Being a first-time AEC user and still struggling with Joomla, too, I needed a lot of help so I paid for the 4-month support package. I've seen complaints about Valanx going commercial and charging for this product but AEC isn't some simple little plugin that animates your mailbox icon! It offers a ton of features and options which makes it extremely versatile though complicated for a newbie like me even with the great step-by-step videos.
I don't know if Jake sleeps or if there are a dozen guys named Jake, but I received timely responses to my ticket requests. Sometimes a response seemed like it was delayed but it was because Jake was logged in to my site finding the solution (usually I had checked the wrong box or unchecked the right box) and then he emailed what he had done or what I should do so I would know for the future.
When I compared what I would pay for Valanx support to what I'd pay on a Joomla-programmers-for-hire site, the fee was a bargain! Look at other payment systems: Amember Pro costs $199US, doesn't offer as much, and, if you're in the U.S., you'll wait at least a day to get a response from Alex (though he's a great guy). Compare CB Subs that starts at $134US with fees adjusting upwards based on number of members and number of sites! We're spoiled as Joomla users and expect everything to be free but AEC's competition isn't free. Why should they give it away?
I think the switch from free to commercial has been rough on this company. They lost all the great reviews they had as a free extension plus they get complaints because they don't give free support and don't give out an "AEC for Dummies" manual. They're currently offering a tiered fee system so if you're smart enough to figure it out, you don't have to pay the higher fee for help. If you're not clever enough, you need to pay for the support and stop your whining. Personally, I believe if they ditched the tiered fees, charged one flat fee for the product (like the competition) and included support for 6 months or a year, no one would complain. I highly recommend AEC with the paid support!