By Gary Nugent

One problem that faces every blogger is how to keep the content coming. Many write all the content for their blogs themselves while others outsource the writing task.

Over the years, many content providers have come and gone. In the past, you could buy article packs that you could throw up on a site, though buyers were advised to edit the articles first to make them more unique.

These days, with Google penalizing duplicate content, most blog owners who do want new content, but don’t want to write it themselves, use one of the article writing bureaus that have appeared in recent years.

One of this is iNeedArticles, which is the subject of this review.

Writing Criteria

Any content provider service needs to be able to allow customers to request articles in a variety of ways. So word count is one stipulation. Writing style would be another. And it should be possible to provide additional instructions to writers so that you can get an article that meets your precise needs.

My Experience With iNeedArticles

I’ve ordered some 35 articles from iNeedArticles over the past few weeks.

Requesting an article in iNeedArticles

31 of these were for articles about single keywords, so there were no specific writing stipulations. All article writing projects were to to be given to guaranteed 4 or 5 star writers (requiring an additional $0.30/100 words fee) and were to be 700 words long. Articles cost $9.10 each, paid up-front.

For the most part, the articles were very good. A few were sub-par (3-star level writing) that required additional editing and work prior to being suitable for publication. One was bad enough that I asked for a refund which was granted.

The remaining articles were for 1,000 words where I set out particular instructions for the writers. Each of these cost $16, again paid for up-front. Two of these were to be product reviews, where you pay an additional $0.30/100 words for in-depth research. The remaining two articles were general in nature.

Of these 4 articles, two were unsatisfactory, one being a product review, the other a general article.

The product review was dismal. It read like something written by a non-native English speaker. In addition, I’d requested that it be written from a female perspective. It wasn’t; it was obviously from a male perspective. The requested product research (for a product called “The Language of Desire”) wasn’t done either. What I got was a badly written article from the wrong perspective that didn’t review the product I’d mentioned.

I asked for a refund for this article but the refund request was rejected. According to iNeedArticles, the article met all the stipulations I’d set out (it failed on all three).

I can only conclude that their editor is unqualified for the position they hold or that iNeedArticles’ desire to hold onto customers’ money outweighs providing value for money and customer satisfaction. I did not get what I paid for plain and simple.

What qualifies me to be a better judge of what I received than iNeedArticles? Well, I’ve been the editor of three magazines in the past and written for several print magazines over the years. I’ve had to correct various mistakes in content supplied to the magazines I edited and I’ve had to make sure my own articles were of high enough quality to have been published in others’ magazines.

Here’s a sample of the article I was forced to accept, so you can judge for yourselves (remember, this is meant to be a product review from a woman’s perspective written by at least a 4-star writer):

Find The Language Of Desire Review

Often when people are trying to get their language out of their mouth, they will find that it is nearly impossible to do at times. This is when people should know more information about the language of desire review. Once people know about this, it is going to be easy for them to have a great time in getting to have their male lover fall for them time and time again, without even having to touch them. Without this, the ladies may have to touch the guy on a regular basis to guarantee they are getting the satisfaction they want to have, even when they are not in the mood. By reading the language of desire review and finding the pros and the cons of this product, people will finally get to have the complete control they want to have and know they are going to get the best of both worlds.

The rest of the article is as badly written.

The second article was also unacceptable. The writing style and some phrases used throughout the article suggested it was from the same writer that wrote the dismal product review. Naturally, I sought a refund for this article as well. That request was still being reviewed at time of writing and the refund was subsequently granted. Here’s a sample of that article:

Discover How To Attract Men

When ladies are working on trying to land a good man, they will find they may need to have some advice on how to attract men. Once the ladies know how to attract a good man, they will quickly start to figure out what they need to do to keep him around, even if it means they are using their body language only to attract the older men they may want to be around. Without this information the ladies may have some trouble in attracting the guys they want to have around them because of the way they are presenting themselves to the guys.

Both those articles are woeful. Nobody could possibly agree that those were written by at least a 4-star writer, would they? Except iNeedArticles did.

