Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Don't buy software online (the Nero experience)

Of course it's convenient, but you're buying the cat in the bag. If something goes wrong, you're left on your own. Unlike the software you bought from a retailer which you can return (and thus prove that you're no longer using it) with downloaded software your acceptance of a licence key is final. If the program on the CD doesn't work, the retailer can't argue that you've forfeited your consumer rights buy opening the package. But if the downloaded program fails to live up to the promised standard, the software company will deny further responsibility of the problem as was the case in a recent experience I had with Nero. Nero AG does provide some sort of warranty of replacement or repair for faulty software and the right to withdraw from the contract should the fault not be remedied within a reasonable time, but that warranty is hardly worth the paper or computer screen it is written on. First you would have to get hold of a real person at Nero to deal with your complaint.

When it was an upstarting software company, Nero AG produced one of the best multimedia managing packages available for viewing and editing audio and video files. Version 6 of the Nero suite had an unimaginative user interface, but it was stable and allowed the viewing, editing and writing of audio and video files all in one neat package. Their technical support was proactive and competent. When I wrote to them about a bug in their software, they responded immediately, acknowledged the fault, and wrote back within a few days: "We have found the cause for that problem and we are working on the solution of it. It is not sure if it will be done in time for the next update, but we are working on it." I hasten to add that I wrote in as an ordinary customer, not a software reviewer or journalist. Those were the "good old days".

How much has changed in the course of two years. Nero 8 is an upgrade I suggest nobody needs nor wants. The promotional emails advertised it as a great further development of the Nero editing suite, but in reality it is a big step back. The user interface has become infantile and the functionality has completely disappeared. Well, it remains there in theory, and you can still watch DVDs, but try editing video files or burning a DVD and the program will inevitably crash. At least that was my experience. I could have got through a whole box of writable DVDs without successfully burning a single one of them. In the process I even had to endure the occasional dreaded Windows crash or "blue screen of death", something that has thankfully become a rarity after Windows XP Professional.

As for the technical support, I emailed them and am still waiting for replay two weeks later. I also emailed Asknet, the company who handles the online sales for Nero AG. They did reply that they, too, had forwarded my queries to Nero technical support, and so we both wait. Eventually I asked for my money back. However, this is where everybody starts hiding. Asknet, who on their website proudly proclaim that they afford customers a 14 day cancellation and return period: "If you wish to cancel an order, you can do so, provided that you cancel your order within the given time line for the Right of Withdrawal/Revocation. The minimum Right of Revocation is 14 days, but might vary depending on the service policy of the Software Publisher." I read this as there being a minimum period of 14 days, but it might be longer if the respective Software Publisher permits. When put to the test, I found, however, that this promise, again, was worth less than the paper it was written on should one want to print it off. This is how I was fobbed off: "Due to terms and conditions of the software that you have purchased, you must contact Nero in order to receive a cancellation. Please contact them using one of the methods that you have been provided. Asknet cannot assist further in this matter." And they referred me back to the silent Nero technical support department. The Nero website on the other hand refers all such matters back to Asknet stating: "Asknet AG is a Nero reseller and your contractual partner for all purchases in this store". A veritable game of ping pong.

I am pretty sure that the whole arrangement and refusal to deal with a justified customer complaint is falling foul of consumer rights in Germany where both companies are incorporated, but in my experience the consumer protection agencies and watchdogs of European countries are spineless and a civil suite would be far more expensive than the original cost of the purchase. I'm also pretty sure that the two companies know this and use this to their advantage.

What they don't seem to know is that companies alienating their customers are eventually forced to die a slow death. For some time they may try to invent new software and release it on the market before it has matured out of the testing stage, for some time they may trap new buyers, but over time their reputation will precede them. Anonymous FAQs and faceless websites, the refusal to provide telephone numbers where real people can be contacted, the persistent ignoring of emails asking for support - these and many other symptoms of the increasing impersonal nature of corporate Europe are gradually turning people off. In the case of myself and Nero, I once used to recommend their product. Now I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

Last not least, the Nero PR department, the only one with a published telephone number, was given the opportunity to reply before this story was published. Sadly, it was only staffed by an answerphone. An email request to make contact was answered by, don't hold your breath: an out of office reply!

5 Comments:

At 9 January 2008 at 20:14, Blogger Chris said...

This is unfortunate. But I challenge your assertion that it’s the method of delivery that’s to blame here. I think this has more to do with where you bought the product and not the method of fulfillment.

