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In a bad economy, don’t put customers off

Shouldn’t this be obvious? Maybe in this particular technology company, management is made up of former programmers who see how good the product is and act like open-sourcers. In that case, don’t expect to get money for what you do. These products depend on discretionary income to be spent, as against your power company or your auto repairs.

Shouldn’t this be obvious? Maybe in this particular technology company, management is made up of former programmers who see how good the product is and act like open-sourcers. In that case, don’t expect to get money for what you do. These products depend on discretionary income to be spent, as against your power company or your auto repairs.

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Case in point: I paid $40 for a product that does a fine job in its realm, which happens to be recording media on the Internet for later watching, commercial-free. Yes, you can grab shows from sites like Hulu.com, record them which fixes the abysmally slow downloads and watch them without any commercial interruption.You can see the product by clicking on the link that shows the “Free Upgrade” page.

So when this program popped up the typical “A new version of … is available, click here to download” I clicked. And when I saw the page, it said “This is a free update to …” I downloaded and installed it, even though I read the release notes and saw no features of interest to me.

“Free Update” screen capture: http://bit.ly/notfree

Here’s where that whole scenario broke. I ran the program and it then said “Your license is not valid for this version, click here to purchase the upgrade.” Since the upgrade was $10, I wzent ahead and purchased it. The license didn’t get emailed for some reason. I found the older installer, ripped out the update and reinstalled. Business as usual and I used to the program again.

I went to the site and then the support forum.  I posted the problem of the FREE upgrade and the patent lie inherent in that statement. At first they didn’t believe me (call the customer ungrateful for such a great program and belittle him for being too cheap to pay $10 and doubt his word). Finally, I showed a screen capture of the link, they went and looked and fixed it. They posted a very weak apology in the forum.

“Sorry for the confusion, folks. We looked into this and found that the upgrade link for version 1 users only was going to the wrong page. We have since fixed that error and the upgrade link for versions 1 and 2 now goes to the proper page”

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I then went to the support ticket center and asked for a refund. I pointed out that I thought it was shabby to say free update and then ask for $10, all in a polite and respectful manner, admitting the program worked well.

All in all, I wasted a couple of hours between the update, the downdate, the forum, several emails to support etc. I got the $10 refunded.

So what’s the big deal?

Simple. The management of this product should have come up with a stronger, more sincere apology. Rather than the “anyone can make a mistake, we’re sorry”,  they should have said, “We regret the confusion and wasted time this mistake may have caused you. To make up for this experience, you can have the upgrade free. Please choose any other product in our in our line and accept a free license for it.

When you sell a product on the Inetrnet that requires no shipping, no handling and no inventory, you can always make an impression at no cost to you by giving the product free to a customer, especially one  who has already spent money at your site.

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About the author

The Internet is here as a tool to entertain, to elevate society and to improve the quality of the lives of all, not just the empowered few.

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