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MemberPress Review – Membership Aches and Pains

**UPDATE:  I respect the opinions of everyone and I understand that other people may have had more positive experiences with MemberPress.  I’ve recently been notified that MP now has a refund policy of 14 days.  The plugin is still not my cup of tea, but feel free to check it out and hopefully your experience will be better then mine.

I recently wrote a post comparing what I figured would be the top two membership plugins,  Restrict Content Pro and MemberPress.  I’ve used Restrict Content Pro before and liked it, but MemberPress seemed to be a bit more robust and inline with what I needed.

After purchasing and trying to get it work on my site, the unfortunate truth is that I’m very disappointed.

First I’ll start with why I was so excited to use MemberPress. I’ve searched Google to find out what the “awesome” membership plugins for WordPress were. I found a bunch of them like Premise, WishList, Amember, etc., but the one that really grabbed my attention was MemberPress. I saw an article (actually a few articles) by Chris Lema and figured, OK, this should be good.

MemberPress allows you to sell digital products, memberships, creates a nice pricing plan page, and so much more. So what could go wrong?

Make sure you want it, because once you buy it, it’s yours.

First, I’d like to point out that there is no 30 day trial / money-back guarantee, or anything like that. So once you purchase it, that’s it, it’s yours for one year. It even says in their terms that there are no refunds, which should’ve been a flag for me, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

After messing around with MemberPress for about 28 days, less than a month, I asked for my money back. The response was “no”. According to them they solved the multiple issues that I was having so they didn’t see a reason why I should get my money back. So what issues was I having?

Rules, rules, and more rules!

I guess the concept of having rules to control your site isn’t a bad one, until you literally need to have a rule for every little thing.

You see, MemberPress works its entire system with rules. You create a product, which is just a page that explains what you want to sell, whether it’s a membership or a digital product. Then you have to create rules for that product.

Using the word “product” gets very confusing. You see, if you want to create a “Silver” membership, and sell a digital eBook, they would both have their own separate entries as products. So now you’ll have 2 products, one being a membership, and the other being a digital good.

Once set up, you would go into youre rules tab and set a rule for “Silver” product. So anything in the “Silver” category will be blocked, unless they have a membership. If you have a Custom Post Type that you want accessible through “Silver” then you make another rule for that CPT, and so on.

The digital products are a bit different. You would have to set up a rule for access to anything in relation to that product, similar to a membership. You’ll also have to set up a rule for the file that you would like the product to link to.

Now adding the digital product is as simple as just uploading it to your media library, or anywhere for that matter. (I use the term “simple” very loosely because it took me an enormous amount of time to figure out that that was all I had to do.) Once it’s uploaded, you have to get the URI of that file, and make a new rule for it.

Still with me?

You can probably see how someone who may have 10 – 15 digital products, plus membership levels can easily get disorganized. There would be so many rules and products all piled together. Very annoying and very very cumbersome.

I spent a good week or two trying to figure out the system and get it working. The issue was that whenever I added a rule to a post category, all of my posts were blocked! All of them! I’d have to remove the rule in order to get it working again. So adding rules to categories just wasn’t working.

When I brought it to support, they gave me a new version to install. A BETA version. My site is not in production, it’s launched, why give me a beta version?

In any case, I installed the beta version and it fixed the category issue…

Adding Digital Products

I just touched on this in the last section but wow, what a process. I’m pretty good at figuring things out. I figure things out all the time. On the MemberPress site, it clearly states that you can add digital products, so why don’t I see this anywhere when I installed the plugin?

In conjunction with all the rules that have to be added, adding digital products is anything but intuitive. I just couldn’t get it. I kept asking myself, where do I put the file that I want the user to download? There wasn’t any specific spot.

After speaking with support, I found out, you can put the file anywhere, you just have to set up a rule that blocks the file from freely being downloaded. You also have to set up a rule so that people can access the file through a download page that you should create, or a forum.

The beta version they sent me had a box where I could redirect the user to a download page (I think, I didn’t get far enough to test that out), then with shortcodes, block access to certain downloads. It was just more and more rules. I’d spent almost an entire month trying to set up a membership section and a product, and it just wasn’t working.

