Inside the StomperNet War Room

It has now been more than 2 months since StomperNet’s launch for The Net Effect, their new print publication. It was officially released on September 4th 2008 and you probably recall that I was very enthusiastic about this product, and the accompanying offers.

Over the last couple of months I had become frustrated, and ultimately disappointed by this promotion. I decided it was finally time to sit down and draft up a blog post on the topic. As a courtesy, I sent a copy of the draft to Andy Jenkins and Tom Ham before publishing.

A meeting was called immediately, and I was personally invited to the 'war room' at StomperNet headquarters to address the issues. Genuinely interested in resolution, I kept the post in draft and traveled the 6+ hours round trip to join the SN team in Atlanta...

I walked in to find 8 of StomperNet's finest around the table. And when I say finest I dont mean a random group of behind the scenes folks. This hand-selected group of 8 practically stepped right off the cover of The Net Effect, with Andy Jenkins at the head of the table.

I walked into that room representing my market, and also fellow JV partners and affiliates. I had an objective - and so did they.

To be fair, StomperNet was not the sole source of my frustration. There have been a number of sour launches in our industry over the past year or so, and I'm less than pleased with the toll it's taken on the market.

I am very cautious about getting behind people or products these days, and go out of my way to check them out thoroughly for myself before recommending them to my readers. With StomperNet for example, I attended two of their live events (on my own dime) and reviewed the product & offer for this launch with great detail.

There was good reason for my enthusiasm about their product, and for my involvement with their launch. It wasnt just about affiliate commissions, which some may assume. The content was incredible, and the offer was a real no-brainer. This was something I definitely wanted my readers to have.

The launch was for The Net Effect, which is StomperNet's new print publication. The offer was simple: you got the premier issue of The Net Effect plus Stomping the Search Engines 2.0 (StSE2) both for free. The only cost was shipping & handling. Obviously the goal was to encourage people to try the publication, and to build a subscriber base of happy readers.

There were several one-time offers too, which were also a great deal. This was the first time in over 4 years that StomperNet had offered any stand-alone product, outside of their $800/month membership option. It was a great opportunity to get your choice of their products for a one-time affordable price.

The launch was a huge success. They had over 17,000 orders.

You're probably familiar with what happened next. There were some issues with order fulfillment, with people getting their packages in a timely manner, with reaching customer service, etc. Complaints starting showing up everywhere.

StomperNet dropped everything to deal with these issues. They postponed everything else on the calendar, and had everyone on staff working full-time on resolution. Some of their primary product developers were pulled down to personally handle customer service issues on the micro level even.

As one of their top JV partners on the launch, I considered it my personal responsibility to help out in any way that I could. I had highly recommended the product, and was prepared to stand behind it to the end.

I kept a constant FAQ open via both my blog and on Twitter throughout the launch and the weeks following. I also kept a running list of shipping issues from my own referrals, and sent those in as a batch request to my contact at StomperNet - which was of course the affiliate manager.

Fast forward two months: I was still handling a small but consistent trickle of StomperNet issues by email, complaints on my blog, and I still had referrals who hadnt received their package yet. I also received my first affiliate check from the launch, which raised a lot of questions on its own.

It was the final straw for me. I was ready to pull out altogether and just call it a loss. As I mentioned earlier, this wasnt my first bout of frustration with product launches and I'd finally reached my limit.

Mind you, it still wasnt about affiliate commissions. For me it was about my reputation, about time invested in someone else's product and brand, and about my community and their experience with the company I recommended.

But while I was ready to call this particular promotion a loss, I also recognized the potential damage this could do to my business in the long run. Would my readers be gun-shy about ordering the next product I recommended? Sure, and with good reason. I was even gun-shy about getting on board with another promotion myself.

Ultimately it came down to serving my market, and sweeping this under the rug just wasnt the right thing to do. I decided to address it head-on.

I'll confess there was some emotion involved when I sat down to write up the blog post. I was writing it from my personal perspective and experience, and I was none too happy.

As I sat there with my mouse hovering over the publish button, I started having mixed feelings. The offer was awesome. StomperNet had been good to me, and I still held a strong belief that they were "the good guys". The product is absolutely fabulous (I am a paying subscriber myself). And ultimately, my concession would not properly serve my market. As a leader in this industry, accepting the status quo was... unacceptable.

Within half an hour of sending the email, I received a phone call from one of StomperNet's top partners: Dan Thies. Dan is someone that I have grown to trust and respect highly over the last year, and we had a very candid conversation about my issues with The Net Effect launch.

