay money to publicly behaving this way towards those customers and others who have had issues. It's the opposite of good customer service, and a great example of biting the hand that feeds you.
Why do people always insist on being the devil's advocate on HN? Suppose you went to the supermarket to try and return some spoiled food, and they deny you so you give them a bad Yelp review. A harsh one even.
Would you consider it reasonable to be the subject of the manager's tweet, or open letter or any other kind of public message calling you someone who cannot be pleased, who has an agenda against the store, is disposed toward bitterness, and is communicating destructively.
It's totally disrespectful. To act as if a crowd of savvy users who run their own services aren't to be taken seriously and that a single user - who tried for weeks to get help based off of the company's own claims - is this loudmouth minority? That's completely ignorant and rude.
I actively ignore Twitter for the same reasons some might avoid HN, but that doesn't mean that there aren't valid and intelligent conversations to be had there, particularly if you have to deal with customer service and PR.
"Completely disgusting" is taking it a bit far, but it's certainly puzzling, as is the irrational potshot at HN -- a hub of potential customers! "Disgusting"? No. "Bizarre", especially for the man behind A Smart Bear?? Yes.