- Grammarly: Misleading website kills my desire to learn about their service
- Grammarly responds to my claim that their website is misleading
- Grammarly: Impressive response to complaints reignites my desire to learn about their service
- Grammarly responds to complaints about not disclosing their pricing
It's pretty rare for a language-learning tool to annoy me enough that I feel the need to write a post about it. But Grammarly has managed to do just that.
I saw Grammarly recently advertised on some language-learning site I was on. It's supposed to automatically check English-language text for grammar and other various mistakes. I thought it sounded interesting, so I clicked through the ad. On their home page, I see this big welcoming button telling me to "Get Started Now!", and noting in little tiny letters below that no registration is required.
"No registration required? Great!", I thought, and clicked on the button.
Watch me get annoyed by, receive an email from, and then write an email back to Grammarly, after the jump.
On the next page, you're asked to "Copy and paste your text here, then press 'Start Review'". So I put some purposefully mutilated English text to see what would happen. Grammarly appears to run its correction algorithm on your text, and then they give you this little gem:
So "no registration required" but I've got to "sign up now" to see the corrections? This was probably the point at which I should have cut and run, but curiousity led me on. I gave them a name, an email and a password, thinking that'd be enough. But, oh no, once they got that, here's what I was faced with...
OK, now maybe they were going to say that "registering" isn't the same as "signing up", but I'm pretty sure that "creating an account" is definitely "registering". I'd been duped into providing an email address, and I wasn't going to get to see how good their corrections were without paying up.
Now that was of course the point at which I ditched out. They had an email of mine, but I didn't see an easy way to delete it from the system so I just left, hoping they would leave me alone.
But no. Not content to leave bad enough alone, I got this email earlier today:
Hi Street-Smart Language Learning,I thought I'd write back to Greg with a little constructive criticism, so I sent him this email:
I'd like to follow up with you on your interest in Grammarly writing support tool. You recently tried to sign up for an account on www.grammarly.com, but never completed it.
Maybe the requirement of an upfront payment was a problem for you, in which case I'd like to offer you a 7-day Money Back Guarantee on your subscription. If you are not completely satisfied with Grammarly, just contact me within 7-day period and I will refund your full subscription amount. I am confident you'll enjoy Grammarly's breakthrough grammar and plagiarism checking functionality, and would like you to enjoy complete peace of mind in the registration process.
Grammarly is the world-leading writing support solution. Serving over 500,000 users at hundreds of leading colleges and universities worldwide, Grammarly is now available for individual licensing. With such groundbreaking features as 150+ grammar checks, plagiarism detection, vocabulary enhancement and contextual spell check, Grammarly is the ultimate solution for all your writing needs.
I'm also happy to help with any other enquiries you might have regarding Grammarly features, support questions and the like.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Individual Account Support
Hi Greg,As I noted in my message to Greg, this is really a pity because what they're doing does look pretty cool (can you imagine if Lang-8 had an automatic grammar checker that took care of most things before native speakers even needed to get involved?), and it might even be worth some money to English learners. That said, I can't put a good word in for them until they start treating their potential customers with more honesty.
I did indeed previously have some interest in the Grammarly writing support tool. I write a blog called Street-Smart Language Learning, and I thought that your service might be useful for some of my English-learning readers.
However, I never intended to sign up for an account on www.grammarly.com. Your home page contains a big orange button stating that I can "Get started now!" with "No registration required", which I believe most reasonable visitors would take to mean "Get started using Grammarly now!" without actually needing to register. So when Grammarly subsequently asked me to "Sign up now" before showing the results of my correction, I foolishly provided my email only to be told that I needed to create a paid account before being able to see my corrections. Apparently, Grammarly's understanding of "Get started now!" with "No registration required" means "Get started after you register and pay up".
The requirement of an upfront payment would not be a problem for me—if you were upfront about it. Indeed, there is no obvious information about any required payment on your website until after I've (1) clicked on the misleading "Get started now!" button, (2) entered some text to get corrected, (3) clicked on the "Sign up now" link, and (4) entered my sign-up information. Only then am I granted the privilege of being told that I'll need to shell out money to even see the small piece of text I submitted for corrections just to see how well your system works.
So it is safe to say that I am not satisfied with Grammarly at all without needing any 7-day period to review it further, which is a shame because my impression is that your actual product is pretty decent.
Moreover, it's my understanding that Applied Linguistics LLC is a California limited liability company, which means that Applied Linguistics LLC is subject to the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act that regulates commercial email. Now, I'm no expert on the CAN-SPAM Act, but based on this page on the FTC's website, I think emails like the one below need to provide a "clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future". Since you have not so provided, let me just make it clear; I do not want to receive any email from you in the future and hereby opt out from all such mailings. Furthermore, please delete all of my information from your database immediately.
I have posted a blog post entitled "Grammarly: Misleading website kills my desire to learn about their service" on my blog describing this experience. Should you upgrade your website to end these misleading practices, I will be happy to update my post with such information, so please leave a comment there at any time should you do so.
Update 1: Grammarly was quick to respond to the complaints above. See here for all the communications between us after this post.
Update 2: Grammarly made changes that resolve these complaints. See here.
This post was updated on May 22, 2010, to include links to all posts in this series on Grammarly.