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As a business owner, there's a time to listen to your customers. There's a time to respond to them. And on rare occasions, there's a time to tell them to take a hike.

Unfortunately, the majority of companies that tell their customers to get lost do so for the wrong reasons. Such is the case with SitePoint, which has upset many of the loyal users of its website marketplace, one of the most popular forums for buying and selling developed websites on the internet.

The cause: SitePoint spun off the website marketplace into a new standalone site, Flippa.com, and changed its once flat fee structure to include a 5% commission.

The problem: many SitePoint users are not only miffed about the new fee structure and the lack of a head's up, they are unhappy with the Flippa site itself.

The response from SitePoint's co-founder:

Thanks for all your positive feedback guys. We appreciate it. One thing to keep in mind...
Our buyers aren't going anywhere. They are savvy business people. They don't care about the design of the site or the fact the logo sucks (the current logo is a placeholder BTW), they simply get on with the business of buying, and we've made it a lot easier for them to do that on flippa.com.

Meanwhile while you all whine and complain about the fees, the design, etc. the smart sellers are listing their sites on flippa.com and they are attracting the majority of the buyer interest. They will also get the added benefit of the PR we're about to roll out.

So, it's totally up to you! If you want to come across to flippa and sell your site in the professional marketplace we're creating for serious buyers, we welcome you with open arms. If not, please do go to digitalpoint. List your site for free and see if the old adage of "you get what you pay for" applies.

Quick summary/translation:

  • Buyers don't care about our design and the fact that our logo sucks.
  • If you don't like Flippa, you're a whiner.
  • The smart sellers are using Flippa so if you're not, you're dumb.
  • Don't like Flippa? Go use an inferior competitor.

While this is hardly the type of response one would expect from a savvy co-founder, under certain circumstances it's okay to tell your customers (or soon-to-be former customers) that they're wrong, although there's a right and a wrong way to do it and this is definitely not the former.

As I see it, many of the complaints about Flippa seem entirely informed. They're related to how the migration was handled, what the fee structure means to sellers, why the design doesn't work and perhaps most importantly, ways in which usability has been degraded. Important stuff. The fact that so many of the complaints make similar points is a real problem. A problem that SitePoint management seems to want to ignore for obvious reasons.

Instead of making a reasonable effort to address the complaints in a professional manner, however, SitePoint's co-founder flippa'd off his users and told them to go elsewhere. I suspect some of them will follow his advice.

There's a lot of talk about 'listening' these days and much of it is clichéd. But if there's one rule to be followed, it's this: when many of your customers are saying the same things, you might just want to consider that they're telling you the truth.

Photo credit: fireflythegreat via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 24 June, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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Matt Mickiewicz

Thanks for the write-up.

We're very busy addressing the legitimate complaints brought up by our users, the usability enhancements that they've requested, and resolving the couple of bugs left over from our beta test. 

Yesterday alone, we rolled out a pretty impressive list of tweaks and modifications to the site with plenty more to come, all based on customer feedback. You can see the full list of changes yesterday on our blog: http://flippadotcom.wordpress.com/

The logo, as Mark mentioned in his comment, is only a temporary placeholder. We'll be launching a design competition on 99designs.com for something better in the next few days.

about 7 years ago

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BPT

In response to Matt's attempt at spin above, the "tweaks and modifications" are bug fixes for basic functionality that was either broken or missing when they launched the site, and there are many more basic fixes that are needed.  The new site is a major step backward in terms of design, usability, and functionality, not to mention the absurd increase in fees for no additional work required or useful features delievered by the new site.

I used to browse the Sitepoint Marketplace several times a day looking for sites to buy, but now I can barely bring myself to open the flippa site because it is so difficult to use.  Things that use to take 1 click to view now take 3-4, or just don't exist any more.  Even if the fees were the same, the site design is a failure.

about 7 years ago

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SP User

If this were someone's first attempt at an auction site, it wouldn't be that bad, but this is supposed to be coming from web design experts.