I added the rule to protect my product from being downloaded but I was still able to access the product with no issues at all. So once again, the rules weren’t working. When I contacted support for a third time (the second was to help me figure out how to add digital products) I was told that my hosting is caching the file so MemberPress can’t block access to it. I’d have to speak to my host to tell them not to cache the file.

At this point I was pretty much done. Additionally, just before the digital file thing happened, I logged into my account only to see that since I was using a beta version, my license was not working (although I was told it was still active but just not displaying on the front end), this was not reassuring.

The Final Straw

After about a month of trying to get memberships to work on my site, dealing with support 3 – 4 times, and not being able to figure out the bulk of what I thought the plugin could do, I realized that this product just wasn’t for me.

I felt that if I continued to use it, I would continue to see more issues, more delays on my own work, and I just wasn’t comfortable with that.

So I asked for my money back. I wrote a kind email to support saying I had nothing but issues since the time I purchased it and I wasn’t happy with the plugin. This is the response I received:

“As per our refund policy we cannot offer a refund simply because you no longer wish to use the plugin.”

I love how they just disregarded all my issues and summed it up as “simply because you no longer wish to use the plugin.”  If everything worked as brilliantly as their website, and other articles on the internet have said, I wouldn’t be asking for my money back. I was sucked in by all the hype, but honest truth is…this plugin sucked.

It’s not like I just woke up one morning and said “Hey, I want my money back from MemberPress, simply because, I just don’t want to use the plugin anymore”.

It was a pain in the ass from the beginning, I didn’t even own it for 30 days and was still denied my money back. I couldn’t add digital products. I was give a beta version still in production to put on my live site. I wasn’t even a d*ck about it!


So my final thought is, don’t get MemberPress. Until they get all the bugs and kinks worked out, it’s nothing but a giant headache, and will probably cause more stress for you in the future. Maybe some of you have had better experiences, but I just wasn’t happy with it.

Here’s a brief overview of my emails from the time I bought it until a few days ago when I threw in the towel…

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 9.58.20 PM

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About the Author
What's UP! This is my site, I write 99% of the articles on here. I'm also the owner of SureFireWebServices.com. I help out a lot of developers and designers getting into the web game. Helping is fun for me, so feel free to ask me any questions! I've made courses and have a membership as well to help get you on your feet!

32 comments on MemberPress Review – Membership Aches and Pains

  1. Randy Adams says:

    I’ve been using MemberPress since it launched and haven’t had a single issue with it. In fact I’ve been very impressed with the mass improvements they’ve made in only a few short months of activity. Any requests I’ve put in to their support team have been answered promptly and to my satisfaction. I stumbled onto this site while searching for some other memberpress information and just had to respond. Not because I think you’re full of crap or anything, but I think you may have misunderstood what MemberPress is.

    Their plugin is NOT a digital goods plugin, it is a membership plugin. The idea is that you would give away the digital goods free with your membership purchases or embed things like PDF’s in your pages/posts, and use the Rules in MemberPress to protect those files from direct download access by unauthorized members. This is how I use the plugin, and it hasn’t failed me yet. I think mixing MemberPress with another plugin to sell your digital files individually would be more fitting if you need both aspects covered.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Hi Randy,

      You’re absolutely right, MemberPress is NOT a digital goods plugin. BUT had they been more clear on that aspect from the beginning, I would not have purchases a license. Since the start I was very clear with my needs and one of them was to sell digital goods. On their website they clearly display that you’re able to sell digital goods, and even when I contacted support to make sure, they said that I was able to. That’s where my frustration was and remains.

      They are most definitely not a digital goods plugin, though it’s possible to do, it should not be a strong selling point as that’s clearly not what it’s meant for.

      I actually found my solution with Easy Digital Downloads and Content Restriction = AMAZING!

      Thanks for your comment though and I’m glad that it works for you, it just wasn’t a good fit for my needs.

  2. Randy Adams says:

    Well I’m sorry that you had a rough go with MemberPress, and can certainly respect your opinion, but for those looking for a more traditional Membership solution with great, responsive support; MemberPress takes the cake in my honest opinion.

    I’ve tried them all too and didn’t get refunds from over half of the one’s I tried either (I agree that part sucks about digital downloads). Wishlist was terrible all around, S2 was ok but super glitchy and I felt like I had to hack everything just to get it to work. MemberMouse is expensive and locks your subscriptions into their own proprietary system making it nearly impossible to migrate away from them. And DAP had terrible support.

