I'm a very frequent Amazon customer, buying five to ten books in a typical month, almost all for business. Martha and I write business books for a living, and we each have to keep up with what's out there.
So when I see a news or journal article that references an interesting book, I simply log on to Amazon, click on the book and with that one click it comes directly to my home (or more often gets downloaded onto my Kindle). Presto!
One time, however, a few months ago, I saw a book I thought would be interesting, and when I ordered this book I got a warning: "WARNING: You already bought this book from Amazon. Do you want to buy it again?"
I consider this one of the best possible examples of trustworthy behavior in a business - when a business refuses to take advantage of your own mistake or misstep. It is akin to USAA insurance recommending less home insurance than you thought you needed and were willing to pay for, or i-Tunes reminding you that the song you are about to purchase is already in your music library.
The opposite of this kind of behavior would be if a company were to attempt to lure a customer into a misstep in order to make money through the customer's error. But this, apparently, might be the m.o. for Nero ("Simply Enjoy") Software.
A few days ago I shipped my parents a CD with a video I had shot of their 60th wedding anniversary celebration. I shot the video on my Flip, converted it to a "Windows Media" format (.wmv), then loaded all 1.4 gigabytes onto a DVD to mail them. I warned them they would have to watch this on their computer, not their television. My parents aren't sophisticated computer users, but they're no novices, either. They have a computer, they do email and surf the Web.
Last evening, however, my mother called, as she was just about to hit the purchase button for a $49 upgrade of a Nero software program that her computer said was "needed" to play this video (and this price, she was assured, represented a 35% discount from Nero's regular price!). Apparently she has an expired free version of Nero on her computer, which she never uninstalled. Of course I told her not to purchase the upgrade, because the video was on a Windows Media format - didn't she have Windows? Yes. Well, then, put the CD in again and this time simply choose the option to open the file with Windows Media Player. This worked fine, no upgrade required, and they watched the video $49 richer than they otherwise would have been.
When you compare Nero's policy with Amazon's, the contrast is pretty stark. At least Amazon went to the trouble of matching my purchase request against the hundreds of other books I've already purchased from them, in order to protect me from myself. But Nero has taken no such care. It may not be outright dishonesty, but at a minimum it's gross incompetence.
Now I was careful to write most of this blog post before looking up any online customer reviews of Nero's actual product, because I didn't want to be biased by what customers were saying about this company's competence before relaying my family's own experience with them. As a next step, however, I did go online, just to see what the "buzz" was about Nero. There are several versions of Nero on the market, but I looked at the latest, apparently Nero 9. The verdict is bleak. I mean REALLY bleak. 49% of the 55 people who reviewed Nero software over the last six months at Newegg.com rate it "Very Poor," the lowest. Then, opening one of these negative reviews, guess what I found?
Phishing Cookies and Trojan Virus in the "ASK" Toolbar feature. Don't install the tool bar...if you can get it to install at all?? Leaves something on your Hard Drive even after running "their" "Clean-Up" tool! I lost about 6 to 8 MB of space on my Hard Drive. Customer Service is a Joke! What good is 14 days of free Teck (sich) Support at $1.29 a minute? They won't answer the phone, I was on hold for over 30 to 40 minutes the three times I tried to contact them?? Good Bye Nero, "Never" again!
I guess you don't really need a good software product, as long as you can plant enough trial versions out there to con unsuspecting consumers out of their cash. Shame on Nero!
In Part Two of this story, tomorrow, we'll compare the honest product reviews posted by Newegg's own customers to the dishonest product reviews posted by some other sites. This will give us a complete case study on the role of trustability in the world of social media and peer reviews. How and under what conditions to allow frank customer reviews is an issue that concerns many businesses...