Customers Still in the Dark Concerning the Future of Headway Themes

Back on August 10th, we wrote about the uncertainty of Headway Theme’s future amid a lack of communication, ability to provide support, and possible financial troubles. The article prompted customers to reach out on social media to Grant and Clay Griffiths, co-founders of the company, to find out what’s going on.

On August 20th, Red Robot Web Design sent the following Tweet to Grant asking about the status of Headway.

“We are around and will be for years to come. You have to love the WordPress rumor mill,” Grant responded. That same day in the Headway Slack channel that’s run and managed by the community, Grant told members that he would be sending an email that explains the future of the product and company.

Grant Saying an Email Will Be Sent That Explains Things
Grant Saying an Email Will Be Sent That Explains Things
More than half a month later, customers have yet to receive an email. In addition, some customers are still having difficulty receiving support while the product remains available for purchase.

On August 25th, customers concerned with Headway’s status reached out to Pressmatic. Pressmatic is a separate business entity from Headway Themes that’s owned and operated by Clay Griffiths. According to Clay, both he and Grant are still around with no plans on going anywhere.

Since our article was published, Grant has published a few posts in the Headway support forums reassuring customers that things are fine and that the product and company will be around for a long time. He’s also participated in conversations in the Headway Slack group where customers and loyal fans discussed ideas to turn things around.

The discussion was productive and provided hope that things were beginning to change. However, two weeks after the discussions took place, both Clay and Grant have returned to silence.

Agencies and Customers Deserve to Know What’s Going On

There are owners and team leaders of development agencies who depending on the outcome of the situation with Headway, may have to layoff a sizeable amount of their staff or rapidly pivot to a different solution. Some of the affiliates I’ve spoken to say their confidence needs to be restored before they will advertise the product again to their audience. Paying customers and those whose businesses rely on Headway Theme’s deserve an explanation. However, there’s no indication that one is coming soon.

19 Comments


  1. This will likely be an unpopular opinion, but is must be said.

    Agencies and Customers Are Entitled to Know What’s Going On

    No, that is so incredibly wrong. No one, and I mean no one, is entitled to know what is going on with a private company. The only time entitlement should come into the equation is when shareholders are concerned. As customers are not shareholders, at least in this case, they are in no way entitled to that knowledge.

    Do I personally believe that Headway should be more transparent with all of this? Absolutely, but this witch hunt mentality has got to go. There’s no place for it.

    Now, do not misunderstand me. I have the utmost sympathy for any customer or agency that is negatively affected by the current situation. It’s really, really unfortunate that signs point to problems and it’s also unfortunate that customers are having a hard time getting support. None of that, however, entitles them to knowledge of the situation. It is the owner’s prerogative to share or withhold information.

    Anyone that feels they deserve to know what’s going on, can vote with their wallet. Either avoid purchasing until such time as you are satisfied with whatever knowledge has been gained or ask for a refund if you have already purchased and are unable to get assistance. No answer to your refund request? File a chargeback with your bank or credit card company.

    If a person or agency feels they are entitled to this knowledge because their own business depends on the outcome of the situation, I would ask you to be introspective and reconsider how your business has been placed entirely upon the success or failure of another.

    A wise business owner never ties their complete business to another. There are many, many examples in the wider tech world that illustrate just how poorly this can end up.

    Let’s please get rid of this crazy entitlement.

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    1. I hesitated on using the word Entitlement because it’s looked so down upon in the WordPress community but perhaps Deserved is more applicable? Often the discussion is of those who feel entitled to get first-class support for a free product or for this or that. I don’t believe that’s true but in the case of a paying customer, someone who is helping to put food on the owner’s table, the least they could do is keep customers in the loop when things are not going smoothly. Entitlement is a strong word but considering the situation and the lack of communication over an extended period of time and other aspects at play, putting myself in the position of a paying customer, this is how I’d feel. With all that said however, I’ve changed Entitlement to Deserved because it’s more applicable.

      I’m not advocating or preaching a witchhunt, I’m thinking about all that is happening with Headway Themes as a paying consumer, not as a friend of the owner’s or as a business owner. It may be the owner’s prerogative to share or withhold information but if they’re going to withhold it, especially from their customers, this is what is going to happen. There are so many people who are purchasing Headway right now who don’t have a clue about the state of flux the company is in. Maybe at that moment they don’t care because they’re focused on using Headway as a solution to a problem or for their site but if they run into a problem and need support, they’re running into a brick wall. This is where they probably start seeing the signs that something is wrong at a company level. They do a couple Google searches and well, that’s what they have to do to figure it all out because the owners have yet to inform their customers as to what’s going on, which as you say is their choice.

      Before anything was written about what is going on at Headway, the ball was in their court. In some ways it still is. I think Grant and Clay can pull out of this, emerge with the right attitude, vision, and willingness to let the community help where applicable, but it’’s all up to them to see it and act upon it.

      A wise business owner never ties their complete business to another. There are many, many examples in the wider tech world that illustrate just how poorly this can end up.

      I agree, as those who built businesses on top of ManageWP recently found out. What you say is true, but it doesn’t take away from the impact poor business decisions and in this case, a severe lack of communication, have on customers and the agencies that rely on them. Customers feel like they’re getting screwed and they deserve to know why.

