How To Turn Customers Into Pirates

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In the past we've given plenty of examples of how DRM hurts paying customers instead of the people it is meant for. Still, many software companies prefer to see their customers as potential 'thieves' but what they don't realize, however, is that they are actually breeding pirates instead of stopping them.

Meet Mark, an IT guy at a small company who occasionally has to renew licenses for the software utilized by the business. Recently, he had to activate a copy of PaperPort, the scanning and document management software from Nuance. In order to free up another activation slot, he had to uninstall the old one first while being online. Like most activation licensed software, this doesn’t always work properly.

To resolve the issue Mark contacted Nuance’s support. To his surprise however, they didn’t want to help him straight away, instead asking him to take pictures of the CD in order to prove that the company owned a legitimate copy.

“I couldn’t believe my ears,” Mark told TorrentFreak. “After arguing with support for a while on how ridiculous it was, I still had to have the license within the day. To make a long story short I finally got them to unlock 2 licenses after 2 days of repeated calls and sending the picture of the CD multiple times.”

Upset at how he was treated by customer support, Mark decided to send an email to Nuance’s CEO Paul Ricci to inform him that alienating customers like this is not going to help him sell more products. The picture of the CDs that Mark had to supply was also sent to Ricci.

Dear Mr Ricci,

Our company has been using your product for nearly a decade. We have estimated that it is safe to say we have spent $3000 over the years on your product. We are by far not the biggest customer but in today’s economy we think every customer counts. We recently bought several PaperPort 11 licenses which we have used. We have upgraded our computers and the procedure is to uninstall paper port (While online) in order to free a license for the new computer. Sadly this did not work. My efforts at consulting with your technical support department were very time consuming, confusing, and ultimately pointless. To my surprise, they wanted me to take a PICTURE of the CDs we have. As an IT professional, I found this archaic exercise in futility to be absolutely appalling. Not only do your anti-piracy methods completely fail (There is no known anti-piracy method that works to this day, anything can be downloaded) but they cost me; the legitimate customer time and frustration. Attached is the picture I had to send in. This is to let you know that we are completely disgusted with your company’s procedures, and are no longer going to do any business with Nuance.

Just to let you know, being a computer engineer, I can guarantee you these statistics:

Pirates Stopped = 0
Legitimate Customers totally alienated = Thousands.

You may want to take a look at your stock trends of late, Mr. Ricci. Perhaps this poor customer service MIGHT explain some of that.

Here’s the Picture Mark sent, along with a personal note.
customers pirates

Ricci received the email in good order, and passed it on to the chief marketeer at Nuance, who wrote back to Mark. “I appreciate your note and will use it as a flashpoint for us to reevaluate this processes that you have correctly pointed out as archaic,” was his reply, and he offered some free copies of PaperPort, PDF and OmniPage “as a gesture of goodwill.”

Nuance has clearly recognized that they made a mistake and although it’s probably too late for some customers, we hope they’ve learned from it. Mark said that in hindsight his email to Ricci might have been a little bit over the top. But, it did make them realize that they were making a mistake, asking people to take pictures of their CDs.

“I was very upset and under a lot of pressure. My job is to solve problems in the quickest amount of time.. and taking pictures of CD’s or sticking them in a copier isn’t something anyone should ever have to do with their software,” Mark said.

“It just doesn’t make sense.”

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