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philbrown

Payware product support

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Is it me, or is the general level of support for payware aircraft getting worse and worse.Take FeelThere for example. The release of their Airbus has been a disaster - many people are still having major difficulties downloading a product they have already paid for. FeelThere are washing their hands of the situation, stating it's Wilco's problem, not theirs. If I had released a product, and the publisher had completely cocked up the release, I'd be working frantically to try and sort the situation out for my customers. FeelThere's response is to say it's not their problem. In fact a new post has appeared from FeelThere stating that anyone complaining that they can't download the Airbus will have the post deleted and be banned from the forum! Banned because you dare to complain that the service you are being provided with stinks. To cap it all off, FeelThere aren't providing any support until Monday!And they are not the only ones. PSS' last two releases, the 777 and the 757, were also both a disaster. Those that were able to download the product found that it had major errors in, and in both cases, the release had to be abandoned and delayed a week so the installers could be repaired. Something completely unnecessary had they been tested first. Then the 777 for many was to buggy to fly until the first update 5 months later. And the same with the 757. The fuel planner and load editor pulled hours before released, and 5 months later, still no sign of them. Surely these small utilities aren't that hard to create??? They have also threatened to delete posts regarding this situation.It seems like we are now paying for the priviledge of becomming beta testers for these companies, while they concentrate on getting the product out the door for a quick buck, then leaving the customer high and dry with after sales support.-- rant over ---BTW, a similar thread to this was deleted from the FeelThere forum less than an hour after I posted it. Stange how they're able to censor their forums so rapidly, yet provide no support to paying customers.

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I could have overlooked the poochy release of the FeelThere Airbus if not for the admins comments in the FeelThere forums that anyone having DL problems and starting a thread discussing their DL problems would be banned from the forums. "We've got your $50, now please shut up and wait."That's not how you treat paying customers.Doesn't matter if it was Wilco that pooched it, when companies join together in business they are tied at the hip, and the developers cannot escape responsibility when they're still collecting the money. On the other hand, distributors cannot be held responsible for pooched products at the beggining, but they can/should choose not to carry them once the poochyness has been discovered.For $50, the product should be excellent, the delivery scheme tested, and the customer service patient and courteous. If you're going to charge a super-premium price, you had best be prepared to give super-premium service.It's completely unreasonable to release a product, claim it to be excellent and cutting edge, charge a top-shelf price, and then screw it up with bad delivery and bugs. Some companies put out great products for $25 and offer equally great customer service. Why should a $50 release be able to fall back on cheap excuses?

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Customer support is in general very "unacceptable" right after a product launch - no matter who released the product - according to threads on these forums.Success is killing the addon business. No one can afford the type of staff it takes to meet the demands of a successful product launch.I'd also say customer expectations are also unrealistic and unacceptable.The companies who do FS addons are very small, with only one employee in some cases - not even full time - at the most a half dozen or so.They are almost assuredly not experts in electronic commerce applications. The financial processing and downloading are usually moved out to two separate companies who specalize in those functions.The developer who has a really successful product is hosed - because he most likely didn't budget and pay for the needed extra infrastructure and bandwidth.I've heard over and over that anywhere between 40 and 60% of the cost of the addon goes to the companies who do the processing and downloading, not to the developers.Researching and responding to questions takes time, especially when you do not have access to the purchase and downloading systems.The folks handling the forum are not the people who can do that research, find the right developers, look at the code, etc.Mostly they are just experienced users who have had the beta and pre-release versions - being a few days ahead of the average purchaser.The part I find amazing is that EVERY major launch in the past two years has filled the forums with exactly the same type questions/ problems.I know one thing, if I am ever in the FS addon commercial business - my products are going to be released on CD only for the first two months. There I would have some control over the probable issues.Using E-commerce and download distribution - the developer/ publisher has almost no control over the likely issues.

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ReggieNot trying to flame you but your post at best speculative and at worst misleading.I don`t care who is getting my money but when I pay for a product I expect to recieve that product in a timely manner and for it to function as advertised as well as it to be supported if problems arise.I could care less how many people are involved or who they are as that in my opinion is irrelevent as is any personal problems they might have in their lives.If these addon developers can`t get their buisness model straight it is not my problem and they need figure it out before they get my money(funny how there is never a problem when it comes to bebiting my credit card)You are right in that almost release has had it`s problems (some more than others)but all that does is make me wonder why no developer has stepped up and say we can do better.It`s always excuses being propped up by posts like yours that just perpetuate the situation.PeteAs an afterthought I just want to say that I have been burnt on enough releases (mostly aircraft)that I just won`t buy these things on the day that they are released.I enjoy the hobby much more and with a lot less frustration if I wait on the patches before having to pay for them in the future.And I am talking about patches that address issues that could not have been overlooked in testing not little sneaky things that patches are supposed to address.Is`nt there something fundimentaly wrong with that???

