In our recent review of the Elegant Themes service, a few readers commented that the support provided was lacking. Being the investigative reporters that we are, we decided to do some research and find out if there was any substance to the claims.
In fact it is quite common for blog posts reviewing the Elegant Themes service to receive many comments from members praising the themes on offer, but also criticizing the quality of the support provided.
The main complaints seem to be slow response times on the support forums and when the responses are given, they are insufficient to solve the problem. There were also reports of upselling for customization services occurring during the communication.
While $39 for access to over 80 themes appears to offer great value for money, if the company doesn’t support their service adequately, it’s not so much of a good deal. This situation can be worsened if you are building sites for clients using the themes, and are caught in the middle between unsatisfied clients and unresponsive support.
As non-members cannot view the Elegant Themes support forums, and with claims of forum posts going unanswered or not being resolved to a satisfactory level, we decided investigate the level of service offered ourselves, and report on our findings.
First Some Information About Elegant Themes Support Channels
Once you sign up to the Elegant Themes service, choosing either the Personal or Developer plans, you get one year of access to the service for $39 and $89 respectively. This gives you access to all the themes and perpetual updates, as well as access to ‘premium technical support’ for one year.
There is also a Lifetime Access pricing plan which gives you access to everything for ever, for a one off payment of $249.
So in order to receive support for your themes, you need to have a live or active plan.
While the support documents for each theme are substantial and cover using the theme in detail. The main areas of the support that drew criticism were the forums and ticketing system.
When it comes to the support channels available, there is only the forum. There is no telephone or email support. When you open a new ticket, you are in fact posting to a forum (that all members have access to).
I found this a little confusing at first, as most support desks I’ve used in the past had a private ticketing system where tickets were created, and then were only accessible by the user and the support staff.
At Elegant Themes I saw the buttons to ‘View Your Tickets’ and to ‘Search Tickets’. However I couldn’t see how to create a ticket. Turns out you have to go into the forums and create a ‘New Topic’. I think the terminology could be made more consistent here, but once you’ve understood it, it’s easy enough to use.
The Elegant Themes approach of using a forum has its advantages, as other members can respond to your issue with their hopefully helpful advice. Plus users can easily search through previous tickets, which have already been resolved for answers to their problems.
Using a forum also has its negative aspects. As you are requested to post the URL of the site you are experiencing problems with, you will be making public (to members) any work in progress sites. I’m not sure how this would work with sites being built locally on your own computer.
The forums themselves are divided into four main sub-forums:
- General Support
- Theme Support
- Plugin Support
- Theme Customization
General support covers things like general questions, themes suggestions and testimonial. The Theme Support forum contains a sub forum for each theme where theme-specific issues can be raised. The Theme Customization forum includes a showcase sub-forum and a help section where support is not guaranteed as Elegant Themes do not officially support requests for customization.
When posting a new topic in the theme specific support forums, you are required to disable all of your plugins. I found this requirement a bit draconian. Although I can understand why they require this (to identify plugin conflicts), it’s not very practical for someone running a live site that is dependent on plugins for its functionality.
Is the Elegant Themes Support Any Good?
While I’ve not had any real call to use the Elegant Themes support in the past, for this case review I installed a few themes and set about giving them a good tweak. I dove into the settings and pushed the themes to their limits.
While doing so, a few things caught my attention. While the themes weren’t broken, I did have some questions about why they were behaving as they did. Rather than persevere with trying to understand their inner workings, as I would normally, I opened a few tickets for my queries, (i.e. posted to the forum).
To test the quality of the Elegant Themes support I opened three tickets.
Ticket one was regarding the appearance of a specific theme. It turns out my issue was not something that could be modified through the themes settings. This made it a customization issue which Elegant Themes don’t officially support.
However, one of the support team responded to my request within 7 minutes with some custom CSS code to solve my issue.
I was very impressed with this quick response, and the fact that the support staff member helped me out when he wasn’t obliged to, due to the nature of my request.
Ticket two was responded to in about 24 hours and the respondent pointed me in the direction of a help file which covered my problem.
Ticket three was also responded to in about 24 hours. The respondent this time asked me a question about how I setup the theme.
From this small sample it appears that the Elegant Themes support team do a good job of responding to tickets in a 24 hour period.
