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After nearly 23 years in this business of computers, I've seen the beauty and the beast.
And, lest you think I'm some dude with a 'tude, know that I have paid the shareware fees for 138 pieces of software. There is nothing stolen nor unlicensed on my drives. As a computer programmer, I'm sensative to that kind of thing. It also makes me one of the world's best customers.
Which is also why I'm sharing my experiences with the following folks. I've bent over backwards in dealing with them, and been rewarded with a knee-capping instead.
These are true anecdotes of my personal experiences. They are cases of "reap what you sow."
What follows is in two parts. This first is my general take on a particular company. Once this was posted, and ohterwise disseminated, I receivied a phone call from the president of the company. That, in turn lead to part two.
Stay tuned for part three!
My personal all-time King of rotten companies is Total Recall.
These folks are so bad that web pages have sprung up listing the nightmares they've foisted on unsuspecting customers. (http://www.pcisys.net/%7Emattweed/recallwarning/) (http://macfixit.pair.com/diskrepair/mm.shtml) (http://www.conceptualedge.com/macmedicwoes.htm) (http://www.conceptualedge.com/macmedicletters.htm)
Now, I can't say anything about their data recovery service by first hand experience, but I sure can on their company attitude and the quality of their software, both of which are probably the worst I've seen in all those 23 years. MacMedic, and its precursors(such as Disk Essentials) each of which was between $100 and $249 in price, totally corrupted (read: low level reformat necessary) drives that other utilities said were just fine. I've never seen their product work properly.
And dealing with the company is a nightmare. I can't believe the level of self interest, company-before-customer that Total Recall has. I'd swear that they actually are intentionally driving customers away. I've never seen anything so bizarre as they way this company treats customers. My personal experience with the company was disasterous, and it seems that I'm not alone.
At one point, I asked that they send me the software they said publicly was finished. (Total Recall made a series of products that were supposed to repair corrupted disks. Their promise was that they had special skills gained by doing clean-room data recovery, and that this special understanding made their products better than anyone else's.)
It all began in 1995 with their $200 product called Data Recovery Toolkit 2.0. I had a drive that needed repair, but, frankly, it was not urgent. However I asked for them to send out the software to me, since they had said it was finished, and only awaiting the box. They refused to send out the software without it's box, which was still at the printer. I politely explained that I thought that was a short-sighted approach, and that much customer good-will could be gained by understanding that a drive repair was more timely and important than a box which would end up in the trash anyway.
Whew! I received back a "mind your own business" letter. The gist was "it's our business, and if you don't like it, you can drop dead." Not only that, but I was banished from ever being their customer again. They would never sell me another product. (But they would keep my money.)
Eventually, the product was shipped. It promptly trashed my drive. Reports on the internet began to filter out, and a newer version was released. It too trashed my disk. At the point where I was going to ask for my money back, there was a new product announced. And the first product was dropped.
Not recalled; not upgraded. Just plain dropped. If you had problems with it, that was just tough. They didn't make it any more, and didn't support it any more. Too bad it cost you $199. Tough. Buy our new product.
I couldn't believe it! I just couldn't believe that any company would be so arrogant. So I wrote back. I actually took a chance on their next product,a nd for $70, purchased Disk Essentials. Foolish me. It too didn't work.
And their phone support attitude was literally hostile. Their rude, arrogant, condescending, representatives accused me of causing problems. I was threatened with complete cut off of all communications with the company and loss of my payments for software. (They now refuse to even offer phone support.)
What amuses me is that at one point, they advertised for a programmer, and I offered my services at a rate well under what I am now paid. Their response was that they couldn't afford a programmer of my calibre. Seems that they couldn't NOT afford a competent programmer.
Finally, I was sent a copy of MacMedic, without charge, but I had to fight to get it. I felt a little silly doing so, givem my past experience with them, but I was now out nearly $300 and had literally nothing to show for it except some disks containing products that never once worked as advertised.
Would it surprise you to discover that MacMedic didn't work either?
These folks are just kind of mind-boggling psychedelic weird. It would be funny if so many folks had not been hurt by them and their attitude.
It's so weird that there's just no way I can do it justice.
Visit one of the pages mention above, and see for yourself.
Hey, it's my op-ed page, so I'll say what everyone else is too polite to say: the attitude at Total Recall seems to be this: "You bought our product; we got your money. Now kiss my ass."
Speaking of other worldly attitudes, I'd strongly suggest staying with known entities when ordering by mail. Consider Other World Computing, who advertised a 30-day guarantee. When the drives I ordered turned out to be OEM for Sun systems, instead of Mac, and arrived outfitted with adapters, (kind of a borderline thing to do anyway) I went ahead and tried them. They did not work. So I made arrangements to send them back. Weeks passed. They were "never received." Wrong, guys: that's why I use Airborne: I can track that sort of thing. Airborne Express provided the date, time, and signator. Er, well. More time passed. They were still "never received." Then, oh.. well, yes, we did find them. 60 days later I was credited only part of amount I paid, even though I asked for an exchange for a more expensive drive. They still owe me $100, and have ignored a phone call and two faxes.
Hey, that's all right. They got to keep their $100. Last year my company spent over $45,000 on hardware and software. And they just lost any part of it. Did they lose yours too? Was it worth it, for a hundred bucks, OWC?
I've only seen this once, but it irked me: a shareware author whose software ran only on a particular machine. If you sold your Mac, after dutifully erasing the hard drive, and wanted to re-install the software on your new machine, you had to pay for it all over again! Perhaps he took lessons from the folks above.
Ah...Macromedia. Great products. OK, maybe not great, but certainly very good. But...be warned: they are the world's most expensive company when it comes to upgrades. The average upgrade cost is 2/3 the cost of the product new. This year alone, I upgraded Director twice. Yes, it cost me MORE than if I had just bought Director 7 new. Their support is fine; their products are fine. But I'm ticked at the price they charge their loyal customers. I guess it's my resistance to "we've got you by the balls - so what are you gonna do about it?" attitude that I don't like.
I think a loyal customer should be rewarded, not flogged.
The good guys
These are the folks who appreciate a loyal customer, by providing good support; free updates and reasonable upgrade pricing (in no particular order.)
Casady & Greene (Conflict Catcher)
(I apologize to those I've forgotten: I'll update this good guys list again.)