Thursday, September 10, 2009

TechTracker Goes Oblique Part I

TechTracker Part I

I'm a big fan of TechTracker. I've enjoyed talking with one of its creators and back everything he has accomplished. It is a GREAT organization. Or it was until CNET bought it. Since that time it has been what I can only call a mess. And the mess is getting bigger this month. Real big.

TechTracker created and I have been a paid member of both for yonks. Their services are great and matched by no one. But last year they started revamping their system and their servers. The ongoing transition has been very difficult to endure. Let me give you an example: The VersionTracker database has tags for applications that are compatible with Snow Leopard 10.6. Except the tags aren't showing up in the user interface, and their support staff don't know why. WTF?!

Then last week a sequence of events started that must be one of the strangest stories going on over the Internet. This will twist your mind:

1) A couple months back TechTracker announced that there services would become free for all. Nice! They offered a refund to all members, prorated, for the amount of time left on their accounts. I got 10¢!

2) Then at the stroke of midnight, September 7th, I had my VersionTracker Pro account cut off. Dead. Gone. I was an ordinary citizen again. Huh?! Did I miss something? So I wrote TechTracker about it early that morning. I wrote twice. I never heard back from them! All I got were auto-bot notes with an incident numbers. I got two of those auto responses for each of my support requests. Very weird, like their bot was stuttering.

3) Then about three hours later I got a message that both my VersionTracker Pro and MacFixIt Pro accounts had been renewed, and I had been automatically charged $64.74. HUH?! So both Pro services were still available?! WHAT?! I checked around their confusing website:
  • The cost for the bundle of VersionTracker Pro and MacFixIt Pro really is still listed there at their site, despite their claims to be making them free. What planet am I on?!
  • There is a bundle listed for both services together. The cost is $59.95, not $64.74. So I was charged more because why?
  • Verification of the continued existence of VersionTracker Pro was found on a separate page on the site and in their VersionTracker Pro software. So, I was misinformed? But I wanted verbal, human verification as well.
Happily, the charge announcement email I received has an 877- number where I can call for support. Except no one is there, ever. I have called about 10 times, using every possible phone prompt variation, always during their pacific time business hours. The only option is to leave a message. And you know what that's usually worth! But today I gave up and left a message. I also sent yet-another email request for support early today. I did not even receive an auto-bot response. Spooky.

What could be going on? Someone
murdered their support staff? Possible. More likely they all went on vacation for the week and turned off the auto-bot on the way out the door. Other possibility: My ripping to shreds last week of their diabolically stooopid anti-Mac security FUD article about Mac OS X security inspired them to treat me poorly. Revenge for speaking truth to dopiness? Oh CNET. Living down to my lowest expectations? I hope not.

What to do, what to do. I'm going to give it another week before I cancel my subscriptions over a the TechTracker sites. Its a
cliff hanger! I'll let you know what response I receive from TechTracker, if any. If I kill off my TechTracker accounts I'll let you know and cry on your shoulder. I love those guys. This trouble is making me sad. :-(

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