How (Not) To Support Your Users

Recently Pippin (pippinsplugins.com) posted on How to leave a good bad review. For those who haven’t read it, I highly recommend you take a few moments and do so. Unfortunately, the problems present in supporting software are not always the fault of a grouchy end user. In some circumstances, such as the one which inspired this post, the fault lies in the support staff themselves.

For those who don’t know, Pippin wrote an awesome plugin called Easy Digital Downloads which has quickly become the premiere solution for selling digital downloads through WordPress. Now… EDD has a dedicated support team (of which I am a member), and a recent support request has brought to my attention a glaring flaw in similar support programs from other plugins.

I’ve been working with a customer who has run into an issue where clicking on the link to any of his downloads results in the dreaded 404 error. This issue appeared quite recently and, as any user would, he immediately assumed it to be the fault of the plugin it affected. After going back and forth with him a few times, we determined that the issue wasn’t caused by EDD, but by another plugin which had been upgraded simultaneously with EDD.

So what’s the solution? I downloaded the offending plugin and threw it up on my EDD sandbox site to see if the issue was something that I could easily resolve for the customer. No such luck. Turns out, the plugin in question is improperly handling rewrite rules to the extent of invalidating rules created by other plugins. It’s also full of syntactical errors.

Well, this plugin is a fairly large-scale project with a dedicated support team… Time to take a quick trip to their forums and see if it’s a known issue with, dare I say it, a fix. A few moments of research reveals that the issue is known, and has been for some time. Not only that, but their staff never commented on it until a month ago when they stated that “it will be fixed in the x.x.x release.”

Guess what? We’re now on the x.x.x release and this ridiculous bug is still rearing its ugly head! Not only that, but the following is a (slightly redacted) quote from one of their support representatives to a user who had reported the bug after it was supposed to have been fixed:

The introduction of new features and increased complexity in vx.x.x may reveal bugs in other plugins (as the case here).
Please contact the plugin developer of [the other plugin] to find out if there is a bug in their code that is causing compatibility issues with the new technologies introduced by vx.x.x.

Another option is to contact our associated web development company to get [our plugin] customized to work with this plugin if you need it. They charge $120.00/ hour.

We are sorry for this inconvenience.

…wat?

I generally try to keep my posts fairly G-rated, but in this case I have to make an exception.

BULLSHIT!

Really!?? Your plugin has a known bug in it that is affecting users of multiple other plugins, and instead of taking responsibility for your own shoddy, haphazard code, you’re going to suggest that other devs adapt their code or users pay you to fix it?!? WTF???

At this point, the already non-existent faith I had in this particular company took a nose-dive straight into never-never-land. I’m beyond disgusted with them. Not only is their product a pile of crap (in my opinion at least) in the first place, their support staff is the most un-professional, ignorant, ass-backwards group of rejects I’ve had the displeasure to deal with in a very long time (Technically, I can only justifiably say that one of their employees falls into the “needs-to-be-taken-out-and-shot” category, but given my overall experience with the company has sucked, I’m going to assume they’re all that way until they prove me wrong).

Ladies and gentlemen, if a developer ever and I mean ever tells you that you should pay them to fix a bug in their own plugin (I’m not talking about changing how it works, adding features, etc), it’s time to move on. As fast as you can. Find another solution. Hire someone to write one. Do whatever you have to do, but a developer that wants you to pay them to fix a known bug is not the kind of person you want to be relying on. A bug that’s as glaringly devastating as the one in this incident can cripple a website, potentially causing massive amounts of lost revenue, and is definitely NOT the responsibility of anyone but the person whos shoddy code caused it.

/endrant

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