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brubros

What can we do about Flightsim vendors that give industry a bad name?

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So I have a question.

 

I have had a really bad experience with a flight simulator developer called FSGenesis (www.FSGenesis.com). FSGenesis is a maker of terrain mesh. In 2009 the company offered a lifetime membership where, for a fee, a customer could have rights to download all current and future terrain mesh products from FSGenesis. We were almost begged to buy the membership because the owner stated he needed the cash infusion and that we would be helping him out so a lot of us pitched in to help. Then they introduced something called NEXTMap products a few years later that involved another vendor's license terms so we were told we would have to pay for the NEXTMap product but would still have access to all other products and we just had to accept that.

 

Then the web site now reports that they have changed their computer system and have no record of any previous purchases and even if you can prove your past purchases they will not honor them. I know because I submitted a detailed accounting of my purchases to them and received a form letter back and no credit for my purchase of NEXTMap products and lifetime membership.

 

So my question is, how do we protect the flight simulator community from such bad apples? I submitted a Better Business Bureau complaint but I don't know how to alert my fellow flight simmers. I don't think people would want to buy from a company that has historically treated their customers so incredibly poorly. Outside of posting here where can I be sure that others know the experience I (and a bunch of other lifetime members) are having? Is there a Yelp for flight simulator vendors? 

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Actually, there is a rather lengthy post on the same subject in the FSX forum.  A number of us have similar issues with this vendor.  Do recognize that the company has changed hands and the new owner has a very different philosophy and attitude than Justin did.  Although the name is the same, the company is very different.  This, and the other major forums, are the closest we have to a Yelp and probably more effective.

 

DJ

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Hi,

 

I feel your pain, I too am without any access to my lifetime membership... My response to FSGenesis, I no longer do business with them and anyone that asks about this company I steer them clear and tell them to look elsewhere.

 

Also: File a comlaint with the attorney generals office. Since the company FSGenesis is still in business maybe we should start a class action law suit.

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Abt a year ago i bought several mesh's and had no problems, infact i had very good support to get a free world mesh that was on offer wen i bought.

 

At the time i did find the website a bit old fassioned and not the easyest to get around but no probs buying stuff. I wouldnt think twice about using again.

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Yeah I've bailed on them too.  I thankfully have all of my stuff from them backed up in multiple places, but in my upcoming computer reinstall I'm just going to go buy the Pilots FTX edition FSGlobal mesh so I have one installer for the world instead of a ton of installers for different regions or even parts of regions and manual zip installs.  

 

What's really irritating is some of the last couple Next products Justin put out before selling FS Genesis were "pay what you feel is appropriate" since I was a galaxy member so I actually gave what I felt was a decent amount of $$$ for them to help out since I'd gotten all the nice mesh and updates over the years (my galaxy membership was from FS2004 days and now have the FSX stuff).  Then shortly after he sold off the company and I have access to nothing as others have noted.

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I think posting here is the best way to alter customers of problem vendors.  I actually have a bunch of FSGenesis Mesh but just purchased them piecemeal and the mesh is good....although I realize now I have lost access to it on their servers (fortunately I have the original disks).

 

Just a comment about lifetime memberships....they always fail (always).

   Remember - Lifetime membership to the video store ?

   How about - Lifetime membership to the gym ?  (now banned where I live, btw.)

 

This is the in the same category.   

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I moved on to Pilots FSGlobal after it switched hands.  I asked repeatedly to restore my account and files (as they suggest doing in their FAQ).  Which they have never done.  I was going to get some of their NextMap stuff but the fact they did not take the time to restore my original account after moving hands told me they didn't want to keep me as a customer.

 

I'm perfectly happy with FSGlobal, just wish I went with them first.  On the other hand, the original owner was extremely response and helpful and even gave me a couple free addons for buying so much.  It's unfortunate the new owner does not take the same attitude.

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Just a comment about lifetime memberships....they always fail (always).

   Remember - Lifetime membership to the video store ?

   How about - Lifetime membership to the gym ?  (now banned where I live, btw.)

