This blog is where I post about my consulting work with Microsoft Technologies, and other random tidbits that don't fit in my Photo Blog or my Iraq Blog.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Callwave: Crappy Customer Service and Deceptive Pricing

I've been a customer of Callwave a company that provides internet fax, voicemail, audio conferencing and a variety of other services.  I've been paying them something like $10/year for a fax number that receives about 20 faxes a year (mostly junk).

So I don't use it much, but it's a dedicated number that I've had on my business card for something like 10 years.

A couple of months ago I received an email from them saying that my credit card on file had expired.  I clicked on the link, updated my credit card number on a very simple form with no additional information, and promptly forgot about it...

Today I noticed that they had charged me $12.95/month for the past 3 months!  A price increase of about $150/year!!!

Nowhere on the form that I entered my updated credit card information did it mention the fact that they were raising my pricing by something like 1000%!!!

Today I went to their site and discovered that apparently the old plan I was on was gone... I sent them a moderately irate email asking them to cancel my service AND refund the $38.85 that they had deceptively charged me.

A classy company could have looked at my account, seen that I was a long time customer, and reached out to me to try to retain my business... And it might have worked... I LIKE the fax service, but I only use it once or twice a year...

Instead I got a snotty/rude email response from Lenny Sanders a CallWave Customer Care Representative, informing me that they had sent me 2 emails in September explaining the new pricing policy, and that I could CALL THEM ON THE PHONE between sometime and sometime pacific time if I wanted to cancel my account.

They could take the time to make a personal response to my email, but apparently they couldn't be bothered to actually act on it... WTF?

The email they sent me in September had a subject line that started with "New fax features..." and were sorted into a junk folder.  When I went back to read them today it is not at all clear that $12.95/month is the ONLY plan they now offer and they my pricing was going to change.  Even if I had read it I would have no idea that I was signing up for $155 per year if I took no action.

Bottom line: Callwave has exhibited:
  • Deceptive marketing and billing practices.
  • Poor customer service.
And so instead of calling them on the phone tomorrow to cancel my account I am taking the following actions:
  • I am writing this blog post so that future Callwave customers can be informed about the character of the company before they consider doing business with them.
  • I am disputing all past charges with my credit card company (I'm assuming that it will cost Callwave more money to deal with is than it would for them to just refund me the money they deceptively billed me).
  • I will continue to blog about this topic until they refund my money and cancel my account.
And if you don't believe me here are some comments from other "satisfied customers":
UPDATE 12/16/2008:  Received another email from Janet Larson at Callwave "Customer Care" who says that they will be happy to review my refund request if I submit it in writing.  I can email Callwave Customer Care at care-20@callwave.com to request cancellation and a refund. 

But wait...  Janet works in Callwave Customer Care, and Lenny who emailed me yesterday works in Callwave Customer Care... but they can't be bothered to forward my email to themselves... instead they want me to write a new email to a different mailbox in their department?

Well I forwarded the entire thread to the new email address and we'll see what they do with it... I'm not optimistic...

Friday, December 12, 2008

FolderShare to Windows Live Sync update broken on Apple OSX

I'm a long time FolderShare user, and Microsoft just "upgraded" FolderShare to Live Sync. But it turns out the upgrade doesn't work on Macintosh... massive FAIL.

From ScrappyDog
After installing the Live Synch client for OSX and trying to login you get the following message: "This version of Windows Live Sync is too old. Please download a newer version from http://sync.live.com.

But this IS the newest version.

Here is the official word from Microsoft as of yesterday:

We've found an issue that is causing sign-in to take longer than expected
and in some cases the sign-in process times out. We've isolated the problem
to a bug in our Mac client. In order to prevent this issue from affecting
all users we are temporarily blocking the Mac clients from connecting to the
service. Once we have the problem fixed we will allow the Mac clients to
connect to Sync again. We're sorry for the inconvenience.


Francisco Garcia-Ascanio
Windows Live Sync
Program Manager

Wow... We've isolated a problem and the solution is to block all Apple users to prevent negative impact on the Windows users...

A pretty strong message that Apple is definitely a second class citizen in the Microsoft universe. I'm glad I'm not using FolderShare as part of my business...

Nice launch...

Here is the Microsoft Live Sync discussion forum where you can share the pain with other disgruntled FolderShare users: http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/en-us/default.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.windows.live.sync

Monday, December 8, 2008

Configuing VS2008 (or VS2010) and TFS to use Beyond Compare

I've been really enjoying using Visual Studio 2008 and TFS for production development for the first time, but I hate the default file compare tool.

Here is a great blog post with simple instructions on how to configure VS2008 to use Beyond Compare (the best windows file comparison tool):