Wednesday, September 29, 2004

And the award for shittiest customer service goes to ...

Mathworks, the makers of Matlab software, for encouraging software piracy by not giving their customers any other options.

For one of my courses, I need to use Matlab [a mathematics program] a lot. Now, the base version of Matlab doesn't come with all the bells and whistles, you have to buy those extra. Fine, I can understand the desire to not give everything away at once. For my next homework, I need a set of functionality that I don't currently have, so I went to their website to purchase this extra "toolbox", as it's called. And that's where things started getting silly: their website informs users of their Student version [which I have -- the commercial edition costs $1900 ...] that "
We've just released a new version of our product. The old Student version functionality is currently no longer available. We expect to make a new Student version available sometime in October."

In other words, "If you use our Student version and need to upgrade your functionality in any way, you're screwed until we release the new version and charge you again for it".

To make sure I wasn't just misinterpreting what's on their website, I called customer service. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "I have your student version and need to get an extra toolbox"
Customer Service Rep: "... Currently unavailable .... Not sure when new version will be available ... blah blah ... Apologize for any inconvenience"
Me: "So, basically, I'm screwed ?"
CSR: "Well, not exactly in those words, but, yes"
Me: "Does this make any sense to you ?"
CSR: "I just say what they tell me to say"
Me: "You realize that you're pushing people towards piracy, right ?"
CSR: "uhm, mumble, mumble, I ... uh ... I just say what they tell me to say ... What you choose to do ... uh ..."

End result: one new person [ie me] who won't ever purchase anything from this company again, unless I have absolutely no other choice.

Time to pursue, uhm, alternative options for getting what I need.


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