 

 

True. But there IS a difference and this may be the root of the problem. The examples you cite all went out of business. Doors locked. End of story.

 

FS Genesis makes no representation that it has gone out of business. The only representation it is making is that, out of the blue, it will not honor lifetime memberships or prior purchases of any kind.

 

But you're right, caveat emptor.

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I purchased products from them in 2013 and when I asked for back-up after a reformat last spring, I hit a stone-wall. However after several e-mails they asked me to send them my receipts for what I had purchased. A few days later I was able to download all the products I had previously purchased. In their e-mails they did mention they were not honoring the old companies lifetime memberships. This probably will annoy a lot of people but I feel they treated me well after checking my account. I did have to correspond with them for a while. I wish all success, best regards.....Ray

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I bought a "Galaxy Membership" back in the FS2004 days, and over the years snagged everything Justin offered on CD. I actually got far, far more than I had paid for.

 

I am of course disappointed that the new owners won't honor "Galaxy Memberships" any longer, but then I also understand that that practice is actually what finally broke (pun intended) Justin's company.

 

You see, the "Galaxy Membership" was very popular. Common sense should tell anyone that at a certain point, new singleton sales are going to become fewer and fewer, as the majority are simply using their "GM" to get new stuff without further cost.

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I seem to recall that at the time of this offer there were a number of threads discussing this issue and that the overall consensus was that this would end badly.

 

"Lifetime" memberships are a farce because the same applies as this simple question - "How long is a piece of string"?

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The fundamental issue is that the new ownership demands invoices and invoice numbers for any download you want to replace and is unwilling or unable to understand that no invoice was required for Galaxy members.  He and I went through this drill and it was like talking to a wall.  So, no more from me (and I own every single item that Justin produced) and no recommendation either.

 

DJ

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That is absolutely disgusting.  Shame on FSGenesis.   I'm sure if people had the means to raise a legal challenge on this, it would be succesful.

I have been looking at their products this week, as a replacement for my old FS Global 2008, but I will not be supporting of funding FSGenesis after reading the OPs experience.

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It's disappointing they don't honor the agreements the company made under previous ownership.  I'm sure they have no obligation to do so.  I'll never use them again.  They got my money once.  As previously pointed out in the post, the best we can do is post our views and hope others read it.

 

Mike

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I had a Galaxy membership years ago for FS2004. In Dec 2011, when I was looking at getting back into simming with FSX, I sent Justin an email asking if my Life Membership was still valid as it had been a few years. This is the reply:

 

"Hi Bill,

 

Yes, it’s still good (or else it wouldn’t be lifetime, would it? J)

 

On the login page there is thingy called Login Lookup.  Enter your email address in there and your username will appear, then enable the “Send password” radio button and click Login.  You’re password will be emailed.

 

Hope this helps

 

Thanks"

 

The email was signed by the original owner, whom we all know. Like an idiot I thought that in all fairness I should get another one so I did. So I have actually bought 2 Life Memberships lol. What a sucker....

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Hi,

 

We have a shame on you type page here at AVSIM for unscrupulous people at screw and cheat companies, maybe we should ask AVSIM to add a section for unscrupulous companies.

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This incident speak loudly for this company. We are the consumer report for Sim related products. I don't believe you can find a more Trust Worthy site and group of like minded individual than we have right here. This is a start, because after reading this, I will not spend one penny on there products. The basic message we send is that you are done, finished and you might as well take you shingle down and cry in your beer. Without a buyer, there is no business. Well done to the owner and hero of this company. Maybe we should just email some links to them for online business classes and maybe throw one in for business ethics. Thanks to the OP for reminding me of why I haven't looked at these products for sometime and will no longer think of them. Swannick I think you maybe on to something there. Might be worth a pitch to Tom.

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Informative feedback from all. To those who have had a good experience I have no doubt. I don't necessarily think this is about "bad" people. The product has always been admirable though its space is becoming increasingly more competitive. For those of us who followed Justin's business and personal struggles over the years (it became almost a telethon of email as suggested elsewhere) I am pretty sure all would agree that Justin tried to be on the up and up but was just down on both his luck and, perhaps, business skills. But he had a unique, at the time, product that deserved support.

