Word From ShopFreePay CEO Product Team

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Several weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to receive a friendly letter in the mail from Gratis CEO, Rob Jewell. Gratis is the company behind ShopFreePay and the FreePay line of sites.
Here is the chief portion of the letter:

Hi Josh,

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This is Rob Jewell, the founder and CEO of Gratis Internet. I saw your recent blog post describing our new site ShopFreePay, and I wanted to thank you. We always enjoy hearing our customers’ stories. More importantly, we love hearing thoughtful suggestions about how to improve our sites. ShopFreePay was built in response to user feedback, and it will only get better as more people use the service and write about it.

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I forwarded your post to our product team and they have adjusted our feature schedule as a result. As I’m sure you can imagine, we have loads of new features on the horizon – but first we’re going to fix the problems that you wrote about online…

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Rob also put me in touch with the product team for ShopFreePay. I replied to Rob’s letter and have corresponded with the product team. I addressed some of the bigger issues I’ve judged people to be most concerned about, and made a few suggestions. These topics included: compromised credit card data, unanswered customer service emails, the initial supposed lack of “big ticket” items, offers disappearing from pages, and transferring credit from one gift to another.

Here is an informative response, copy and paste, from the product team:

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Compromised Credit Card Data
Of all the issues you raised, this is the most alarming. It’s also, unfortunately, the one that we have least control over. As you know, we don’t collect any payment information; we simply redirect to our sponsors’ websites.

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After you brought this issue to our attention, we had several employees personally test all offers. No one saw anything strange on their personal credit card. The common offer amongst all users who reported fraudulent charges was the Funk Unlimited offer, so we have removed that offer from the site. We don’t have any concrete proof that Funk Unlimited was responsible, but we have had no additional complaints since removing that offer last week.

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Unanswered Customer Service Email
I sit down the hall from our customer service reps, and I can assure you that they answer every email within 48 hours. They are working their butts off to give prompt, personal attention to every email (i.e. no autoresponders). So you can imagine the frustration when they hear that people aren’t receiving the replies.

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We recently completed a six-week audit of our email deliverability. We found that a significant fraction of our emails are not being delivered to the recipient. (Note that we do not receive a ‘bounce’ message. The email simply disappears into oblivion.)

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There are three causes:
1. Aggressive spam filters. Many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) will mark a message as spam by default, until the user explicitly says that the sender is known to them.
2. The volume of email. We send a lot of email (like I said, our customer service team is working hard!) and unfortunately some ISPs throttle email. If we send too many to one ISP, they start dropping messages.
3. Blacklists. Our domain my-account-info.com has been reported on several spam blacklists, and the blacklist operators are refusing to remove it or even let us know why it is listed.

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There is nothing we can do about #1. We’re working with the largest ISPs to be “white-listed”, which will solve #2. And by the end of next week we will be using a new domain for customer service emails, which will solve #3.

As we make these changes, you and your readers should see the percentage of customer service emails that are delivered slowly increase.

No “Big Ticket” Gifts
It takes time to earn big ticket gifts, and I think the initial concern was mainly due to the fact that nobody had completed all the requirements yet. We’ve been shipping hundreds of big-ticket items. Here are a couple that shipped out to customers this week:
-Apple iMac Desktop with 20″ Display, $1399.99
-Samsung HL-S4676S 46″ Widescreen Slim DLP HDTV, $1399.99
-Apple MacBook MA254LL/A 13.3″ Notebook PC, $1099.99
-Samsung HL-S4666W 46″ DLP HDTV, $1299.99

Offers Moving & Disappearing
We will not remove an offer that has been credited — the software doesn’t allow it. I suspect that users are seeing one of two behaviors:
1. An offer disappears after it has been credited on another tab or for another product
2. An offer disappears after the sponsor terminates the campaign

A user can only complete an offer one time. If they click on an offer while trying to get an iPod, and click on that same offer while trying to get an iMac, only one of those will be credited. If the iPod offer credits first, the offer will disappear from the iMac page, and vice versa. Same goes for offers that are on two different tabs for the same product. This explains #1.

