What do ringtone sellers, third party shareware sites and print magazines have in common? They’re all struggling for survival, and will stop at nothing to extend their miserable existence by even a fraction.
Monstermob makes its money by selling mobile phone ring tones. Actually, it makes its money by scamming unsuspecting customers. You buy a single ringtone but they sign you up for a monthly subscription. It works on the principle of stealing a little money from a lot of slightly lazy people with better things to do than claw back a few dollars. If you need to trick your customers like this you’re doomed. It’s either dishonest, or a last-minute stand against a broken business model. Indeed, Monstermob’s shares are currently at a record low.
Surely we’d never see a similar thing in the software industry? Think again. A lot of software companies sell their software through third parties such as Digital River. One of these third party ecommerce providers – SWREG – has started asking an additional question at the end of each sale. If you’re not careful you will be signed up to a $10 / month subscription. This is simply dishonest, and clearly not in anybody’s long term interests. It’s a sign that their business model can no longer work. With the arrival of Google checkout, software vendors can now sell their software themselves for a commission rate of effectively 0%. There is no room for third parties such as SWREG. The only way they can survive at all in the short term is to stiff their customers and partners.
I had a similar experience with SQL Server Magazine. I couldn’t find my paper subscription so I downloaded an article from their web site. I was led to understand that I was buying a single article but was signed up for a monthly subscription. This behaviour is so obviously wrong that it can only be a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable death that most print magazines face.
Although I can’t condone this behaviour, I can understand it. Good people can do bad things. If your company were doomed, what would you do?