Other User’s Tickets
Browsing the support forums, it was possible to find a very small number of tickets that were not resolved to the satisfaction of the customer. But by and large, the vast majority of tickets looked to be closed with the problem being marked as solved.
With so many themes to support and so many users opening tickets, it is understandable that some tickets slip through the cracks. If you happen to be one of the unlucky ones whose issue is not resolved then it is likely you will be left with doubts about your investment. However for the vast majority who never raise a ticket, or those who have their issues resolved, I expect they will be happy with their decision to sign up with Elegant Themes
Main Problems with Support
The main problem with the Elegant Themes support seems to be its inconsistency. Some tickets are responded to quickly, while others are reportedly left to languish. Some commenters on other blogs have spoken of favoritism, and those who are too demanding being ignored by the support team whenever they open a new ticket. I found no evidence of this either way.
It would be interesting to know how the tickets are managed. When I’ve worked on a helpdesk in the past, tickets were often assigned to people, or to a sub team of people. This meant that everyone on the team could see which tickets they were supposed to be dealing with.
I’m not sure how this would work when using a forum. Can the forum posts be, and are they, assigned to a particular support member, and put in their queue? Or are the staff free to pick and choose the forum posts, and customers they want to respond to?
Using a ticketing system that the customer could access, would also allow them to request that their ticket be escalated or assigned to a different member of the support team, if their experiences were unsatisfactory.
I couldn’t find a published Service Level Agreement (SLA) anywhere that defined the response times for support. Creating or sharing such a document could perhaps help customers feeling frustrated with support, as they would know how to long expect to wait for a response to their query. It could also help the support team deal with tickets more consistently, at least in the eyes of the customers.
While the quality of their themes is subjective: you either like their designs or you don’t. Defining the level of support on offer with an SLA could help take some of the subjectivity out of the customer feedback on support: do they respond to, and resolve tickets in the agreed time or not?
Is the Elegant Themes support bad? No. Is it perfect? No.
By managing user expectations a little better, and making it clear what is and isn’t on offer under the term ‘Premium Support’, as well as introducing a more effective or transparent way of managing tickets, they could go a long way towards dealing with the main area of dissatisfaction a vocal minority of their customers feel they experience with the service.
If you’ve got any specific tickets that you feel have been satisfactorily dealt with, please get in touch.
Jupiter Jim says
Great Review — Fair and Balanced. The support you got seemed decent. I don’t like the complaints that other were posting out in the field. When I am designing sites for clients, I need 100% dependable support, so that is another reason that I don’t use elegant themes. I’ve used them a few times (because the client purchased the theme) but the back end usually seems unduly complicated, but that’s another issue. I only use Thesis or Genesis themes because they support is good. What’s more important is that there is a HUGE COMMUNITY supporting Thesis and Genesis frameworks, so that even if you cannot get the support or help you need from the original developers of the Thesis Skins or the Genesis Child themes, you can find other groups and forums to ask questions and get them answered. I don’t beleive that’s the case with Elegant themes. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer from Elegant themes, then there is not a big following of Elegant themes out there that can help you out — like there is with Thesis and Genesis.
That’s my opinion, anyways.
Thanks for the post!
~ Jupiter Jim
Joe Fylan says
Thanks Jim. Yes, your experience and opinion of the ET support does seem to be shared by many others using the service, or at least the vocal minority.
I only hear good things about Genesis and Thesis which makes me think they would be a better option for those building important sites as well as client sites.
However, you have to give ET some credit for offering so many themes at such an affordable price.
Danny Brown says
I find the Elegant Themes support very disappointing. Looking through a lot of the tickets, the replies seem to be, “We don’t offer that support, please consider doing this…”, or (in my case) advising to add a plugin to sort an issue with how their theme added meta data to Facebook when sharing.
This is why I much prefer Studiopress and the Genesis framework. One-to-one personal support, even on weekend. Excellent service.
Joe Fylan says
Danny, it seems you are not alone in your experiences. Unfortunately/fortunately I personally didn’t run into those kind of issues during my research. However, I am not stating that problems with support don’t occur.
I’m hoping people will link me to specific support tickets/forum posts to look into.
Danny Brown says
Here you go 🙂
Joe Fylan says
Great example, thanks for sharing!
