Reporting on alleged fraud is not a "witch hunt"

(Leland Fiegel) #1

Headway Themes, home of an eponymous drag and drop WordPress theme, has allegedly not been paying their support staff, and not supporting their paying customers.

In a community that values honesty and transparency, Headway brass have made matters worse with their inexplicable coyness about the whole situation. Going so far as to complain about not being approached for comment, only to not provide one when finally asked.

It’s been covered extensively by @Jeffro and @pollyplummer across several articles on WP Tavern. I don’t want to rehash the details here, so read these for background:

To most people, not paying employees what they’re owed and not providing customers the service they paid for amounts to…fraud. But in the WordPress community, apparently some believe such reporting amounts to a “a bit of a witch hunt.”

The term “witch hunt” should be reserved for totally absurd and baseless accusations. For example, being accused of practicing witchcraft because you can swim.

It’s not like the witches neglected to pay their cauldron brewing assistants, then ignored them when they asked when they’d be paid. Or sold flying brooms with support and updates included for a year, only to leave support-seekers hanging for months on end.

If what Headway is doing is true, it’s unacceptable and indefensible. This situation has the appearance of a page out of the W3 Total Cache playbook, and it’s disturbing to think that some may read dismissive “witch hunt” comments and conclude that this sort of behavior is tolerable. It is absolutely not.

I, for one, will not be recommending Headway or Pressmatic (they’re related whether the owner likes it or not) until this issue is adequately resolved. I won’t hold my breath.

(Miroslav Glavić) #2

In one of the comments at the WPTarvern article it, someone mentioned that Pressmatic was a gold sponsor for LAX WordCamp ($1,000).

(Corey Freeman) #3

I’ve been using Headway Themes for years and recently wrote my own retrospective:

My view is summed up as the following: these actions are not new, this is just the zenith. Users are absolutely entitled to basic information in this case. Regardless of “internal issues,” they should know that the 4.0 release simply doesn’t work, despite that being what was/is being sold. It’s unreasonable to assume everyone would figure out to use 3.8.8, and there’s no support staff regardless.

(Leland Fiegel) #4

That is concerning. On one hand, that amount probably wouldn’t be enough to cover what just one support staffer is owed. On the other hand, it would’ve been something.

And ugh. Wish I didn’t catch up with the comments on that post. Now people are saying things like:

  • “If support staff weren’t getting paid, they should’ve stopped working” …yeah, and it sounds like at this point, they all have. This is way too delicate of a situation to reduce to such a basic logic statement. General uncertainty, independent contractor status, being outside the US, Headway community pressure…could have all played a role in support staff sticking around “too long.”

  • “Is it really that hard to fix a few bugs?” Not necessarily an option for everyone. It can be “that hard” to fix bugs, and in any case, customers shouldn’t be expected to do this. Also, it seems like Headway’s product issues may extend beyond “a few bugs” considering @coreyfreeman’s “simply doesn’t work” comment about 4.0.

I’m curious, has anyone in the Headway Themes community started an initiative to fork the theme? Situations like this are what the GPL was designed for.

(Gary Bairead) #5

Hi Leland,

You’re correct about the reasons for sticking around for so long.

Headway is falsely marketed as being fully GPL It contains a non-GPL compatible script called Redactor.js .A fork is currently being created that will not contain this file.

(Leland Fiegel) #6

Some further reading:

Be sure to check out the WP Tavern comments for the general sentiment of the response to Headway’s “apology” and the screenshots of Slack conversations with Headway’s founders in Gary’s post.

The “apology” was directed at customers, officially confirming financial troubles (that were previously dismissed as a product of “the WordPress rumor mill”) and an “absence of support.” Notably, there was no acknowledgement of unpaid staff, and otherwise declined to go into much detail.

I’ll be interested to see how that goes.

(Miroslav Glavić) #7

Sarah Gooding wrote a new article at WPTavern, fake apology from Headway.

(Leland Fiegel) #8

@GaryBairead just published Headway Themes Update #3: One Month Later, Still No Support.

Sadly, I can’t say I’m surprised.

(Gary Bairead) #9

You’d hope that people would learn from their mistakes, but unfortunately not.