tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 04:36pm on 01/11/2012 under , ,
I have a permanent account with LiveJournal. I bought one for me and one for [livejournal.com profile] kateaw back in 2005, after a couple of years of paying for our accounts. It was a decent deal; each one cost the same as six years of a paid-for account, so now we are in 2012 we have benefitted from the deal. Despite the changes that LiveJournal are suggesting for paid accounts, I have an expectation that my permanent account will continue to provide me with the best level of service that LiveJournal offers.

When I buy media from iTunes, games from Steam, or ebooks from O’Reilly or Pragmatic Programmers, I have a similar expectation that they will stand by their promises, and that I will continue to have access to my media. O’Reilly explicitly advertises “Lifetime access, with free updates” for their ebooks. We are surrounded by companies that provide online products or services to customers with an expectation that they will be available indefinitely. Of course, any one of these organisations could fail, and I suppose that is a risk we take when we purchase any intangible products or services.

It hurts more when a company merely decides to renege on its previous commitments to its customers. Back in 2006 I bought a lifetime shared-hosting package from Joyent (né TextDrive), and in 2007 I bought a lifetime VM (running Solaris). With Joyent developing a major profile in the hosting industry, and news reports of major investments in its business, one could expect their long-term customer commitments to be honoured.

Back in August they announced that their “lifetime” packages were being cancelled. (Despite having sent me many emails over the years, and the occasional item through the post, they totally failed to communicate this to me — I only found out through the news media.) Initially they offered credit against their current services, which felt like a poor deal. Then they offered a total refund of original purchase price, which I accepted, but then they withdrew that offer.

Now my shared-hosting account is being spun off into a new TextDrive (the hosting company that merged into Joyent all those years ago), and should remain a lifetime product, so I haven’t lost anything there… apart from the last couple of months of hassle and uncertainty. And for my “lifetime” VM, I’ve received five-years of credit for a similarly-specced product from Joyent. The product is good, but I’m unhappy that “lifetime” can be laughed off with facetious comments from their executives on their forums.
location: St Andrews, Scotland

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