Do the lists that my clients build belong to me?

21 replies
I'm posting from my phone at work so I will keep it simple.

I'm using Chad's SMS Plugin. My client is building his list during his two month free trial. Bt I actually have to go into my own administrative dashboard to add the numbers.

Would it be wrong to assume that the list actually belongs to me and they are just building it and using it? So if they don't continue service at one point I would keep the list as my own?

Of course, still offering an opt out option in any messages I send them.
#belong #build #clients #lists
  • Profile picture of the author RandyRandola
    Did you explain this to the client?
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  • Profile picture of the author fitz10
    Do you have a contract with the client? When people opted-in did they opt-in for general messages or did they opt-in for messages from "XYZ Corp"?
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    • Profile picture of the author Neodism
      Originally Posted by RandyRandola View Post

      Did you explain this to the client?
      No. There wasn't much explained at all. There's no contract. I set up the service, they're using it. No more, no less.

      Originally Posted by fitz10 View Post

      Do you have a contract with the client? When people opted-in did they opt-in for general messages or did they opt-in for messages from "XYZ Corp"?
      We do not have a contract. It's month to month service. And when people opt-in, they just write their phone number down.

      The business thought they could get more subscribers if they asked them to write their number down to subscribe rather than telling them to text to subscribe and risking them forgetting to do so.

      So, how it works is this:

      No contract. They have their customers leave their numbers on an 'opt-in sheet'. Then, I go in once a week and add the numbers to the list that they are using/building. Of course, I have to log into my administrative panel to add the numbers.

      I feel like this makes me the owner of the lists and them the manager of the one list.
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      • Profile picture of the author Nail Yener
        Originally Posted by Larches View Post

        They have their customers leave their numbers on an 'opt-in sheet'. Then, I go in once a week and add the numbers to the list that they are using/building. Of course, I have to log into my administrative panel to add the numbers.

        I feel like this makes me the owner of the lists and them the manager of the one list.
        I think this sounds exactly the opposite. If they are collecting the numbers from their customers, that makes them the owner and you the manager.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nail Yener
    In business, it will be wrong to assume anything. You should make the terms clear for both parties.
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  • Profile picture of the author PPCampaigns
    I don't know any of the specifics here, but I'm not sure how much use someone else's list would be to you. I would assume your client is in a different field of work than you. Therefore, they most likely wouldn't be interested in the promotions that you have to offer. In my opinion, the list doesn't belong to you. If your client is building the list through their own promotions, then customers are signing up for your client's list, not yours. Again, this is just an my opinion. Like others said, without a contract it's sort of a "gray area". It's always a good idea to create an initial contract, even with a month-to-month type situation. That way there is no confusion between the two parties if a situation like that arises.
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  • Profile picture of the author Neodism
    I just feel like I am the owner because all they do is put out a piece of paper to gather numbers. Technically, I do own the list because I own the back-end and everything in there is mine. Especially seeing that the list is being built and used under my Twilio account.

    I can see where it may be wrong to consider the list mine, but I guess it'll depend on my nature to decide who it actually belongs to and what to do with it if their service is not continued.

    And by taking the list and using it for my own benefit would work given the way I would do so. Yeah, I may get some opt-outs but I would be able to maintain subscribers.

    The subscribers are local so by blasting local deals, offers, coupons and events will still interest them.
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    • Profile picture of the author David Stewart
      Originally Posted by Larches View Post

      And by taking the list and using it for my own benefit would work given the way I would do so. Yeah, I may get some opt-outs but I would be able to maintain subscribers.

      The subscribers are local so by blasting local deals, offers, coupons and events will still interest them.
      What makes you think that if a person opts-in to receive special offers from a certain place of business that they are open to receiving offers from others just because they are local? I'd hardly think that would be the case. Unless they knew that prior to opting in perhaps.

      The customer signed up at the place of THEIR choice to receive THAT particular places offer. Not everyone elses in the area. I'd be upset to receive offers from 5 other businesses in town after I opted in to Joe's Pizza.

      Also, I'd say you are the manager of the list and your client owns it. If they cancel on you, the list goes with the service you were providing (well not since they have all the contacts on paper). I personally would never extract those names and use it for my own list unless ALL of the opt-ins were already aware that they'll be receiving offers from many other businesses.
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      • Profile picture of the author trumpador
        Originally Posted by David Stewart View Post

        What makes you think that if a person opts-in to receive special offers from a certain place of business that they are open to receiving offers from others just because they are local? I'd hardly think that would be the case. Unless they knew that prior to opting in perhaps.

        The customer signed up at the place of THEIR choice to receive THAT particular places offer. Not everyone elses in the area. I'd be upset to receive offers from 5 other businesses in town after I opted in to Joe's Pizza.

