Subscribers vs Complainers

Or… Adults vs Children.

After a few years of running an online business, there are a few things you take for granted. But then every so often you get reminded that not everybody knows what you do.

I’ve had a reminder today as I’ve been checking through my email.

I have a good set of what I would call “golden customers”. I never get any complaints from them, they seem clued up, and they buy some or all of my products, and I recognise them by name, often having exchanged communications about something or other somewhere.

When I say I don’t get complaints, that’s not strictly true, but they do it in such a way as it’s more a comment than a complaint. When that happens I either do something about it straight away if I can, or make a note in my “to do” list.

I’m human, I have downtime and I don’t always get things right. I got over the ideology of always trying to do it all just right quite a while back. Now I aim for “good enough” and it usually is. I then pick up the pieces later.

Tim Ferris says it’s better to take action first and then ask for forgiveness later. I agree.

Okay, so I have some great customers and even what I would call very good working relationships with some of them.

But then again, on the other hand… 😉

Here’s something you learn early on and then forget about or learn to put behind you and ignore.

Some people are what I would politely call “thick” or if I was unkind about it, “whiners”.

It doesn’t matter what you do, and it doesn’t matter how much time you spend trying to help them, they will demand more and more as if it’s their right. And at the end when they’ve finished with their tantrums or got bored of you and moved onto the “next big thing”, they’ll have one last complain and drop you like a hot potato.

And you’ll feel dazed, confused, and wondering about human nature.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It’s exhausting dealing with those people.

But of course there’s always the good news. What you eventually learn to realise is that:-

#1 – These people are in the minority – just 1% or less is my estimate.
#2 – You don’t owe them anything.

Looking at point #1, to begin with you don’t immediately see that the people who do complain and who are most vocal about it, are just a tiny fraction of the rest of the good people you deal with.

It’s a sort of “negative multiplier” that grips your emotions and makes everything seem worse than it really is. It’s very difficult to shake to begin with as you have no experience of what’s happening to you.

From my perspective, it feels like a run in with a school bully and it gets me in its emotional squeeze. They’re like children and they never grew intellectually past their teen years into mature adults.

We’ve all met them. The loudmouths. The people who “won’t let anyone get one over” on them and will make sure everyone knows about it.

After a while online dealing with them, point #2 kicks in and you realise that these are the very people to give the least amount of time to. You should instead be concentrating on the 99% of people who are truly great and a pleasure to communicate with.

The people who buy your products, and who make useful comments and send you links to interesting stuff, and most importantly say “thank you” and are generally polite and understanding to deal with. These people are the adults and who you really want to do business with.

In my experience it can be difficult to get to this point in your own personal understanding and awareness, and I call it “positivity blindness”.

It’s easy to notice the big noisy loudmouth bringing everyone down, and while you’re busy looking at them, you completely miss the fact that everyone else is pretty wonderful when you stop to think about it.

Well, most of them anyway. 😉

So what’s bought this post on?

I’ve been checking through my mailing lists unsubscribe comments for the past quarter. I know what you’re thinking, but occasionally there’s some useful information in there and it gives me an idea on how to change things for the better.

Not this quarter though.

Of the dozen or so people that left a comment, a whopping three said “you send too many emails.”

It’s not the first time that people have said this, but as you know if you’ve been on any of my mailing lists for any length of time, then apart from the welcome emails when people first subscribe to a list, I send very few.

I could send three or four a week, but I don’t. I might change that… Ahem.

Here’s the thing.

If I did send you three or four emails a week, then it’s likely that as an average good customer / subscriber, you wouldn’t complain. You might unsubscribe, and you might leave a comment, but you wouldn’t complain.

But some always will, and they’ll do so big time.

And this may happen to you too with your own subscribers.



The people who are leaving aren’t the people who are a good match for you. If they want to leave and complain while doing so, just ignore them. They’ve gone.

The subscribers who are similar to you, relate to you, and are aligned to you and with what you stand for, probably like you and won’t ever leave unless you tell them to or unsubscribe them yourself.

So if you’ve been building a list, and been a little scared to write to them too often because someone might complain, stop it. Put that all behind you.

The children on your list will always complain, but it’s the adults who buy your stuff and love you for what you do who are the best people to deal with. By letting nature take its course and getting rid of the worst sort, you’re making your list stronger.

Think Pareto, think 80-20 rule.

I sincerely hope that helps you, and that at least some of it has put a smile on your face.

-Frank Haywood

Posted by Frank Haywood


Dave Greis


You hit the nail right on the head because some people just cannot be satisfied. I run two businesses on-line. One is a monthly membership site for Internet Business owners and another is a Customer Service Training site. Both of these sites use entirely different sets of customers yet both sites have their share of complainers

People who complain if you gives them $100 worth of value for $10 will complain that they should get $110 instead. If you gave them $110 they would want $120. With them you can’t win!

But the vast majority of mail that I get are from excited people who thank me for my content, my products, and my communications with them. The problem is you dont remember those because they don’t cause you stress.

I teach people unhappy with their jobs that they should keep a tally about the positive situations and negative situations as they occur. At the end of the week you can see how many more good customers you had than the few bad ones.

This really opens eyes and have a lot of people say it changed the way they felt about their business and their jobs.

Great post!

Dave Greis

Harold Read


You seem to have left out the MIDDLE CLASS. I have been buying your products for years and have never failed to call your attention to a problem when I thought you could have done better. There are some of us that appreciate your hard work and products. But, know that sometimes you get lackadaisical in your replies to problems.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t like and respect you.

Harold Read