Friday, August 20, 2010

Shame on Software Companies That Make It Hard on Users

I have been a long and loyal customer of Cradoc Software for 20 years. Every time they've come out with a new version of Fotoquote, their great and useful software to help photographers determine what fees to charge for the licensing of their images, I've immediately purchased a copy.

Regrettably, I will have to think long and hard before purchasing another copy of Cradoc Software's fotoquote software, and I've been putting off upgrading my version of Photoshop CS3 because of all the problems I've had with the activation of software.

These companies just don't get it. They are so concerned about the misuse of their software that they are willing to waste the time of their users. Here's a typical email dialog that I just had with Cradoc:

I had to wipe the hard drive and reinstall all software on the computer used in our office by my office manager. It is a laptop but we use it as a desktop. Now FQ6 tells me that I have too many computers registered! This is the second time I've had problems registering my FQ6 sofware. I use FQ6 on my laptop and this office computer and spoke with someone there in the past and got the OK to use FQ6 this way. Of course, I rarely use FQ6 and rely on my office manager to use it. I am quite disturbed because my office manager has stopped using FQ6 for months now (without my knowledge) since she had so much trouble just getting the program to start. Very uncool.

I am not a happy customer particularly since no one seems to be in your office
to help with this stuff.

Changes to your hard drive can alter the computer’s ID which is used to verify the activation of the software. When you “wiped the hard drive” your computer ID probably changed making the program think it was a new (3rd) computer resulting in the maxed out error message you received.

So that we can verify which computer ID to reset, please provide us with the computer ID from the machine that the program is still successfully activated on. To obtain the Computer ID follow the steps below.

Send the computer ID to me so that I can reset your activations allowing you to then activate on the other computer.

We recommend that if you plan on making significant changes to your computer such as installing a new hard drive and/or reinstalling the operating system, you first deactivate the program.

After these changes are made you can activate the software again to continue use. This helps prevent your activation from being affected by these changes and needing to rely on customer support to manually reset your activations.

You guys fail to understand the needs of the customer. We are not
idiots. We would, if we could remember, to go to all the programs
needed to deactivate them when there is a problem with the computer.

Unfortunately, when there is a problem with the computer is precisely
the time that we would NOT remember to deactivate a program. And asking
a computer user to remember to deactivate a program is pretty ludicrous
if you think about it.

Come on Cradoc folks, live in the real world. YOu've got software that
folks out here appreciate, but you are pissing off your best customers.

Thanks for your software, but no thanks at all for wasting so much of my
time and not understanding the needs of your customers.


A last comment:
Cradoc wrote:
This helps prevent your activation from being affected by these changes and needing to rely on customer support to manually reset your activations.

Cradoc is ticked off (and says so on their website) that customers forget to write down the serial numbers and activation codes for their software. They now charge a fee to look up a lost registration code!!! So, a customer buys their software. He puts it on his laptop. He changes a laptop and loses his registration code. He has to pay to get that code back, when that code benefits Cradoc only, not him!!

Here's what Cradoc says on their site:

looking up lost registration codes was becoming a real problem. There is now a $10.00 charge for replacing lost registration codes. There is also a $10.00 service fee to send you a download link if you lose your program and have not backed it up.

Does anyone else agree that this is back-asswards customer relations? I buy the program, have to replace a laptop or otherwise service it, and then I have to pay to get a registration code, or I have to remember to deactivate this program beforehand? Who is going to remember this, seriously? And how messed up is Cradoc's attitude when they say: This helps prevent your activation from being affected by these changes and needing to rely on customer support to manually reset your activations.

These guys make life hard for their users, put in controls that waste their customers' time, and then they have the gall to say that they are unhappy that the customer has to rely on customer support to get the product working again?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Paypal accounts: personal and otherwise

I don't like Paypal's sneaky business practices, but I do use it a lot. I've paid many folks now using Paypal personal accounts. Link to a checking or savings account. Don't link any credit cards and never accept a credit card payment. Do the minimum. If you accept a credit card payment or perhaps if you confirm your address, you get converted from a Paypal personal account to a premier or business account, whereby any funds you receive get hit with a 3% commission.

The thing I don't like about Paypal is how they hide this sort of information from you. Also, if you pay with Paypal rather than a credit card, you lose the edge in disputes. My credit card companies always take my side and have always refunded my money in full in disputes where I was clearly in the right. I used Paypal once, foolishly, to buy a camera on a fraudulent website. Paypal took weeks to investigate and would not refund $25 or so. One call to my credit card company took care of that. The credit card company told me that Paypal was a middleman and by using them, I gave up my right to use Amex/Visa directly to resolve disputes. Not a good thing.

But without Paypal, my small business would lose money accepting credit card payments. At least Paypal makes it easy for small businesses to accept credit card payments. But I'd like Paypal a lot more if their policies were much clearer, and they went to bat for folks using them as much as the credit card companies do.