When you have a choice……

As part of my move to a MacBook I’ve had to find software for various tasks. Since last year all my business sites (for my consultancy and for my photography) have been hosted – a long story, perhaps for another blog entry – and I need software to move files to the host site. So I search for ftp software. The first, and it seems popular product, is ‘RBrowser’.

It has a crippled version that doesn’t allow me to create directories – a pretty fundamental task – so I purchase the full version. It’s a modest cost, $35 I believe. Except that I don’t get my key (turns out the spam system has eaten it). I find it eventually, and even with the full version, it is – to say the least – a disappointing product. So I uninstall it (having made my living in Intellectual Property (IP) for the last ummmmmmm years, I’m pretty anal about licensing and removal, etc, etc.) and decide that it is bad enough that I should write and request a refund – making clear that I have removed and destroyed the software.

In the meantime, I download CuteFTP – not a product I was fond of on the PC, for reasons I don’t remember – and use that to upload my files. A full working version, but time limited. I like it, so I buy the license. OK, except that the license install is, let’s say, poor. It doesn’t work. I email support and they are not instant answerers. So I call. The support guy tells me that the Mac version isn’t perfect (not my experience except for the license problem) and instantly offers a refund. I persist! The email from support arrives and gives a working alternative, so I have my working product and have used it ever since.

My request to the Rbrowser support (it looks like a single individual who writes AND support) and get the most amazing response:

“Sir, you have agreed to the license terms before purchase. On the terms page you had to go through, it was thorougly explained that 1. You can try the software for free for 20 days. 2. From the license agreement ‘Once the permanent license is delivered there is NO refund.’ The reason is that there is no way for us to take back a license string once it has been sent out. When you bought the license it was explained to you on the confirmation page that SPAM filters often eat the license email, so if you do not get it on the same day, please alert us and we will resend it to you.
To request a refund now is against the license terms you have agreed to, and it is grossly unfair, it amounts to an attempt to steal the software. Please reconsider your request. We have tried to make the terms as acceptable as possible, we give people plenty of time to make up their minds before any purchase.
Thanx for your understanding.
Robert Vasvari”

So a request for a refund for a product that doesn’t work properly is “AN ATTEMPT TO STEAL THE SOFTWARE”. Well Mr Vasvari, I’m very ethical – to the point of anality – on IP. Your product does not function fully – personally, I’d regard the creation of a directory as a basic, working element, and my (polite) request made clear that I was not trying to rip you off.

So what’s the answer? As with many other products, companies and services – Suck It Up. But from an individual, running his own company? To be so directly rude to someone seems outlandish to me. Rub your (now ex) customer’s nose in it…

So, DO buy CuteFTP, great product, great honesty, great (well sort of!) customer support.

RBrowser? Crap. That’s as pointed as I guess I can say it in a business journal. If you are a Mac user, avoid it and Mr Vasvari, like the plague.

{Product, Bad Customer Service, Customer Service, Product Management}

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