    MemberPress on the other hand, worked right out of the box, and took me way less time to set up. Not to say it’s perfect, but I’ve had no need to look for another solution since I found it.

  3. Ryan says:

    Just wanted to chime in and say that although MemberPress could use a little refinement, it’s still a very convient solution for end users (clients) and the MemberPress team will bend over backwards to help you with development questions. I’ve used it for a few sites now and all of my clients have been extremely happy with it.

  4. Ryan says:

    Also wanted to let you know that if you’re looking for something a little more flexible from a development standpoint, S2Member is a great framework.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Thanks suggestion Ryan, actually Restrict Content Pro and also Easy Digital Downloads with Restrict Content add-on ended being the perfect solution for my needs.

  5. April D says:

    THANK YOU. This seems to be the entire process for every membership plugin I’ve purchased, and it’s just ridiculous. I’m looking into your suggestions now, but thanks for the warning about no refunds. All the others gave my money back, even though we both can’t get our time messing with it back. Ugh.

    1. Jonathan says:

      So true! April, take a look at Restrict Content Pro. Incredibly easy to use and set up. On my site, I actually started using Easy Digital Downloads, with the Restrict content add on. I use it to sell my courses, etc. You can look into that as well and if you have any questions, feel free to ask me =)

      1. Janice says:

        Restrict Content Pro is excellent. But I have to say, I switched from it to MemberPress because it doesn’t have nearly the feature set. RCP seemed very barebones and doesn’t do a lot of things that MemberPress does.

        I wonder if your post is out of date too? I saw that they just came out with a new release that added a lot of new features.

        1. Jonathan says:

          Hi Janice, It was only a few months ago but they were in the process of releasing the “new” version. They just kept sending me betas of it though. I’m sure as strictly a member plugin it’s great, but when it comes to selling products and restrictions and adding rules, etc., it was just way to cumbersome.

  6. We tried implementing DAP and it was pretty bad. We made the move to MemberPress primarily for the really solid e-comm experience (Stripe!) as well as customer self-service tools that it provides.

    Right now its missing some key features we need (content drip auto-responders and wp_query filtering) but we were able to add those ourselves and the guys at memberpress were tops helping us work through some of the nuances in their system.

    We are pretty darn happy now and the memberpress guys are -very- responsive.

    So ++ for memberpress here.

    We sell drip video courses for what its worth.

  7. Rick says:

    I am trying to start a membership site but I am lost in the plethora of conflicting reviews about the various plugins. What do you think about Wishlist Members and Paid membership Pro. Have you looked at those? Thanks

    1. Jonathan says:

      I haven’t tried them but I haven’t heard great things about Wishlist. Paid Membership Pro is supposed to be good. I was looking into exchange by iThemes as well, which looks promising (and may be the next one I try out). Also, cart66 has a nice membership.

      There are a lot of choices, you just have to know what you want, and then see which ones would be easy for you to use. Most have demos. If they don’t, see if they have a refund policy, then try it out. If you don’t like it, ask for your money back. MemberPress did not have that =/

  8. John Smith says:

    I never, ever take time to comment (especially negatively) regarding products, but I saw this post I feel compelled to give and honest assessment of both the positives and negatives to those who may follow.

    First, Memberpress RUINED my SEO and they flat out lie about the fact that it will do so knowing that no person would ever purchase their product if they came out and told the truth. How does it RUIN SEO you ask? I’ll tell you. The plugin blocks access to content based on Rules. If you chose to block content with a Rule that blocks an entire page, or child pages of a page–any rule that completely blocks a page–Google will literally REMOVE these pages from their index because they are seen as dead links or redirect links. Again, REMOVE. Not lower your ranking, REMOVE. This destroyed TWO YEARS of work in two weeks.

    If Memberpress would have very simply stating in their user manual, ‘use content excerpt or partial content blocking to avoid SEO hits’ it would have been no issue. We could have gone that route from the beginning and not been emotionally and financially crushed from immediate loss in traffic. By using the partial content blocking options, the page itself is still indexed you are merely hiding portions so your title tag and header are still there.

