8-6-2020 9-55-36 AM

Programmer Bear announces Customer Blacklist Project with release of EDD Blacklist plugin

I sell premium WordPress plugins using the popular Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin for WordPress. It’s a great business except for one aspect — fucking crazy customers, assholes, and scammers.

Don’t get me wrong, most customers are just fine. Some are even nice people! But the small % of crazies are simply draining, even demoralizing to deal with. I’m talking about customers who demand you implement some custom feature, and when you ever so politely say “no” they freak out and leave 1-star reviews every place they can find. Customers who abuse you and your staff in support tickets, treating you like fucking slaves at their every beck and call (and God help you if you take more than 24 hours to solve whatever they want!). Or scammers who chargeback their payment through their bank/credit card company, rather than spend the 30 seconds it would take to ask us for a refund!

If you sell WordPress plugins, or any other digital product using EDD, you know exactly who I’m talking about.

Probably for this reason, EDD has a “Banned Emails” feature (under Downloads / Tools) which lets you block purchases from problem customers. I use this feature extensively. Surely, many other people do too. If only there was a way to share these lists of bad customers with others, we could all save ourselves a lot of time and grief!

Thus, the Customer Blacklist Project is born.

Mission of the Customer Blacklist Project

My goal is simple — to gather data about known bad customers from various sources, and share that information with other business owners.

I have no intention of making money off of this project. I simply want to help other business owners avoid bad customers, and of course I benefit from the customers you help me avoid in my own business.

Introducing the EDD Blacklist Plugin

To make this as easy and painless as possible, I’ve created a WordPress plugin to automatically sync my combined blacklist with your site: the EDD Blacklist plugin. (If you don’t know how to install WordPress plugins from GitHub, go here.)

It’s very simple… once a day, it grabs the latest version of the blacklist from my public API at http://programmerbear.com/edd-blacklist/json/.

The plugin does not directly modify your Banned Emails list, so you can still maintain your own separate list from ours, if you want. We simply filter in our list via the appropriate EDD hooks.

How can YOU help this project?

By sharing your lists! The more data we can gather about known bad customers, the more we can improve the list for everybody.

If you have bad customer data to contribute, please email me at bear@programmerbear.com

(I don’t check this email address very often, so please allow longer than usual for a reply, but I WILL reply!)

I’m collecting several data points. It’s totally up to you how much you want to share. The only required field is the customer’s email address, since this is what EDD needs for its ban list. However the more information you provide, the better we can improve the system. Data I am collecting includes customer names, addresses, IP addresses, free-form comments (where you can provide some story explaining why the customer is bad), and a free-form client data field for anything else that doesn’t fit elsewhere.

Privacy

I commit to do the following — I will keep confidential my sources of this list. Whatever data you share with me, I will never reveal your name or business to anyone else. I don’t want to be hassled by bad customers any more than you do!

I will keep track privately of how many sources have submitted information about the same person, for future scoring purposes. At the beginning this doesn’t mean much, but someday I hope to create a relative “risk” score for bad customers, so you can set a threshold of how much risk you’re willing to accept. For example, if multiple sources independently report the same customer, they would have a higher score. (See roadmap below.)

The bad customer data, or at least some of it, must by necessity be public, so you can retrieve it via the API (either manually, or automatically with my EDD Blacklist plugin). Currently, bad customer email addresses are the only thing made public… no other data fields are publicly disclosed.

However if anyone is interested in partnering with me on this project, please reach out to me. I am willing to grant access to additional bad customer data fields on a case-by-case basis, to other business owners who contribute to the list and would benefit from a fuller picture of the data.

Roadmap

Depending on the response from the community and how much bad customer data I receive, I’m looking at the following future development for this project:

– Scoring system. Assign a “risk score” to each bad customer, so you can set a threshold for how much risk you’re willing to tolerate. For example, maybe a customer that was reported as an asshole from 1 source only, you’re willing to take a chance on. But a customer who 3 sources have reported for making chargebacks, you don’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole! It would be up to you.

– Some system for granting access to additional data points. For example, businesses who partner with me on this project can see the comments other businesses have shared about why certain customers were banned, etc.

– Branching out into other ecommerce platforms besides just EDD.

Comments, thoughts, suggestions?

I’m open to all of the above! Feel free to comment publicly below, or message me privately at bear@programmerbear.com.

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