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.