Re¢ently

  1. Why Event Box (Cosmic Machine) lost my business: bait and switch.

    brian on 2009.04.02
    at 03:18 pm

    EventBox is an innovative Mac app, made by a company called Cosmic Machine that I downloaded for free from the MacHeist website. I purchased the MacHeist bundle, but EventBox was not part of the bundle, rather a “free gift” simply for visiting the MacHeist website.

    I downloaded the app, loved that it allowed my to get my Twitter updates and my Facebook updates in one place, and allowed me to add RSS feeds so I could include feeds of Twitter searches that would notify me of my company’s name on Twitter. I also put in a feed for my Delicious Inbox so I was notified when people send me links. I loved the functionality, and told all my Twitter-loving friends.

    EventBox was certainly a flawed app. It’s interface is clunky, and in parts they’ve created custom interfaces where standard Mac UI would have been much preferred. There are awkward keyboard shortcuts (CMD+Shift+K to mark as read, when “CMD-K” a short cut known to many thousands of users as “mark as read” goes unused? No shortcuts to bring up the main window when it’s closed?) and the visual design is a bit amateur. I would not have paid list price, $15, for this app. But it was in beta still and it held a lot of potential. I would certainly invest (maybe even $15-20) in a final version if these inconsistencies were addressed. I really valued the functionality. I could put up with the clunkiness when it was free. And free for a beta is a great advertisement. I thought they were really suave for hooking up to have hundreds of thousands of Mac users seeing and possibly trying their product.

    Now, when getting a Mac app from MacHeist, you know there will be limitations. You expect that you will have to pay for any major revisions. I expected this to be so with EventBox, as well. I tried to find out what the deal was with the MacHeist edition, but there was no info on the MacHeist site. No info on the EventBox site. Inside the app, there was no info in the EventBox help files (hosted online, linked to from within the Mac help menu). There’s a “Mac Heist Edition” in the upper right-hand corner of the app. Clicking on that will surely tell me about the special deal. FAIL. It only links to the MacHeist page.

    So, I had no idea what the deal with this application was. Which was fine, because it was working fine.

    Then I woke up this morning. EventBox was hosed. It was no longer updating Twitter. But! There was an update that just popped up on the screen. I thought “wow, these guys are really on top of their game if this broke over night, and they’ve got an update waiting for me! This is the type of company I’d like to support. Forgiving the inconsistencies of the app, they seem to be real up-and-comers.” But then it got bad. If you accept the update you get a message that says “Updating will start the 15 day trial period.” That’s right. The message on the screen translated to “So your app broke. If you want it fixed, you’re going have to pay us $15. That’s just too bad isn’t it?”

    I was pissed.

    I searched the web for an answer. A MacHeist forum member stated that the app was limited to no updates, but gave no references to where he came upon that info. Double checked the MacHeist homepage and EventBox’s homepage. Nothing. Nothing on their “need help?” page, nothing on their “get satisfaction” forum. Nothing at all.

    After getting into work, I posted a Twitter update about the bait & switch. I double checked to see that they had a Twitter account so they could see my displeasure with a “@twitter_mention”. It was there on their Twitter feed, cryptic messages that there may be a special update for MacHeist members available. One of these linked back to a Tumblr blog, which was not linked to The Cosmic Machine website anywhere, nor was it labeled as an official Cosmic Machine website.

    I posted the update and within minutes @eventbox wrote me back

    @briandigital That’s not true. We provide critical updates. See http://tr.im/i8CD and http://tr.im/hLjK

    To get help for this company’s products, don’t expect for help to be anywhere logical. Just bitch on Twitter to be told a) I’m a liar, and b) here’s the info you’ve searched for in vein.

    I don’t have to mention that this is just a disaster from a customer experience stand point. I cannot ever picture myself doing business with a company that’s run like this. They took a promising app, a brilliant marketing move, and completely soiled the whole experience.

    Nice work.

    I called this bait and switch, but in fact it wasn’t. For me. Because I found out I could download a patched copy of the software. But for thousands who downloaded the app, they will give up at step one where the patch that pops up on their screen tells them their free ride is over. To them they were given a broken gift and told they’d have to pay to fix it. To these people this experience is the definition of bait and switch. They will be so put off from the makers of the software that they won’t do business with them again, and have a soiled opinion of MacHeist, too (which already has PR problems). It’s a lose-lose-lose situation. Poor show. Hopefully other Mac developers will learn from this.

    Posted in: Apple · Software

     

    Comments (2)

    1. Jeff Byrnes said on 2009.04.02 at 11:08 pm

      Well, this has got you all riled up. And with damn good reason. I had actually stopped using it (usefulness notwithstanding), because of its clunky-ness and memory footprint (WAY more memory usage compared to Twitterrific).

    2. Bob said on 2009.04.30 at 12:40 pm

      I agree

      I wasn’t too thrilled about this either. I let the app update and then found out that it was shareware ($15 too? Why are these flippin’ twitter apps so expensive!?) so I reverted to the MacHeist build. But now I don’t have Twitter.

      Tweetie is ok, but it’s also expensive. At least EventBox does Facebook too. I’m actually using Nambu for Twitter. It’s free, fairly simple, and seems to be ok so far. It’ll probably wind up $15 in the future too.

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