How not to complain

We have mail

We recently received one of our first complaints about our applications. Normally, we receive feature requests, and sometimes a ‘I bought it but it doesn’t do x,y,z can I have a refund, please’. We treat all these fairly and politely.

This email was different, so different that we thought it would be worth mentioning here as an example of ‘How not to complain’.

The complaint

Here is the email we received from Stewie:

I purchased contact lookup fast a little while ago but every now and again it goes into “reduced use mode” because it cannot “validate the license” why the fuck is this app calling home when I have paid for it?

fix it

Now it’s obvious that Stewie has a problem with the licensing, and is annoyed. But swearing and making demands isn’t going to endear him to us and make us want to understand his problem and provide a solution.

If you’re going to complain, then stay calm, be rational and most importantly be reasonable. Be prepared to understand what the issues may be and, upon receiving an answer, consider what you want to do. Asking for a refund is always an option, and we’re happy to comply.

We won’t go into the rest of this complaint, only to say that our response was considered and polite and the customer did eventually get a refund, that we actually offered to them. It appears that a refund hadn’t crossed their mind.

Negative ratings

However, not content with accepting an explanation and refund, Stewie also marked down the application, gave it 1/5 and the following comment, complete with spelling mistakes:

Applicatimn calls home even after purchase to validate license. Uninstalled and reported.

I’m not sure on what basis it was reported, or why, but after Stewie had used the application for three months he’s obviously seriously irritated.

Leaving a negative rating is ‘fighting talk’ 😉

The refund

Whilst processing the refund, we noticed that the purchase was made by his, we presume, wife. So, our curiosity was peaked. Was Stewie complaining on behalf of his wife, perhaps she had been nagging him about this problem, or was he complaining that he couldn’t run the application on his phone, effectively pirating the application?

We’re not sure, but we’ll give Stewie the benefit of the doubt.

Who is Stewie

From the purchase order we can see that Stewie is UK based, so a little Googling brought us to his professional Linked In profile. Imagine our surprise when we found out that he is a professional Java contract developer!

Is Stewie really so ignorant as to not understand the need for licensing? Is he so unrealistic that he expects us to meet his demands through abusive emails? Is he so immature that having spent £2.50 on an application he goes off on a tantrum when it doesn’t work as he wants it to? I guess the answer to all these questions is “Yes, he is”.

Being in the same trade as Stewie, we have no hesitation in publishing a link to his profile as we know of no other people, contractors or otherwise, who would behave so poorly. Stewie, we expect better from our peers.

The problem

The sad thing in all this is that Stewie does actually have a point. If your using your smartphone with no network connectivity, a dumbphone in other words, then the licensing check will fail and you will have reduced functionality.

There is an argument for checking to see if there is network connectivity and not performing a license check at this point. We did think that the Market application, from which the check is performed, would do this, but it appears it doesn’t.

Anyway, we’re going to look into it and ‘fix it’

Update

Since we can now reply to customer comments so that they are shown in the Google Play store, we updated Stewies negative review with a comment to the effect he’s an idiot. Obviosuly we touched a raw nerve as Stewie left this for us:

This dev is a wanker. His app stopped working every few times I used it. No way I am paying for something that fails to work. No other ago had ever failed to work on the basis of licensing.

Oh, Stewie, you don’t do yourself any favours, do you…

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