PlentyOfFish.com Sucks at Customer Service
Posted by Ted Hopton on March 2, 2009
Well, that’s a pretty blunt headline, isn’t it? This is one of the reasons I like having a blog: I have a platform to complain LOUDLY about companies that do wrong. This is what my old colleague, Keith Dawson, calls the “Super Empowered Angry Customer.” And that’s who I am today.
There’s a free online dating website called Plenty of Fish, at plentyoffish.com or pof.com, and for reasons that should be obvious, I decided to create a profile there. The site is fairly lame, frankly, but it’s free so I figured I would try it, anyway. Much to my surprise, within a few days I received the following “friendly” email with this Subject Line: Your Only Warning!
You have received this email because one or more of our rules have been violated.
If any of these rules are violated again, your account(s) will be removed from our website permanently.
1. Harassment – harassing or offending other users will result in your account being deleted
2. Nude/Inappropriate images – if you upload nude or inappropriate images, your account will be deleted
3. Duplicate/Fake Accounts – if you created more than one account for yourself or create a fake account, all of your accounts will be removed from our website
5. Age – if we have reasons to believe you are under 18 years of age, your account will be deleted.
You’ll just have to trust me on this, but I did nothing offensive, harrassed no one, uploaded fully-clothed normal-looking pics of me and friends, did not spam anyone, and I sure as heck am older than 18. I also only created one account, but the crummy website interface gave me a cryptic error message while I was creating the account and then it forced me to change from the username I had originally selected. I complied with the inane request and finished setting up my one and only account.
So, why did I get that email? I have no idea, unless the glitch when I signed up caused their system to create two accounts for me. More to the customer service point, what is any customer supposed to do when they get this email?
The fatal flaw that lands Plenty of Fish in the “sucks at customer service” column is their clear assumption that their users are bad people. The email they sent could only be effective when received by people who knowingly did one of those forbidden things. Plenty of Fish appears to hope that by acting like a stern and angry parent they will get creeps to stop acting like creeps. I really wonder how well that works.
My guess is that a very high percentage of people who get that warning email subsequently get banned from the site, as I did. Yes, I tried to log in a few days later and could not. Whatever sin Plenty of Fish thought I had committed, they must have thought I did it again, so they kicked me out.
Since I’d already decided after being treated like a criminal that I’d prefer to use another site, this did not bother me, but it sure did amaze me. See, when I got that threatening email from Plenty of Fish, I replied and asked what had triggered it, explaining that I was not aware of violating any of their policies.
Guess what the reply from Markus, the guy who runs Plenty of Fish, said? That’s right, nothing, since he did not reply. But that’s okay, Markus, you don’t have to answer email from me, since I have a blog and can tell you right here what I think of the way you treated me. And can at the same time tell my friends and anyone on the Internet who wants to search for Plenty of Fish, plentyoffish.com or pof.com and customer service. I’m happy to let you know right here what a lousy job you do with customer service.
You see, I’m not a criminal, I don’t intentionally violate terms of service, and I sure don’t act like a jerk on a dating website. So Markus’ “Your Only Warning!” email both insulted me and failed to give me any avenue for correcting whatever issue had caused my account to be flagged. If you’re interested in losing customers and visitors, Plenty of Fish sets a great example:
- assume your customers are out to get you
- threaten them the first chance you get
- refuse to tell them exactly what it is you think they did wrong
- ignore their responses and questions when they offer to make it right
- kick them out with no further explanation soon after.
We all could learn a great lesson in how NOT to treat customers from Plenty of Fish. That’s plentyoffish.com or pof.com, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention. After all, there are plenty of dating websites, too.
This entry was posted on March 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm and is filed under Customer Sat, Customer Service, Human Interest, Social Media. Tagged: customer, customer satisfaction, Customer Service, customer-centric, customer-focused, keith dawson, Plenty of Fish, plentyoffish.com, pof.com. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.