Web Software Seller Won't Take No for an Answer


A promotion arrived in my email, offering 40 percent off on products from a company I'd done business with in the past. I was interested in a website construction tool that's gotten good reviews, and clicked the Buy button:

rv buy dg22.png

Without my asking, the company had added "Extended Download Service" for an extra few dollars. I dislike this kind of thing -- unrequested add-ons that have little utility in any case-- and I know I'm not alone in feeling this way.

backupdownload dg22.png

In any case, I clicked the trashcan to remove the extended download service (something that any user could do at no extra cost with any remotely serious kind of backup system), and got back here:backup removed dg22.png

I entered the promotional code and clicked "Apply" -- and what shows up again on the next screen? You guessed it: that extended download service:

backup restored dg22.png

At this point I closed that tab in my browser.

I realize we're in a recession, but this kind of behavior doesn't win new customers.

UPDATE: See this comment from the company in response. Apparently the retailer in question is the US reseller for the company that makes the product. Hope they'll straighten out their reseller, which seems to be the intention based on the comments.


  1. Exactly the same thing happened to me when I tried to upgrade to Parallels 4. I switched to VMware Fusion instead.

  2. Another feature is the website’s automatic selection of currency by noticing where I appear to live, and assuming I want to pay in that currency.

    I do not with to pay in British Pounds, thank you. And the promo code doesn’t seem to work.

  3. I’ve encountered a few sites where the promo code logs me out of the site and forces me to re-sign in, then loses the promo code. Rinse and repeat.

  4. It looks like this is a third party seller, not Realmac Software themselves. I understand not wanting to shame the retailer, but the article makes it look like your problem is with Realmac.

  5. Hi Dan, Gladeye and everyone else.

    Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that I work for Realmac Software, the creators of the product that was featured in the mailshot. However, this promotion is not one that we run ourselves (it’s actually run by our US reseller and one that we have any control over). I’d appreciate it if you would make it clear that this promotion is run by our reseller, and not Realmac Software directly. I will make sure that the details of this post are made known to our distributors once I’m back in the office tomorrow morning.

    Please excuse the brevity of this response, however I hope you can understand – with it being 10pm here in the UK – why that is so!

    Kind Regards,


    [A long-time BB reader]

  6. The UK version of the online Atari store did a similar thing to me, but it was easier to remove.

    I don’t see the point in the “Extended download service” crap they try and sell you, the only reason i’m buying the software is so I can have a legitimate license key, which they email you. If I lose the software somehow (hdd crash, reformat), i’ll just download a torrent of the software (which is faster than their download service) and use my legit license key

  7. Correction: in my above comment it should read:

    (it’s actually run by our US reseller and is a promotion we do not have any direct control over).

    Apologies for any confusion.


  8. See that’s the thing–people like Dan and Liamo (and myself) wish to buy software legitimately. We like supporting the small software companies that make good products and/or we want to register and get updates. And then we get this kind of treatment from the resellers.

    Companies like RealMac wonder why people end up pirating the stuff. There’s one reason. Not that I do or would ever advocate going to a torrent site over this. I’m just saying to the software companies: make it easier. Remove any barriers to a sale. Treat your buyers well. And remove the “resellers” from the chain if you have to and deal with your consumers directly. We don’t bite.

  9. Maybe indirect control is the best approach. One solution would be to discontinue business with the retailer in question. If they sell more of your product than other online retailers, then the next best solution would be to pressure them to change their policy. Failing this, you support their questionable policies implicitly.

  10. Just another company to not buy from for me, reseller or not.
    They do have control over it…don’t use them as your us reseller.

    I’m sorry Mr. -N I vote with my feet and you and your message just
    make me want to run.

  11. honestly, it could just be cart behavior they forgot to account for (not to excuse). cart development is invariably 20x more complex than you think it is. did you try deleting the service from your cart after adding the code?

  12. I want to pass on some positive comments to NikFletcher as a representative for Realmac Software. Good for you for coming here identifying yourself.

    He saw that his product was mentioned, he saw what the confusion was, he commented here and will work to correct the problem with their US Retailer.

    One aspect of maintaining people’s positive experience of a product and brand is how they deal with customers even when the customers are dealing with third parties.

    Now if it’s not just a cart glitch or a coding mistake the retailer can fix the problem and make the suggestion for extended download instead of the assumption. However if the retailer says, “Hey’s that’s just how we do business, we need the extra revenue from suckers.” maybe Realmac Software can find another US retailer.

    While doing some research I found out that extended warranties for electronic items had the highest profit margins for retail companies. In fact the late Circuit City got most of it’s profit from extended warranties and the higher paid staff members knew how to sell them without being jerks. Then Circuit City decided to get rid of the higher paid staff people and replaced them with people who didn’t know how to sell the extended warranties and didn’t even know what they covered.