Sometimes our sponsors have already signed up their quota of users for the year/month/week. They terminate the campaign, which means the offer will disappear from all tabs and all products. This explains #2. However, this does not mean people will lose credit. If you have been credited for your offer and the sponsor terminates, it will remain. It can get tricky with offers that take several days to credit. Let’s say a user completes an offer on Monday that takes five days to credit. On Tuesday the sponsor terminates. That offer will disappear on Tuesday-Friday. Since we don’t know that the user completed the offer (the user knows as soon as we know), we won’t display the offer. However, on Friday when we receive credit for the offer, the offer will show up again.

Furthermore, we added a feature we call “average verification time” or “AVT”. Each offer now shows the average number of days that it takes for us to hear back from the sponsor. This is a moving average, calculated in real time based off hundreds of thousands of data points. Our hope is that this will help users better understand that some offers take longer than others to credit.

I recognize that all this “crediting” nonsense can be confusing. We’re working with all our sponsors in order to help them report credit more promptly. Someday in the future, when all of our sponsors report credit instantly, these issues will go away.

Transferring Credits
This is not possible, because tabs are not fungible across products. Or, said another way, a ‘C’ for one product is not the same as a ‘C’ for another product. Let’s look at a hypothetical: we’re trying to get very high priced items on the site like $10,000 TVs. This requires offers that pay us more, like a home refinancing for instance. That offer might show up in ‘C’ of the $10,000 TV, but the $500 TV has different offers in its C tab (more like SunRocket). Obviously, it would be completely unfair to allow someone to complete SunRocket for the $500 TV and then trade that for a credit on the $10,000 TV.

We *could* allow users to trade credits between two products of the same price, but we all believe that would add too much complexity to the process. We’re trying to keep the site simple and easy to explain.

- End of SFP Response -

Hope that helps answer questions and calm some anxiety. :)

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24 Responses to Word From ShopFreePay CEO Product Team

  1. mouseanon says:

    I think it’s great you got such a personal and in-depth reply, but nothings changed, really. They are still not responding to emails (I’m on my third try and all filters are off for that email account) and their crediting is spotty at best (see: SunRocket, which if their average is to be believed is not crediting anyone–I’m at 39 days and counting).

    Keep up the dialog. They’ve got a good start to a good thing but some of the bugs are enough to cause lots of raised eyebrows. I hope they get their act together soon. Rob sounds earnest but the proof’s in the pudding…

  2. Could be a fan says:

    I agree, with mouseanon. MY account was placed on hold for no reason and I have sent several emails and have never heard back from them, nor received the item that I qualifed for. Also as far as email problems, I’m not sure I buy #1 & #3. All of my correspondance was originated from me ( I sent them an email). All they do is hit reply, shouldn’t replies bypass all spam filters and blacklist?? Not sure about #2

  3. Josh says:

    I understand. I had a friend call me last night with a few questions about SFP. He hasn’t had his emails answered either.

    However, I can definitely vouch for #1 & 3. Even hitting reply on a message that was sent to you will not bypass spam and blacklist filters. I have replied to messages sent through the contact form on my site, only to have it sent back to me saying I was sending out spam.
    As far as blacklists go, them moving to a new domain name will definitely eliminate that problem.

    They told me that on or around the 24th they should be switching email over to a new domain name and system. Hopefully things will improve more then.

  4. I have not posted ever, but have used this site to get two items from shopfreepay so far.

    I just wanted to say that shopfreepay has been very good about answering my emails every time I have writen them.

    I have written three emails, and I promptly recieved personal responses to each one.

    In my situation, I have NO compaints. They’ve personaly responded every time.

  5. mouseanon says:

    OK, I gotta give props where they’re due.

    I sent another email in regarding my conundrum on Saturday and they’ve responded and credited the rogue offer today. Warm, fuzzies abound.

