March 29, 2006

Today, for no particular reason*, I remembered this feedback email that I received last September:

you perhaps have developed the absolute worst software program I have ever experienced in my life. I cannot believe how truly bad this tool is. You support would be embarrassing if it actually existed. I cant believe you’ve actual been able to establish a business with such a terrible product and I can’t believe I was stupid enough to pay money for it. Someone should sue you for fraud.

It took my breath away and I was half inclined to ignore it, simply because I didn’t know how to pull the situation back from the brink. There was nothing of any substance and he had never contacted me before. I think what really wounded me was that his words suggested he knew he was addressing me as an individual, not a faceless company. Anyway, I checked and he had bought my software, so I took a deep breath and replied:

Believe it or not, Macworld US, Macworld UK, MacUser and the user reviews on VersionTracker – to name a few – would disagree with you.

I cringe a little at the above, because it looks like I needed to big myself up with my big friends and their big opinions. The point was, of course, “don’t just take my word for it”. I continued:

As far as I can see, you have not asked for support before. What is the problem?

It turned out he had printed instructions for Feeder 1.1 a few months before, upgraded to version 1.2 – which probably meant 50% of those instructions had changed – and hadn’t bothered to check the site for an updated version. Once I pointed out that the latest version was online he was very happy and nice. That experience taught me to always put the version number on any tutorial I wrote, silly though that may seem when it’s on a website, just because some people like printing stuff off and not using it for two months. I had no idea when I was doing 1.1 that I would need to change so many things in 1.2.

Also, I’d long known that you need a thick skin to be an indie developer (but not to the point where you ignore everything, obviously) and I could take criticism about my creations, people who were frustrated because they’d got the wrong end of the stick, etc, but that took things to a whole new level for me probably because it seemed so personal. The last time I’d felt that bad was when KIT got cracked (a month after its launch, I was very poor) and boy did I make sure my apps aren’t similarly/easily compromised again!

* Hmm, check out the title of this post** – maybe it’s the Apple v Apple case that reminded me of the last time someone suggested that someone should sue me (because, in the US of course, you can sue someone for threatening to sue you, which is nice).

** If you don’t know why the title of this post relates to Apple v Apple and you call yourself a Mac user, you need to do some research. 😀


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