For example you can purchase physical or downloadable software products on TigerDirect.com and you get the same warranty in both cases. The only difference is that the digital copy is cheaper and you get it right away. If the product does not work, you still have the same ability to return it through TigerDirect’s customer service. They are a retailer and not a software publisher so you’re going to get better service; their success depends on their ability to make the customer happy. Unlike the download portals, Tiger has the ability to see if you downloaded and installed the product. As is the case when you buy a physical product, you are expected to contact the software publisher if you have problems with the program itself.

TigerDirect is using the Protexis retail electronic distribution system which does make it easier for the retailer to handle these types of transactions. So I will concede that until more online retailers get on board with this type of digital distribution, you’re left to deal directly with the publishers/download portals and their less-than-perfect customer service…

Chris

 
At 12 January 2008 at 15:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My advice is do not buy any software, just use pirate software downloaded through peer to peer programs like emule, test them on a test PC, before you install them on your workstation (because it may have a virus)

 
At 28 January 2008 at 03:35, Anonymous ~Mike~ said...

As far as I’m concerned downloading and paid from shop both have advantages and disadvantages.
upsides by downloads is you *sometimes* get the file faster, I say sometimes because I live 2 doors down from a pc software shop and I can run there and back faster then I can download 100mb without an internet download accelerator, that’s really the only upside I see.

when it's on disk if the software don’t work 90% of the rime u can go back to the shop and argue the toss till u get your money back, or a replacement disk

9 times out of 10 they will give u a replacement no questions asked, but never really want to give you your money back nowadays due to copyright *you could of run home and copied the disc and serial and come back saying it don’t work*
As a mate of mine does with blockbusters, though how he gets away with it every time I have no idea.

well, when shopping online, sometimes you have to send off emails to get re-download links because *404-file not found* or *this link is no longer valid*, *connection was actively refused by the other computer* etc etc, and if you have a slow connection sometimes the file gets corrupted along the way witch has happened to me many times.

I personally prefer a hard copy to a file copy any day. unfortunately when something does go wrong e-mails are cheaper to send then £2.50 a min to be put on hold for 20 mins then they hang up and u have to call back. But it takes allot longer to wait for a reply.

I am finding Nero 8 allot more of a struggle to deal with, as is said it's getting more stupid and bothersome to deal with as they make it more customizable, same as windows, as they try and add more security, if u have formatted and install a fresh OS you end up having to verify it about 20 times before it stops asking, and that’s only because you cant be bothered to update anymore.

Nero 6 wasn’t so bad, Nero 7 I didn’t see the point it was just the same blooming thing with added lagg-ness, the thing I liked about Nero 6 and 7 though was the start smart interface, personally it was unnecessary but I liked it.

However things like Nero home are annoying, I haven’t used it myself because it's laggy and pointless I know where all my pictures are there in *my pictures folder*.

Wow it's so hard to find I have to click the start menu then... click my pictures... omg, so much work... I’d rather click Nero home, wait 20 mins for it to load and get asked a zillion questions.

I know, I know I’m a chronic complainer, but I love computers and the software is really starting to tick me off over the past few years, they add all this junk, and not many options so you end up doing things the hard way, as far as I’m concerned Nero 8 is only worth installing if you, really, really, really, need to do what only Nero can do.

Nero like other companys used to be really good, but as usual money goes to their heads and they don’t look after things like they used to, they really don’t make things like they used to.

I wish anyone out there happy times when playing with software, and if your comp crashes, swear allot, works for me :D

~Mike~

 
At 31 January 2008 at 20:38, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mustaqim!
Use Open source software . It's free, safe, and comparable to commercial products, and in many ways even better. Infra Recorder for example is what i use in Windows PC. (btw it is better if you switch OS from Windows to say a good and familiar to windows navigation distro like Ubuntu, ) Im sorry to hear about your experience, i have never bought software, nor do i download so called "Cracked" software which in most cases tend to be bundled with all sorts of nasties.
Here are a few links in case you don't already know them:
http://www.opensourcewindows.org/
http://sourceforge.net/

You can find Infra Recorder in the second link if you need it. It can burn Audio, and Video much in the same way Nero does through Infra Express although personaly i have never burned any multimedia.
Good Luck!

 
At 2 October 2008 at 17:47, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reply to Chris post(late, but cant ignore it):
NEVER BUY FROM TIGERDIRECT.
TigerDirect does have problem with returns as well.
Called many times to get reimbursement, but never got it; although, i was assured that it will be taken care of...

 

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