    They’re for real. Two Big Thumbs Up for ShopFreepay from this rodent.

  6. Could be a fan says:

    I too just received my item. I had been on hold for ~2 months. They finally responded and apologized for the delay. They had ordered my item , but vendor had it on backorder, then told shopfreepay that they no longer were going to carry that item. Shopfreepay then let me choose another item (up to the cost of my original item). I received my new gift literally less than 48 hours after submitting my email telling them what I wanted. I’m a fan!!

  7. Chris says:

    I have been receiving much faster communication from them lately … so this is good news. I have already received an iPod Shuffle and another small item so I know they are for real.

    However, I only have one credit (LunarPages) outstanding for a rather large item and they are refusing to manually credit it because of fraudulent activity from *other* users on that offer. I paid close to $100 on this offer so it is very frustrating.

  8. mouseanon says:

    If it comes down to it, LunarPages will refund your pro-rated remaining time left on the year’s worth of hosting if you cancel. At least that’s what they were doing earlier. Unfortunately some folk can’t abide by rules and screwed them out of a lot of money earlier, and they refuse to pay ShopFreepay for any more referrals. I don’t blame them. Would you?

    Have you tried sending proof of payment, etc., to SFP?

  9. Chris says:

    Yeah, I don’t blame them at all. It’s a shame but very frustrating when I completed the offer legitimately. When I send proof to SFP they sent the same form letter:

    “Manual credit will not be awarded for this offer due to fraudulent activity with Lunar Pages brought to our attention directly by the advertiser, in addition to the fact that many customers have failed to meet the terms and conditions clearly stated on the LunarPages offer hosted by Shopfreepay. Valid and confirmed credits are being uploaded every day for those who have legitimately completed the offer and remain LunarPages customers. We hope that you understand the reasoning behind this decision and we encourage you to either try out another “C” offer or to remain patient until your account is credited. Rest assured that all customers who have met the offer requirements will receive credit.”

    However, no other “C” offers that I can do … so I feel screwed :(

  10. mouseanon says:

    “Valid and confirmed credits are being uploaded every day for those who have legitimately completed the offer and remain LunarPages customers. We hope that you understand the reasoning behind this decision and we encourage you to either try out another “C” offer or to remain patient until your account is credited. Rest assured that all customers who have met the offer requirements will receive credit.”

    If you still meet those criteria I’d push the matter…you did not cancel and you definitely “met the offer requirements”.

    I wonder if bending the rules a bit and contacting LunarPages (you are a customer of theirs, after all) would help any…

  11. JonesWabermyer says:

    I have question.
    Has anyone been verified for the CITICard C) Offer when they have been declined credit by CITIcard?
    I have a big ticket item that I have completed every offer for. My credit card has been billed for all offers, I’m still waiting for verification on 4 seasons and Sunrocket, but am confident I will eventually get it. The only thing I’m worried about is the CITIcard. I have been declined. What do I do? Will SFP give me another option? Will it eventually verify anyways? Sorry for the question, It’s just the suspense is killing me.
    Thanks everybody

  12. Chris says:

    The CITI card will probably not credit because according to SFP you have to actually make a purchase with the card (even though it doesn’t say anything about that on the site)

    As far as LunarPages goes … I guess I will just have to wait for a while longer. Any further attempts to e-mail SFP simply results in them copying and pasting pieces from their form letter and no real person communicating directly with my concerns.

  13. Chad says:

    Has anybody had any problems receiving credit from Grant Mentor?

  14. Jeff says:

    I gotta say their support is pretty bad. I am awaiting credit on my last offer for free guitar hero II bundle. It has taken over 30 days to even get a response, it was an auto generated reply.

    It took freepay 1 year to ship my PS3. Now I have had great success with them in the past

    ipod, ps3, 360, pretty much all of their sites. 1 year ago they switched up management and the support became horrible.

