A Public Apology: Webinar Cancelled Due to Anymeeting.com’s Terrible Service – But I’m to Blame As Well.

I am so, so sorry that I have had to cancel today’s free webinar on how to launch and lift a 21st Century Practice. The immediate cause of the cancellation is that the Anymeeting.com platform crashed – my assistant, more than 100 participants and I were locked out of the site. I’ll trash the service thoroughly in a minute.  But first, my own  mea culpa – ultimately, I stand responsible for the failure because I should have had a back up plan.

And in fact, three years ago, I would have. When I started offering webinars back in 2010 or even earlier, I would circulate a phone number from freeconferencecall.com and a PDF of the presentation in addition to the web platform information. Flash forward to today, and I have enough webinars under my belt, either on my own or with the expert assistance of LegalTypist Andrea Cannavina (who has helped with 21st Century Retainer Agreement) that I’ve gotten over-confident, and assumed that the technology will work every time. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.

Does my experience mean that you should trash the cloud or give up your smart phone calendar in favor of a notepad? Absolutely not. At least ninety percent of the time, technology works; it doesn’t make sense to forego its use entirely for the ten percent of the time or less that it’s not available. Instead, use the tech to your heart’s content, but always assume that it won’t work and have a Plan B in place. For webinars, a Plan B means having another platform as backup, or an alternative and more reliable mechanism such as a dial-in phone number combined with a PDF. For presenting at a conference, a Plan B means coming prepared with your own wireless hotspot if you intend to show sites online or including static screen shots in your PowerPoint presentation that you can use if you can’t access the internet.  For exhibits and calendars and other materials stored on an iPhone, a Plan B means lugging along extra batteries, powerstrips and connections in case your device runs out of steam. For tablet, Plan B means storing copies of files in Dropbox, Box.net or other cloud-based provider on the device itself so you can access them without the internet.

Ninety-five percent of the time, I employ these best practices (if you’ve ever seen me at an event, I’m the popular gal in the back of the room whose powerstrip makes me a hub of activity). Unfortunately, when I don’t use them, I don’t get credit for the times that I do – I just look bad.

Anyway, that’s my mea culpa – now on to the other culprit, Anymeeting.com. I’ll say it again, Anymeeting.com. I’d chosen Anymeeting.com because I knew that the webinar would attract a large audience and Anymeeting.com offers both a free, ad-supported service and a relatively low priced $69 non-ad service for up to 200 people.  And while one “might” be inclined to give a free service a pass, there is absolutely no excuse for Anymeeting.com’s PAID service not to work. It’s utterly unforgiveable.

But then again, I should have known better. The hybrid freemium/premium model simply does not work. Companies wind up spending the bulk of their resources on free riders to the detriment of paying customers. In the past, I often opted to pay for free services that I was happy with to show appreciation for the company’s willingness to offer the service free. And while I’ll do that for companies like Mailchimp which limit their free service to a relatively low number of customers (to avoid compromising service to paying customers), I will never, ever again pay for a service that is made available to others free with ad support.

So Anymeeting.com, I’ve made my mea culpa – let’s hear yours. Maybe you assume I am a free rider, so you have no reason to make participants whole. Maybe you assume that because I didn’t charge for my program that no one was harmed. But that’s not so- my reputation has suffered severely – but worse than that, over a hundred participants were inconvenienced.  My callers set aside time from work, billing and other activities to obtain information about launching and lifting a law practice. Anymeeting.com, you have an obligation to make them whole.   And of course it goes without saying that those who are thinking about using Anymeeting.com for a web platform or investing in or acquiring the company, DON’T!!!

Note – if you registered for the webinar, I am going to record it and make it available along with the PDF files. Again, apologies for the inconvenience. I also plan to find a capable provider and reschedule for next week, with a Plan B in place. Stay tuned.