I told Dan that I was least concerned about any current or future commissions, and just wanted my customers well taken care of so I could just put the whole thing to rest once and for all.

Mind you, I only had 2 or 3 referrals left (out of hundreds) who hadnt received their package from StomperNet yet, and plenty of happy customers who absolutely loved the product, but its those few complaints that stand out - and make all of us look bad.

The War Room

For the record, StomperNet was not playing favorites with me nor was I there to brown-nose. We are each an icon in the industry, and each have a strong passion for making a difference. My issues were used as a case study to explore the affiliate experience, take a real look at number samples, and to make improvements across the board.

They were equally as interested in what I had to say as I was them.

The war room was actually set up in a conference room at the Atlanta Hilton. The entire team of 30+ was there to train on their new software systems. Systems which cost them more than 6 figures, and were specifically put in place to resolve the very issues we met to discuss.

At the top of the whiteboard was my name "Lynn Terry" and what followed was an outline of the issues with very specific customer data and a breakdown of all the details.

We talked about specific customers who hadnt received product, about the delivery issues, customer support, billing & cancellations, frequency of publication, inaccuracies in the affiliate stats, etc.

We went over my list of known customer issues as well, and they shared micro-level data with me on every single one. They even showed me the entire history of correspondence and action with every individual person I mentioned.

The list of 17,000 records was broken down to people like Janice, Dan and Roland. We talked detail. It was overwhelmingly obvious that StomperNet wanted nothing more than to resolve each and every case.

They set up a new email address on the spot to escalate any and all customer support issues from my group. This was meant to relieve me of personally handling StomperNet issues, and also as a way for me to personally track resolution.

They walked me through all of their new software systems and solutions, explaining in detail what went wrong and what they are doing to resolve it. I'll be sharing this same information I learned with you soon, as Andy Jenkins is documenting it all and will make that available publicly in the next few weeks.

Specific details that were discussed include:

  • Customer Support
    Every single customer issue has been responded to at least once. If for some reason you tried to reach customer service regarding your Net Effect order and havent received their reply, email me with your StomperNet receipt and I will personally help you get resolution on that.
    StomperNet also has a new toll free number manned by 40 customer service reps, where you'll be able to get someone on the phone live for anything you need related to this offer. I believe the announcement for that is coming in the next week.
  • Product Delivery Issues
    Every package has been shipped at least once. Many of them have been shipped twice, and some 3 times. Their main mission at this point is to make sure everyone has received the product. For those customers that experienced unusually long delays due to a problem with the original fulfillment company, StomperNet has been overcompensating with additional products and offers.
  • Customer Billing
    Billing dates were adjusted according to shipping dates, to reflect a true return date & cancellation period. You werent billed for The Net Effect subscription 30 days after you submitted your order, but rather 35 days after your order was shipped.
  • Affiliate Stats & Payments
    Due to the delay in billing for the first month, referring affiliates would not receive commissions that first month - or until the first actual billing date had passed.
    The customer data sheet that was sent out with the first commision check had some inaccuraces. If you didnt recognize the customer records on that sheet, dont fret. Log in to your affiliate account for accurate spreadsheets, and watch for a note from the affiliate manager on that as well.
    There was also question about the number of cancellations displayed in those records, which has now been updated to reflect the true numbers. Its not as bad as you thought - your referred customers are actually very happy with the product ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Product Availability
    The Net Effect just keeps getting better with every single issue, and you can expect this publication to be around for years to come. The cart is currently closed for new orders while they make sure their current customers are well taken care of, but will re-open before the end of the year.
    The second issue of The Net Effect is already arriving on doorsteps, and once all customer issues are properly handled they will be back on a consistent monthly publishing schedule. You are not billed automatically on a monthly basis, but rather when the next issue ships - so any concerns about the space of time between the first two issues can be put to rest.

I walked away from this meeting with concrete resolution, and with renewed faith in the industry as a whole. And my gut instinct about StomperNet was spot-on all along: this is a company that cares, and that is willing to go out of their way to make a positive difference at the micro-level.

I got to see firsthand what caused the problems, and how they are personally working night and day to resolve them...

They have fired the original (personally recommended) fulfillment company and hired another more reliable company. They have purchased high end software systems and are training all of their faculty & staff members to properly operate them. They have spent no less than 6 figures repairing the inner mechanics of their business model, and have put everything else on hold to bring all team members into solution mode.

