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Damo

Response from WHMCS about the feedback.

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Hello,

There's been plenty of feedback about the recent announcements from WHMCS about the changes to licences and pricing. 
 

Apart from two replies (Chris, and John (referencing Chris')) it's just silence from the WHMCS side. 
 

Does WHMCS have nothing to say in a reply to all the feedback provided? 
 

*Please keep this thread quiet until a response comes from WHMCS staff. There are other threads open to share our experience/comments/disgust. 

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All you will get are likely to be canned responses, written or at least reviewed by the VC legal department in order to prevent anything being said that's in any way usable against them. "Party line" comments like "bringing pricing in line" and "in order to provide ongoing" will be sprinkled throughout, if they respond at all.

They're waiting for the anger to fade. Then back to business as usual. 

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On 4/11/2021 at 9:18 PM, Damo said:

Does WHMCS have nothing to say in a reply to all the feedback provided? 

@WHMCS John @WHMCS ChrisD surely by now, with all the feedback and grievances aired, WHMCS will have something to say publicly to their customers. 

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Hi Damo,

Thank you for starting this thread.

I want to start by saying that our team fully understands that the price changes announced last week do have an impact on our users and their businesses.

We are continuing to listen to all the feedback and opinions being shared, and your comments and feedback really are being heard and discussed at the highest levels within our company.

We are also responding and engaging with many customers directly via our support desk and other channels. If anyone has any questions or concerns that they feel have not yet been addressed, I would invite them to email us on sales[at]whmcs.com or using the contact form at www.whmcs.com/contact

With that said, I wanted to respond to a few specific points.

To frame the discussion in full context; the vast majority of WHMCS customers are not experiencing any change to their pricing, and that is important to us.

We've provided a tiered pricing structure since 2016 and are confident that it establishes a good link between the size of a business that our automation facilitates and price. Whilst simultaneously not penalising businesses who may have a smaller number of  anchor customers providing the majority of revenue. Over the past few weeks, we've had some interesting conversations with users about other models WHMCS is enabling, which will help shape future decisions.

As a business, from time to time we will review our pricing and make changes. The changes announced recently are the result of extensive consideration and discussions with our customers and partners.

We fully understand that the changes to Owned Licenses are impactful to many. The primary issue we are trying to address by announcing the End of Life of the Owned License product is the scenario whereby users allow their Support and Updates subscription to lapse, and then at a future date, re-subscribe, and in turn, receive access to all of the product developments and improvements made, even during the time Support and Updates was not active. There is no way for us to address this technically, and so a change to the way we manage Owned Licenses was the only way. While we did consider introducing a policy of backpay from the date of expiry along with the price changes, we believed that requiring Owned users to pay for many months at a time was less preferable than asking for monthly payments.

Equally it is not possible for us to separate or differentiate the costs between development and support. While we understand that some users have lower needs for Technical Support, we have a 24x7 Technical Support team available for the benefit of all our customers and we believe that this is essential for a good product experience long term where inevitably support will be needed at some point.

We know there have also been a lot of comments regarding feature requests delivery in what some consider an acceptable timeframe, or bugs they've reported which have not been addressed. The reality is we receive far more requests and reports of issues than we could ever deliver. But we have always done our best to accommodate as many as we can and we are continuing to invest in additional staff and resources which will enable us to accelerate our development throughput and deliver more change in future.

Thank you, and I look forward to continuing to deliver an even better support experience to those who choose WHMCS to continue to run and operate their business.

 

Thanks,

John

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1 hour ago, WHMCS John said:

We fully understand that the changes to Owned Licenses are impactful to many. The primary issue we are trying to address by announcing the End of Life of the Owned License product is the scenario whereby users allow their Support and Updates subscription to lapse, and then at a future date, re-subscribe, and in turn, receive access to all of the product developments and improvements made, even during the time Support and Updates was not active. There is no way for us to address this technically, and so a change to the way we manage Owned Licenses was the only way. While we did consider introducing a policy of backpay from the date of expiry along with the price changes, we believed that requiring Owned users to pay for many months at a time was less preferable than asking for monthly payments.

Except there is. In fact, plenty of models are available to avoid what you described.

PRTG (in reality a hidden subscription).

If you skip the updates & support, you need to pay all the retroactive ones.