 

From other research (if repeating what Googling reports is considered research) it appears:

 

1. About 1,000 people subscribed as lifetime members over multiple years

2. Cost for lifetime membership appears to have ranged from around $90-$120 or about 10X average single product purchase

3. Lifetime was considered viable to Justin because his product was based on data that was freeware he just assembled so his costs, as he saw it, were negligible and offer sustainable

4. That changed when Justin expanded to higher quality data he licensed from Intermap

5. Justin communicates to lifetimers that terms from Intermap no longer allow him to honor the membership for Intermap-based products. His freeware-based products remained free.

6. FSGenesis.com disappears from the internet only to return some time later in a new form

7. New website says all data lost. Users must submit proof of prior purchases. Lifetime offer would no longer be honored.

8. There is one report that Justin stayed on at the company "under new management" in an exclusively technical role though not clear if that's a fact or current

9. Members report submitting proof that is either effectively ignored or outright rejected by FSGenesis

10. New members (who were not intercepted by one of the 1,000 longtime members and forewarned of FSGenesis practices) generally appear to have fs industry average experience. No better. No worst.

11. And, in the back of my head and not on Google, why, with such a toxic liability of a thousand lifetime customers looming over them did they not just go out of business and re-form under a different name to make the change clear and absolute? Why was keeping the entity intact under the circumstances so important? File that under idle speculation.

 

Open to learning of any corrections or additions.

 

What I've done and what I encourage others to do (in addition to posting your story here on avsim as suggested by others as the best Yelp there is for our community):

 

I contacted the Utah branch of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) online. Click on big "File A Complaint" button on home page. On the select company by name page FSGenesis will not be found. Just type in FSGenesis and Riverton, UT (if anyone has a more complete address please reply to this thread with it and I'll update this) and the system will accept that.

 

Complete a very basic three page online form. Who are you? Who is the business? What happened? What resolution do you seek? They promise an inquiry and a response.

 

The requested resolution I made to BBB was a refund of my membership. That would be the honorable thing for the company to have done. Problem is if the 1,000 members figure is correct then I don't think it is likely that FSGenesis is just sitting on a $100,000 pot to reimburse us all.

 

BBB, like your congress, responds to numbers so if more than just a few simple complaints are filed with them the more likely this will rise in priority and receive a critical view.

 

This next action I took is FYI only. I don't think it would be productive to flood this company with email. They are innocents with a reputation to maintain and pressure to apply.

 

I reached out this afternoon to the CEO of Intermap who licenses their technology to FSGenesis NEXTMap line (the non-freeware piece). Within the hour (on a Friday afternoon no less) I received a very earnest response from VP of Global Sales who asked for a few days to investigate.

 

No one appointed me sim activist so I'll stop there. But the next place to approach I'd think are retailers carrying FSGenesis products. Not to boycott (apparently many of us silently are already) but to apply further pressure to ask them to request FSGenesis do something about their prior sales commitments and to stop sticking their head in the sand sending out the same form letter ad nauseum.

 

In the meantime I expect that Intermap will be Googling FSGenesis (I suggested they do as much to see for themselves the chatter over the years) and so if anybody else has something to report (and I'm not abusing any rules of this forum by suggesting this) or wants to confirm filing a BBB complaint it might be helpful to do so in this or some other related thread as it is likely your posts will hit some new radar.

 

I hope this can be a do the right thing moment for FSGenesis.

 

And I hope others, who have had a good experience with FSGenesis "under new management", will understand that, like cars, mileage may vary and some of us, reportedly 1,000 of us, feel the way this came down was unnecessarily ugly and unprofessional regardless of their current practices and this must be called out.

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The question that nobody has answered yet is under what terms did the new owners acquire fsgenesis. 

