Meetup’s Serfs Sling Mud at CEO Scott Heiferman

Scott Heiferman must have a headache.

Meetup’s redesign sparked furor among some long-time Meetup power users, forcing the company to spend last week at the grindstone in order to roll back some of the changes. Now Meetup’s vocal users are complaining about something else; Meetup Perks, the deals feature for advertisers who want to offer discounts or special offers to specific Meetup groups.

Advertisers can select from a set of criteria for what kind of meetups will get the offer, like 25 percent off coffee to members of the “Cupcakes Take the Cake” Meetup, and then the deal gets pushed to group organizers. Organizers decide whether to accept the deal on behalf of the group.

Great idea, in theory. But some users on Meetup’s support forum are calling for a Perks rebellion, asking other users to reject all Perks offers until Meetup reverts to the old design. “THIS is a company that deserves to be shut down. They should not be rewarded for abusing their membership in such a manner,” one user wrote in a thread about customer service at Meetup that included complaints about the redesign and the Perks feature. “At the moment we organizers are not accepting perks and have deleted the ones we had in protest,” another organizer wrote.

Other users are complaining about getting irrelevant offers. And yesterday a business owner wrote a scathing review of his Perks experience. “If you’re considering Meetup Perks, I can’t really recommend it at this point. It’s a great idea and should be an easy win for advertisers, users, and Meetup.com. However, their botched execution and lack of any real support make it more trouble than it’s worth.”

The redesign was codenamed Mayhem Mode because any user can now organize a meetup for a group. Mr. Heiferman has taken a beating in Meetup’s forums. “I think if Scott is interested in social change, he must have a sense of ethics. But then again, people can get so self-important in their own minds that they become blind to their own actions,” one user wrote in a thread about Mayhem Mode; others compared Mr. Heiferman to a feudal lord and themselves to serfs. “C’mon Scott, if you like playing God, there are a few video games for that,” one organizer said.

ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries

Meetup’s Serfs Sling Mud at CEO Scott Heiferman