IMO adding opengraph meta and other social meta tags to theme is not a good idea. They should always come from plugin. This is because the social sharing system changes too often. Also which tags should be a part of theme? FB opengraph? Twitter Cards? Google+ Rich Snippets? oEmbed? This will make the site too bulky. Its best to delegate non-theme specific functionality to plugins. Even WordPress Theme development guidelines agree with me 😉 So ET has made correct decision here.
Regarding support, I have always got a solution within a few hours. They do recommend plugins sometimes but only when it SOLVES my problem. I would suggest trying them once!
Well, my comment is much later than the ones currently on your post. I subscribed to ET a couple of years ago. Not too much trouble there, just a learning curve. A few months ago, I decided to try their Divi theme to see if it was as great as they claimed. Everything was ok until Divi 3.0 came out amidst great claims. Which has turned into a disaster. The application was not tested nearly thoroughly enough. And we users are the ones suffering from this. They are up to 3.0.16 now and I still can’t display images in my blog..
Patrick de Berry says
I agree with previous responders, you have written a very balanced piece and I hope you are right that those one the wrong side of support are in the minority.
Personally my experiences have not been great. And I have experienced some kind of selection over tickets posted, because previously I posted two tickets about separate issues I was having with the Captcha, one got answered and solved within minutes, the other only received a response, more than 18 hours later, once I post a follow up prompt.
Since yesterday I have been having an issue https://www.elegantthemes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=635162&p=3501717#p3501717 and was amazed when the response came to move away from the front-end Divi 3.0 builder and instead to use the old Divi 2 back-end method.
The biggest pity for me is I have paid for the lifetime subscription. All very frustrating, especially given the lack of information about how tickets are being dealt with. I also found it a pity the search facility for the forum wasn’t better, because then at least I might be able to find the answer myself from the previous issues of others, but as single word specific as the search is I would be there for days going through thousands of unrelated threads.
I guess I’ll have to go check out Genesis and cut my losses.
Thanks for the outlet.
Dan Burke says
I recently assessed (as best you can prior to purchase) and then recommended Elegant Themes and the Divi Builder to a client. Mistake. The Divi builder 3.0+ is problematic (per JHERBJR comment above). I’m three days out from posting a ticket for the Divi Builder and no-one has picked it up yet, my client is about to seek a refund.
While the support forum is one mechanism to fix bugs, problems and learning curves, it seems to me the greatest missing link is a lack of documentation. The theme, builder etc Read Me files, or pages, barely represent an introduction and are almost entirely non-specific to the needs of the learning curve however big or small it may be.
The layers of logic it is required to work with between Website building, the communication and information needs of the site sitting there in the background, working with WordPress and then a theme PLUS a builder are substantial and hardly the realm of the totally inexperienced.
It would seem mandatory (and to my mind a reasonable expectation) that some form of user information by way of a realistic guide or manual would rid ET of half their support tickets and therefore the cost of servicing them. Adding some clarification about issues that are WordPress or plug-in issues rather than Divi builder or ET theme issues would go a long way to making life easier for both ET and their clients.
I have images showing as they wish/ or not showing at all, modules that do not respond to command, settings dialogues that flicker and go blank in the middle of a task etc etc. The site work thus far is broken. And I can’t do a thing about it except recommend my client ditch out.
He will likely give a poor reflection on the experience to his friends, clients and other associates in IT and his business area – it’s also a poor reflection on me despite not doing anything wrong.
Endnote: When I started the support ticket there were a few others in the list, in the three days since that as quadrupled…
Keith J. Clark says
I purchased Elegant Themes a month or two ago. I need a reliable alternative.
Everything is pretty…people have good intentions, but support is lacking. See below. No need to rewrite – I am ending the following email to them right now.
What are the alternatives you guys have found??
Please pass this up to a manager or owner immediately. Skip tech support, skip normal routes.
While your support team appears to have good intentions, they are using my site for their development.
I’ve spent two weeks and one day waiting for the Monarch plugin to work. I’ve sent 4 tokens, been told twice that it would be passed on to developers (and it was not). The icing on the cake is when I tell the technician that I already deactivated all plugins, cleared WP cache as well as cloudflare and it had no effect on the plugin…
He went in and deactivated my plugins for an hour and ten minutes this morning – having not received permission to do so.
I have given Elegant Themes feedback regarding their communication with customers, or lack thereof, as well as product improvement suggestions.