    This was another case of a retailer seeing the short term profit and missing big picture larger story of customer experience that keeps people coming back.

  13. I hope there’s follow up on this story all the way through. People deserve credit for fixing things when complaints are made and should be given the benefit of the doubt unless there is a clear, documented pattern of deliberate abuse

  14. Thanks for the update Dan, and for all your feedback everyone.

    “And remove the “resellers” from the chain if you have to and deal with your consumers directly. We don’t bite.”

    We do sell directly too, via our own website – I’ll save linking here to the Realmac in the interests of not wanting to push a point too far – though I would like to point out this promotion is one from our US reseller’s store.

    I’m not, at this stage, sure as to why this is happening with the reseller store, however I will be taking this up first thing in the morning.

    NONPROPHETONE – I’m sorry that’s the case, but we’ll be looking into this once I’m into the office in the morning. I’ll be sure to post an update here once I know more.




    When a company responds to issues openly, honestly and goes about making amends that’s a company worth your time and money. The idea that any company is perfect all the time is simply childish.

    You go run away, I’m sure the honesty of these folks will get more people to saunter in the opposite direction.

  16. I had a similar problem trying to buy something from microsoft (yes, their site not a re-seller) and ultimately got annoyed enough to go out and buy a physical copy at office depot. I wish not buying it had been a practical option but at least I got a pleasant scooter ride out of denying them the add-on.

  17. Nik’s first message mentioned no control, I was
    writing mine when he corrected himself with the
    word direct. When anyone or company uses the
    out of my hands excuse it does not sit well with me.

    I’ll keep watch for a follow up, normally I’d forget and damage done.

  18. Folks,

    I’ve bought from RealMac – Rapid Weaver – and they are a very cool and honest company. I’ve had several problems – Serial Numbers not working for one – which they fixed with great speed and grace.

    Give them a day to get it right before you dump on them.

  19. I think anyone here who does any web development knows how little logical demons that seem simple can sneak into the most elaborate coding.

    So cut these guys some slack. And kudos for the fast response!

  20. Sounds like they are doing the same thing Ticketmaster, most airlines and phone companies do… advertise a lower price then jack it on you when you pay, due to an array of non-optional (and in the case of Ticketmaster at least, entirely spurious) fees.

  21. I would pass this off as just another computerized mistake. As such it is a rather small one. Granted, it’s odd that computerized mistakes almost never go in the customer’s favor, but the salient factor here is that the company responded immediately and promises to check on it. If it were an outright scam the company would not have noticed the complaint at all, or would have offered some excuse. I’m willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt.

    Still, it’s a problem that customers would prefer to download from other sources just because they are more convenient. Pardon my naivety, but why don’t companies use the “other sources” as their resellers? I mean, since they do a much better job.

  22. @#30 POSTED BY DAEMON , MARCH 22, 2009 6:12 PM

    Sounds like they are doing the same thing Ticketmaster, most airlines and phone companies do…

    Not really. Ticketmaster and phone service resellers are scumbags who have setup their systems to game you at every turn.

    This simply seems like an honest mistake.

    Speaking of Ticketmaster, I truly miss the days when one had to *GASP* wait on a physical line to get tickets. Yeah, there were scalpers but it was actually a lot fairer than now.

    How the duck can anyone buy a ticket online when scalpers now have tons of robots, scripts and brokers slamming onto a site in one fell swoop to get tickets? That’s a true example of how computerization has made it harder for casual users.

  23. Oh, please don’t compare this guy, who seems perfectly well meaning and respectful of his customers, with the fecal megalith that is ticketmaster. I got so fed up with their absurd, monopolistic, exploitative practices that now I simply don’t attend concerts at ticketmaster-ticketed venues. Being from Toronto, I’m lucky in that I have alternatives. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when they charged me 6 bucks per ticket for the convenience of printing my ticket out myself, on my own paper, with my own ink. The other option was to pay -more- and have them snail-mail my tickets to me. If Richard Branson wanted a dragon to slay in the name of the free market, it’s right there for the killing.

  24. Parallels had the exact same annoying checkout “option” last time I purchased — same reseller perhaps?

  25. This happens all over the place with “extra fees” and is not isolated to this company. If there is a way to charge for something, somebody will.

    One possible explanation is the nature of the economy i.e. we have exported all of manufacturing jobs away and have switched to a service economy. Which means far fewer people are able to participate in the manufacturing of goods and instead are looking for ways to charge a fee for something. As an example, the airlines are starting to do this (nickle and diming) by charging for pillows and overhead storage.

  26. Dan
    The fact that the website in question wasn’t actually run by RealMac should be stated explicitly in the text, not just linked to. Ideally you would quote the company in the actual post since many people who don’t read through are getting a slanted opinion.