      Anyone that feels they deserve to know what’s going on, can vote with their wallet.

      Unfortunately for Headway, many are and it’s not in a good way.

      By the way, I’m interested to know from your perspective why you think there is a witch hunt or what makes it seem like there’s a witch hunt going on?

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      1. “Deserve” is still an overly strong word in my opinion but it’s certainly an improvement :)

        Regarding the “witch hunt”, my perspective is simple.

        Numerous news posts have been written with phrases like “customers are entitled” and perpetuating these kind of statements causes problems.

        When a news blog becomes opinionated, claims like these are intentionally setup to incite a response or action from the involved people / teams.

        That’s not the job of a news blog. Report on the facts; do not express opinions about those facts unless it’s explicitly labeled as an editorial.

        “Witch hunt” is probably too strong of a phrase, but the point should still stand.

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      2. Would you have been fine with the content of the article had I not written anything from Agencies and Customers Deserve to Know What’s Going On and below? I feel like I have to add that this is not a smart ass question but one of general curiosity. It’s that tone thing.

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      3. Yes, that would have changed the entire tone and left it as a factual piece rather than an opinion piece.

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    2. Pippin’s argument has perfect merit. It casts a valuable perspective from a business owner point of view. Especially the hazards of having your business future dependent on your partners. And it’s also important that quality news providers don’t create additional duress on companies by adding to a rumour mill. And maybe that is the case here, I don’t really know. It is also good to see other business owners defending others. However…

      The Tavern should report in the best interest of the ecosystem and that is what it does. Ninety-nine procent of the time that involves positive coverage for businesses. It can be regarded as a tad hypocritical that Jeff and co get criticized by business owners and to a certain degree, lectured on how to write their pieces, the moment a piece of coverage isn’t flattering.

      In my view, the reporting here was fair enough and reflective of customer sentiment and interests. It was doing its job. And I don’t want coverage the tavern to be a puppet for companies, which btw is not an uncommon criticism from some folk.

      Almost every post here is giving some company coverage, mostly positive coverage. When there is positive coverage, no business owner is coming out complaining about how biased it might appear when it benefits them. WPTavern also has a very good track record on following up on stories when there are new developments, giving business a chance to react (for example, when a company does a good job of dealing with a security breach).

      I don’t want to see people messing with the team’s instincts for reporting. Not when they are doing a great job across the board and serving the community first and foremost.

      Having an outlet that reports the good and the bad is healthy for the ecosystem. It raises accountability for companies and in turn raises the standards of conduct industry wide. If your company is sucking at communication, it is a business reality that it can come with negative consequences.

      So while, strictly speaking, in a legal sense customers are not entitled to knowing the internal matters of a company, they are stakeholders in a sense, they have skin in the game. A company that is running well makes sure there customers are in good hands at all times. When they don’t feel that way, expect consequences.

      The little negative coverage here for businesses can be avoided by simply doing a good job communicating. If there is something that the Tavern should be commended for is promoting that very idea: businesses, please communicate well.

      Let’s not tell Jeff how to do his role, nitpick on words he chose, or how to report, or what the proper way to present a piece is. I think we owe him that.

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    3. If people are not getting what they paid for I think it’s perfectly fine to say customers need to know what’s going on. Its not like news article have never used this language outside of WP ecosystem.

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  2. I respectfully disagree with Pippin,

    If I buy a theme and part of the package includes a year of updates/support then I am entitled to know what is going on with the company.

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    1. I’m just going to go on record saying, “I disagree with Pippin” and “I completely agree with Miroslav”.

      Let’s leave the pissy dev attitude to the “free” devs. If I pay for something I better damn well know what’s going on.

      This could also be the precursor to the owner(s) taking as much money as they can and then bailing. Why else would you continue to offer a product for sale with absolutely no support when support is something that is being paid for?

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    2. You’re entitled to the support / updates / software you paid for. The company’s well-being, financial status, employees, etc, however, are not part of that.

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      1. No support is being given so customers, by default, now are entitled to know what the hell is going on with the “well-being” of the company.

        This is really not hard to understand….

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      2. Actually, as part of the subscription model, they are. This is the downside of the pay per time model everyone has become so fond of. You attempted to make a distinction between customers and shareholders but you failed to account for the subscriber aspect. There is a fiduciary obligation created to the subscriber. You don’t seem to give enough weight to that aspect.

        Moreover, Headway (and most WordPress-based software subscription sales) run afoul of typical refund policies for subscribers, who ought to be offered a pro-rated refund for the balance due. Instead, most offer between 7 and 30 days to refund but sold a 12 month subscription.

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      3. Keep in mind that anyone can file a chargeback / refund request through their bank, regardless of the refund policy of the company.

        Also please understand that I am in no way advocating for Headway here. I personally feel what they are apparently doing is incredibly wrong and hurtful to their customers and community, especially with the new information that has come out to show they aren’t paying staff. My point was simply to discourage against an unbiased news source taking apparent sides.

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  3. I’m surprised that in a world full of coders no-one has reverse engineered Headway. What an opportunity to update the legacy code, correct known bugs while launching a business into the waiting arms of many thousands of ready users. Headway/Griffiths or Newco… hmnnn.

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    1. Sorry but why would someone spend a lot of time (perhaps 100’s of hours) doing that – for what gain?

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