TypePad Quells Blogger Revolt

When your clients are millions of bloggers, you don't want to get on their bad side. Just ask Six Apart, owner of blogging service TypePad.

Users of the paid service started seeing outages and slowdowns about one month ago, triggering a wave of very public complaints. This week, CEO Barak Berkowitz finally attempted to appease his clients by offering them up to 45 days of free service and an apology.

"We are all aware that you pay for TypePad and expect to receive superior service and performance in return. At times last month, we did not provide that type of experience to all our customers and apologies are not good enough," wrote Berkowitz in an e-mail to users. "After wrestling with these facts and wanting to be fair to all our users we have decided that the only option is to allow you to choose how Six Apart should compensate you."

Berkowitz offered TypePad users up to 45 days of free service to compensate for the inconvenience of outages and server woes.

TypePad Product Vice President Michael Sippey said the e-mail blast, which went out on Monday, was intended to keep customers informed as to what the company was doing to fix their problems. "As we've been going through some of our growing pains, we've tried our best to keep our customers informed about what we're doing," he said. "The e-mail campaign [Monday] was intended to do two things. One, to give people an idea of the progress we're making, but also to lay out what we're doing for compensation."

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The move, which seems to have quieted the growing discontent among TypePad's vocal customers, was hailed by Steve Rubel, a marketing consultant with CooperKatz. "They're exemplary of customer service," he said. "The response has been excellent, and they're using the blog as part of their channel, and they're practicing good blog customer service, because they're one of the architects of the medium." Rubel runs his own blog about public relations, MicroPersuasion.com, which is hosted by TypePad. He said he had suffered some inconvenience due to the outages.

Pete Blackshaw, chief marketing officer of blog monitoring firm Intelliseek, added that TypePad turned an unfortunate situation--users were ready to "to take the service to the woodshed," he said--into a PR coup for the company. "This is a great example of how you take a bad situation and use it to nurture fanatical brand evangelists. It's a classic example of an 'operational' decision that creates positive word-of-mouth," said Blackshaw, who also runs a blog hosted by TypePad.

Some TypePad users, however, are less convinced by the gesture. Blogger Kevin Holland, who runs Associations, Inc., a site about management, technology, and marketing, said that without a fix, the gesture is useless. "You could offer me 365 free days of their service and it wouldn't mean a damn thing, because who wants 365 free days of service from a system that doesn't work?" he wrote on his blog. "No more apologies, no more bizarre attempts to make amends. Let's just face facts: TypePad doesn't work."

TypePad declined to release the number of active, paying users on its servers--all of whom received this offer of free service, but a TypePad spokeswoman described the financial commitment required as "significant."

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