Review: GrooveHQ’s ‘Free Forever’ Plan, not free forever

Update July 27th 2017: A blog reader added the following in the comments section below: “We have been a GrooveHQ customer for over a year, started as a “free forever” account and got tricked into upgrading 30 days later. Since the whole thing was easy to setup and we have only 5 users, we started paying the $15/user/month… Now, imagine my surprise today (07/27/17) when they started charging us $22/user/month! That is a 50% increase PER MONTH without notice. They went from “free forever” to “$15/u/m” to “$22/u/m” without a single explanation or communication to the customers.” See full comment below.

Update July 21st 2017: Supportbee (offers an actual free forever plan) points out GrooveHQ’s bait n’ switch on their signup pageSupportbee vs Groovehq's free forever


Update Aug 20th 2016: You can read similar experiences by other users in the comments section below.

List of free forever and paid help desk software worth a try:
Freshdesk*, DeskHelp Scout*, HappyFox, JitbitKayako, Deskero*, EnchantZendeskSupportBee*, Mojo Help Desk*, Zoho*, Helprace*, ReamazeKeepingBorneviaFirehose Help DeskBrimir*.

*Truly Free Forever plan offered.

If you are looking for a Help Desk solution, GrooveHQ works. But so does HelpScout and the others listed above for that matter. This is a brief review specifically about GrooveHQ’s “free forever” plan.

For the past week I’ve been testing help desk software. As such, I signed up for GrooveHQ’s “Free forever for 2 Users and 1 Mailbox” plan and after testing decided that the free forever offering would be useful, if only not to miss certain emails. There are a few companies out there confident enough about their services to offer a “Free forever” plan as a loss leader/freebie marketing. When I visited groovehq.net’s pricing page (screenshot at the end of article) they claimed to offer a free forever plan.

GrooveHQ - not so free forever plan

However, when I asked about falling back to the free forever plan the response was:

“Thanks for your note! Right now we have those details on the pricing page with a Free Plan and Paid Plan but we actually haven’t implemented the backend :) Testing to see if it’s gonna help with conversions first.

Meantime, I just gave you another 60 days free until we have the limits coded in. Hope this helps!”

To which I responded:

“That sounds a bit misleading, no? What happens when it expires? So there’s no “Groove Free” as advertised? Just free as long as you extend the trial? Mailchimp has a similar setup but it’s actually free without hassle. Although it took me months to eventually subscribe I would have never tried Mailchimp or GrooveHQ for that matter if I’m not able to use the service as advertised for as long as I care to. That’s the bases for most free-to-use offers, it reflects great confidence in the value of your paid service.

At which point I was told thanks for checking them out and pointed in the direction of a competitor:

“Really sorry about being misleading here Hayden. We’re actually leaning towards not providing a free account, to be completely honest with you.

Knowing that, I’d say it’s probably best you look else where. I’d suggest HelpScout.net, as they have a free plan.

Thanks for checking us out though.

Best,
Alex”

From my understanding free for 60 days, isn’t free forever. When companies are marketing for user signups, is it really acceptable to offer a free forever plan and then after you’ve captured a signup, inform the user that they have to upgrade or try a competitor instead? Companies are in business to make money, yes, as such the “free forever” offer is made with the realistic understanding that there will be some users that will make use of this free plan for a very long time and some indefinitely. But as a result of word of mouth, the value of the paid plans, branding, etc. these’s free accounts will pay for themselves and even drive more signups.

I made my disappointment clear when I replied to that email with:

“Very disappointing and unethical approach towards capturing signups. I signed up to save time and GrooveHQ has wasted it.

I will be reviewing this on my blog… (included a link to the homepage).”

I figured this was the end of it as I was already told to check out their competitor. But 30 mins later while writing this, I received the following email:

“Excuse me, Hayden. I actually was trying to make up for this with you. In software dev, sometimes a test without writing weeks and months of code is worth it. We’ve had this test going for 3 months and haven’t had anyone complain.

