Mikkel Høgh

Coding the web since 1999

08 Oct 2010

Postbox botches upgrade policy, censors customer complaints

Postbox is a commercial e-mail client, based on Mozilla Thunderbird. Is is mostly a layer of polish and OS integration on top of a popular open source project.

Postbox 2.0 was recently released, and the company behind it, Postbox Inc., decided to offer a very short upgrade window for customers that recently purchased a license, just 31 days. The 2.0 version had been announced much earlier, and many, myself included decided o purchase a license on the promise of the features coming in 2.0.

Additionally, Postbox participated in the MacUpdate Promo just two weeks before the upgrade cutoff. That is, in my eyes, downright devious. Offer a discount, and then make a paid upgrade a few weeks later to get the full payment from all the people who fell for your ruse.

As I was one of those, I was a bit surprised, and decided to post a question about it on their forums.

As it turns out, I was not the only one disappointed by this, and a bunch of other customers chimed in with their comments.

And this is where Postbox, Inc. employee Sherman Dickman steps in, reiterates their policy, gives the usual “we can’t give it all away for free”-statement and finally states that several comments were deleted for “violation of our posting guidelines

I have preserved those comments here, and as you can see, it was all just paying customers expressing their disappointment:

Exhibit #1

Joshua Miller said: Yeah, that’s pretty lame - especially since I participated in the Postbox BETA just after buying a 1.1 license. I bought this in July and now, less than 3 months later, have to spend another $20 on the application. If I’d bought it a year ago I could see maybe paying full price, but less than 3 months? Come on, that’s just absurd.

Exhibit #2

Evelyn Creelman said: i too automatically updated - to 2.0- thinking this what what i had actually paid for- i paoid for this project because i felt it a viable alternative to mac mail-something ive been looking for forever- the fact that it was not free was fine- i didnt mind paying - but i am trully blown away by this policy -

When i purchased postbox- i believe i should have been clearly informed before purchase that they would be releasing an upgrade in three weeks-

that i would have to pay for- therefore giving me the choice to wait and , essentially, not feel as though i paid to beta test their software for three weeks.

what a shame.

i so perturbed about this - really disappointing - as it seems very shady - especially when a response form postbox basically said- egged me on over

Exhibit #3

Evelyn Creelman said: sorry the last post got cut off- i was saying i received an email from postbox support over this issue-basically saying i paid the price of a pizza for their software- and basically seemed to be very condescending- regarding my perturbed-ness..over being asked to pay again three weeks later-

Exhibit #4

Evelyn Creelman said: and to just to back myself up ..( or beat a dead horse) found this comment from postboxs' Sherman Dickman, that contradicts my experience:( found macupdate.com/users/Sherman_Dickman )

“we provided one with as much transparency as possible so people can make informed choices.”

nope, you actually didnt.

Parting words

Summing up, Postbox has now managed to make a number of customers feel exploited by their attempt to nickle-and-dime us, several of these customers active beta testers. They have demonstrated their contempt for customer opinions and open debate. All while riding the coattails of a popular open source project.

I hope that they will improve their behaviour, because otherwise I think their otherwise good and useful product will be ridden to ruin by a greedy and short-sighted business policy.

Reply from Postbox

I got this e-mail from Sherman Dickman, co-founder of Postbox:


We’re fine with criticism of our product or our policies, and anyone is free disagree with them and/or challenge thme. But we draw the line when the integrity of our company is called into question, particularly when it is done so without all the facts.

We also draw the line on forum abuse, and as such, we’ve disabled your forum account.

We’re issuing you a refund via PayPal at this email address, and we wish you the best of luck in finding a suitable alternative.

Sherman Dickman Postbox, Inc.l

To which I have replied:

Hi Sherman,

I am sorry that it turned out this way. I think this would have been an excellent opportunity for you to eat some humble pie and perhaps reconsider your policies.

You should have known that you would get unfavourable reactions when you decided to make a paid upgrade a mere six weeks after the MUPromo.

And when the criticism came, you decided to be condescending to some of your most loyal users.

It is your company to run, but I think you would be much better off trying to build a good community for Postbox instead of trying to monetise existing users.

I still enjoy Postbox as a product, and as such, I intend to spend the refund you sent me on an upgrade to 2.0.

So please, keep building awesome software, and loose up on the policies. None of the now eight comments you have deleted on that thread could have been as damaging to your reputation and customer relationship as deleting them have.

– Kind regards,

Mikkel Høgh mikkel@hoegh.org