When a client chooses a lesser subscription in a web app


What happens when a user had a greater subscription plan but chooses to convert to a lesser one?

Of course, the features should be locked/limited, but what happens for example in this case:

Subscription: GOLD

Maximum clientele: 500

Subscription: Silver
Maximum clientele: 200

Will you just simply not let them add more clients, or force them to delete some of the clients?

What happens in this more intricate case, where the client is able to add another user to help him manage stuff:

Subscription: GOLD

Maximum additional Managers: 5

Maximum additional Managers: 2

Is is clear that 3 manager accounts have to lose access, but which ones? Again, do you simply not let the client register more managers, or force him to select which ones to keep?

Maybe a universal policy isn't really feasible, but I think a general guideline arises from examining the two aforementioned examples. Do you have any other examples/suggestions?

Pricing Subscriptions Business Plan Web App

asked Jan 12 '12 at 06:33
Mihalis Bagos
106 points
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2 Answers


They should not be allowed to downgrade until they drop the manager and clientele counts to the silver level.

If you were to enforce this, by dropping say the most recent managers (or least recent or even random managers) then the customer would have a right to complain. "Hey, you dropped my favorite one."

By prohibiting the downgrade, and instead popping up a dialog telling them to reduce their usage, you've put the selection process into their hands, which is where it should be.

answered Jan 12 '12 at 07:11
Paul Cezanne
649 points
  • ? can't say I agree to your approach, and it certainly isn't compatible with the scenario of going from paid subscription to free subscription level which would happen in a lot of web apps. Thinking about it though, from a business perspective it does feel better to make the client be aware exactly of what he is missing on, but only in the case of going to a lower lvl that isn't free. – Mihalis Bagos 11 years ago
  • The difference between the paid to free subscription is usually that some content is now restricted. Your situation is different since the AMOUNT of content is restricted, and that amount isn't just a number, it is actual people. That decision should be left to the customer, not your coders. – Paul Cezanne 11 years ago


Thanks Mihalis,

I like to compare fremium models to other businesses using them. Take Wufoo for example, known for incredible customer service.

When you downgrade with them and are above the form limit or are using other premium features, they ask you to remove the excess forms before you are able to downgrade. Additionally, this experiment was done with a premium account attempting to downgrade to a free account.

If your user is using the service at the gold level, then it's likely that he really needs the features contained within. Take this opportunity to explain personally the benefits of his plan and that you're personally concerned that downgrading would limit his growth, stifle his productivity, etc, etc.

That being said, if this is happening with a lot of your clients, it's possible that your pricing may be too high or that you aren't offering enough benefits with the gold plan for them to be satisfied. Try rewarding the 'golden ones' with some extra fluff. Finally, you can try to create something in between the two levels. Maybe silver is too low for your clients, but hey have no other option.

answered Jan 12 '12 at 09:04
Ryan Chatterton
921 points
  • Thanks for the reply. This seems similar to what Paul is suggesting, but +1 for the added tip on plan distribution. However, I can't see exactly how this would work. Do they let the user be premium for free until the user decides to delete the additional stuff? Do they force the client to continue to pay for premium subscription until the client makes the moves they need? – Mihalis Bagos 11 years ago
  • My guess is that you have their billing information right? Think of it like renting a house. You're going to keep charging rent as long as your tenant lives there aren't you? Regarding my example, Wufoo will continue to charge me until I reduce my number of forms and remove premium features from them. So, yes, continue to charge them until they reduce the usage of their account to the free level. – Ryan Chatterton 11 years ago

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Pricing Subscriptions Business Plan Web App