Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sucks being duped.

I’m in a little bit of a mood today. It could be because my daughter beat on some kid and had to get sent home early, or it could just have been my irritation with a product which was too expensive to begin with.

I purchased the grammar checking tool WhiteSmoke about two months ago. This is essentially the Word grammar checker on steroids, and works in any text editor. Truly, it’s a pretty good tool. You highlight your text, hit F2 and it’ll open in an editor and either automatically fix errors, or show them and recommendations to fix. The recommendations are far better than Word recommends, and it’s great to have grammar and spell checking in every text box, no matter what program you use. There are only a few down sides I’ve seen:

  1. It works in it’s own editor. I’d rather it let me edit directly in the text box.
  2. It doesn’t work in Microsoft Word when track changes are on. It sees deleted/changed text as regular text, and messes up pasting and such. After contacting support the answer was they they don’t support it. Personally I’d rather it replaced my Word grammar checker.
  3. They don’t support Windows 7. Again, contact support, I finally got it fixed myself by uninstalling and installing the newest version.
  4. It requires Internet access. If I’m not on the Internet it doesn’t work since it gets the grammar rules and dictionary from there each time I need it. Essentially this is a client and the checking occurs online, which makes me wonder a little at the safety of grammar checking private or secure content. Though in general I do trust companies like this to not store any of the information.
  5. Their ads are incredibly misleading. I ended up somewhat impulse buying this because I thought it was a big sale through a newsletter I read for just that day. Went back the next day, and the next, and even today, to see the same sale price that will expire at the end of the day “today” which I find incredibly misleading.
  6. There’s no real way to write a review. I ended up buying it because I trusted all the other ads I’d seen in the newsletter and the CNN etc. reviews on their site, though I’ll be even more careful now.
  7. It’s expensive. I got the executive version on sale for around $110 or something. But notice in the screen, it says clearly on the order page that purchases are one time purchases, good for a lifetime and include all updates. So if I never have to pay again, it’s probably worth it.

WhiteSmoke Sale

Overall I kind of regretted the purchase, but enjoyed having it, especially when writing Amazon reviews or other things online where the built in spell checker just doesn’t do it.

Then I got an email from them about WhiteSmoke Writer 2010, the new version. I popped online to get it since my “lifetime updates” covered the new features that were so great, though so far I haven’t seen anything to tell me the difference. I couldn’t get the download to come. I finally started a live “chat” which really just sent an email to support yesterday, and today got the call back just before a meeting. I couldn’t talk long, but the short answer was that “updates” is not the same as “upgrades.” So I get the grammar updates automatically, but if I want the next version I need to pay another $70 to upgrade… so there will likely be a new upgrade every year. Sorry, $70 a year plus the ~$120 up front is just ridiculous (and those were the sale prices, and this was within two months), and I have to think the reviewers were checking out a free version not knowing the cost. Also, that’s for one computer, the support person was happy to try and sell me, for $10, a license for a second computer, even before making clear the upgrade issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the somewhat quick call back, and the grammar checking is excellent. Functionally I only have a few minor gripes. But after the phone call with support I was more that a little ticked, and let him know quickly that I’m not paying for the upgrade and will be uninstalling what I have based on our conversation.

So I came off that call feeling entirely duped and a bit scammed.

Then I finally went to unsubscribe from a Six Flags mailing list, and got this “success” message:


You’ll notice I will “no longer knowingly receive future emails” which makes me wonder how they send the ones that I don’t know about, and why they might want to do that. Made me laugh, I was still a little irritated such a huge company let that slip.

Then I have this conversation:

Rachel: Daddy, could you stop typing so fast? Just push the letter that you need one at a time, one at a time, so you don’t do it so fast.

Me: That’s how I do it.

Rachel: Today try something different. Then you can do it slower. Here, I’ll show you.

At which point she typed the words “Me: That’s” over the period of about a minute, and it makes the day all better.


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