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Why I Will Not Buy Spell Catcher...(sadly)


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#1 NotoriusEXE

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 11:12 AM

Although $40 is top dollar for a utility of this kind, Spell Catcher Plus for Windows 3 is a great program...you did a nice job. Back in the day, I actually purchased the first version of SCW from C&G.

But it looks to me that the only way to install SCPFW 3 on a new computer is to get a new key from Rainmaker (unless I am mistaken). If Rainmaker goes belly up (Like C&G and other predecessors did) and I want to install the program I bought the license for on a new computer (which I certainly will), I am out of luck. I cannot bring myself to invest in any software that requires me to depend on the developer staying in business and supporting my ability to use the product I purchased. Sadly, I will have to pass this one by.

#2 Evan Gross

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 08:15 PM

I can understand your hesitation, but I think you might want to visit this page to see why it's far, far less likely that we will go belly-up than any of our previous publishers that did.

I mean seriously, this is IT for an income source for both of us. For twenty years it's been our product - not our ex-publisher's product.

Sure, both John and I have marketable talents, but would probably make pretty horrible employees.

If the day ever did come where we had to abandon the product (illness, injury, whatever), we'd make sure that there was a way for all to keep using it.

$40 for as many man-years that have gone into this thing works out to, oh, probably a few thousands of a cent per hour income for us - software is awfully cheap these days for the consumer IMO.

#3 NotoriusEXE

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 05:56 PM

Evan...
A response like that deserves the utmost respect AND my support for your work. So, based on the things you said in your response, I have already purchased the full product. It's only a small contribution, but it is indicative of my great appreciation for your effort, your support and for your "no bs" reply.

I know it's not exactly the kind of thing anyone likes spending a lot of time discussing, but since you mentioned it, perhaps you and John could discuss what would happen if one or both of you was no longer able (or interested in) to support the product and how you would indeed make provisions for people who bought your products to continue using them on new equipment if they wished. In all practicality, I am not sure how that would work out. If, for example, your Web site was shut down, how could you even communicate with customers. Perhaps this whole subject is a little paranoid. I'm not going to lose sleep over it, but I do have a suggestion to put some teeth behind your pledge. And it may be a good idea for other reasons too...

Is there a Spell Catcher forum outside of your site, such as on yahoo or MSN? You could communicate with users through that forum if your site was no longer there. If there is no such forum, setting one up could be a simple and effective way to address this issue (as well as expand your marketing effort and create buzz). In any event, I hope that you will mention this subject to John so that you can both consider it.

It's clear you guys are dedicated to the craft. I actually believe you when you pledge to take care of your customers. And, for what it's worth, that is why you convinced me to buy your product.

Final comment ... I can understand if the purchase price does not afford a rich compensation to you for all the effort you have invested in the product. And I agree that consumers get a great deal on software in the current market environment. It's the nature of the competitive marketplace. In this type of environment, a product can be priced too high to be competitive, but still not be profitable for the developer. Hence my comment on price was not meant to suggest that you are making an excessive profit.

Sorry I drifted so far off topic! Glad to be a customer. Thankful for your great dedication and support!

#4 Evan Gross

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Posted 01 June 2005 - 10:31 PM

Evan...
A response like that deserves the utmost respect AND my support for your work.  So, based on the things you said in your response, I have already purchased the full product.  It's only a small contribution, but it is indicative of my great appreciation for your effort, your support and for your "no bs" reply.


Well, thanks so much! I didn't actually expect to sway your opinion, but hoped that others might read this thread and give things a second thought if they had the same reservation you did.

I know it's not exactly the kind of thing anyone likes spending a lot of time discussing, but since you mentioned it, perhaps you and John could discuss what would happen if one or both of you was no longer able (or interested in) to support the product and how you would indeed make provisions for people who bought your products to continue using them on new equipment if they wished.

We've discussed stuff like this, there will be ways, you'll just have to take our word for it. I really, honestly, just can't say more than that.

In all practicality, I am not sure how that would work out.  If, for example, your Web site was shut down, how could you even communicate with customers.  Perhaps this whole subject is a little paranoid.  I'm not going to lose sleep over it, but I do have a suggestion to put some teeth behind your pledge.  And it may be a good idea for other reasons too...


I really can't foresee this site being shut down - moved to some other ISP for some reason perhaps (currently, we are hosted by inter.net Canada, who have been around for quite some time - they pretty much bought up all the little regional Canadian ISPs like interlog, psi.net and some others) for technical reasons (I'm having a hard time configuring their IMAP email support the way I want, so am considering using another ISP for email like FastMail).

