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March 4, 2005 / jnolen

Transparency, a counter-example

I've been researching a bug-tracking, source-control and help-desk software package that we're considering purchasing. My experience today was a perfect example of how not to sell software.

The scenario: I wanted to read some documentation about the product we're trying out. Here's what I had to do to accomplish this goal:

  1. Visit support site, realize I can’t create an account with out a “site-id.”
  2. Request site-id from a human sales rep.
  3. Wait for response.
  4. Create account on the company’s support site, entering lots of personal information plus site-id.
  5. Agree to terms & conditions.
  6. Wait for confirmation email.
  7. Redo steps 3 through 5 because my street address didn’t match the one on file.
  8. Wait for email.
  9. Receive email, now successful, which directs me to a webpage.
  10. Agree to terms & conditions.
  11. Allow support site to attempt to install custom component.
  12. Custom component install fails with useless error message.
  13. Follow link on error page which says, “If you are having trouble with this procedure, contact Web Support,” which directs me back to the support site — the same on I’m trying to get access to.
  14. Curse a lot.
  15. Start process over using IE instead of FireFox.
  16. Agree to terms & conditions.
  17. Custom component successfully runs.
  18. Component installs a personal security certificate.
  19. Find where cert was installed and copy it into Firefox.
  20. Log in.
  21. Agree to terms & conditions. (Fourth time, if you’re counting.)
  22. Finally, get to the documentation section of the site.


All of this to read the documentation! Jeez. I don’t need a personal security certificate to access my bank, but I have to have one to tell them about a bug in their product? And that certificate means I can only access this site from one computer, unless I want to endure this ridiculousness again.

It makes no sense. How does this help the vendor? What are they hiding? It feels like they are making my life hard for no reason. It certainly doesn’t make me want to recommend the software. If this were a personal purchase, I would have given up somewhere around step 1. How can you cause someone this much frustration and still expect to win him as a customer?



  1. Jeff McMillan / Mar 5 2005 6:44 am

    The rant tags are brilliant.

  2. Martin Dean / Jul 27 2005 5:07 pm

    Well… let me think. I believe that your article it’s very good. I fully agree with you. But I have a problem. I don’t know what is the right help desk tool today. You can find a lot of great products for free (I mean, Open Source) and, in the other hand, you have terrific products like Siebel, Microsoft CRM or GoldMine, from FrontRange Corporation. Ok, with these products I have support, upgrades and more, but a single license cost a fortune! I am doing my research in resources like http://www.helpdesk,com or but I don´t know yet what is the right product for me. Can you help me? Any Idea? Thanks in advance! ;-). Martin.

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