        Also, I'd say you are the manager of the list and your client owns it. If they cancel on you, the list goes with the service you were providing (well not since they have all the contacts on paper). I personally would never extract those names and use it for my own list unless ALL of the opt-ins were already aware that they'll be receiving offers from many other businesses.
        Completely agree with above.

        Personally, I think this is the reason people are wary of opting in whether it be emails/sms because you just don't know where your information ends up.

        You are enticing "Joe's Pizza" to trial your service, who in turn offer promotions to their customers. Where in this step have the customers given you permission to blast them with offers from your service?

        You said yourself that there is no contract, therefore the people opting in have not given 3rd parties permission to blast them with promos. They have agreed to Joe's Pizza and nothing more.

        Furthermore, I think that you will not only damage your relationship with Joe's Pizza but with the people who have opted in. You will, in effect be shooting yourself in the foot. Your reputation will be sunk before you get the opportunity to make it.

        However, if and when you do draft up a contract, you will need to be transparent to the business owner (eg. Joe's Pizza) about ownership of the list and also advise the owner to put options about 3rd party offers when their customers opt-in.
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    • Profile picture of the author Digital Traffic
      So what you are saying is that just because you spent a few minutes entering phone number into a data base that your "client's" customers now belong to you?

      This "client" is already "paying" you to perform this service in the first place, or at least that is what you intend to have happen after the "free trial" you offered them as part of your service.

      What role did you play in the creating of goodwill, leasing the space, buying the equipment, advertising, and providing a service to these customers over the years did you perform?


      Originally Posted by Larches View Post

      I just feel like I am the owner because all they do is put out a piece of paper to gather numbers. Technically, I do own the list because I own the back-end and everything in there is mine. Especially seeing that the list is being built and used under my Twilio account.

      I can see where it may be wrong to consider the list mine, but I guess it'll depend on my nature to decide who it actually belongs to and what to do with it if their service is not continued.

      And by taking the list and using it for my own benefit would work given the way I would do so. Yeah, I may get some opt-outs but I would be able to maintain subscribers.

      The subscribers are local so by blasting local deals, offers, coupons and events will still interest them.
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  • Profile picture of the author silotiko
    My suggestion would be to quickly draft up a CONTRACT and make specific and detailed terms. Then present it to him once the "trial" period has ended and then the terms should be clear and no one is in the dark and each party will know what to expect.

    As things sit currently, I would agree with @Nail that it sounds as if you are the manager and your customer is the owner of the names ...

    I would do yourself a favor and C.Y.A. - get a contract created and signed!!!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author Neodism
    Well I may keep it in the terms of the contract, whether it be verbal or in writing, that if it comes to a point that they discontinue service I will be sending one final text to the list informing them that the business would not be personally using the list anymore, but telling them that if they stay subscribed they will receive daily local deals.

    Either way, I was just wondering for all of your input. Thank you for it.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrashImpact
      Larches... IMHO its very simple, That list belongs to the client no matter what, they are paying you to cultivate that list on their behalf.

      On the other hand... I would highly recommend building your own opt in mobile list.. and take the guess work out of the thought process...

      Hope this helps... and Get your system on a true SMS Short code.. Make life easy my friend.

      Regards,
      Robert

      Mobile Fusion Texting
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      • Profile picture of the author Neodism
        Originally Posted by BrashImpact View Post

        Larches... IMHO its very simple, That list belongs to the client no matter what, they are paying you to cultivate that list on their behalf.

        On the other hand... I would highly recommend building your own opt in mobile list.. and take the guess work out of the thought process...

        Hope this helps... and Get your system on a true SMS Short code.. Make life easy my friend.

        Regards,
        Robert

        Mobile Fusion Texting
        1. You are correct.

        2. Building my own list and selling a blast would take very long and be very hard to do. My competitor has about 9,000 subscribers. That would take a long time to match.

        3. Why would a short code be any better? Mind to discuss it via PM or email? Send me a message. I sort of feel like that was your sales pitch, haha. Like a bad proposal. Send me a message, I'd like to hear your reasoning for siding with short codes.
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        • Profile picture of the author BrashImpact
          Originally Posted by Larches View Post

          1. You are correct.

          2. Building my own list and selling a blast would take very long and be very hard to do. My competitor has about 9,000 subscribers. That would take a long time to match.