They are in the hole on this product release, but feel confident that their solutions plus the quality of content in the product will turn this into a success in the long run. That forward thinking is one of the things that impressed me the most. This is not a company that was out to have a "million dollar payday" and then disappear on you.

The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of happy customers subscribed to The Net Effect. The complaints represented a very small percentage of the overall orders. Thousands of packages arrived in a timely manner, and thousands of people are devouring the high quality content.

For the individual customers that I referred who had issues, I hand-delivered those records to the appropriate person and was guaranteed resolution within 24 hours.

Andy Jenkins asked me if I would like for him to personally call those customers, or if I would like for him to join me on one of my live webinars to address the issues. While I appreciated the generous offer, and thanked him for that, I let him know that your faith in me on this matter would be sufficient.

For those of you that are subscribed to The Net Effect, keep an eye out for the 3rd Issue which will be mailing out later this month. I'm featured in it - and yes, really this time (lol).

I submitted the article to them a couple of months ago, which was accepted and scheduled to appear in this 3rd issue well before any negative press or this particular 'war room meeting' was set up. Watch for it. I am stoked to have my content appear in this incredible publication.

I hope this clears up any questions or concerns about StomperNet, or their release of The Net Effect. It did for me. If you have an outstanding issue with your order, feel free to contact me personally for resolution. My email address is Lynn-AT-ClickNewz-DOT-com.

By the way, the only regret that I have over investing 12+ hours of my time into this yesterday... is that I didnt take any photos or video to capture the intensity of this meeting for you. It was hands-down the most powerful roundtable I have ever sat in on.

StomperNet cares. They care about their customers. About their affiliates and JV partners. About Janice in Canada that is patiently awaiting her package from them. About me, and about you.

Best,

p.s. When the cart re-opens next month, you can bet that I'll be promoting The Net Effect again. It will re-open permanently once all of the delivery issues are resolved, and be available publicly - without scarcity or shady marketing tactics. You can expect this product to become an icon in the industry...


If you're looking for Internet Marketing tips & news you can trust, make sure you're subscribed to Lynn Terry's primary mailing list at Self-Starters Weekly Tips. Lynn offers free weekly webinars and an active discussion forum at that site in addition to the informative newsletter.

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreยป

Discussion

  1. Alan Petersen says

    RiK - save the drama. Lynn has proven herself for years as a trustworthy person who looks after her list/readers like NO ONE else in this business. You expect her to be able to look into the future? She made the recommendation based on the information at hand not what could happen in the future. Lynn has gone well beyond the call of duty here and doesn't deserve your tripe. Too much negativity from you--even your website is a "sucks" type site whining about another company. People -- if you have ordered five months ago and have not received your order or refund issue a charge-back with your credit card company! Lynn has done all she can do. Five months is more than enough time of letting them get their crap in order so just issue a charge-back and move on.

  2. I just want to second what Natalie said. I too am very upset with the way Stompernet treated me, but in no way can I blame Lynn for that.

    Without Lynn's hard work and personal involvement, I would never have got anywhere with them. All my e-mails were ignored or not addressed, and my requests for refunds never happened.

    Thanks to Lynn's prodding, things have been done, and I'm well on the way to a full refund.

    I would never buy anything from Stompernet again, but I would trust Lynn completely, and would buy from her, or through her affiliate link without hesitation because I know that I'll get first class back up in case of any problems.

    It's important to understand who to blame and who to praise. It's easy to blame Lynn as the one who recommended the product in the first place, but she did that based on a previous history of good service from Stompernet, and what she considered a good product. She had no idea that they would screw up big time, and then be so backwards in sorting out the problems.

    She went overboard in helping people went it all went wrong, and she's STILL DOING THAT, right until today. You find me anyone, and I mean anyone in IM who would spend so much time and expend so much effort on helping their customers, and I'll be amazed.

    Just my opinion, but Lynn is tops in my book ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. lynn... ( Got My Refund )

    Hi this is edwin long time no speak, "finally got my refund" I think it is all of it or pretty sure, but I will double check again.

    You can take me off the list if you had me on the list. Feel great I got it back....;>)

    However... I cannot ever recommend Stompernet to anyone would be worried that the same thing that happen to me would happen to them.

    Lynn nothing is a perfect world, and things happen, so I do not hold you responsible for recommending someone whom I thought was highly reputable.