  27. Hi Guys

    Just to let you know that we’ve contacted our reseller and I’ll let you know when I hear more.

    Kind Regards,


  28. i’ve gotten a similar problem from amazon. “2” would show up in quantity ordered cuz they felt like it. this month i apparently ordered 2 televisions.

  29. @DM10003: Trust amazon–they know what is best for you. And I’ll take that extra TV if you just don’t have the room for it. Go on and send it over.

    @Nik: It’s great to see this level of engagement and response from RealMac on this. I can’t speak for Dan, but I’m guessing this is exactly the kind of resolution/response he was hoping for when he posted this.

  30. I wonder how long it will be before I hear the old fallacy that commercial software provides a better user experience than Free software.

  31. #42, I say this with much love in my heart for free software, but it’s not that free (or Free, or Open) software offers a better user experience, so much as the frustrations you can encounter with it don’t have dollar signs attached.

    Both are capable of being horrible experiences, and both are capable of being fantastic.

    Which grates on you more when it all goes wrong, lost time or lost money, is a personal thing.

    (For me, it’s lost money that sends me spiraling out the door, but that’s because I have a fair amount of spare time and I like dinking around with my computer)

  32. Could it be something with the cache or web browser? I’ve had similar experience with my own site when a new release of a browser came out. I’d put a product in the shopping cart, then remove it, then when I refresh the page, the product is back in there. But it certainly wasn’t on purpose.

  33. Ah, Digital River… they’ve been running this little scam for years now and they make a ton of money off it. I use to sell software through them and I never liked this add-on…

  34. I dont know or care if its a genuine mistake but if the company doesnt answer emails requesting a refund/reversal, then it is a problem.
    I was also scammed by Digital River for Anime Studio from Smith Micro Software…
    When they dont return the emails or the money, its just plain theft. Simple.

  35. >eSellerate is owned by Digital River, which has a bad rep in the online payments world for “little extras” like this.

    That is the understatement of the week. Everyone in the business of selling software knows that Digital River regularly pulls stunts like this. They are (in)famous for it. So if RealMac are using Digital River, then they have only themself to blame when Digital Rivers tries to screw their customer.

  36. A mistake is just an opportunity to improve the customer’s experience, and I think Nik’s done a great job. Hopefully RealMac can get the reseller sorted out.

  37. It’s really too bad RapidWeaver got tangled up in this nano-mess, because the software’s great; the community of users, theme and plug-in makers, and tutorial publishers is equally great; and I’ve seen nothing but good vibes and creative excellence from the whole crew at Realmac and beyond. Nik Fletcher’s engagement and involvement in the comments above is typical. Good stuff.

    If there’s gonna be commercial software and Macs at’all – and I love everything about the free and open software movement except the Talibanish nuke-the-proprietary-code-capitalists-from-orbit wing – then the struggling Brits behind RapidWeaver represent the best of that world.

  38. My company is a U.S. reseller for a Czech antivirus maker. We must go through a Digital River shopping cart to buy software for our customers.

    The shopping cart has always added a physical CD by default. But recently, they have also started adding an “Extended Download Service” or somesuch that gives you extra time to download the program.

    I just put up with it — it’s just an internal process for us, and I always just knock off the extra junk before I click “buy.” But it’s disheartening to see a company pulling these stunts on the shopping cart that it presents directly to its customers.

    Anyway, there’s a chance the problem may not be the reseller. In our case, it’s the distributor/payment processor middleman chosen by the software manufacturer, and that they require their resellers to use.

  39. @ mgfarrelly & NiK


    Typical….nothing happens.

    Thats why I vote with my feet…you stay put and get run over,
    thats what they want. Suckka!

  40. (Strange; I am logged in but cannot comment to this entry without choosing the anonymous link.)

    I’ve been keeping an eye on this; I notice Nik didn’t follow up as promised. However, a quick test shows that the issue appears to be resolved:

    I went to realmacsoftware.com, found RapidWeaver, and “bought now”. After a redirect to esellrate.net, my cart came up. The EDP was advertised, but not automatically added to the cart.

  41. I had a major battle with Digital River last year over a unauthorized subscription charge for software I no longer used. It went on for many months until Visa saved me and refunded my money. It was about principal not the lousy $29!

    I just ran into them again at Logitech’s WiLife Platinum, they refused me and said Visa rejected my card. Their representative said that I had to pay the $29 before THEY would accept my credit card. So they disparage my credit because of their dishonest practices.


  42. Extended Download Service is the biggest scam around. The funny thing is more often than not, you could re download your order several months after the fact WITHOUT the Extended Download Service. Trust me I worked for the scumbags. Essentially they are selling a “service” that doesnt even exist. Class action suit, anyone? Bueller?

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