    I guess the positives are that the ease of setting up payment options with Stripe and Paypal are very straight forward and also that somebody from their ‘team’ does respond, although with truncated, not really helpful answers. You know, the ‘point you to a link’ on their user manual which you’ve already read type of answers.

    Anyway, trying to be fair, but mainly trying to save a future purchaser from the DISASTER that is using a rule to block an entire page. These pages WILL BE REMOVED from Google’s index, even if you have worked for years to tweak and improve content to maximize your SEO. If they would simply be honest about this, there are work arounds, that do in fact work with great results. But trying to pick up the pieces from the initial shock–and the snarky, unprofessional, provocative email that literally read, “what did you think was going to happen?” I can’t give this product a positive review.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Thanks for the warning John, I didn’t even know it did that.

    2. Curtis says:

      Okay, but seriously, you didn’t really think Google was going to still find your content when you put it behind a subscription wall or otherwise block it for public consumption did you? I think it’s unfair to blame that on the plugin. It sounds like it did exactly what you wanted…it blocked public access. The fact that it gives you options to still allow Google to see some of the content is a plus.

  9. Arp Laszlo says:

    I’m glad I found your review – I’m on the hunt for the right membership plugin and it seems like Memberpress is really good for just membership but I have an eye towards selling digital files in the future.

    I did play around with MP briefly for a client and the rules seemed quite flexible but if the SEO aspect is true it’s not a good choice. At the least, it should have an option to make the excerpt accessible.

    1. Eddie says:

      Hey Arp, I think I’ve seen you around the PMPro forums a few times. What’s your experience & feedback on the Paid Memberships Pro front? We too are on what seems like a neverending search for the right subscription plugin & have been working with PMPro on our latest project – but the massive amount of customization needed to achieve basic functionality is starting to get a bit frustrating.

      1. Jonathan says:

        Hi Eddie, I personally enjoy PMP. Not sure what type of functionality your trying to accomplish, but they mention a bunch of different plugins to use for certain things like login redirect, etc. Also, they have a ton of addons…

      2. Arp Laszlo says:

        Hey Eddie – I’ve decided PMPro is cool if you can use it out of the box but not worth the effort unless you are a hardcore dev yourself. For the membership site I researched plugins for, I decided to go with Membermouse in a close decision over Memberpress.

  10. Grant Swaim says:

    The best way to deliver digital files with MemberPress is to use the free AWS add-on which allows you to deliver protected files stored on Amazon’s S3 service with an expiring link. This keeps the files out of your WordPress media library and doesn’t add to your WordPress account’s bandwidth.

    Also note that the latest version of MemberPress (1.1.7) supports allowing major search engines to act as authorized users.

    Yes, I use MemberPress and I like it.

  11. Jereme says:

    Thanks for the write up! I have been looking at different WordPress membership plugins and MemberPress is one of the ones on my list which I keep hearing about. Right now I have it narrowed down to Paid Memberships Pro, MemberPress, and Restrict Content Pro.

  12. bill says:

    Just wanted to chime in here and mention that I just did an EXTREMELY complex site with MemberPress – it’s great and their support is top-notch.

    It’s also written very, very well – to the point that anything that it can’t already do, it’s very easy to modify or extend as needed. As mentioned above, it’s a membership plugin, if you need more than a few digital downloads go with Woo or EDD.

    I’d recommend this plugin to another developer, but maybe not to an end-user if he/she is setting it all up themselves and need customizations. There are other plugins which have been around longer and have more customizations/3rd party add-ons already made as extensions.

    But if you have the time and know exactly what you need done, I can’t recommend them enough.

  13. David says:

    I don’t know if this post is still ‘live’ but I would add a few things.

    I’ve been looking at Easy Digital Downloads and also MemberPress. If you have only a couple of files, EDD is probably a better bet if what you want to do is sell digital goods.

    If you have large numbers of products (let’s say 500+) and want to import them from your existing records, EDD has an importer. However, it only allows basic, bog-standard info to be added. For example, they have variable pricing features, but if you want variable pricing you will need to open each imported ‘product’ and edit it manually. The same issues arise if you want to use the amazon s3 addon – if you could add the S3 and file data to the import it would be brilliant. But you can’t. So, you need to open each file and edit / add the info manually. And so on, with any added data that you need for imported items.

