Ayende posted an item a few days ago about a disappointing experience he was having with a software vendor, XHEO. Today the company responded on its blog. I tried to post the following comments on the blog but for some reason my comments have not appeared.
Let me summarize how your response could be interpreted:
1) Ayende is misrepresenting the facts
2) It is often the customer's fault that you can't help them
3) We might go out of business if allow flaky customers to change their minds. You would rather keep their $500 and let them be unhappy.
4) You couldn't provide Ayende with support until he could successfully get your support request form to work. (This is just classic!)
5) You want Ayende to continue testing your application to help you resolve the crashes your software is experiencing and you are willing to hold his money as ransom to ensure he helps you.
Don't tell me that you dare not give Ayende his money back because that would set a precedent for other unhappy customers!
You are correct, we as consumers have been "conditioned" to expect to get money back for products that we are not satisfied with. It is a form of agreement that has made many software companies very successful and it demonstrates to us consumers that the vendor has faith in their product.
As a vendor of software that manages software licensing you are responsible for a very delicate part of customer/vendor relationship. Even the slightest hint of any problems that might cause problems to the my customer would cause me to stay away from a product.
It is honourable that you claim that you treat all customers equally when it comes to customer service. Unfortunately we don't hold all of our peers' opinions with the same regard. Ayende has long and distinguished history with the .Net community and you just served the restaurant critic a meal he didn't like and then accused him of misrepresenting the facts. I don't think giving out refunds should be your biggest concern right now.
One of the comments that has appeared on the blog entry criticizes Ayende for taking advantage of his following to "bully" the company into meeting his demands. I don't believe that this is a fair criticism. On the contrary I believe that Ayende should bring to our attention what he believes to unreasonable treatment of a customer. He has a voice that he has earned respect for, he should use it. I am confident that if the experience had been a good one he would likely have shared that too.