    I’ve heard shop.freepay.com was good so I gave it a try but am less than impressed so far.

    trainn in my opinion is much better. As you can acculate referrals, or complete offers to get your gift. There payout is good($50 per ref) and the support is awesome.


    the offer I am awaiting credit on is 4 seasons wine. I will let everyone know what happens, I guess they can redeem themselves by shipping my gift out quickly once I am approved.

  15. dale says:

    Josh, Thanks for your awesome website. I’m trying to get a “Free” Mac from ShopFreePay and am crossing my fingers that all goes well. I’ll let you know if/ and when I get my Mac. So far I’ve been credited on 6 offers. And those have happened rather quickly…so I have high hopes. I was referred to your site from a friend who got a free mac from the company you were originally recommending. I thought I’d try my luck with ShopFreePay…I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for an awesome blog.


  16. mouseanon says:

    As I mentioned above it took a little wrestling with getting Sunrocket to credit (which they did manually eventually) but my latest “prize” from SFP has materialized.

  17. Jeff says:

    I also had the same issues getting credit with 4 seasons and they came through. Will update when im shipped

  18. Rachel F. says:

    Hi, new to GPT and the “Freebie” world. I came across this site a month ago and toyed with the idea of trying an offer, finally I broke and decided to try Shopfreepay which seemed to have alot of legit press lately. About two weeks ago, I signed up, completed the offers for an Apple 1gb Shuffle, and watched in stunned amazement as they literally credited seconds after submitting. So far, so good. Then, I waited for two weeks, getting more and more nervous as the update screen on my order never changed. Finally, per suggestions found here, I sent several emails this past week asking for an update. At long last, after mentioning I was not opposed to enlisting the BBB’s help to find out my information, I got a reply email and a UPS confirmation tracking number. Per the official UPS site, my package was shipped 2nd day air and is scheduled for delivery today. Yay! Total money spent for this offer: 10.99 (Block Buster and E-fax) Total Reward: Apple 1 gb shuffle 89.99

    Moral of the story: Keep at it and don’t be afraid to email and assert your rights! Out of all the sites I;ve tried, Shopfreepay by far has been the quickest, most organized, professional, and accurately crediting of them all, even despite the customer service hassle. If you are going to jump in for the ride, I reccomend this site as at least you will actually get something for all your trouble.

  19. Alex says:

    Sure, this site seems to ship fast and you got a nice letter from them… but what is up with offers on part C ??

    A wine club I”m already part of or a credit card. This is their #1 problem.

  20. Healer says:

    Josh (or anyone else),

    Have you gotten any more feedback from SFP? I’m wondering when and if they will be getting more offers, especially “C” offers. I was waiting until the iPhone came out to start doing offers with them. When I first looked up the iPhone there were several (5 I think) offers on the C page. Last time I checked there were only 2, and you need 2 C credits for the iPhone.

    This site is definitely the best organized of the “free” sites, but unless they start offering more choices, I just don’t see how they can continue to be a viable option. Even if I used the 2 C options available now (which I probably won’t) that would effectively disqualify from doing any other offers with SFP since I will have completed the only C offers they have.

    Just wondering if anyone had any more updates or communication with them about this?

  21. Desperately in need of help says:

    I’ve been having trouble loggin into Shopfreepay. I just have 3 more credits to go and this thing gives up on me. Anyone have any luck with the problem or hear from SFP?

  22. mouseanon says:

    DINOH: Should be fixed now.

  23. Spike Carson says:

    I signed up for the site to get the new psp, and I, wisely, decided to complete the offers in sequence, namely only doing the next offer when the previous gets credited, and so far, I have yet to receive credit for my first completed offer. It was actually supposed to have been verified in a days time and now it just sits there mocking me. I emialed customer support, explaining that I didnt join up with this site to complete offers, without an incentive anyway, expecially when I could complete them at a hundred other sites and “free” sites. Hopefully theyll resolve this. If not, then maybe the BBB can.

  24. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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