    ********* LYNN SUGGESTION ***********
    However, food for thought Lynn...Maybe suggest to Stompernet that they throw a bone a free product to those casualties as myself to ease the pain the bad experience we had.

    I would if I were them, the least they can do is kick something back of value for the trouble and aggravation they caused many people including me.

    ****************************************

    They did not rip me off so I cannot never claim I was ripped off for those reading this, they did not deliver products and took long getting refund but they did not rip me off ...guys...;>(

    So Stompernet "thanks for getting me back my refund" and please get someone that can manage fulfillment of those orders ๐Ÿ™‚

    And Lynn...... the new lesson I have learned from you, is to be careful recommending products even with organizations like Stompernet with big known names on their staff that made them so credible, this was a big shock to me since I viewed as top of their game and profession.

    The problem is lynn, that I guess we cannot predict the future on who will be "lemons" as you could not with this one.

    So I will think 2-3-4 times now before I recommend somenoe.

    Lynn this must have been one big bad experience for you as well, this can happen to me or anyone else in the future.

    ***********************************
    ( For whatever it is worth I know you only recommended someone that you also were sold on their reputation and the big guns on their staff as I was also.

    But what does this mean that I will not buy things online anymore, no ...hell no I am an entrepreneur and with being an entrepreneur there will be battle scars along the way.

    So if you have anything worth while again to recommend I will still take a look at it, lynn I know it was not your fault...lets move on and one day see you at one of those conferences where the "heavy online internet marketers gather"...take care your friend ....edwinnyc...;>))))) )

    * What did you learn from this that you can teach me and others to be careful with.

    * What line of defense if any have you come up with that you and your sswt members can implement to minimize such a disaster from happening again.

    I am sure among your peers who make a living full time online, you have privately chatted about this bad experience with stompernet and possibly what you guys can do to at least minimize this from happening to you again since it your guys reputation that stomepernet did not protect nor their own.

    • Juliette says

      Good for you getting a refund.

      I got most of mine, but they shortchanged me by about $5. Whilst I wouldn't normally worry too much about such a small amount, I was (and still am) very angry at the way I had to fight every step of the way to get anything, and then when they did refund, they didn't send all of it.

      They have stopped answering my e-mails now, so I guess thy have proven how little they care about their customers.

      I would never, ever buy anything from them again. They have proven themselves to be totally dishonest and incapable.

      Like most other people here, I don't blame Lynn one bit for this. She's a star and has worked really hard to try and sort this out. The problem lies 100% with Stompernet and their lousy attitude towards their customers.

      • George Kedourie says

        Hi Juliette,

        Understand you perfectly...I did get my last $6 and some cents refunded back in November.....after posting here above, about how I felt.

        I hope it turns up for you.

        I was fuming about it, because of the utter lack of respect that was shown to their customers, whilst proclaiming themselves to be the people from whom to learn.

        Until I came across Lynn's post I had thought that I was the only 'lucky' one!

        I guess you are 'luckier' than me!

        Best Wishes,
        George

        • George Kedourie says

          And PS,

          My promised complimentary copy of The Net Effect still has not arrived six months later,
          so I guess I am still 'lucky'!

  4. I only have one word for Stompernet, PATHETIC

  5. Robert Nelson says

    They will probably become the model for what not to do concerning a Product Launch and certainly how not to treat problems. Lynn doesn't have ESP, so there is no way she could have anticipated the severity of the problems connected with StomperNet( apt analogy for what some customers experienced)Stomped and then Netted after which they where hung out to dry. Email from them is automatically deleted by me.

  6. This is probably the longest living topic here on ClickNewz, continuing to thrive across several posts for around 8 months now. I thought I'd step in and give a quick update myself...

    I am still subscribed to The Net Effect, and enjoy the publication. I also really enjoyed both StomperNet Live events that I attended, and will probably attend more in the future.

    The truth is, I love their "products". They put out high quality stuff. I would love to be able to recommend The Net Effect now that the shipping issues seem to have panned out... but I understand that everyone feels a little 'burned' by the experience, or just by hearing about it from others.

    And so, out of respect to my readers - many who became StomperNet customers through my enthusiastic recommendation - I am no longer promoting their offer(s).

    There are many more people who received the product they ordered and had no reason to contact customer service (I fall in that category), or no negative experience at all. Unfortunately plenty of others did. I'm truly sorry you had this experience on my recommendation.

    I just wanted to clarify as this topic comes up on the IMTW Podcast now and then too. I do love (and subscribe to) their products myself, but am not actively promoting them at this time.