 

1. Did they simply purchase the name, web presence and IP?

2. Did they acquire the full business including existing debts and client obligations? - this would of course include such things as outstanding taxation and "negative" customer obligations (i.e customers who show you an ongoing negative return). 

 

Certainly if I was to purchase an existing business, like any "savvy" businessman I would do everything I could to avoid the second option, especially if it is a hobbyist business and had not been run as professionally as it could have. Trust me, there are many like this coming up for sale on a regular basis.

 

I think it would be fairer to the new owner to try and find out what the terms of sale were. Then and only then will you know where you fit in the grand scheme of things. Your calls to name and shame without knowing the full facts I believe are a little premature and at this stage unwarranted.

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Hi,

 

No matter how you look at it, Justin should of made absolutely sure his lifetime customers were taken care of...

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Your calls to name and shame without knowing the full facts I believe are a little premature and at this stage unwarranted.

 

I agree with most of what you say but disagree with your conclusion.

 

FSGenesis has had ample opportunity to come clean about what has really transpired and why. They referenced that terms of their technology supplier disallowed them to continue honoring the lifetime program (not explaining why their freeware-based product was also excluded). OK. So I rang up the CEO of the technology supplier to see if FSGenesis claim was warranted and CEO put someone to find out what the story is and I expect we'll hear back by the end of the week. That's just taking the next natural fact-finding step.

 

The BBB, likewise, is a fact-finding vehicle (putting aside for the moment their business-centric biases). When communications with a business hit a dead end, like they have with FSGenesis on this topic, calling in the BBB is not premature or unwarranted and is in fact encouraged by the business community (over taking legal action).

 

But I absolutely agree with you that the questions you raise should be addressed.

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Thats the same with the old alphasim now called Virtavia

 

when they shut down their old website they deleted everyones account, and when they reopened the new Virtavia's page they no longer held or honored the accounts of the 1000s past of customers from their store

 

I got a simple message from the same owner of both names back in feb 15,  it basically said your living in the past, and Im not interested and re purchase the same product again just under a different developer name

 

 

Virtavia is also not obliged to look after AlphaSim customers from years ago, but we do what we can for tech support, even for people who bought something 5 years ago, that’s just because I want to help, not because I have to. There are not many companies who support ‘legacy’ software more than a year or two. Perhaps the time has come for you to re-purchase your favourites from Virtavia and enjoy the storage backup provided by an established vendor, as well as possible free expansions such as the one we have just put out for the B-24. That is not available to AlphaSim customers of that model and this will be true for future expansions. We think it’s time people cut loose from that era and continue as Virtavia customers, and that’s not just for greedy profit reasons (god knows there’s not much of that in FS) it’s for efficiency and brand clarity.

 

the lesson learnt from this, is never buy fron a vendors store, buy from a store like simmarket or FFS and never buy Virtavia

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Hi,

 

No matter how you look at it, Justin should of made absolutely sure his lifetime customers were taken care of...

 

He did !!! But only for the lifetime of HIS business and in a manner that HE could control. IF the new owners have a obligation then so be it - one would expect them to stand by that. But I suspect they don't because only a fool would do that. Most of us are in business to make money, pay taxes, contribute to the economy and environment while hopefully having some fun on the way. Businesses are not charities.

 

Hey look, I could be very wrong but I suspect his "lifetime clients" were not part of the deal and your issue should be with Justin, NOT the new owners of fsgenesis. As I said, wait for the full facts before assessing your risk and judgement.

 

In fact I am now editing this because I have had another thought after looking at some stuff before replying to "brubros". Having just read the faq on the fsgenesis website, I could not happen but notice words such as "we" and "us" when relating to older business decisions that were made regarding the Galaxy Membership offer. That suggests to me continuity and an involvement with past decisions. Also what struck me as very odd was the words "financial collapse of the original fsgenesis company" followed by the words "there is now a new management team". In fact nowhere can you find anything to my knowledge that indicates a new company was set up.

 

Maybe that's a starting point for you guys. Is Justin still involved. Is it all smoke and mirrors?

Edited by ANZ121

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