That means, if someone does not pay the support and updates for 2 years, and only decides to pay on year 3, Paessler just makes them also pay the previous years. Plenty of companies do that to avoid users skipping payment to only get the latest release. I have no idea what they do once the yearly subscriptions are higher than the existing purchase price. I guess at that point its cheaper just to buy a new license instead of paying the support & updates.

An even better model Jet Brain products. The subscription is yearly, but you can decide to stop paying at anytime, and you are entitled to the last years version. Example:

You pay the subscription in 2021. On 2022 you decide to cancel, you don't get access to the latest release but get a permanent license for the first day of the subscription. If you decide to pay stop paying in 2023, but paid 2021 and 2022 you get the latest 2022 release. And of course, paying the yearly subscription is cheaper than buy a new one from scratch. This model is even better than Paessler with PRTG because it combines both subscription and owned.

And then there is a third model, just have updates without support or bill extra for support. And you are not really making owned license EOL because that software is the same you are supporting for people with active monthly subscription. You are just making the billing EOL, the patches are for the same software, you just decided to stop selling those people support and updates. There is nothing technically in the WHMCS licensing model that cannot check the paid subscriptions in the past and current software version. Technically your company could have decided to do that assuming your reply was honest and you wanted to avoid people just paying the subscription to get the latest updates but skipping previous ones. Either way, how this was done was awful. Email from day to the other telling everyone their software will be become worthless in the future and they need to move to a new subscription. And besides the owned licenses, you forget the price increases for existing subscriptions.

Sure, supporting different billing models might be more complex but if WHMCS can't do that as a company, then you have bigger problems ahead because at least for me, the yearly support & updates was always a subscription. I'm not sure how many people actually did what you claimed, skipping a year or two and then only paying the 3 year because I know for a fact that at least once a year a security patch was released. How would decide to run a business with a security hole in their software? The yearly 99$ fee was very affordable for anyone running a business. If someone has a hard time paying that, what makes you think they will move to an even more expensive pricing model with the subscription fees?

Personally, the way the software is encoded and WHMCS can decide to cut you off tomorrow is just scary. From a business perspective, this is a model that only works if you seriously trust the company behind the software and some of that trust is already lost. I'm afraid WHMCS might decide to do something even more drastic tomorrow and only give people days to find something else. I can't keep using WHMCS for this reason. My customers belong to all the efforts and hard work I did, why would I risk losing years of work for one software...its only time wasted to keep developing things for WHMCS or even buying modules because tomorrow it will be all gone in one simple email. I rather invest all those resources in something I control and nobody can take away.

That also goes for other products like cPanel which is almost completely replaced at this point with a custom solution. Why would I keep working every day to give and share my profits with someone that adds nothing to my business? WHMCS is not giving us customers. And it certainly is not helping keeping our servers, network and support. There is no way anyone serious about their business will go with another tax model system. If you are a small startup this puts you out of the market automatically as bigger companies don't have a fee per customer. And bigger companies with thousands of clients would never go with such a model either as it would cost them a fortune every month. The CEO would be removed by the shareholders immediately while trying to explain why and how they are giving a big chunk of their profits to another company when it costs them less to hire developers or an external company to create the same software.

The per-user model only makes sense if WHMCS has a cost per user, which they don't. It costs WHMCS the same if we have 100 customers or one million as we are the ones paying the costs to run the software. Its a short time model that will give WHMCS money tomorrow but not in the long run and gaining new customers is harder than upgrading existing ones or keeping them. Those lost WHMCS customers are not coming back.

Edited by yggdrasil

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1 hour ago, WHMCS John said:

To frame the discussion in full context; the vast majority of WHMCS customers are not experiencing any change to their pricing, and that is important to us.

Say what now?
Owned license holders were paying $59.95 every 6 months (if they stayed up to date). That's nearly $120/year. The new licensing has the lowest license costing $227.40/year. My math says that's approaching twice the cost. How is your math showing no changes to the "vast majority" of license holders? Absolutely NO customers will see no change at all, unless I've missed something here. 

Quote

we believed that requiring Owned users to pay for many months at a time was less preferable than asking for monthly payments.