    Obviously, if you don’t have many items or are slowly building a collection, none of these things matter at all.

    To be fair to MemberPress, which has been slaughtered in the main article, they provide a membership area within which you can make digital files freely downloadable and have an aws s3 option too. Aside from that similarity, you’re comparing plugins that were created for different tasks. Indeed, I see reference above to needing two different plugins to create restricted content areas and sell downloads.

    It’s not really fair to criticise a plugin for questions you didn’t ask the authors before buying.

    1. surefireweb says:

      Hi David, thanks for the feed back. This article is a bit dated but I still stand by my feedback. The thing is, I did ask them, I asked them a lot of questions before buying, especially for what I needed. Maybe they updated and included some things that I required when I first wrote it, but the Customer Service I personally experience was less to be valued. I’m sure some people will love them, and others will hate them, but I can only speak for myself and what I went through and expected.

      You’re absolutely right about EDD too. I actually moved to WooCommerce and sometimes use EDD but not for big projects. Occasionally I use Zaxaa as well, which has a pretty good membership platform, little confusing, but works well. Been thinking of rolling out my own in the near future.

  14. Talesha says:

    You come up first in a search for “memberpress review” – so great job there. However, after reading over the article, it seems a lot of your complaints were triggered around not receiving a refund. Which I can totally get, and will agree with you – that sucks and I would be pissed off too if that happened to me.

    However, I almost chose not to go with them because of this review, luckily after reading the comments here and with prodding from a friend of mine who uses MemberPress — I contacted their support and they pointed me to their “new” refund policy which is a 14 day money-back guarantee. Whew!

    I decided to give them a shot before commenting here, and I’m happy to say that I’m really enjoying the plugin so far. The handful of questions and hand-holding I’ve needed along the way have also been handled very quickly by their support guys.

    Again what happened to you really sucked, but their refund policy and features have changed (for the better) – and I think it would be only fair for you to at least mention that at the top of the article so others like me aren’t so easily scared away by a refund policy, or lack thereof really, which no longer exists.

    Just my two cents.

    1. surefireweb says:

      Hi Talesha,

      First, thank you so much for your kind and truthful comment.

      I’m going to update the post. Not because of anything Memberpress, because I still don’t like the company as a whole, but because what you wrote was both truthful and genuine, and I really appreciate comments like that. So thank you, and I with you the best.

      1. Dave Larson says:

        Great work keeping in touch with commenters! And I appreciate the update at the top of the post. You might also want to add to the update when the post was originally published and when you posted your update.

        I too have given money to digital downloads I was less than happy with, and only sometimes have been able to get money back. Also, I get why many blogs leave years off post dates, but it tends to make me want to see less, not more at that site after reading a long-outdated post without realizing it, especially when there is an (undated) update at the top of the post.

        1. Jonathan Perez says:

          Thanks Dave! I neve even thought of dating the updates, good call on that, I’ll definitely start it! 🙂 Thanks! I’ll consider the adding the year, I leave it off because a lot of the content is evergreen, but there are a few tutorials, etc., that could benefit from knowing how old they are. Thanks for the feedback and for the comment!

    2. Thank you for sharing Talesha. I am in the middle of making a decision to go for a Membership Plugin, your feedback definitely helps.

      I like Jonathan’s article because he has been honest in expressing his experience, so thank you.

      1. Jonathan Perez says:

        Thanks so much Deb!! I actually found a lot of success using WooCommerce Members!!

  15. I am not a developer, but I am an experienced DIY webmaster and I have found after nearly 12 months that Memberpress is very difficult to use. I have had many support tickets and not all the answers were answered and not all the things I want to do are possible. Actually what I want is very simple, a bit of flexibility, but everything is a big effort, waste of time.
    I run an association which has a joining fee then an annual dues fee. This can only be done by setting a trial period for the joining fee which looks silly for the user. I cannot have different login pages requesting different information with different memberships. They kept telling me it was easy to transfer all my existing memberships to memberpress, but after several support requests it cannot be done because their csv file cannot cope, is not written correctly or some other problem they could not solve. If I transfer an existing member over they are not automatically renewed because it is the payment gateway that handles the renewal so if they do not pay by credit card they get notices of renewal coming up, but no link to pay. I am very disappointed in the program, the above are only some of the issues.

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