A whole bunch of Ads where shown in facebook and instagram on a brand new Text to service voice over service called Speechelo. The speechelo claims to create human like voices in 3 clicks. The best part is that it will provide the entire service with a one-time offer of just $37 dollars. Let me be clear. It is not a software that you can just download once and use it on your computer. Its a service. They need to run it on a server which will have a recurrent cost. And the cost that scales with the subscribers (More subscribers more servers you need). And they are providing a one time offer. Too good to be true. Isn’t it?
Let’s dig deeper.
The company is aggressively running ads on Instagram and Facebook to get users. There is no free trial. The user has to buy Speechelo standard first to access their service. The speechelo standard is a limited service restricted to only 700 words!! And the speechelo website later asks you to subscribe for speechelo PRO which is a monthly service with a subscription price of 47$ per month. This is no one-time-offer.
When you buy a iPhone or a Mac. And it turns out different than what was promised you can always approach the support team. If the support team does not respond you can sue the Apple Inc. (based on their terms and conditions). Because Apple Inc is an incorporated company and needs to abide the law. An incorporated company cannot violate its terms and conditions.
But Speechelo is not incorporated. The website is owned by an anonymous user who does not discloses his identity. A youtube video claims speechelo app is made by Vlad and Stoica who also made the Blaster App. But its nowhere mentioned in their terms and conditions The website is also registered less than 6 month ago.
In short nobody owns speechelo. You are paying an anonymous person who cannot be held accountable by the law whatsover.
Unlike the long legal T&C provided by incorporated companies speechelo has a short and sweet T&C. (Well they are nobody to held accountable so does it matter?)
Even if we assume they follow the T&C this one line can make the purchaser vulnerable and gives power to speechelo to take any action they want to. Note that they have never mentioned what an abuse means.
“Any kind of abuse of Speechelo APP will get your account limited. Use it within normal limits to avoid any service interruption.”
Terms “Abuse” and “Normal Limits” are nowhere defined in the terms and conditions. The normal limit could also be 10 words per day.
Legitimate services such as AWS or Google cloud does not have this issue. They have clearly defined limits. For example, you can use Amazon Polly a text to speech generator for free for first 1 million characters and then you pay 4USD for million characters there after. Similar limits exists for Google Text to speech engine.
When I searched for speechelo reviews on google I was amazed to see so many positive reviews for such a new app. There are plenty of reviews on quora. And few more on youtube. I was intrigued to see so many people had already purchased the app. Reality struck when I clicked one of the link. It’s a clickbank affiliate link. So, how does this work? Clickbank provides a whole lot of affiliate links. When someone reads your review and purchases the software with your link then you will earn a small amount of money they spend on the purchase.
The reviewer in most of the cases has never purchased speechelo. Instead, has just wrote a review that persuades you to subscribe to speechelo with his link. Thanks to the affiliate bonus he recieves when you purchase speechelo. In any youtube or quora review, if you find a link then consider it to be a fake review.
Now you know about the fake reviews now lets go through some real reviews (from the comment section)
Another review from a comment where they blocked for using more than a limited characters
Just to compare – 500,000 characters will cost you just 2 USD on Amazon Polly. And a wholesome 47+127 USD on Speechelo
More honest reviews from comment section:
A comment from an online forum. Check for more reviews out there.
A review from a AI company CEO who knows the nitty-gritties of a voice over software
The deprecation could be of many ways – At best the service used in the backend could be replaced by a lower quality software. For example, speechelo is currently using AWS Polly but later on it would be using some opensource speech to text.
Worse, you are blocked for misuse without providing reason. An example is the user who was blocked for using more than 500k characters. (Which would cost only 2 USD on Amazon Cloud)
Spread awareness. When your friend or a colleague is buying a shady software which provides a lot of benefits for throwaway price research about the product.
If it is a website you can go through whois.com to check when the website was registered. This will give a fair idea how old the product is. If the website is registered less than 6 months it should give a red flag.
Check terms and conditions. Check out their terms and conditions and see what you can do if they do not follow them. Generally incorporated companies mention the legal jurisdiction where you can handle the disputes. In short this says where you can sue them if they do not follow the terms.
Check for true reviews. Check out for reviews on youtube, quora, instagram. But if you find the comments blocked its a red flag. Facebook allows companies to filter out commens allowing them to delete negative comments. Check for reviews in the comments. Especially those without any links.