Is there a reason you have to threaten us with writing a post? Maybe it would be best if you and I had a little chat so that you can really understand our approach here. More than willing if you are.

Are you available today?”

A review isn’t a threat, it’s a review of my personal experience. In reality, this post is free advertising because the bulk of Groove’s users won’t fit into the free plan anyway. For those who can fit, hopefully this post helps them avoid this issue, or at least inquire before signup. If only I had a heads-up before signing up.

It was already admitted by Groove that this was “misleading”. So why was it ok to essentially guide me to the exit and to a competitor. Shouldn’t a customer’s expectation – based on what was advertised – be enough on it’s own merit to reach out and discuss? If you enjoy giving new services a try at your own pace and feel comfortable with “Free Forever” plans, then as of writing this (and still almost a year later Aug 20th 2016), GrooveHQ is not free forever. You’ll receive a 30 day trial with no option to continue without paying for an upgrade.

 

GrooveHQ - not free forever

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Review: GrooveHQ’s ‘Free Forever’ Plan, not free forever

31 Responses

  1. I too just found out that my account is locked too! It’s complete garbage that they’re holding my information ransom when they said it would be “free forever”! Misleading marketing at its finest!

    Martin November 6, 2015 at 5:24 am #
    • Quick update! GrooveHQ extended my plan for another 90 days. They say that the Free Forever plan will be fully implemented by early next year. Let’s hope it happens because I honestly think their interface is a bit easier and cleaner (with brighter, happier colors) than Help Scout.

      Martin November 6, 2015 at 4:42 pm #
    • Thanks for the update Martin. Happy to help. I see your tweet as well ha!:

      Martin Wong (@mrtnwong) tweeted at 9:23 PM on Thu, Nov 05, 2015:
      @Groove Wait a minute. So your “Free Forever” plan is only for 30 days? Exactly how is that forever?! Now you’re holding my data ransom! D:
      (https://twitter.com/mrtnwong/status/662500414726782976?s=03)

      Hayden James November 6, 2015 at 5:01 pm #
    • If you want an interface even cleaner and easier you should try Front (frontapp.com)! Of course, I am not neutral at all since I created this company. However that’s the feedback we have the most :-)

      Mathilde November 24, 2015 at 10:27 pm #
    • FrontApp is a nice app, but I found it too expensive when I last checked.

      FYI – the pricing page on the FrontApp site looks broken on mobile. I can’t see anything other than the custom option.

      Phil May 5, 2016 at 9:26 pm #
  2. Just learned this the hard way myself. Not a good approach to getting customers!
    Contacted their support now.

    Paul January 6, 2016 at 10:00 am #
  3. I also had the same experience when I noticed that my account would expire in less that 30 days. Wow! And looks like they’ve planned this out since 2013: https://www.groovehq.com/blog/pricing-that-worked
    …so the respose given is rather surprising. Will try the other solutions, thanks.

    Michelle January 16, 2016 at 6:34 pm #
  4. I was testing Groove vs Helpscout and my trial expired just to find out that for GrooveHQ “Forever” equals to “30 days”.
    I just don’t understand how they can even still be in business by simply lying.

    I was *not* looking for a free service, but now I know that GrooveHQ have no problem lying in their pages and to not comply with things they say. Not looking for free, but looking for honest and transparent behaviour (this is what I was expected by a company that blogs everything about how their business is going).

    Unfortunately they simply failed to meet even the most basic requirement.

    Stefano February 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm #
  5. At the end what service did you choose?

    HelpScout is good but doesn’t even “notify” you of incoming tickets if you don’t reload the page manually.

    I tried Frontapp, it is “cool” but very limited and really too expensive for the features (no knowledge base, no satisfaction ratings, not “widget” to collect customer feedback and browse the knowledge base).

    Stefano February 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm #
  6. Agree with all the comments, this is super shady.

