Recently I was browsing for some insight into a certain type of feature, and which plugin might best provide it, when I came across this comment at the bottom of a review article. It applies to all plugins and themes you might purchase in an open marketplace like Themeforest or CodeCanyon, or any other independently developed piece of software, and is not only astute and insightful but matches my hard-earned experience very closely.

I’d urge all developers and website builders, as well as business owners looking for some kind of automation to read this carefully!

Anyone considering a CodeCanyon plugin should be sure to spend at least one hour reading the support threads because ALL of the booking ones I am aware of have serious issues and you can waste months believing the developers most recent promises of an imminent fix if you are not aware that the same promises have been made, and not kept, since the start.

The problem with cheap plugins is that most people will take a gamble, especially when they already wasted a lot of time searching for a solution, but, because no-one has made a serious investment in the product, there is no real pressure on the author to provide a working product.

*** Just to be clear, the issue here is NOT the money, it is the huge swathes of time you will waste on a solution that ALMOST does what you need. These are the most dangerous ones because you can spend months believing that, surely, the problems are so obvious and, surely, the developer must want to have a working product and, surely, next update will make all your dreams come true. ***

In the case of CodeCanyon, an Envato marketplace like Themeforest, the authors get less than half the money you pay. So, in the case of Booking System Pro, each customer desperately requesting a fix represents only $10 of income to the anonymous plugin author. When someone presents a problem, he can say “Yes, will be fix in next update”. When users ask “When is the next update?”, the author says “Next week”. When users later say “It has been three weeks, where is the update?”, he can say “I have been very busy at work / I have some family problems, but it will definitely come next week”.

When he finally releases the update, months late, and none of the major issues have been fixed, he can say “Next update”. At that point, most users give up. If someone is stupidly persistent and points out the dishonesty of the situation, he will simply say “Sorry you are not happy, please ask CodeCanyon for refund” – only 1% of users will ever get that far, and I have no idea if CodeCanyon actually give the refunds to users half a year after their purchase, but it is amazing to read back over six months of support comments and see how it all works.

In that particular case, an anonymous Romanian coder has made 1,307 sales in less than a year, a substantial enough amount for a plugin that does not (yet) work. The amount of WordPress knowledge he needed to make an almost-working plugin was relatively low – for instance, he had no idea what Custom Post Types were.

A very useful tip for anyone considering any plugin: when you read the support threads, keep an eye open for users mentioning their own URLs and visit them. Try to find at least one user who managed to overcome whatever problems they were having and successfully use the plugin in a real website. Forget the provided demos; if no user has managed to get it working in a real site, the plugin does not work.

Donnacha Mac Gloinn ( via this post: