Update: Since publishing this article, VMWare reached out and resolved the situation in a way that made me very happy. Be sure to see the details about that at the end of the article.
In March of this year (2013), some colleagues of mine in Berlin called to ask if I could purchase a copy of VMWare Fusion for Mac for them, because the VMWare website would not allow them to purchase the software. Each time they’d try to make the purchase, they’d get an “authorization failed” error.
Happy to help, I logged into my account at VMWare, and tried to purchase Fusion 5. Surprisingly, I got the same “authorization failed” error. I tried a different VISA card. “Authorization failed.” I tried an AMEX card. “Authorization failed.” I tried a card from a different company. “Authorization failed.” I tried PayPal, and got some other error.
I called the credit card companies, and they reported no attempted charge, so the problem was definitely on VMWare’s side.
So, I visit the VMWare support area, and open a ticket. Later, I get a response from “Ganesh”:
I checked internally and was informed that this is a known issue. This generally happens when you use a credit card as the payment mode. The error occurs if is there is an address mismatch on your profile and the credit card. In your initial email, I see that you also used, Paypal and it still failed. This can also occur, if the order being placed is stuck in the workflow [this is usually profile specific]. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal more details about this. Although, I can assure you, the next time you get this error, please let us know. We will immediately transfer it for further investigation and ensure it is fixed.
By this point, however, my colleagues had already purchased VMWare from Amazon, so I didn’t further follow up.
Today, four months later, I tried to purchase Fusion 5 for my own needs. After going through the purchase process, here’s what I see after clicking the “Buy” button:
Incredible. And with that, VMWare have lost a customer for life. I’ve just visited Parallels.com, who were happy to offer me a VMWare-discount to move to their product, which I’ve done.
Update: A few days after posting this article, I received an email from Michael Butler, who runs eCommerce globally for VMWare. He apologized for the situation, insisted that’s not how VMWare intend to run their business and promised to get to the bottom of it.
He and a senior support engineer, Rahul Jha, investigated and discovered that my account had gotten into some sort of flagged state disallowing purchases. They cleared the account, provided me with a complimentary license for Fusion 5 and reported that they were making process changes internally so that such a situation could not happen again.
Later, Rahul followed up with a phone call, to confirm that the process changes had been implemented, so that I nor any other customer could experience that stumbling block in the future.
I gotta say, with that kind of response, I’m sticking with the company and their product. Thanks VMWare!