          3. Why would a short code be any better? Mind to discuss it via PM or email? Send me a message. I sort of feel like that was your sales pitch, haha. Like a bad proposal. Send me a message, I'd like to hear your reasoning for siding with short codes.
          Larches,
          no pitch at all my friend... At some point, the mobile carriers are going to want their piece of the pie... Riding the carriers with SMTP at some point whether its 6 months, 1 year or 3 years they are either going to shut it down... Or start charging big time for it... IMHO

          The liability you could have down the road...could be huge, especially if your clients have spent serious money on building that list... Just food for thought. I for one, just don't agree with piggybacking for free... With that being said, no pitch, lots of great SMS short code company's out there. Find one that's a good fit for you and use them, if your going to do business with businesses, be legitimate from the word go and you wont have any issues. I have been there myself... and wish i woulda gone that route 18 years ago.

          Just sayin... Take it for what its worth. Have a Fabulous Night.
          Regards,
          Robert

          Mobile Fusion Texting
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Rosenbaum
    Seems like you got a pretty good consensus. I agree that you should get a contract ASAP. You don't want to end up in court, win or lose.
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  • Profile picture of the author Big Gee
    split the list 50/50 at a designated point or number ? If it was me, I would feel like it was my fault for not making it clear from the get go. They are doing equal work in their eyes because it is collected through them, as much as you are doing equal amount of work on your end by what you do. I would chalk it up to a learning experience and not do it again.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    A list of people who don't want to hear from you is worthless. They want to hear from that business and you should be charging them for your service unless you truly believe that a free trial will help build your business.

    The list is the pizza places. You are merely managing it.
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  • Profile picture of the author frujid
    I do not feel you are owner of the list. You did not build it, just managed it.

    I thought about this when I signed up for my current service. Can this company take my list and use it if I cancel? The problem here is that once you sign up and start building the list and grow larger you are almost stuck if you want to move away or go on your own. Its not like a phone number that gets transferred and you still own it. Most of the time you are using a shared short code that someone else owns, that has other clients using it as well.

    Once you decide to transfer short codes, a text message will be sent out to those currently subscribed and inform them of the new changes taking place. One message will be sent on the old short code, and then one will be sent on the new short code to let the users know they will be receiving text messages from the new number.
    I found this process that described it, but I don't think this is a good solution. You can have a lot of opt-outs for users who are even 5% unsure about what is happening.
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    • Profile picture of the author Neodism
      Originally Posted by frujid View Post

      I do not feel you are owner of the list. You did not build it, just managed it.

      I thought about this when I signed up for my current service. Can this company take my list and use it if I cancel? The problem here is that once you sign up and start building the list and grow larger you are almost stuck if you want to move away or go on your own. Its not like a phone number that gets transferred and you still own it. Most of the time you are using a shared short code that someone else owns, that has other clients using it as well.



      I found this process that described it, but I don't think this is a good solution. You can have a lot of opt-outs for users who are even 5% unsure about what is happening.
      SMS marketing is very popular in this town. Everyone knows what it is and about half of the population here is subscribed to my competitor's list. You should see what happens to a business when my competitor sends out an ad. So many people flock to the establishment that is running a deal and every time you can hear them talking about how much they love the ads.

      That being said, I believe I will let it be an option to my client that if they discontinue service I will send out a single message informing the consumers and asking them to stay tuned if they would like other exclusive local deals. The crowd that is signing up for my client's list is a younger one and they will know what it is. No confusion. I feel like it will get very few opt-outs, even when we inform them that the store is no longer using the list.


      Once more, I thank you all.


      Besides... what does it matter if there are opt-outs? Even if half the people opted out I would still be left with 500-1000 more subscribers than I had before on my blast list.
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      • Profile picture of the author IMguy123
        Originally Posted by Larches View Post

        SMS marketing is very popular in this town. Everyone knows what it is and about half of the population here is subscribed to my competitor's list. You should see what happens to a business when my competitor sends out an ad. So many people flock to the establishment that is running a deal and every time you can hear them talking about how much they love the ads.

        That being said, I believe I will let it be an option to my client that if they discontinue service I will send out a single message informing the consumers and asking them to stay tuned if they would like other exclusive local deals. The crowd that is signing up for my client's list is a younger one and they will know what it is. No confusion. I feel like it will get very few opt-outs, even when we inform them that the store is no longer using the list.


        Once more, I thank you all.


        Besides... what does it matter if there are opt-outs? Even if half the people opted out I would still be left with 500-1000 more subscribers than I had before on my blast list.
        Wow, you are opening a can of worms.

        As someone offering services like this, you should be creating trust. However, if you do what you seem to be wanting right now, you will creating distrust.

        That possibly means you will lose your client (his future need for other services) and any possible referrals he or she would have given you for your increased revenue.

        Furthermore, you could be well on your way to damaging your reputation in your local business area....and later killing your business before it is started.
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