Sitepoint took a working marketplace and dumped Fllippa in our laps, and then told us that we better like it or else.  If the Sitepoint/Flippa management wasn't so hostile, rude, and condecening about the change, there probably wouldn't be as much of a backlash.

about 7 years ago

Vincent Amari

Vincent Amari, Online Consultancy at Business Foresights Ltd

I hope they realise very soon that this could seriously undermine their brand and sales of all their products and services.

Sitepointe used to be my favourite site for both the learning gained in their forums, and buying small Websites.

about 7 years ago

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Everybody Hates Flippa

With the overwhelming negative response to Flippa, this is the ideal time for someone to oust Sitepoint. I'd watch this space for some new players.

about 7 years ago

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Suzanne Bucciarelli

Someone already has.  I've been beta testing http://www.sitedeal.org.  Actually, the site is already live and functioning and people are listing their sites.  It took only 2 hours of having 2 sites listed before pms from buyers started coming in.  This site is designed the way an auction site should be and it has a lot of features.  It's also free to list ... This is not my site.  I was an unhappy seller through Flippa, but I'm flipping over to sitedeal.org.  I don't like arrogance when I am paying someone for a service and that quote above, just reeks of arrogance.

about 7 years ago

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SiteFlippa

Hi, sorry to bother you, we just launched http://www.siteflippa.com it's currently in beta testing so we have made all listing's free for 2 week's, we recieve traffic as we have many ad campaigns open, all we need now is people to list there websites or sales for more exposure.

Feel free to submit your listings :)

Regards
SiteFlippa.com

about 7 years ago

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Matt Mickiewicz

@BPT: You said "Things that use to take 1 click to view now take 3-4, or just don't exist any more.  Even if the fees were the same, the site design is a failure."

I'd love to know more specifics so that we can resolve this and make the site easier to use. We'll definitely be modifying the design - I've read every single comment posted about it.

Let me know if you have a few minutes to chat on the phone -- happy to give you a free listing for your time. Or just drop me an email - matt @ sitepoint with specifics about what's difficult on the new site.

@Vincent: Yes, definitely! We're committed to keeping the Flippa the #1 destination for buying & selling websites, and doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

about 7 years ago

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Ragnarok

i am one of those who are disappointed on what they did to sitepoint, now flippa, which btw domain sounds not good.

I will wait and see if sitepoint would listen to their "customers" about the outrageous fees.

about 7 years ago

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Phil

I think the problem is most competitor sites are small fry, they just cannot command the traffic that flippa can (thanks to Sitepoint being so huge), so clearly Sitepoint are feeling pretty invincible and that attitude is clearly shown from the comments of some of their guys.

I have been running a competitor site for around a year now and can tell you its not easy to tempt the sellers and buyers away from using Sitepoint (flippa).

If your looking for an alternative then you could do worse than give my site a try... www.webmastersmaketplace.com

Thanks

Phil
Webmasters Marketplace

about 7 years ago

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Michael

One of the more interesting aspects of Flippa is that only 35 percent of the listing actually get sold. That's surprising considering how fast Flippa has grown since it launched in June.

almost 7 years ago

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jason

Flippa was an accident that destroyed an entire niche. Anyone can check it and see there are only scams there. And as a result Flippa can't atract 1/10 of the buyers they used to. It's impossible to sell any website in Flippa, and in fact the quality I see there is as bad as in Ebay. Flippa will disappear one day, thanks to that bright idea of taking a good marketplace and transform it into a complete joke! Beware with Flippa policies: they are displaying my private data (phone, adress and name) in Google and claim I need to pay them so they remove this data from a listing that was closed 1 year ago without a buyer! They just want to get as max money as possible and are entering in dubious practices to take it! I will never ever do any business with Flippa again, and I can tell you that every day less and less people are buying crappy websites there.

about 6 years ago

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