This is so ludicrous I nearly didn't respond. You yank the rug on us, then say that?
The proper way for your owned license holders would have been to say "from today onward, you must keep current or you will lose access to newer versions and support, until such time as you pay to make it current, including anything due from the last payment made.". This would place the onus on us to keep current or be "fined" to get back up to date. 
But then, the fees are far lower for that method, so subscription and the "deny access if in arrears" is a much friendlier approach. Really. Well done. 

Edited by bear

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52 minutes ago, bear said:

Say what now?
Owned license holders were paying $59.95 every 6 months (if they stayed up to date). That's nearly $120/year. The new licensing has the lowest license costing $227.40/year. My math says that's approaching twice the cost. How is your math showing no changes to the "vast majority" of license holders? Absolutely NO customers will see no change at all, unless I've missed something here. 

This is so ludicrous I nearly didn't respond. You yank the rug on us, then say that?
The proper way for your owned license holders would have been to say "from today onward, you must keep current or you will lose access to newer versions and support, until such time as you pay to make it current, including anything due from the last payment made.". This would place the onus on us to keep current or be "fined" to get back up to date. 
But then, the fees are far lower for that method, so subscription and the "deny access if in arrears" is a much friendlier approach. Really. Well done. 

Without mentioning that you had unlimited accounts for a fixed cost before, and now you don't. It completely changes how you do business and how your products and services are priced. If you take that into account, the price is not based on the lowest monthly slap but the highest possible.

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My comment about there being no change to the vast majority of license holders is because the vast majority are on leased licenses, and we were able to keep the pricing for the most popular Plus tier unchanged at $18.95/month. In the case of Owned license holders only, you are correct to say that all will see an increase.

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@WHMCS John 

Okay maybe you guys thought this well but due to the recent events and outrage from your clients[the ones who supported your software since many years and you would have been nothing if it wasn't for them] are willing to see them go just because of the recent decision on pricing/owned licenses? Don't you think you guys think you took a wrong path? 

Not to mention you didn't even try to kill clients with the recent pricing, but even developers/designers who are using your software at the first place to sell their RELATED WHMCS products/themes. You are decreasing their profit[they need to pay more for your software due to their client limitations] therefore they will have to take the necessary changes[use a different billing]. 

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34 minutes ago, AALayer said:

@WHMCS John 

Okay maybe you guys thought this well but due to the recent events and outrage from your clients[the ones who supported your software since many years and you would have been nothing if it wasn't for them] are willing to see them go just because of the recent decision on pricing/owned licenses? Don't you think you guys think you took a wrong path? 

Not to mention you didn't even try to kill clients with the recent pricing, but even developers/designers who are using your software at the first place to sell their RELATED WHMCS products/themes. You are decreasing their profit[they need to pay more for your software due to their client limitations] therefore they will have to take the necessary changes[use a different billing]. 

I think most people here don't understand the purpose of price changes like this. All you need to look is previous history about software companies sold or merged before. One way to clean your customer base and get rid of a specific type of people is raising prices to force them to leave.

They are absolutely willing to see those customers go because they are changing their market focus. They don't want that type of market anymore based on hosting companies hosting their software. As I said before, WHMCS is moving to a SaaS model. Software as a Service. That is very different from selling software. You now sell a service.

They are not interested in selling software. They want to sell a cloud service and WHMCS is their cloud app. It makes sense for them from a piracy perspective and support as well money. WHMCS wants to compete vs things like Shopify.

They will sell WHMCS as a hosted service in the future. It already started years ago and these are planned moves after meetings and meetings. It was not something they decided overnight. The end goal is very clear. Hosted WHMCS software is going completely away in the future. It was never a secret once you see how on every new release they lock things more and more for changes, customizations and developers when it comes to editing code directly. They slowly started to move everything to hooks and API. Why else do you people think they removed menus from Smarty and Links to put them only accessible behind hooks?

Because you are not getting access to Smarty files and templates in the future. In a SaaS model, you don't get access to the WHMCS files and software, that means all changes need to rely on external hooks and API's. You will just be able to modify things that way without access to any file directly, or code, neither HTML, neither Smarty nor anything else. Design changes will probably be looked to a WYSIWYG box on which you paste HTML directly or just select the colors from a menu to brand your website.

And history will prove me right on this. This is not speculation. Maybe it will not happen this year, or the next one, but it's coming. Every step they made regarding pricing and in the software code points that way.

