If you don’t care about the customer, why bother?

I’ve been agonizing over the purchase of a to-do manager for the iPhone for several days.  Reading the reviews, both on the app store as well as on various review sites on the Internet didn’t bring much clarity.  It wasn’t that I was all that freaked about about buying the to-do program, I wanted to make the right choice and buy the right software for what I needed to do.

So, I went with what I knew.  The program I purchased an iPhone front-end for an online task manager that I’d been using for over a year quite succesfully.  In fact, I had purchased this company’s Blackberry front-end for this service and had been quite pleased with it.  It was updated frequently and reported bugs were fixed.  In fact, I’d traded emails with the developer surrounding some issues in the past.

The reviews on the app store weren’t great.  Some of the early reviews complained of the cost.  I dismissed these.  There were some that complained about crashes, but how bad could it really be?  These guys had been building decent software that I’d been using for a year.

The reality is that they were bad.  I’m talking extremely bad.  10 crashes in 10 minutes, at least.  It seemed to me that there was some aspect of this software, or of the scenario that I was trying to use that was misunderstood by the developer and simply went untested.  Using the software for several days convinced me otherwise.  It was as if the software wasn’t tested at all.

I emailed the company, including offering whatever help I could provide to give them information to fix the problem — I’d debug it if they gave me the source code.  No response.  I had recently posted on their message boards on the topic of their Blackberry client with no response as well.  There are scattered reports of no response across their own forum as well as a report of contact which was followed by unreturned emails.  The application, which is obviously broken is still on the app store and has not been updated since July.

It is as if this company does not realize or care that it has customers that are unsatisfied by its products.  It doesn’t have the time, energy or concern to fix the issues, nor does the company have the decency to pull the product from the app store.  It is very clear that this is a business that does not understand its place in satisfying its customers.

Despite more than a year of history, I’m walking.  I can’t trust that this company will maintain their services if they can’t even pull completely broken software off of the market.

The thing that is most interesting to me is that this company also provides software development consulting to some big-name companies and probably some not-so-big companies.  I can’t imagine what their consulting customers must go through as they try to get completed software delivered to them.

I’d like to think that their consulting business works properly and delivers good software and fixes the defects that the customer reports.  Maybe this activity gets in the way of me, the little guy, who just wants to manage the things he needs to do.  If you can’t trust them to do the right thing with a $9.99 piece of software with their name on it, can you trust them with a $9,999.99 piece of software that has your name on it?