The video on demand crafts and lifestyle channel, Bluprint, alerted instructors yesterday to a yearlong backlog of customer questions posted to their classes. These questions were, until now, inaccessible by the instructors many of whom now have a queue of thousands.
Bluprint instructors are not contractually obligated to respond to customer questions under the subscription model. Instead, the company encourages customers to seek support from one another and from the content itself or to contact customer service to answer their questions. Still, many instructors are dedicated to helping their students whether they’re obligated to or not, and discovering that hundreds of students have had their questions left unanswered for this long is mortifying.
Jacquie Gering has three classes on Bluprint covering topics such as quilting with a walking foot and improvisational piecing. “90% of the questions are addressed directly to me,” Gering says, “They start ‘Dear Jacquie…’ and there are thousands of them. I see more than thirty pages of questions here and that’s just for one class. To see my name over and over again is just devastating.” Gering visits her Bluprint page every day to answer student questions, often creating individualized sketches to help her students understand how to quilt their quilts. “Now I look like an idiot,” she says. “It’s shameful.”
Bluprint informed instructors of the situation via an email sent yesterday. “As we get closer to celebrating our first full year as Bluprint (where has the time gone?!) we’d like to share a few updates on how we’re addressing feedback we’ve received from our instructor community,” the email stated. “What we’ve heard: ‘With the transition into subscription, it’s difficult to see when a student posts a question in my class. Is there an easy way to see all questions in one place?’ Yes! We just released a ‘discussion dashboard’ feature, which you can now find within your profile.” The new instructor dashboard is where the questions from subscribers were revealed for the first time (questions from customers who bought their classes under the a la carte model were always visible). To answer the newly revealed questions instructors have to click on each one individually. The interface doesn’t include a way to mark which have been answered and which haven’t.
Wendi Gratz, who has two Bluprint classes, Fusible Applique Made Easy and Quilt-As-You-Go Applique Monsters, shared the response she wrote in the Bluprint instructor Facebook group. “The problem is you are not making it clear to your customers what they do and do not get with purchased/vs subscribed classes…I know I am not required to answer those questions. The problem is that your customers think I am required to do that. They are not looking in some buried notice in your support section. They are contacting me and they are angry. Understandably so…Your poor communication makes instructors look like jerks.”
Bluprint says they are working to make the distinction between the expectation for instructor interaction on a la carte classes versus subscription classes more clear. In the meantime, Gering says Bluprint should email those subscribers whose questions have gone unanswered to let them know that instructors were unaware and therefore unable to answer until now. “I’ve gone above and beyond for my students on this platform,” she says. “This feels like a stab in the back.”
EDITED May 23, 2019: Bluprint has issued a statement to instructors via email and in the Instructor Facebook group today addressing this issue. “Several instructors have expressed concern that we haven’t communicated clearly enough to Bluprint members that instructor participation is not required in the subscription platform,” the statement reads. “This was our mistake related to some technical issues and miscommunications.”
Bluprint has sent an email to all instructors acknowledging the error and has added a clarifying message to the comments section of each class. According to the statement, they will also be emailing all students with unanswered questions acknowledging that this was due to their mistake, not the instructor’s. The statement says they are also working to make instructor tools for answering questions more user-friendly.