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9 minutes ago, yggdrasil said:

And history will prove me right on this. This is not speculation. Maybe it will not happen this year, or the next one, but it's coming. Every step they made regarding pricing and in the software code points that way.

I used to think it was speculation, but I think you're right on all counts here. All indications are there, if you look objectively. 
Not immediate, but on the horizon, surely. 

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33 minutes ago, bear said:

I used to think it was speculation, but I think you're right on all counts here. All indications are there, if you look objectively. 
Not immediate, but on the horizon, surely. 

First they will launch a SaaS hosted option without removing anything that exists today.

Then they will make the SaaS hosted more attractive, maybe with a cheaper pricing per account or maybe with some extras not available on the self-hosted one. Not everyone will move...as usual.

Eventually they will make the SaaS options the higher priority on their website and ordering page for new users.

Eventually they will hide or make it harder to find the self-hosted option.

After some time they will stop letting people order the self-hosted options all together. It will be only SaaS but they will promise that existing users plans will be honored (we saw that before...)

After even more time, maybe a year or two, they will email or announce to everyone on self-hosted plans they need to move to the SaaS before making the final move.

It just started with us owned license holders, but the same path will eventually come to everyone. The reason they do this in steps is to avoid losing as many users as they can and make it less dramatic for the user while migrating. This was long planned...

It started on version 6 already. We are now in 8. Version 7 saw the most dramatic changes, v8 they started to make changes to how subaccounts and accounts work all together, as the more accounts they can count the better for billing in the future. Next releases, mark my words, will see new cloud/WHMCS services bundled that rely on their servers or services to work instead of local code running in your servers.

Most of the changes that implement lock down, are not documented in the change logs, and some people just found out about stuff removed or locked here in the forums. But everything so far, in the past 2 years is pointing towards that. In a SaaS box, you don't get FTP or SFTP access to edit or manipulate files. The reason that today you need to use hooks and API to change even some design elements like CSS, colors or HTML links, is the clear indication they are down the lock path.

It actually started when they refused to stop giving people access to the source code. In the past you could pay for that, sign a NDA agreement and pay a fee, and WHMCS was willing to give you the module completely open for changes. Then from one day to the other they refused to sell that option.

It's coming. Just see how they have hard coded links in WHMCS, links and paths you could previously change in Smarty Files. Why in the world would they remove such basic HTML code from the template files? Nothing stops a software from using both, template files and hooks and API. Technically there was no reason to do that. Yet, every new release you see more and more code removed from files you could previously edit or modify. You don't purposely make your software more complex for users unless you are trying to force everyone to use a specific method or system to make changes.

I was sure SaaS is in the planning, but at least something in me, a tiny % imagined they would just try to sell all possible options and let users pick their choices. That email about forcing owned licenses to a new pricing subscription was the final indication they are not planning on keeping any self-hosted version in the future. Today they are trying everyone to move to a monthly subscription. Once everyone is on that path, killing self-hosted will be far easier.

Speculation? Maybe not...

Hosted Edition | WHMCS

Snag_3de2079.png

And I don't blame them. Everyone wants to have something cloud related. Some people might actually prefer such a service. But I suspect most of the old WHMCS and original users don't. This is the main reason for forced changes. They want to move into a new type of customer, not those that host WHMCS on their own servers. Kayako did it and many others did the same.

Edited by yggdrasil

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2 hours ago, yggdrasil said:

They want to move into a new type of customer, not those that host WHMCS on their own servers. Kayako did it and many others did the same.

I believe you're right. 
Kayako rid themselves of owned users by making it so onerously expensive that most would balk, and those that paid eventually saw the lack of attention to updating it received and moved on or decided the better solution was the SAAS version, as that one got all the feature requests that stagnated for 4 or more years (sound familiar?) rolled into it. The "classic" version got none. 

I'm not big on "cloud" personally, and even more so when it comes to billing applications. Where I'm responsible of someone gains access to my system, what happens if someone gains access to the SAAS server? That could be epically bad. 

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If they think hosting companies are going to let someone else host their billing system, they must be crazy.

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5 hours ago, slim said:

If they think hosting companies are going to let someone else host their billing system, they must be crazy.