Working For Your Own Clients

What if you’re building websites for clients and you’ve billed them to cover the cost of writing articles? And you get one of these dud articles from iNeedArticles? You can’t go back to your own client and say you got a bad article and could they stump up more cash for another try. It’s a cost your business will have to eat itself.

When iNeedArticles is good, it tends to be very, very good. When it’s bad, well, you might just as well throw your money down the drain. These two dud 1,000 word articles cost me $16 each and now, in the case of the product review, there’s nothing to show for that money. The articles are so bad that they would need to be rewritten from scratch; i.e. they are unsalvageable.

How To Deal With Bad Writers

My advice in this case (when iNeedArticles will not issue a refund) is to give the article a 1-star rating and provide the reasons you think the article is unsatisfactory. This will hurt the writer and downgrade him/her. If enough people are dissatisfied with the writer, this should have the effect of downgrading them to below 4-star status. Therefore, other customers won’t have to suffer the ignominy of having articles written by these low-quality authors and having refund requests disapproved.

Bad Customer Service

It’s a shame that iNeedArticles don’t take what customers have to say about writers on board. After all, it’s the customer who’s in the best position to determine if the article provided meets their requirements or not. It is not for iNeedArticles to tell customers what they should find acceptable. That’s just lousy business practice.

What could be a great service is fundamentally undermined by how it addresses and deals (or doesn’t deal) with refunds when a customer is not happy with the article they receive.

Do I Recommend iNeedArticles?

On balance, I would say it’s 50/50 [update – see below]. They definitely have some very good writers and I’ve been more than happy with the majority of the articles that have been written for me.

iNeedArticles Dashboard

Of the 31 standard articles I ordered (i.e. no special writing instructions), I only requested a refund for one (which I did receive).

Of the 4 articles I requested where I specified special writing instructions, I requested two refunds (one refused, one approved). Nevertheless, that’s still a 50% failure rate in providing me with articles that both met my specifications and the ordered writing quality.

4 is a small sample, but a 50% failure to deliver rate is still pretty bad. How a company deals with customers when things go wrong tells you everything you need to know about that company. And in this regard, iNeedArticles lets itself down.

Communications are cordial if a little slow. I’m continually amazed that companies (that includes my local utility companies) cannot provide replies to queries within 24 hours. If a company cannot manage that task, they need to hire more support staff. If it’s a case that support staff are being overwhelmed by support tickets, then that should be a red flag to the business owner that there is a problem that needs addressing with their product or service. I get the feeling that whoever is actually running iNeedArticles is not facing up to that fact.

But the fact that they are loathe to provide refunds for demonstrably bad articles is the clincher for me in advising that iNeedArticles be used with caution. Their attitude seems to be “we know better than you” about the quality of articles provided.

There’s an option on the site to request rewrites. Initially I thought this was to request a rewrite of an article you were unhappy with (iWriter provide this option). Instead, it’s an option to have the article rewritten as a new, second article, which you have to pay for.

Nowhere on the site is there an option to reject an article you find unsatisfactory. You can only do that by submitting a support ticket. It’s as if the very idea that customers might find articles to be unacceptable had never even occurred to them!

Either that or they’re trying to make it as difficult as possible for customers to seek refunds.

All of which smacks of money-grubbing. That’s to say that it seems to be more important to Jonathan Leger (owner of iNeedArticles), that he/iNeedArticles keeps your money once you hand it over, rather than customer satisfaction being the most important thing to the business.

[Not So] Final Thoughts

I am both surprised and disappointed with how customers are dealt with when they seek legitimate refunds. It’s bad PR, it’s bad word-of-mouth, and it’s bad business.

If you order articles with no special instructions then chances are very good that you’ll get a good quality article. Until things change at iNeedArticles, I’d suggest you do not use the service for articles that require specific instructions for completion and that you do not order product reviews.

No service is perfect and there’s plenty of room for improvement in how iNeedArticles should deal with customers when a dispute arises over the quality of the delivered article.

That said, article prices are about 50% of that charged by Articlez and quality seems comparable (I’ll be doing a separate review of Articlez shortly).

