I’ve been a longtime Hootsuite customer, over five years, and came to trust the relationship to their automated billing plan, even though I didn’t use the social media tool that often. However, this last year, Hootsuite raised their rate nearly 500%, from $119/year to $588/year and automatically billed my credit card, which I didn’t notice right away. I don’t use Hootsuite’s tool anywhere near enough to justify that cost.
Sure, they apparently sent an email about this astronomical rate increase, but who has time to read the blizzard of emails from corporations? When I signed up for Hootsuite six years ago, was there a clause in our agreement that said “Hootsuite reserves the right raise our rates 500% and not let you out of the yearly plan if you don’t notice right away”?
An ethical company that values it’s relationship with customers might think before extraordinary rate increases that it may have some cleanup work to do in the year following the increase, and may have to let some customers out of the locked in yearly plan even if they didn’t notice right away. (It was on year-end bookkeeping that I noticed, after a few months).
Instead, Hootsuite seems to discourage customer service response. There is no phone number for a billing department to call — instead you have to rely on an email ticketing system that draws simple conversations out over the course of several days (ticket #2308712). And the Hootsuite representatives you correspond with aren’t authorized to make sensible exceptions to handle customer concerns. I was told that because their payment system is “self serve” (that is, automated by some robot server), Hootsuite can’t handle things like pro-rated refunds to release unhappy customers from the jacked up yearly rate. They raise their rates 500%, but this apparently isn’t enough to cover responsive customer service.
My hope is that sensibility prevails at Hootsuite and they at least issue a pro-rated refund of their jacked up yearly fee. Hootsuite has created yet another “gotcha” charge where if you don’t totally keep on top of your annual services, they catch you with astronomical zombie billing. Is this legal? I don’t know. But it certainly isn’t ethical, and shows that Hootsuite doesn’t value the experience of its customers.