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>Customer support is in general very "unacceptable" right>after a product launch - no matter who released the product ->according to threads on these forums.>The part I find amazing is that EVERY major launch in the past>two years has filled the forums with exactly the same type>questions/ problems.Personally Reggie, I at least take exception to these statements and you shouldn't "tar" every add-on with the same statement.Dreamfleet Project ManagerGreatest Airliners - DC-8Greatest Airliners - 727 Whisperjethttp://www.dreamfleet2000.com/gfx/images/F...BANNER_PAUL.jpg

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I disagree with the word excuses - just reality.You are right - the business model is broken.There are less than a half-dozen development companies for FS addons with a valid business model.One is an e-commerce, and electronic distribution specialist, who also happens to do high demand addons.The subcontracting of parts of the system - payment - distribution - validation - appears very common - and I'm sure you know how that almost certainly guarantees problems.I'd also be surprised if any but one or two actually have a professional support staff.I just won`t buy these things on the day that they are released.The most common sense and valid approach.Have you noticed that it's often the same people making the same complaints about download and activation problems with every release?

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Reggie, I've never posted any of those complaints, but my online purchases have been more through the bigger companies such as flight1, abacus, etc. as I'm not interested in purchasing things such as jumbo jets, etc. However, those that are purchasing them are paying the same prices as the types of products I'm purchasing (UT, Mesh, FS Repaint, etc.). For those prices, they should expect good service. Not having any support staff, or only being a company of one or two people is no excuse. If you elect to charge $30-$50 for an addon, you should be held just as responsible as any other company doing the same. If you don't want that responsibility, stick to freeware or shareware.

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As long as so many people are willing to pay the money and then complain - nothing will change.Some of us have said NEVER AGAINand only deal with the few proven companies like you mentioned.Until more flight simmers realize that "joe's garage and FS Addons" will never be able to support major product rollouts - and stop buying - well,,Complaining about the same lack of support, but rushing back to pay the next guy your money, only increases the likely hood of it happening again.The "success" of the FS community will eventually be it's downfall.More and more developers have been forced to go payware because the quality demands/ standards are so much higher today. Part-timers are increasingly finding that they don't have the time to build the level of quality they want.But they go payware without the infrastructure needed to make it work.As more and more of these companies fail, I'm afraid that quality developement will concentrate into just a few companies. Then diversity which makes FS so great will disappear.Let's all hope I'm wrong.

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Reggie"I disagree with the word excuses - just reality."I have to wonder if there will ever come a day when on release day the developers forum would be occupied with addressing well done posts and an occasional post exposing a hard to reproduce error instead what we see today.Is that really expecting the impossible???Why Not????These addons are starting to cost big bucks in amounts that can no longer be considered throwaway for some of us.Pete

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Reggie"As more and more of these companies fail, I'm afraid that quality developement will concentrate into just a few companies. Then diversity which makes FS so great will disappear."Then so be it,I`d rather see reliablility than have a bunch of payware vendors that just can`t be counted on to do the right thing by their users.There are a couple that I`d like to see fold right now just so the newest members in our community wont be conned by them and become as cynical as I`ve become.Pete

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Business is business.When hey debit my credit card, always dome immediately and efficiently, that means we have a deal. Their part is to deliver what they promised with the exact same efficiency as they used to take something from me.A company, regardless of it's size, regardless of its nature, is responsible to do what it says it will do or else it is breaking a business deal. That means, at best, they are neglectful and inefficient. At worst, deceitful. The add-on business has both in some measure. Certainly not all developers, but some.FSGenesis is one company that gets five-stars in my book. My order went through in seconds, my DL was available immediately and worked perfectly, the install was easy and the product did what it was supposed to do. I noticed I was overcharged by $6. I emailed the site, and received an fast reply from the bossman saying it was his mistake, that a posted rebate was in error. I was credited the $6 on the spot, received a personal and courteous apology and was even offered a free scenery DL as compensation. I didn't take it. After service that good I felt it would have been ungrateful.FSGenesis, and other companies, Shockwave for example, offer great products and great service, so there is really no excuse for excuses. It's either good business or bad business. A pooched rollout of a super-premium priced add-on followed by mediocre, even surly, customer support is bad business plain and simple.