    • Juliette says

      Even putting aside my very negative feelings about how they treated me (and plenty of other people by the looks of things), I have to be honest and say I wasn't actually that impressed by their stuff.

      The Net Effect was nicely produced, but if I want glossy mags, I don't need to spend that sort of money for them. I bought TNE for the content, which was fairly basic from what I saw. I have been a regular in a few IM forums, and found nothing in TNE that you couldn't pick up from forums for free, and with active peer review.

      Even if I had received all of my order immediately, and had never had any issues with their pathetic lack-of-customer-service, I wouldn't have remained a subscriber to TNE. I just wasn't worth the money.

      As for the videos, I found them boring. Admittedly, I don't like video, I like something you can read at your own pace, but even so, I didn't bother watching much of the videos as I found myself daydreaming and being distracted by other things. That is not the hallmark of quality video.

      To each his/her own as the expression goes, but I wasn't impressed by either the products or by the poor attitude to their customers.

  7. Philip Wong says

    I just wanted to note that despite unsubscribing from Stompernet, I still received follow up messages from them about the digital version of Net Effect and other promos.

    I seem to recall a statement that ALL Internet Marketers place in the squeeze pages. It says "I Hate Spam As Much As You Do..." and boy, do they fall into that category.

    If an un-subscription will not carry water with them, then they are: 1. literally scraping those unsubscribed lists in an effort to re-ignite interest, or

    2. really don't give a hoot about respecting the privacy of former subscribers and dumping on them.

    Can I report Stompernet to the Better Business Bureau?

    They may have fantastic content Lynn, but I do believe there are loads of IMs out there who also have decent content and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their principles, like you.

    Phil Wong.

    • Juliette says

      I'm with you Phil. I also continued to get their e-mails, despite having unsubscribed TWICE!

      They are only interested in one thing - money. Customer service is non-existent, especially if it costs them money.

      On the other hand, breaking laws and spamming people to try and convince them to pay SN more money is high on their list of priorities.

      I think reporting them would do all of us a favour.

  8. Hello Lynn,

    Congrats on dumping Stompernet! I was an affiliate of theirs and am interested in knowing if you received ALL of the commissions due you? I am NO LONGER an affiliate of Stompernet because of an affiiate commission dispute I have with them in addition to the lack of customer support received by my referrals. In short, I am glad to rid myself of Stompernet and I am sure you too will be gald to not have anything to do with them.

  9. Scott Tousignant says

    I sure feel for all of you who have had a negative experience with the StomperNet product and The Net Effect. I can't even imagine how I would feel if I was in your shoes.

    I hopped all over Lynn's recommendation when Stomping The Search Engines was released. I trust Lynn's reviews and this sure seemed like a no-brainer.

    Frankly I can't stand SEO technical talk. I watched all the videos with a glazed look on my face.

    But when it came to The Net Effect I was blown away and still continue to be impressed with the content. I have been able to take at least one tip from each issue and turn it into profits for my business. For me, this is the best monthly subscription that I belong to and has more than paid for itself. I still feel like a kid in anticipation for the next issue.

    It's important to note that I have absolutely no affiliation with Stompernet and I have never purchased anything from them prior to this offer.

    I just wanted to make sure that people know that there are many of us who are very pleased with the product and service.

    I really wish that everyone would have experienced the same type of service and delivery. It's unfortunate for the negative issues that have come up because the product itself is excellent.

    Scott Tousignant

  10. You can file a complaint on any business, whether they are members or not, with the Better Business Bureau.

    You need to file with the BBB where these guys are located. Usually the following url will get you to the right website if you put the name of the city where I have "city."
    http://www.city.bbb.org
    For instance, http://www.atlanta.bbb.org (where StomperNet is located)

    On the homepage look for the button for "file a complaint." There will be an investigation and for each complaint, StomperNet guys will have to respond and defend themselves or receive a negative on their report.

    However, if you go to the above BBB website, you will see that StomperNet already has an "F" rating. It doesn't get any worse. File the complaint anyway.

  11. Bill Davis says

    @ Lynn -- I'd be interested to hear of any updates. I'm not sure where the breakup of Jenkins and Fallon occurred with respect to your particular issue, but there certainly is a mixed bag about how those folks treat their customers.

    Now I see Jenkins is promoting (not clear if he's the creator of the product) Kajabi and I'm wondering if you've been approached by him and/or whether you're going to promote that service?

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