Monday, 8 March 2010

The varying cost of free stuff

That doesn't sound right does it? If something is free it doesn't cost anything and if you have lots of those things they all cost the same - right?

Well, not entirely. Let me explain in a little more detail. I am learning PowerShell as you may well know if you have seen any other of my recent blog items and so am looking around the internet to find code samples and try out different methods of working with PS scripts. I have previously mentioned PowerShellAnalyser, so far the best PS script editor I have found, and the fact that its free.

In contrast I also found a site that supports SQL DBA's with various applications/tools to make their job easier with automation of all the important tasks. They have a link to a set of Powershell scripts that they have accumulated, presumably verified and declared worthy of distribution to the SQL community. The route to them from their own (paid) PS editor details page is via a "Free Scripts" link where you get another option to get their paid editor and click on another link to "Download Now". You now reach a personal details page where 12 pieces of data (note only 1 is optional) are required and there are 2 checkboxes to discourage/encourage follow up sales calls/emails. Once this data has been verified - yes, there is intense validation of the data formats you input - you get to a page that says
"Thank you! You will soon receive a confirmation email with the download link to the XX Company name product(s) you selected.".
I went through this process a while ago and thought 'great, when I get a chance I'll download the scripts and see what they do'. When I got the chance I opened the email, clicked the link and the browser opened a page that said
"Downloads.Your download link has expired. Please email support to request reactivation of your link. For the fastest response, please ensure that you send from the email address you used when registering for the download. Re-activation requests will be handled in 1 business day or less."
Gah, this is starting to hurt now, I'm building a dislike for a product I haven't even seen - I had to submit stupid amounts of details to get nothing a week ago and I have come to take a proper look at the product and its now taken from me. I email support. Support reply - `just download the product again`. OK, building a proper dislike of the whole company now. In all honesty, I cant be bothered. My time is not worth a lot in the grand scheme of things but its worth more than dancing through their hoops. Whatever paid products they have they will be unlikely to see me on their future customers list. If I get any emails from them following this then the domain name is going on the spam list. Just as my curiosity got spiked I reviewed the URL from my first download attempt and my trial today to get the process right. There have been just under 2000 people getting downloads in this fashion since my first attempt and 330 in the last 48 hours. How do I know? The link is simply their domain with a querystring parameter called CustomerID that has an incremental integer value. I wonder what their conversion rate from enquiries to sales is? Perhaps their paid-up users are simply more patient people than I am.

By contrast, the PowerShellAnalyser download is actually making its way to my PC with two clicks from the main page.

I understand there are different business models but Shell Tools have endeared themselves to me by making their free stuff freely available. They have no idea who I am or what I have done on their site but I would go to them if I have a need that one of their future products can fix simply for the help they gave me in using PSA for free without any strings. I dont feel stalked or tracked or like I have somehow given away a load of information for no good reason. There are other companies that have paid for products but also make available some tools for free with little or no data capture attempts. They are the sort of companies that make me a friend and I want to support their commitment to giving something to the community.

Its possible either product would have been useless or brilliant. PSA is brilliant AND free, the other tool would have had to be brilliant in order to balance out what I have given that company already.

While I am at it, another tool that I use regularly that is free but does a great job is An image manipulation tool that punches way above its weight. This product has a PayPal link in its menus and on the site as it is a project that isnt associated with any business endeavour. I whole heartedly recommend Paint.Net too

Please be sure to read the code disclaimer page before you use any code in this blog.

No comments:


Bookmark and Share
Google Analytics Alternative