Web hosting for a small company like us is cheap, cheap, cheap these days. Selling two copies of Spell Catcher takes care of our hosting bill for the month these days (now that they have increased our storage space eightfold and doubled our bandwidth limit this past year for no increase in price).

Just curious why you'd think our site would get shut down? I think it would take some rather extraordinary circumstances for our ISP to pull the plug on us. I can't even think of one...

Is there a Spell Catcher forum outside of your site, such as on yahoo or MSN?  You could communicate with users through that forum if your site was no longer there.  If there is no such forum, setting one up could be a simple and effective way to address this issue (as well as expand your marketing effort and create buzz).  In any event, I hope that you will mention this subject to John so that you can both consider it.

No, there isn't, but my guess is that the vast majority of our customers, who never even look for, visit, let alone register for this forum would never find one on Yahoo.

Sorry I drifted so far off topic!  Glad to be a customer.  Thankful for your great dedication and support!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Glad you're on board! You'll save the $40 you spent in time alone if you set up and use the shorthand glossary feature in a manner effective to the way you work - I guarantee it.

#5 ian

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 04:23 AM

I came in to start a thread on this very topic and I found this one.

I oppose this hassle called activation. Here's why.

First, there is not one program that uses it that mentions it in the "blurb".
Only after paying for the program is it stated. It's a well kept secret until money changes hands.

I have in my possession some programs that I paid for, that I cannot use because :

1) I changed my ISP = yes, you read correctly.

2) I changed my email address.

3) I changed my hardware - Scansoft only allows 3 activations then that's it.

4) I had to re-install windows many times due to faulty motherboards.

5) I had to re-install Windows because of a badly written program.

what I do now is to email the company and ask if they use activation, if they do - no sale. If they do not reply - no sale.

I emailed an Australian software Co., asking just that. The reply was that they do not and never will use activation because of the hassle involved to the legitimate buyer.

You won't like what I've posted, but it's the truth, I have been stung many times.

I pay money for a program. I then want to use it as I want to - not how someone else wants me to use it. I will re-install it as many times as I want to do so - not as someone else wants. I do not have 1 pirated program. I buy all the programs because, I can get support and the programmer gets a reward for his efforts. If I was a programmer I'd want paid for the work put into the program.

This is just a bad example, you buy a car, e.g., a Ford. You have to contact Ford every time before they will let you drive it. You could lend it to your mates or who-ever. Therefore Ford might lose a sale. Far-fetched, maybe not that much, can you tell what is in the future. But I hope you get my drift.

You can't really say you will always be there, if sales dry up, you can't then afford to keep going - then what.

Sorry, it's not on is this farce called activation.

I'm truly sorry if you feel "hurt" about this reply, but it's how I feel after being stung with this caper. No doubt I'll be criticised, but I'm being honest and straight with you, and not offensive to you.

I tried all the programs of this kind that I could locate, yours is the best, but I've now gone it of it somewhat because of this.

How many re-activation's do you grant the legitimate buyers of spell Catcher Plus ?

#6 Evan Gross

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 07:23 PM

How many re-activation's do you grant the legitimate buyers of spell Catcher Plus ?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


As many as they want. There is a limit of 4 before our online systems refuse, and when they contact us by email stating they have a new computer or reformatted their drive or whatever, we just reset the counter within minutes.

So you get to install the program on your desktop, laptop, your (say) wife's desktop, and (say) your kid's laptop using the single license. Pretty generous, we think.

The program does NOT call home - it's a one-time activation (per computer).

Sorry if you don't agree, but that's life in the software development world. Piracy does hurt - we know if for a fact (being through 4 different publishers now). We've tried to make this as painless as possible (two or three mouse clicks, never have to enter a single keystroke), and we respect all reasonably sane requests for additional acitvations on-the-spot.

#7 NotoriusEXE

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 09:30 AM

Hi, I am the starter of this thread and I am still around. I wanted to make a few additional comments after reading the new posts.

I have to say that I am sympathetic to both sides. On the one hand the developer wants to protect their product and on the other hand the consumer wants to protect thier purchase.

Clearly activation is a hassle for BOTH the consumer and the developer. But this developer sees it as a necessary evil to protect their investment. It's a matter of judgement. Some sales will be lost because some consumers won't buy software that requires activation for the reasons already mentioned. The judgment on the part of the developer is which way they will come out ahead.

I do agree that a developer should DISCLOSE the method of activation to the potential customer BEFORE "money changes hands." Being aware that some consumers consider this an important factor in their decision to purchase or not purchase, I think it's unfair to withhold this information from them prior to the sale.