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No Phil:Quite frankly, I'm PLEASED that the level of support as well as many products are absolutely abysmal. I'm HAPPY that the level of garbage raining down on the community is at a record level. This is simply a case of "you reap what you sow." 1 - Most posts on developer's forums resemble something like: WOW! GREAT PROGRAM, THE BEST YET!!!! I just have a little problem, however, the product doesn't work, I'm sure it's my fault. Keep up the great work!2 - It is decidedly "negative", "trolling", "whiners", "troublemakers", etc, to be upset when a product doesn't meet your expections. One should wait until the developers get their "much deserved rest" or have "patience, other developers had problems too!". 3 - "It will be ready when its ready" is the order of the day and a standard and accepted response by many developers to community.4 - The consumer is blamed when he has a problem, i.e., it works fine for me, I like it so it must be your problem.5 - "We should be thankful that xxx developer took the time to 'give' the product to us in the first place for $50. Stop complaining."6 - Members of the community are held ultimately responsible for not doing their homework when they purchase the "Ultra Airplane 10,000 tested by 'real pilots' package, and it ends up not even being tested by non-pilots!!!!And the list goes on.THIS is the treatment and product quality that this community accepts without batting an eye. The developers have become as gods and we as their devoted underlings hoping to touch the hems of their garments. It is sacrilege to be "too critical", because we don't want them to stop making products for us. We don't want to "drive them away".Recently I almost passed out when I saw a post proclaiming that good customer service is not to be expected in today's market and we should stop whining and get with the times! Flight1 went to bat and proclaimed that that just aint the way it is.Do a search for anything I have in quotes and you will find it en masse. Its crazy and I would surmise exists nowhere else except here in this community. Imagine you go to the grocery store and by "FRESH Milk, delivered and tested by real cows" and you get it home to discover that: 1. The milk is sour, 2. It's not even milk but white colored water. In the real world, you'd take it back to the store and get your money back also, the company that sold it would be raked over the coals and be run out of business. But not here. In the same scenario, 1. The person who bought it would be labled a "whiner" and a "troller" and be blamed for not doing their homework. 2. It will be proclaimed that it tastes great to me, it must be your faulty taste buds, stop complaning!"So I say, good, that's the way it's obviously wanted, then let em have it. Bring on the Perfect Flights and the "Pilot tested" Aircraft. Bring on the bugs and the support forum insults. Bring on the refund refusals and the locked and censored support threads! Its want they want...let em have it!!!!

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You know what's funny? People say that when they buy something online, the expect it immediately. So companies setup online downloadable programs. Then when everybody hammers their servers and shuts them down due to huge demands, people complain. They say "Company X took my money and I can't download their buggy program"... However, when a company forgoes the online download and gives you an actual CD (a la Radar Contact) people complain "I spent my money I want my program now!"... It's a no-win situation. Either companies make their programs available online (which I prefer) or they send you a CD. Both methods are bitterly thrashed here on the forums when said companies release their software. The only real solution is to just relax. I am 100% confident that FeelThere or Wilco or any number of other software developers do not purposely withhold your software or prevent you from downloading it. There is no conspiracy going on here. It's as simple as not having the server/bandwidth to accommodate the huge increase in demand for a downloadable product. You cannot except FeelThere to go out and buy 5 more data servers just to handle the increased demand for what, two weeks at best? It sucks to have download problems but they are temporary.Issues relating to poor customer service - well that's specific issues with each company. There is NO EXCUSE for bad customer service, no matter what. However, as stated before, some of these companies are literally one or two people. People just like you and me. And when the pressure builds related to a software release, and all the associated problems that go along with it, sometimes people just crack. Hence, I don't think there is widespread customer service issues with all these companies. Do some people replying to emails get testy or downright rude? Yes! But that doesn't mean the company is deliberately trying to censor forums or withhold software patches. I've worked in customer service for years, and I'm pretty good at it. However, there have been days when my company released really bad updates to mission-critical software, and after about 100 phone calls and 500 emails saying "You company sucks - I'm going to sue!", you get tired of it. It was hard for me not to send out nasty grams to all those people complaining. Our company knew there were issues and we worked them out, but on day zero, it was #### for the customer service people.All I'm saying here is that, in the real world, nothing works perfectly. I almost NEVER buy software on the day it comes out because of issues related to customer service, buggy software, or inability to obtain the software due to server unavailability. For those of you who buy on the first day - Good for you! That immediate response is what the companies use to gauge the success of the product. Please, keep buying software!! However, as an early adopter, you must assume the consequences of buying on the first day - namely server download issues and no customer service.I hope that people can understand that if we alienate all of the payware companies, there won't be any more companies. And freeware, as good as it is, will not replace payware. If payware goes away, then those customers will start berating the freeware developers, who work for free. Then there will be no more add-ons for Flight Sim, and our hobby will suffer.Thank you,Kickin Chicken

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As long as we even put up with crap like FS-X we certainly deserve what we get ;-)And its going to get worse. We are going to get add-ons specialy designed to run on FS-X (with their own performance problems perhaps as a way to incorparate the best 'features' we know and love from FS-X)We certainly live in interesting times.

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Mike T wrote:"The developers have become as gods and we as their devoted underlings hoping to touch the hems of their garments."I think I'm going to print that quote off and put it up on my fridge :-)Go forth and multiply :-)Bryan

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