    JDS March 31, 2016 at 5:12 pm #
  7. Jusy got bitten myself by these bait-and-switch crooks. Makes you wonder what their bussiness ethic really is when blatantly lying about this for years.

    Adrian April 10, 2016 at 3:40 pm #
  8. This is actually a classic bait and switch scheme. I’m surprised no one has filed a class action lawsuit against them yet. I’m certain it’s coming though.

    Jillyn June 22, 2016 at 12:58 am #
  9. Hey Everyone!

    This is Prateek from SupportBee. We now offer a free forever plan with 2 agents and 1 collaborator (they can comment on tickets but not reply to customers). Our free plan includes all the features we offer. We believe it’s the best way to get started with delivering great customer service. Please check it out – https://supportbee.com/pricing

    Prateek (SupportBee) June 23, 2016 at 11:52 am #
    • Looks like the free plan was discontinued at SupportBee.

      Raine Lightner October 12, 2016 at 9:19 pm #
    • We still offer a free plan

      Hana Mohan November 30, 2017 at 9:53 pm #
  10. I was impressed by Groove features and how they compete with Helpscout.
    But today my trial has ended, and knowing about this misleading made me somewhat disappointed.

    They shouldn’t have fallen short for this integrity issue. Nothing worth!
    Hope they realize soon.

    Kong June 24, 2016 at 7:47 am #
  11. Wish I had seen this sooner before I spent several hours setting up my supposedly free forever GrooveHQ. Was given NO option to continue with the free account despite being told that in their FAQ. I find it absolutely misleading and unethical to run a business like this. Why would I even sign up with a company that’s this shady.

    Lina July 25, 2016 at 2:54 am #
  12. Found out today about this… the hard way as my trail ended i just say this stay away from them don’t lay a penny on there company that don’t care about there customers when you send a mail they just talk —- free forever means free unlimited time but not with grove a lying money sucking company.

    Robert August 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm #
    • @Robert Thanks for confirming that almost a year later and this scheme is still in place.

      Hayden James August 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm #
  13. Found your post via Reddit. This story actually surprises me, since Groove is a *funded* company (i.e. they shouldn’t worry about being profitable. well, more or less).

    And WHOA thanks for mentioning my product in your post! Appreciate that. We do not offer a “free forever” plan though, cause we’re *self-funded* (unlike most of the competition, heheh).

    Alex (founder of Jitbit)

    Alex August 21, 2016 at 3:40 pm #
  14. Just had this happen to me. I run a school internship and i use a ticket system to get tasks done. Our old “help desk software” came as a package with lesson plans and etc(MOUSE Squad). They just made a new website and forgot to mention they got rid of the system. So, i scrambled to find something to get my students on quick. Got it up and rolling just to find out i only had another 21 days before i would have to pay for it. What a waste of time! Even more so that it effects my students. We’re now on a 3rd system in the first few weeks of training.

    Michael Price October 16, 2016 at 12:32 am #
    • So sorry to hear about this. If not mislead, a lot of time an energy could have been saved.

      Hayden James October 16, 2016 at 6:25 pm #
    • Hey Michael if you’re still looking for a system that may work for you, give http://www.abhisi.com a try. If you have any specific features that you require, give us a shout and we will see what we can do. :)

      Abhisi November 3, 2016 at 5:46 pm #
  15. It’s Jan. 6, 2017 and they still haven’t changed this practice and still advertise a “Free forever” option. This has been happening to me every 30 to 60 days for the last year and a half. Trial times out, contact support, they say they add more time, times out again, contact support… just logged in again today and finally said to hell with it, which is what they’re hoping the free users will do. It’s their passive-aggressive method of kicking you off the system, but still keeping to the letter of the law by being able to claim it was your choice to leave the “free” account. I finally gave up and just went to helpscout.com where they actually deliver on the promise of a free account. Groove has been promising for over 2 years that the free option was still being added to their system so they had to manually adjust it. What a crock. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/247513bb3f274524684f365bb64124a96ae434411f8624a7789ae84b3be1fd04.jpg

    Ved January 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm #
    • Its probably setup to build signups as fast a possible then sell. We’ll see.

