In August of 2008, Nuance was hit with a tornado of bad PR for releasing a version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking that wasn’t 64-bit compliant. Nuance was already under fire for not addressing customers complaints in v9.
Later in 2008, Nuance said they would be offering a free upgrade to all Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 registered customers so that it would be compatible with 64-bit Vista.
They NEVER said it’s only for the customers who paid for standard, preferred, professional, medical and legal. They never tried to disclose this little secret.
The interesting point to this release is that Nuance was not going to release an update for the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 customers who purchased the ‘essentials’ suite; this was another PR hit for Nuance.
If you don’t find this interesting yet, keep reading.
I had some conversations via email with Peter Mahoney, he’s the SVP and General Manager of Nuance Communications. He does a lot of Twitter and Facebook and blogs for Nuance. He’s pretty easy to get a hold of. He was the one I was dealing/working with over the whole time the ‘essentials’ and while 10.1 was being beta tested.
Realizing this storm of bad PR, Nuance issued this:
we are keenly aware that we need to make some significant improvements in the way that we deliver technical support to our customers. In fact, one of my strategic priorities for this year is to fundamentally change (in a positive way) the way we deliver technical support for Dragon. We are making some very good progress toward those plans – so you can expect to see some changes in our technical support delivery and our support policies over the coming months.
Nuance not only decided not to support ‘essentials’ on the same level as the other suites, but also reneged on their promise to provide the FREE update to ‘essentials’.
In fact they updated their customer database, everyone with ‘essentials’ was marked as an invalid key for the FREE upgrade. Disabling their ability to update.
Having to respond to these claims they said this about ‘essentials’:
There are not that many Essentials customers out there, so we prioritized the 10.1 update later. They also paid significantly less for the product than other customers – and bought something that had limited functionality.
I’m not sure how you classify customers in this manner, but Nuance was/is, but being presented with this opposition Nuance responded with this:
You are right that we need a solution for Essentials customers. I will work out some options with our product management team for Essentials users. We will also address the bigger Essentials issue.
The thing is, support your product or don’t.
If you have different levels of support and what those levels are, state it. Don’t cloak it and dismiss your customer as just something less than navel lint.
Currently, Nuance policy when you call for support, if you contact Nuance support and act stupid enough they’ll give you the FREE upgrade to Dragon NaturallySpeaking standard. And now your wondering, why’d I say that? like that?
Because of this:
In the interim, we’ve looked at several options for helping our Essentials customers. For those people who come to me having purchased Essentials after genuinely believing that it would support Vista 64 (or in most cases, not realizing that it wouldn’t…), we have provided them with a no charge upgrade to Dragon 10.1 Standard Edition.
Now my opinion is, if you’re going to produce software; support it. If you’re going to treat customer with a different level and treat one inferior to another, then don’t produce that product at all; people just can’t appreciate it. No one likes to be treated inferior.
And now for the Juicy part-
Nuance is now looking at another problem square down the double barrel of Microsoft compliance process.
According to Microsoft documentation, in order for a software vendor to use the phrase ‘Works with Vista’ – “Applications must be tested on Windows Vista Release Candidate software or later. *The application must be tested on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista.*”
– Nuance has NOT done this.
If this is the case, you’re a victim, and a possible plaintiff. Technically Nuance has not completed there job and therefore owes you a working copy of the product you purchased.
Complaints have started to be filed [email@example.com] with Microsoft over this issue. Microsoft seems to be taking this issue seriously. All major relationships with Microsoft have to be investigated and verified.
If Nuance can’t provide a working copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Essentials, technically this means Nuance has to remove the ‘Works with Windows Vista’ [or at least from the ‘essentials’ box @ Target].
So Nuance is actively making ‘essentials’ customers either lie about being stupid [asking for an upgrade] or making customers upgrade to ‘standard’; both of which are morally and ethically wrong.
Now that this issue has been discovered, Nuance is also being accused of bait-and-switch tactics, which is even more bad news for the PR crew at Nuance. Some users have emailed me in the last few days saying they’ve been submitting complaints to the FTC for bait-and-switch tactics with the ‘essentials’ suite. I can’t see this as anything other than bad.
The general consensus is that people just wanted to be treat equally and they want the company that promised upgrades to stand by their word. It’s a noble concept, but with the posturing strides Nuance has made with trying put a bright light on the good things they are doing to cover for the bad, this should be interesting; to see if Nuance does care about the little people.
Ironically, Nuance seems to be incapable of or just short of escaping the nuances of basic ‘essential’ support.
I’ll be interested to see what comes out of this one.
Thanks for reading!