I see other tickets for the same issues – issues that could be resolved if the updated documentation was put up to begin with. Your website is hosting invalidated info. YouTube API v2 was deprecated on MARCH 14, 2014 – but your website seems to indicate that it is still in place.
The ticket email notifications were broken (I was not receiving them), the site is being worked on, and users also cannot access global settings.
Technicians ask for private info via email but do not state why they need this (because tickets are public)
Monarch is a simple social plugin. Not only does the API for YouTube not work for me, but the manual option does not work also. Two of the follow buttons say “follow” and one says “follows”. Who is doing your quality control? The large number only counts up to the first decimal place apparently by indicating “6” when it should read 6.5k follows, for example.
Instead of passing on to developers, your guys keep toying with it and following basic steps- which, are sometimes necessary – but I had already done.
This gives me absolutely no faith in your ability to support themes.
I have been straight-forward and patient and provided feedback throughout the entire process.
Please let me know how you would like to resolve this. If you feel that is the best your support team can do, then please cancel my account and issue a refund immediately.
They can provide the ticket to you for you to read through, below is the audit log for their work this morning.
I received emails this morning from people in other parts of the world telling me the site was either down or affected. Major portions of my site also run on plugins gravity view and gravity forms.
Ken Green says
I am also having major issues with basic functions in Divi. I am just starting out and used Divi to build a site for a client. I have been working on the site for weeks and deploying to staging for client feed back regularly. I was trying to export theme settings yesterday and it froze at 1% with no errors or anything.
Divi support did respond overnight but with questions about installation procedures. I tried to rebuild the site from backups but with my latest settings export, the site looks miserable now.
Even if I do manage to get this resolved, I don’t feel comfortable turning Divi over to a client. I’m not sure what to do or what to tell the client. I paid $250 for lifetime and I’m past my 30 days.
I chose Divi over Genesis too. That seems to have been a very poor decision. Maybe this will serve as a warning to others.
I myself have been using Elegant Themes for quite a few years, maybe 7 or 8 years, I purchased the lifetime membership. I can say from experience that their support is awful! There is ONE good support tech who actually helps, but he is only on for a few hours per day it seems, although there are days when he isn’t on too, so I have to wait long periods of time to get a response. I rarely get a response to a ticket the same day. It’s even rarer to get a response within a couple hours.
Just as you said, other members can answer your question too, but I have never had that happen & I have never had the time to help anyone else because I am usually too frustrated trying to get my own problems solved.
Had I known before I purchased their themes that their support was like this, I would not have purchased their themes at all. So hopefully this will help someone else not make the same mistake I did, although I don’t fault myself for not knowing, the only way I would have known were to be if I researched it which I didn’t do unfortunately. So I guess I do fault myself a little.
Anyways, if you’re thinking about going with Elegant Themes, DON’T! Or if you have but just recently enough to get your money back, get it back. Trust me, you’ll be MUCH better off paying for for themes elsewhere!
Sandy Moore says
Just like their themes, their support is amazing. I’ve never had a problem getting support and I find it very supportive to have the coupon system where a developer from Elegant can log into your clients site and fix the problem.
Love Elegant Themes!!
Their updated system, which is now a chat system instead of a ticketing system, sucks. Instead of answering questions , you wait two days for an email with a question about your question. Some of the time you have already answered this in the original ticket. Very,very frustrating.
It’s absurd. When there is a bad install or a timeout for API code the platform offers zero notification and not all of the components work properly. So if it goes undetected, after hours of learning, setting settings, customization et. al. then you need a key function like text editor and its not there you are prompted to divi builder and templates to finish a customized job. It’s costs a LOT of time it’s horrible.
Chatting is like chatting with someone from another language and they are sending huge smiling emojis as if hey these is no problem. No solution only post of pages for Divi support when it’s clear you are in Extra and the problem is a load issue. omgosh.. Process is something like: initiate chat, wait 3-4 hours for a response if you can or you miss it. Text a reply and wait another 2-4 hours for reply if you can catch it then then the fact phase starts with a remote access only to get pages for the divi builder tutorials and told you case has to go to another CS department and that’s it poof they are gone and that’s it.
Most pitiful customer service I have ever seen. As a lifetime member I am really disappointed.
Everyone in the biz holds back to make a dime. For elegant themes it is a pitiful way to gain trust and showcase a winning product.
I don’t know how you could even offer a mediocre rating here.