      Hayden James January 6, 2017 at 7:47 pm #
  16. Hey
    We are currently offering free helpdesk http://www.azuredesk.co for 1 year for first 10 signup.Please signup and then send us an email to support@azuredesk.co and we will activate it for free.

    Azuredesk.co January 7, 2017 at 7:33 pm #
  17. I can’t tell you how mad I was when I realized this freakin scam. This is the kind of thing that needs need legal attention, a company doing this for this long need to be sued or fined for deception.

    dailen January 14, 2017 at 2:44 am #
  18. It’s now April 2017, and my “free forever” plan was for the 2nd time abruptly/without warning suspended, asking for a credit card # to unsuspend the account – all while having a support person scratching their head, our test customers feeling neglected while we work to get it resumed again. Last time, they promised they are implementing the forever free plan into the back-end, but clearly they are not, as from other’s experiences, it’s a “conversion” game to them – while it may convert well compared to an upfront and honest approach to pricing, it’s a shameful, trust-breaking, bait-and-switch tactic that tarnishes a brand that can do better, but seems to refuse to, sticking it to potential customers for way too long.

    I was piloting their free tier for a bit to work out implementation options, training and workflow implications, as well as budgeting for support tools and people. It takes time to work all that out, especially with other development and integration priorities. It’s sad that a brand would not fix something so obviously broken.

    Make it a free 30 day trial, and leave it at that (be honest), or make it a real free tier and advertise it as such (be honest), or meet halfway, advertise it as a free forever tier that requires a ticket every 60 days to keep it open, but provide a WARNING when the deadline is approaching (be honest about the process).

    Sadly, I was about to make my recommendations on which system to use, and when I found the account suspended without warning again, I changed my recommendation. We’ll be using HelpScout, since Groove’s interface needs to be refreshed constantly and they have no native app (the web app is pretty horrible in real-world use).

    Rob

    DowntownRob April 6, 2017 at 7:07 pm #
  19. June 2017, and it is still happening. Thanks for the blog post Hayden! Thanks for the comments everybody. Got an email from Groove on June 6, subject: “It’s time to upgrade your Groove account”, even though I was on the “Free Forever” plan. I was surprised. I thought it was just a mistake on their part. I contacted them via their web app to ask what happened. Then I found this blog post. Sad thing is, I really liked their software. Not sure what to do now.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/94c110c86af89f5adae5046d54858da7c55df34b0e3dcb5efe371c4604aea0e7.png

    Jacques June 18, 2017 at 9:09 pm #
  20. Hey Hayden, great post.

    It seems that GrooveHQ, specifically Alex Turnbull (Founder) is great at marketing but doesn’t care about customer support, which is kind of ironic if you ask me.

    We have been a GrooveHQ customer for over a year, started as a “free forever” account and got tricked into upgrading 30 days later.
    Since the whole thing was easy to setup and we have only 5 users, we started paying the $15/user/month…

    Now, imagine my surprise today (07/27/17) when they started charging us $22/user/month!
    That is a 50% increase PER MONTH without notice.

    They went from “free forever” to “$15/u/m” to “$22/u/m” without a single explanation or communication to the customers.

    I’m out and I would recommend anyone thinking of becoming a GrooveHQ customer to think about this:
    You don’t know how much this is going to cost you next month!

    Don’t let their marketing skills fool you, they are as shady as it gets.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e9b664fc5144738c76ce06c9b7279be10296bc9ceb3ac0b603cdbd56d09d5d62.png

    Martin Balerio July 27, 2017 at 4:21 pm #
    • Hi Martin. If you’re looking for a more affordable help desk with all of Groove’s features check out Helprace. It starts at $9/month for a ticketing system.

      Vitaliy Verbenko July 28, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

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