How to lose me as a customer… and fast!

The other day, I read an interesting article about an outfit called Thrrum (no link on purpose).

Here’s a quote from their site:

Checking out a book?
  Curious about the product on a billboard?
  Want to learn more about a wine while at the grocery store?


Thrrum Visual Browser on your cameraphone, point your phone at any
text, click, and the information you need is displayed right on your


Experience Cameraphone Searchâ„¢
Books, billboards, product labels, restaurant menus…. With Thrrum
Visual Browser and the included Cameraphone Search service, you can
search and browse information related to the world around you with your
camera phone. Thrrum Visual Browser provides 1-click access to the Web,
comparison shopping, and more.

Sounds interesting, no?  I’ve done some work in/around recognition before, so I was intrigued.  What’s more, it’s for Sony Ericsson phones, and I own an 810i.

So I went to the site.  No preview, you have to buy the product.  It’s $6, so I impulsed it.  As part of the signup, you identify your phone, indicate where you live and who your provider is.  It then sends you a text message with a download link.

Sounds good so far…

I look at the list and the 810 is supported.  I double check the pictures and the 810 looks pretty similar to what I have, although it’s a small pic.  I purchase the product and get the link on my phone.

Download, install, try and run.  Kzzzt.  "Application Error".  Nice and specific error.  I change the app’s permissions on the phone.  No luck.

Fine.  I’ll delete and re-install.  But wait, the link has expired…  Log in to the site again, spent 10 minutes hunting down the "re-activate your download" button.  New text.  Try the download again.  Kzzzzt.  Error – file not found.


I email tech support.  No autoresponder set up, so maybe they got the message.  Maybe they didn’t.  I get a response a day and a half later (not that slow, but remember I paid money and had nothing to show for it).  Here’s their response:

  Hi Nicholas:

  Please make sure you have the right phone model. We support only Sony
  Ericsson K810. Some other Sony Ericsson models (e.g. W810, W800) may
  look alike.

  Please check your phone model and let us know. We will be happy to help
  you out.

  Thank you for using Thrrum.

  Thrrum Support

So they know that there are visually identical models with very similar model numbers that will not work with their product, and yet this is the first time they mention this…  What’s more, my carrier (AT&T) doesn’t even OFFER that model, and I had to tell them which carrier I used as part of the purchase.

Gee, I wonder what the bulk of their support calls will be about????

I emailed them immediately and asked for a refund.  Funny thing is, I’ve had no response yet.

This product could be upgraded to make me breakfast, raise money for my company and change my daughter’s diaper, and I still wouldn’t endorse it (well, okay, maybe if it did the diaper thing).

C’mon folks.  There are some obvious critical and glaring errors in your business processes here.  It’s a simple choice: fix them or you’ll die.

1.  Don’t ask me to enter data you’re not going to validate
2.  Make sure I understand that there are identical models that don’t work BEFORE I hand over cash
3.  For the love of &^%, set up a darn email responder so that I at least think you care about my problem
4.  Tell your perky support folks to check the customer account.  2 seconds would have told this guy that I almost definitely had the wrong model, and he/she should have just offered a mechanism for a refund.

Coming tomorrow (if I get time)…  The $450 stain…