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How NOT to Handle User Support (OR Make Any Sales) - Case Study: SmartFTP

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So, this "support" from the folks at SmartFTP was so laughable that I couldn't help but to pass it on for all to see ...


As many know, I ran my own shareware company for a number of years (Xenon Inc.), writing the software, and handling all user support (both sales and technical), amongst many other tasks involved in such a venture, so I know what it takes to handle support, and (hopefully) make sales.


A little backstory (skip to here if you want to bypass the gory details): They have a fairly decent FTP shareware (try first, buy later if you like it) program named "SmartFTP". Upon startup of the software it does a check of a few things, one of them is to check for a different software named "Image Resizer", (a very handy tool, designed to replicate the old Microsoft Powertoy, developed by someone else entirely) and if found let you, the user, be aware that you're running it (duh) and it can cause issues with both your SmartFTP, and potentially your entire Windows system (I've never had any for the record). Ok, good, I can appreciate the warning, however, for some completely unknown reason, they've chosen to show this dialog (which has now officially become what is known in the industry as a "Nag Screen" because it nags and nags and nags, and annoys you. Usually used to nag people into buying a software) every. Single. Time. You start the program, requiring you to click the "OK" button, but not only that, it also, every single time mind you, (automatically starts your browser if it's not already running), and loads up a page on their website with more information on the so-called Image Resizer bug.

Holy ish. Seriously? So, if you happen to be like me, and use Firefox or Chrome, and usually have tons of tabs open that get auto-restored every time the browser starts, which takes more time to load then, you're treated to a slowly opening browser to load all of your tabs again, just to show you their little bug report page, that you've already seen countless times already. SmartFTP offers no way whatsoever to acknowledge that you accept this, and never show the warning dialog or load up the bug page again.


I even took the extra steps to alert the Image Resizer developer of this issue long ago, in a post here.


So, finally, I tried to search the SmartFTP forums, looking for any other complaints (there had to be some) and hopefully some sort of tip on disabling this nag once you've seen it once or twice and acknowledge the potential conflict. Well I did, right here, from another frustrated user, who after almost a year as of this article, got absolutely zero replies from SmartFTP support. Knowing that replying to this post, or even creating a new one asking the exact same thing which most likely would also get zero response, I went hunting for a way to contact their technical support ... good luck if you're just a trial user like me. Last resort, contact their only findable email address, their sales address. Knowing that in the past for my own shareware company that even though I had separate sales and support email addresses, it was still just lil ol me at the end of both. Maybe they have a few more people, but chances are my message would get to anyone there who needs to see it anyway.


Here's a screen-shot of the entire "support" conversation:

SmartFTP's lame, useless tech support

Boom, there it is .... SmartFTP's "Support".

No formalities, no tips, no "we'll pass this along to the devs and ask them to fix it", nada ... just "uninstall Image Resizer". If the conversation appears to end abruptly after I tell them that I actually use Image Resizer, it's because it does; there was never another response from SmartFTP after that. It almost seems as if there's some sort of behind the scenes "beef" happening between the authors of SmartFTP and the author of Image Resizer, based on the tone going around and the way SmartFTP is handling this entire thing. Apparently they aren't concerned with Image Resizer users' purchasing their FTP Client ...

End result?
I took their advice! (Sort of ..) I uninstalled SmartFTP and installed FlashFXP! Thumbs Up

I Averaged: 4 | 1 vote

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