Jonathan Leger’s Response

I was going to conclude the review here but I sent it in to Jonathan Leger to give him an opportunity to respond before I published it. Below is his response…

Hi Gary,

Thanks for writing in to me before publishing your article.

First of all, I agree with you about the article that was not refunded, and I’ve already contacted my help desk manager with instructions to grant you a refund for that article. I’ve also flagged the writer so he can no longer work on articles ordered with extra services. I’ll keep an eye on him, and if he keeps this lack of quality up I will have to let him go.

I am sorry you had a bad experience with those two articles. I think you just hit a bad set (and maybe the help desk person you got was having a bad day).

We have a 24-hour turn-around time goal on all support tickets, so that’s unusual as well. I really just think this was a wrong-place-wrong-time moment (figures it would be somebody who’s going to publish a review who ran into that).

What I can tell you is that your experience is not typical. We fulfill orders for thousands of articles a month and have clients who order hundreds of articles a month each. So clearly quality is not an issue the vast majority of the time.

In fact, we’ve had almost 22,000 articles rated 4 stars or better since we implemented the rating system. Given that only about 1 in 10 articles ever get rated at all, that covers the vast majority of rated articles. Our customers are happy people and keep coming back.

About 60% of customers deposit funds into their accounts multiple times, so they’re repeat customers, and the average customer spends more than $300 with us over the life of their account — which equates to a lot of articles. They wouldn’t do that if they weren’t very happy with what they’re getting.

None of that, of course, makes the experience you had any better. I just hope it helps you to see that your experience is not typical. I’ve personally deposited an extra $50 into your INA account as an apology for your experience and a hope that you’ll continue to order from us in the future.

Whether or not any of what I’ve said makes a difference in your review, please know that I take responsibility for the failure of iNeedArticles in your case.

The only point I take exception to is your accusation that I am a money-grubber. In fact, INA was not created as a profit-making endeavor at all. The whole purpose of INA was to put people to work in a time of economic crisis.

Some of our writers are stay-at-home moms. Some have illnesses that prevent them from working outside of the home. Others have sick family they are taking care of and can’t hold a steady job. We had one who was able to move out of a battered women’s shelter thanks to the work she got at INA.

The goals of INA are exactly the opposite of money-grubbing, but of course you can’t see that from the outside because it is as polished and professional as any other writing service (in my opinion).

You control your “pen”, so you do what you feel you should in your review. But I certainly do take exception for your indicating that I am all about the money. I am not, have never been, and hope never to be.

Here’s to your success!

Jon

I very much appreciate that Jon took the time to respond and the manner of his reply shows that he cares passionately about his business. I feel much better now about how iNeedArticles is run and that customer satisfaction is a concern of theirs. I am also grateful that he provided a refund for the bad product review article and that he agreed that it was of poor quality.

I apologized to Jon (in an email response) for the “money-grubbing” allegation in my review above. I had intended removing the comment from the review but doing so would have meant parts of his response would have left readers wondering what he was referring to. Neither he nor I wanted his response to be misquoted nor taken out of context and he asked that his response be quoted in full, which I have done here.

To conclude, my money-grubbing assertion was a knee-jerk reaction on my part born of frustration rather than level-headed thinking so I unreservedly withdraw that allegation.

Conclusion

The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say, and I will continue to order additional articles from iNeedArticles. I’ll still be careful about ordering special instruction articles. I need to test some additional niches. It may just be that the niche I ordered articles for simply doesn’t have a big enough enough pool of writers and top quality articles would be provided in other niches.

I’ve used three article writing services to source articles over time – iWriter, iNeedArticles and ArticleZ. Each has it strengths and weaknesses. For general articles – articles centered on one keyword phrase – iNeedArticles has provided the best quality content overall. iWriter is cheaper but writing quality is very variable among their 4-star writers. ArticleZ is twice as expensive as iNeedArticles and is geared more towards special instruction type articles. However, the writing quality there is on a par with iNeedArticles.

iNeedArticles Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 Stars

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