Company tells disgruntled customer that he will not receive support unless he removes a negative review, then threatens to sue him

After N2SUB posted a thoughtful, negative review of Ham Radio Deluxe, the company responded to his open trouble ticket with instructions that tricked him into bricking his software, caused his software to stop working in the guise of fixing his problem, then told him they'd done it on purpose, sent him a note implying it had been deliberate and stating he wouldn't be welcome to use their software anymore unless he deleted his review, and threatened to sue him.

This kicked off a 37-page comment thread where other Hams expressed outrage at the company's behavior, which finally got the company's co-owner to come into the forum and apologize for his firm's actions, followed up by some of the company's employees (including the person who demanded the negative review's deletion), all offering to work with N2SUB and other customers to improve their software, without future threats.

As Tim Cushing writes, the outrage is still blazing, but at least this gives Ham Radio Deluxe a chance of rehabilitating its reputation and recovering from its self-inflicted wounds.

Update: Ham Radio Deluxe co-owner Michael Carper clarifies:

Here's an analogy.

You have Microsoft Office 2013 installed. You call Microsoft for support. They tell you… "well, go ahead an install Microsoft Office 2016 and see if that resolves the problem." It does not. I'll come back to the part in the middle in a moment. So they disable your ability to run Microsoft Office 2016. After all, it didn't fix the problem. At this point, you're welcome to go back to the version you purchased – Microsoft Office 2013… because your access to that version was never taken away.

In the middle of all this, the actions necessary to prevent "Office 2016" from working were represented very poorly. The interactions with the customer were terrible. The retaliation was inexcusable. Internally, we've taken care of that to make sure that it can't happen again.

And with that, HRD Software set its reputation on fire. A long thread at is the ham enthusiast forum's version of Sherman's March to the Sea, with HRD being razed to the ground like so many antebellum mansions.

But there's a twist: 37 pages into into this forum's discussion of HRD's brutally inept handling of a customer complaint, the co-owner of the company wades into the fray and apologizes. Then he spends the next twenty-plus pages engaging with the ham radio community in hopes of fixing issues, past and present, and somehow salvaging a future out of the barely-glowing embers of its reputation. So do some other members of the HRD team — including one who threatened the user with a lawsuit on top of bricking his paid-for software.

They're not met with much enthusiasm, but it's a far better response than ignoring the issue and/or sniping back with more complaints about the behavior of paying customers. In any event, this is yet another addition to the growing body of knowledge filed under the heading of "Customer Service: You're Doing It Wrong."

Company Bricks User's Software After He Posts A Negative Review
[Tim Cushing/Techdirt]

(Image: Paris Tuileries Garden Facepalm statue, Alex E. Proimos, CC-BY)