It certainly looks awful, if you offer web hosting services but don't even use your own servers to host your customer area or ordering website.

As a potential customer I would seriously distrust that provider. It's like offering email services to customers but then using for your own commercial email service with Gmail or Microsoft.

Not only that. It's a compliance nightmare. GDPR forget it, PCI compliance, forget it. Selling to specific health sectors, or the government, forget it. The data that is inside WHMCS is extremely sensitive and usually is never outsourced to a third party. There is just so many things that would fall out of proper audits.

I'm also very sure that WHMCS will not be able to achieve the proper uptime, SLA and security that some might already have today. They can't do that for their own website, license checker, this community and many other things, why would we trust them to run hundreds or thousands of different WHMCS installations...with top perfect uptime and security...

In my case, I would never host this data on an external network, I don't care what they advertise in terms of quality or security. The fact is that your database, and one of the most important ones in your business is out of your control. I have no idea who they plan to target in that regard as a market, hosting companies and technology providers certainly not as they already have the experience to run software on their own.

Edited by yggdrasil

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Unfortunately this is the idea of the group that assimilated cpanel, plesk, whmcs among others, aiming at profit and total control.

From the point of view today there seems to be no change in values, but this will be a major future problem, for some like us who have a low average ticket, but we have many users, the new billing model will be a very short future problem.

SaaS model, ridiculous, I would NEVER put my BD in control of another company, sincerely, I hope you will review it and change your mind.

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The group Oakley Capital owns several hosting companies. That should raise a flag or five. Parallels tried something similar some years back. If you rely on software products like cPanel, Plesk or WHMCS they can put you in a very tough situation tomorrow, but not their own investments which can and are probably your competitors.

On their own site they mention something like this:

The cost of cPanel and Plesk is a fraction of the overall cost of a typical hosting package.

What does that tell you? They want a fraction of every hosting package sold by companies they don't own, and if you also have WHMCS, double the fraction. You are basically paying them to put you out of business as your money goes to competitors.

What are you going to do if WHMCS tomorrow wants $3 a month per active customer? Or cPanel wants $5 per account, and you are using both products?

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@WHMCS John I use in my life to look at both sides of the coin. I do believe that both sides, Company and Clients, have their own opinions, right or false, depending of which side they're looking at the coin.

There is just one dark point in pricing tiers, that is out of logic. Please rename "Active Clients" with "Paid Clients". There is someone here, sorry that I don't remember his name,  (I was also on the same side some years ago), who offers free products among with the paid products. Is very easy to determine if someone has bought (paid) something from someone who just ordered and in most cases, downloaded a free product (but can be anything free eg a domain).

According to which kind of logic a Paid Client is equivalent to a Free Client?

That's all. Everything else, as I wrote before, depends on the side of view.

Chris

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4 hours ago, WHMUp said:

@WHMCS John I use in my life to look at both sides of the coin. I do believe that both sides, Company and Clients, have their own opinions, right or false, depending of which side they're looking at the coin.

There is just one dark point in pricing tiers, that is out of logic. Please rename "Active Clients" with "Paid Clients". There is someone here, sorry that I don't remember his name,  (I was also on the same side some years ago), who offers free products among with the paid products. Is very easy to determine if someone has bought (paid) something from someone who just ordered and in most cases, downloaded a free product (but can be anything free eg a domain).

According to which kind of logic a Paid Client is equivalent to a Free Client?

That's all. Everything else, as I wrote before, depends on the side of view.

Chris

Paid Clients would still make little difference with the new licensing model. Imagine someone making a one time payment only for a single purchase. But the WHMCS license for that user account will still cost you money for life, every month that account has a cost but that person only was a one time income account.

Edited by yggdrasil

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52 minutes ago, yggdrasil said:

Paid Clients would still make little difference with the new licensing model. Imagine someone making a one time payment only for a single purchase. But the WHMCS license for that user account will still cost you money for life, every month that account has a cost but that person only was a one time income account.

You're correct and I also had this is in mind but I wanted to write the most important. There are also other similar situation. At least that one who paid one time payment is somehow Client. What about those who paid once for a recurring payment?  WHMCS blame those with owned license who renew periodically only the renewals, but from the other side they count them for you and for me as Active clients.

Edited by WHMUp

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