has some discussion important to this complaint.
It has taken me a long time to decide if I should write this post. Once I had decided how to write this post, it took me quite a while to decide how to do so.
As many of you know, Movie Collector 5 was recently released by Collectorz.com (http://www.collectorz.com
). The company, which had a lifetime upgrade policy in the past, decided to charge for this upgrade with no advanced warning that they were changing their policy. The announcement of the new version of the program that was posted on the company forum mentioned this change to a pay-per-upgrade policy. In the announcement, they also stated that any users who purchased the program prior to November 14th, 2006 would retain their lifetime upgrade license and would get the upgrade to version 5 for free. Everyone else would be asked to pay a discounted price for the upgrade. The email they sent out announcing the new version did not indicate that users who registered before November 14 were entitled to a free upgrade. Until just recently, the company had reviews and testimonials about their programs posted on their sites that stated that purchasing the program entitled the user to lifetime upgrades.
So when the new version was released, the program notified users if they had the "check for updates" setting turned on. Once the user saw that there was an update and elected to install it, they would be asked for a credit card number to pay the upgrade cost. Unfortunately, the upgrade process did not check to see if the user had purchased the program prior to November 14th, and charged everyone the upgrade cost. Shortly after the new version came out, some users started contacting the company saying that they had paid when they were entitled to a free upgrade. Collectorz offered to refund those users who contacted them about being charged in error. As far as I can tell, they did refund those users upgrade costs, but the only way users would know to contact Collectorz.com for a refund would be if they read about it on the company forum or some other forum.
I contacted Collectorz.com to ask them about some of these issues. I will admit that part of my reason for contacting them was selfish, as I purchased the program after the November 14th cutoff date. I pointed out that the information available on their website indicated that all users were entitled to free upgrades and that a change in the policy should have been posted prominantly on the site and that all users who purchased before that change should be covered under the terms of the license they purchased. I also pointed out that I felt it was questionable to use reviews and testimonials to sell their products when one of the positives mentioned in those materials was that lifetime upgrades were included in the purchase price. Finally, I asked if they intended to proactively ensure that people who were charged in error for the upgrade were refunded their money.
After a few days, I received a response from the head of the company. In the email, he responded to my questions, offered me a free lifetime upgrade license, and asked me not to publish the contents of the email he sent to me.
As such, I will not quote any statements from his responses word for word. I will, however, explain what I was told.
First of all, I was told that it was not Collectorz responsibility to ensure that people who should not have been charged got a refund. I was told that its up to the user to know if they should get a free upgrade or not. He did say that he would fix the upgrade process to put a message about free upgrades as needed. Next, I was told that the license agreement when I purchased the program indicated that upgrades were not free (Another user on DonationCoder has pointed out that there is no mention of paid upgrades anywhere in the EULA of her copy that was purchased at about the same time as mine source
). He also stated that he would remove all testimonials from the site that had language about free upgrades. The second to last paragraph stated that he would give me a free license and asked me not to share the contents of the email. While it didn't specifically say "we'll give you this if you be quiet about all this," it seemed that the intention was such. Finally, I was told that he wanted to end the conversation at that point.
I responded to ask again why they don't intend to contact users who should have gotten a free upgrade, and to point out that there were still testomonials on their site that said there were free upgrades. His response told me that he doesn't agree that they should do anything at all about those people who were incorrectly charged, and that he would take care of the testimonial. He also reextended the offer of a free license.
My final email to him informed him that I still had a lot of concerns about the issues, pointed out the exact testimonial in question, and that if the free license wasn't contingent on me remaining silent about all of this, then he could send it.
His final response was that he had edited
the testimonial to remove the lifetime upgrade part, and he sent a license.
At this point, I would not be comfortable purchasing any software from the company again. The responses about not taking steps to refund users who are entitled to refunds unless they are asked is very upsetting. One could question if it was really an oversight that allowed those users to be charged in the beginning, as it would seem that the company has profited from this mistake and isn't willing to do the right thing and contact all those users. Finally, the fact that he edited a testimonial
to remove information about lifetime upgrades rather than removing it all together seems highly suspect.
To be fair, I did take the version 5 license in the end. If I had been told that my silence was expected in exchange, however, I would have turned it down.
(small edit to include a link to the company's website and clarify their free license offer)