MSP University Responds To Alleged Customer Concerns

Over the past several months, MSPmentor has quietly investigated several alleged complaints against MSP University -- which helps managed services providers with education and marketing services. We've spoken with three MSPs who allege they are each owed roughly $5,000 or less from MSP University. We've also spoken with dozens of VARs and MSPs who continue to applaud MSP University's services. Now, MSP University has issued an official statement about the alleged complaints, which involved a marketing program that apparently did not meet certain customer expectations.

Before I get to the official MSP University statement I think it's important to disclose some personal and professional conflicts of interest... and my own views.

  • MSPmentor and MSP University don't have any formal relationship or partnerships.
  • While MSP University and MSPmentor don't directly compete, we do have some indirect competition. We both depend on sponsors to drive our respective businesses. So it's safe to say our sales teams pursue similar sponsors but for vastly different marketing and promotional programs.
  • I don't know MSP University President Gary Beecham all that well. We've met at a few conferences and I've learned quite a bit while attending workshops he has hosted.
  • I have a cordial, three-year relationship with MSPU CIO Erick Simpson. Generally speaking, I have deep respect for Simpson and he's always been a straight-shooter with me.
  • I've been in touch with three MSPs who allege MSP University owes their businesses money -- typically $5,000 or less -- based on an MSP University marketing program that apparently didn't deliver promised results.
  • I've viewed alleged emails between MSP University and the three MSPs. If the emails are legitimate, I think MSP University promised each of the three MSPs refunds on the marketing program but delivered selected refunds in a painfully slow and/or unacceptable manner. And in some cases, I believe refunds may still be owed.
  • However, I don't have any legal documentation to confirm my beliefs. And to the best of my knowledge, no lawsuits have been filed against MSP University.
  • MSP University has been under attack by some anonymous media sources. I think it's important for those sources to disclose their identities and potential conflicts of interest/competitive interests vs. MSP University.
Now, here in its entirety is MSP University's statement on the matter:
May 23, 2011
To Whom It May Concern;

MSP University is an educational and training organization serving in excess of 12,000 satisfied members and clients.

In January of 2010, we launched a pilot program with a small group of 25 VARs titled the Web 2.0 Marketing Solution. This program provided our clients the development of a 12 month Marketing Plan, a Marketing ROI Calculator, Marketing List Procurement and Marketing Collateral Development services including a variety of Postcard and Email Templates, a Website refresh and Newsletter Template.

In addition to the creation of this collateral, our Web 2.0 Marketing Solution included the creation of Direct Mail, Email and Telemarketing accounts with 3rd party providers, the execution of Direct and Email marketing campaigns and management of outsourced Telemarketing services. Also included were Marketing reports and analytics, along with scheduled strategic Marketing support calls.

Some of these engagements were successful; and some less so, and due to the difficulty in delivering a consistent outcome for the 25 VARs in our Web 2.0 Marketing Program, it was cancelled in May of 2010. Some challenges affecting this decision included the inability of some of our outsourced relationships to effectively execute their deliverables, some VARs not having the ability to close appointments that were set for them successfully, and our own internal failure to execute and meet our SLAs in some cases.

In good faith, we addressed each and every one of the 25 VARs in our Web 2.0 Marketing Program that merited one and returned over $90,000 in refunds, and provided over $125,000 in additional services to compensate these VARs for their experience. These additional services included appointment-setting services that we paid for, additional marketing collateral development, new Websites, onsite custom training and consulting engagements and more.

Some VARs accepted a refund only, some accepted additional services only, and some received a combination of these. There are even a few that accepted and received additional services from us in lieu of, and then claimed they were still owed a refund. Again - all that merited a refund due to our failure to deliver as promised received one. In fact, in the final analysis we repaid much more than we received for the Web 2.0 Marketing program in an effort to make amends in good faith.

Do we wish that things would have ended up differently? Of course we do. Do we feel that we have done everything we could to make amends to those deserving of the pilot group of 25 that signed up for our Web 2.0 Marketing Solution? Yes – and then some. Have we learned some valuable lessons through this experience? Absolutely.

One of the things we have learned is that perception is reality no matter what the truth is or supporting facts are, and have decided as a result of this experience to address any of the few outstanding participants in our Web 2.0 Marketing Program that still feel they are owed a refund – deserving or not, in order to put this behind us and allow us to get back to our core focus – providing the best IT business education and training services available to IT solution providers in the channel.
We sincerely appreciate the support of all of our strategic partners, sponsors and thousands of members throughout this distraction.

Respectfully,
Gary Beechum President & CEO MSP University

Bottom Line

Clearly, MSP University made some mistakes. Personally, I do believe the three MSPs who came forward to MSPmentor have legitimate concerns and were promised refunds -- often multiple times. I think the three MSPs were victims of a marketing program that didn't work, and MSP University should have addressed their concerns faster instead of engaging in endless discussions over email. And in some cases, I'm not sure the concerns have been addressed to the satisfaction of the MSPs involved.

But I also think MSP University is a victim here. Anonymous media posts have carried allegations against MSP University in recent weeks and months. The anonymous media posts have spun the story out of control, without any context and often without an opportunity for MSP University to respond. The MSPs who believe they are owed refunds deserve to have their voices heard. But MSP University also deserves the opportunity to reply to the allegations in all coverage.

My conclusion: There are no winners here.

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