I wanted to comment on something else too. Few developers ever think the worst will happen and they will no longer be able or willing to support their product. But it happens all the time. I use several programs that I bought maybe 5, and one even more than 10 years ago that I still love. They were made by some pretty respectable folks who never in a million years thought they would move on. Well guess what, they moved on, can no longer be contacted and need to spend their time on whatever it is they are involved with now, not supporting customers that no longer put food on their table. It's understandable.

Fortunately, after multiple computer changes over those years, none of those programs required activation. The fact is that you can never tell what will happen in spite of the best intentions of the developer (which I believe this developer has). The only sure way to protect your purchase is to buy only programs that you can reinstall without developer support. True, if a program is no longer being supported, it may no longer work because of a new OS or some other reason, but at least you know you can always use it by setting up a computer with the original configuration. I have found few programs that have not worked through Windows XP and Server 2003 even though some of them were not developed since the early releases of Windows 95.

In my case, I decided to buy in spite of this issue even though I know that someday you might not be there anymore, and it's possible that I'll be stuck with a program I cannot use. I don't like it, but that's life.

#8 ian

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 12:00 PM

Good post Notorious.

Here's more. I did actually buy Spell catcher.
there's another site from where I paid $100 for a program (I just can't remember the site or program name) that requires you to email a statement as to why you re-installed the program. Then, they will think about it and might activate it again. This isn't after a number of re-activtions, it's from the second.

OK. now I'll get down to the nitty gritty. Piracy versus honesty - when getting software.

honesty.
You buy the program, what do you get.
support, but this varies, Microsoft and Pinnacle are two that I know of that makes you pay for it..
MS allows you 2 free support phone calls and then you pay for more.

Pinnacle allows you 1. Consider this, their Studio 8 and 9 video editing programs were so bugged that is took 1 /12 years - YES - to get Studio 8 bug free.

Studio 9 escaped in Jan. 2004 and is as yet buggy. their forum is very good reading provided you don't own the program.

So if you want help on how to get the bugged program working, and remember that it's is Pinnacles fault, you pay.

Very little support then from some sites, good in others.
Printed Manuals. Very few programs have manuals, you have to print out .PDF ones. I got a Microsoft program that didn't even contain installation info.

You get the hassle of trying to get a program you paid for activated. As posted, a lot cannot now be activated.

--------------------------
Piracy. What you get, or don't get.

No support from the web site.

No manuals.

No activation aggro.

You don't pay for it.

---------------------------

I know lots of people who now pirate software that didn't untill activation came along.

Activation is moving people to piracy. That is fact.

Many times I have seriously considered it, why. As I posted, why should I pay hard earned money for a program that I will most probably not get activated in the near or distant future.

At least Microsoft is helpfull towards their users regarding activation, but they are alone in that aspect.

#9 John Tytler

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 01:21 PM

Hi folks,

I'm the author of Spell Catcher Plus (the Windows version) and monitor this forum daily with Evan. We do provide, in my estimation, great support. Send an e-mail to Microsoft or post a message on one of the numerous ms-boards and just wait to see how long it takes an actual microsoft software engineer to answer a question.

Before we implemented our activation process, we did lots of hand wringing in an effort to make the entire process as painless as possible. And generally I think we've been successful, with less than 5% of sales having any problems with licensing issues. In fact, we have more problems with people ordering the wrong version than with activating their installation. [Our purchase pages will be updated later this year to reduce the chance of someone buying the wrong version.]

Concerned about your $40 investment? If we ever decided to step away from Spell Catcher, both Evan and I could easily post a version that would be free for all to use, no keys, no serial numbers and no money. But that won't pay our bills, so there are no plans to do that anytime soon.

In the most recent post in this thread it was stated that activation is moving people to piracy. My contention is that piracy has been around as long as people have had to pay for software (probably 30+ years), and that activation is the industry's response to a growing problem.

Indeed, a friend of mine has a CD with hundreds of software titles from various publishers on it. Each title is accompanied with a serial number. In fact, just last week he installed a newer version of a popular disk partitioning program than I have from this same CD.

Everyday we get people trying to "request a key" for the Windows version using serial number ######-091-951-100 - a serial number that has been posted on many websites, freely available, for years.

So, activation isn't causing software piracy, it's just a response to many people's desire to get something for free.

Anyway, I've got to get back to work now... a new version of Spell Catcher Plus is in the works - a free upgrade to those who have purchased a license from us since July 2003.

Cheers,
John Tytler,
Author - Spell Catcher for Windows
Rainmaker Research, Inc.