I got an HTML email from a software company the other day – I won't name them – where they offered me an upgrade patch.
Okay, I may have sped read the email, but I clicked on the link and downloaded the patch and installed the software. I was then asked for the serial number of the software. I dug it out and entered it, but it wouldn't accept it. Puzzled by this I contacted their support service, who got back to me telling me I needed to pay $50 for the latest version of the software.
Puzzled further, I asked why I was on a mailing list that was sending me a patch for software I didn't have? Clearly they knew that I owned version of it, but not the one that needed patching. At no point had they communicated to me that a newer version was available, in fact the first I knew about it was when they sink me a link to the patch, which I assumed was for the version I already had...
This bothered me for a couple of reasons. First, it felt like a cheap scam trying to fleece me. Second, knowing that the product needed patching before I knew it existed put me off the idea of buying it completely. Their communications basically said: "We've got a faulty product, but here's the fix, er.. it costs $50 and er, um... it's new."
Then to compound things, when I pointed this out to them, the senior person dealing with it sent me an email saying they thought the email comms I was complaining about were innocuous... I replied stating that I was not impressed in the least bit with that as a reponse. He replied, sorry I didn't mean to send you that email, it was meant for a colleague...
They immediately issued an apology, an explanation and a discount voucher. However, I'm reluctant to take advantage of the discount because even with money off I'm left with the impression that the product isn't quite right and that the apology was issued for the customer service email gaffe and not my original complaint.
I think there's important lessons for everyone there.