About Losing a Supporter


In February 2008 I happily joined the OpenID Foundation (OIDF). For the first time it was possible for individuals to join the OIDF and I was certainly among the first to join. While the annual membership fee of $100 was a little high, I thought it was only natural for me to join the foundation and support something that I believe in. This blog and Spread OpenID are document of that.

By the end of last year the membership fee for individuals was lowered to $25/year. So I was surprised when I got notified by PayPal in February 2009 that $100 were transferred to the OIDF for another year of membership, starting April 1 2009. I was a little confused since I wasn’t aware that it was a subscription model, that was probably my fault, and that I was charged $100 instead of $25.

So first I cancelled the subscription – the $100 for period April 2009 to March 2010 were paid, though – and got in touch with David Recordon and Scott Kveton who are both board members of the OIDF. Obviously, something was wrong with the subscription model and I wanted to make sure this didn’t happen to other members as well. Also I wanted to work out a way that I only paid $25 as well. Both forwarded my email to Don Thibeau, who was appointed the executive director of the OIDF in February.

Until March 21 I didn’t hear from Don so I got back in touch with him and asked about the matter. I got only a short reply, two short sentences without salutation or complimentary close (hey, he’s probably busy or that’s some cultural difference), that he was working on the issue with Marisa Kihlthau (of Inventures). Marisa got a copy of his reply as well.

Since I didn’t get another information until May 2 I emailed Don again. Well, something happened in between: the end of my membership status changed from April 1 to July 1. Don’t ask me why, though. As you can guess, I was rather frustrated by the time and I wrote to Don that I didn’t care about the OIDF anymore and that he should keep the $100 for whatever period of time my membership was good for.

Once again he replied that he was sorry and copied the email to Marisa. He wrote another email and asked if he could do anything else for me. I negated. Marisa also got in touch, explaining that the OIDF was under new management (wow, that’s news in May 2009 😉 ) and that they were sorting the membership database, hoping things to be solved by the end of May. I should get in touch with her if I had any more questions.

Until today nothing happened. No way will I get back in touch with anyone about the matter. I don’t care anymore. However I want to make the story public because I think it is a bad example of customer service. I will no longer support the OIDF as it is unprofessional and won’t accomplish much if all issues are dealt with the same way.

I tried to support OpenID in many ways in the past and still think it is a great concept. But why should I waste more time, energy, and money?

Annoyed, frustrated, disappointed!

13 thoughts on “About Losing a Supporter”

  1. Remember you can still support, use, and encourage OpenID regardless of it’s “less than ideal” management 🙂

    It sounds like I won’t be joining the OIDF, but I will definitely continuing evangelizing the technology – I hope you do, too.

    1. It will be a shame if we loose a supporter. I think you must reconsider your decision. Now that the community is aware of this problem, I think your problem will be solved. I am also a member and I am sure the members will take this up even if the foundation is screwed up.

  2. Hey Carsten,
    It would be a real shame to lose you from the OpenID community and supporting the technology even though the OpenID Foundation dropped the ball when it comes to your membership! I’ve forwarded your post to the Foundation’s Board, both to make sure we get your membership sorted (I think we still owe you $75 if nothing else) as well as to start a discussion about the state of our membership management as we transition it to Inventures.

    While this certainly isn’t an example of the sort of customer service that we all want the Foundation to provide – I want it to be a kick ass Worldwide organization – I’d hope you can also understand that like a startup the Foundation is still young and coming together. I know that you’ve given us many months to sort out your membership and I’m sorry that it still hasn’t been resolved.

    Like I said though, it really would be a shame for this experience to turn you off of supporting open standards and evangelizing the technologies. As always, feel free to find me on IM or give me a call and I’ll work with Don and Inventures today to get this sorted out.


    1. My membership seems to be sorted now: full refund and immediate cancellation of my membership. That’s ok.

      Open standards are a different topic and currently I’m not sure what to really think about them. Of course, OpenID, OAuth,… are great. They provide more flexibility, security, and generally more diversity to users and the web in general. However there’s a problem with them: all of those standards are created, promoted, developed,… by the same core of people in the same small location of the world. I tried to address this with an earlier post: http://notsorelevant.com/2009-03-18/does-the-open-web-exist-outside-of-silicon-valley/

      When writing that post I had exactly three people in mind: Chris, Joseph, and you. I love what you guys are doing. Really!. However, I think that there’s too much you (have to) deal with, so you probably can’t concentrate on one topic. There need to be more people involved, more discussions going on worldwide.

      Hopefully, you don’t take it as an attack. It isn’t.

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