Anyone who looks at Elegant Themes will attest to their graphic sumptuousness. Also, their purchase terms are excellent. But could this be causing problems with their tech support?
Only Skin Deep
I reported a problem that I found in their Simple Press theme that I found upon updating WordPress to 3.3.1. It was a problem with their dropdown menu. Not a major problem – one that only occurs when logged into the WordPress admin. I was just reporting it for the most part, and pointed out that someone whose site has significant logged-in user functionality could find this to be a real problem.
The forum staffer asked for a link, which I provided. In the meantime, others chimed in with the same problem. Days later, the tech said that she looked at my site, and that it worked fine. I guess she didn’t read my post, unless she somehow psychically ascertained my log-in credentials.
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? Does Anybody Really Care?
Throughout the thread, I’ve tried to be polite and patient, while trying to convey that it would be nice to get a status on the problem, and that users may not be happy if they are ignored. I’d link to the thread to show you, except that it’s paid members-only – you have to log in with their somewhat awkward forum interface. So much time has passed with nothing that I decided to write this.
So the problem will apparently languish, with no follow-up or status. And I will question whether or not to renew my membership.
Does It Hurt If You Do That? Then Don’t Do That
I had asked a question about a problem before, and did get an answer that worked, but it was a hack solution, not a code fix, and they made it clear that they didn’t consider it important enough to fix the script. I actually found another way to fix the problem myself in the end.
Paid support is an interesting phenomenon. I’ve found that it’s often brusque but responsive, and usually effective. Forums for scripts having only free support seem more chatty and friendly. I chalk that up to small paid support staffs who need to move as fast as they can. But I think Elegant’s support staff may be too small to handle all the themes they must support. And if Nick is the only coder, I could be waiting for a very long time for a fix, it it happens at all.
Waiting For Codeau
Maybe they’d disagree, or maybe not. Or maybe something else is wrong. Maybe other Elegant themes have really serious problems, and they’re going cuckoo. I wouldn’t know, because they aren’t saying anything.
On their Support and Updates page, there are a couple of notable lines:
- Always Up To Date
- Timely Support
O…….K. On their homepage, they say “Unparalleled Support’. By a technicality, you could say this is true. It’s not paralleled, because no other company has their exact flavor of Support Mediocrity! I’m thinking they could make more money by having a value-added package: if you pay an extra 10 bucks a year, they’ll give you even worse support! Nick, take note!
I finally got another reply after a few days. They asked for log-in credentials. I responded that I’d rather not give those out unless absolutely necessary, but that maybe someone else in the thread might want to. I added that if I were on tech support, I’d try replicating the problem on my own system. They didn’t take the broad, obvious hint. Another reply came, saying, ‘OK, can I have a screenshot?’ Pretty funny, as a screenshot of a dropdown doesn’t show that clicking on a menu item does nothing. I almost wonder if the tech is not a native English speaker, as communication is definitely not happening here. That said, of course plenty of non-native English speakers do fantastically well in every phase of communication. Apparently not in this case. It almost sounds like an autoresponder. I finally gave up trying to explain, and didn’t reply. To them, I’m guessing that this means “yay, done, move on to the next problem”. Oh well.
Today I did notice that there was an update to my theme! And when I went to find the changelog, I saw that one item was a change to the Superfish delay, which sounded like it could relate to my dropdown issue. I installed the theme update. At first, my dropdowns were entirely removed, even though the Elegant Theme setting said that they were on. A few re-saves and refreshes later, my dropdowns returned. At first, they were clickable while logged into admin. But then upon trying several links, the problem of “unclickableness” returned. So no real fix. BUZZKILL! I have seen similar problems with other dropdown menus, where if you try to look at many dropdown links in quick succession, they just stop working. It’s as if the menu runs out of gas, and I’m thinking that it’s a JQuery memory leak or something like that.
Note to Self
From the outside, based on my experience, Elegant Themes doesn’t view tech support as a big priority. Theme updates do occur, but slowly, as they have many themes to support, and not enough coders. If a change is made, no blog announcement or anything like that (maybe they think it’s bad publicity). At least there was a notice in WordPress admin, but you won’t know that unless you log into admin.
On the forum, if they do post a fix, it’s often a code hack you can do, but may not fix the underlying problem. I ding them for this, too. I’ve already removed the link to Elegant Themes from the footer of one site I built.
But I’m pretty sure that suddenly I will actually hear from them when it comes time to renew my membership! They’re pretty funny! I should point out that any system or business can have problems like this. And if they had communicated with me effectively, I would have been more tolerant, and wouldn’t have bothered writing all this. Communication may be their downfall. At least they look extremely cute!
You Can Pay Me Now, AND Pay Me Later!
Even their attractive price isn’t necessarily a great deal in all cases. Let’s say you buy a theme, and build your site successfully with it, and you’re lucky enough not to have any problems for a whole year! (Yeah, I know, work with me for a second!) You don’t bother with all the other themes because you’re a busy person, and your site is working. Then next year WordPress makes a significant change, so you really need your theme updated. So you re-up and pay $39 again, because otherwise, no update for you. So your site works for the rest of the year. And the next year, you pay another $39, and so on.
Now compare that to a similar Genesis theme scenario. You buy a Genesis theme for $80, and build your site. The same update in WordPress comes up in year 2, and you need the theme update. No Extra Charge! Your updates are for life. So if you’re a low maintenance customer, by year 2 Elegant Themes price has caught up to yours, and will continue to cost more every year. And just for fun, you might want to try a different Genesis theme – just pay about 20 bucks for a new one with a repeat customer discount! And that theme will also have updates for life.
NOTE: as predicted, I got a rare email from them when my membership was up for renewal. Did I renew? Oh sure, and then I donated 3 million dollars. π NO, OF COURSE NOT! Does Nick care? I doubt it.