Well Lookie Here, Barracuda Networks tries to get me to fall into their trap again...

Daniel Seagraves dseagrav at humancapitaldev.com
Wed Dec 21 19:52:58 UTC 2011

On Dec 21, 2011, at 1:09 PM, Edward Dore wrote:

> On 21 Dec 2011, at 18:46, Nathan Eisenberg wrote:
>>> In fact, it's not.  If you miss your renewal payment for, frex, Safari
>>> books,
>>> they actually slip your cycle date to when you renew -- since you don't
>>> *get*
>>> the service between the expire date and the renew date, I concur with
>>> his
>>> appraisal that you shouldn't be paying for it, either.
>>> If in fact, the service *kept working* for a short time when an
>>> overlooked payment was missed, it would be a different story.
>>> But, effectively, he's a new client, and should probably be treated
>>> that way.
>>> Assuming the paid service is actually *the update service*.
>>> I also disagree with your proposition that this is off-topic for NANOG,
>>> really.
>> I've always strongly felt that this was a rather foul business practice, wherever I've seen it.  The justification for it is the utterly misguided belief that, if allowed to, customers will pay for a month then cancel their subscription and 'coast' on the 'current' version of the signature for a year.  This approach suffers from (at least) two fundamental flaws:
>> 1) The entire customer base are treated as hostile.  It is no surprise that they resent this.  (Assumption: having resentful customers is bad)
>> 2) Spam is, perhaps moreso than ever, a rapidly evolving threat.  The effectiveness of signatures declines dramatically with time, which means that August's signatures have little value by December.  [By the way, it seems to me that if they're willing to charge for valueless signatures, that represents either A) doubt as to the value of the current signatures, or B) disbelief in the decreasing value of out of date signatures.]
>> While I realize that car insurance might not be the best analogy subject, imagine if you put your car on blocks, went off to college and allowed the insurance to lapse whilst you were there.  When you return, the insurance company wants you to pay the last three years of insurance in order to reactivate your policy.  That companies customers would react in the same way: they would find a new provider to do business with, rather than pay out for a valueless bit of smoke and mirrors.
>> Nathan Eisenberg
> Are you turning your anti-spam appliance off whilst choosing not to pay for the maintenance? If not, then I'd argue that a better analogy would be that you don't pay for your car insurance but continue to drive your car around until you have an accident, at which point you try to take out a new policy so that you are covered.
> Whilst I can see the argument for the likes of signature updates, where you aren't receiving the service in the period that you haven't paid for (unless the signature update system is seriously broken), these kind of maintenance renewals for appliances normally also include software support and hardware repair/replacement.
> If the companies don't backdate the maintenance renewal, then you would end up with lots of companies only purchasing the maintenance on an ad-hoc basis and that will just make the renewals more expensive for those of us that actually pay attention to when our subscriptions to due to expire and how much they will cost to renew in order accurately predict cash flow.

Besides, treating your customers like thieves and/or forcing disagreeable conditions on them is all the rage now! Everyone knows they can screw customers as hard as they like because everyone else is going to screw them just as hard, and if you aren't screwing them hard enough, well that's just wasted potential right there! Don't worry about them leaving for another provider - They all do it! I mean, look at the airlines: Company profits in the toilet, customer satisfaction so low they're trying to get Congress involved, crew pay at the lowest on record, and the salaries of the upper management is the highest in the history of the industry! Just think, if you screw your customers hard enough, YOU could be NEXT sitting on that huge pile of cash in the top of your ivory tower pissing down on the public!

For example, I have a large pile of content that I have paid for but cannot access anymore because their various copy protection schemes are no longer supported or no longer run on modern machines. Next to that I have a smaller but increasingly growing stack of content I paid for but REFUSE to access due to provisions hidden in the EULA requiring me to display advertisements and/or install spyware on my computer. You can't read the EULA before purchase and you can't return the purchase for a refund if you refuse the EULA. (That's right, you can sell AD-SUPPORTED software that customers pay FULL RETAIL PRICE for! They whine and complain on the internet, but believe you me, when the next iteration comes out, they'll line up to buy it!) I could resort to illegal hacks that disable the DRM or remove the ads, but that is a federal offense and a security risk, and I don't feel like wasting my computer or career over a few hundred dollars. So they join the pile. The companies who do this actually consider this situation desirable - They got my money, and I'm not going to be downloading patches or using up server time or anything. Pure profit! It's win-win!

Executive Summary: It doesn't matter what your customers want anymore. You just give them what you want to give them, and if they don't take it, you punish them until they give up and go away (and don't worry about that, they'll be back!) or accept your conditions. Thar's gold in them thar hills, you just gotta go beat it out of em!

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