Refund policies on downloadable software

Cozmoslabs is a Romanian company that sells products, through an intermediary company called Avangate, for building WordPress sites. I purchased a plugin from them, subsequently decided it wasn’t for me and requested a refund. I was eventually granted a refund, but only after some frustration and confusion. Here’s the story.

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Awful experience ordering from Timbuk2’s European distributor

Update — Timbuk2 is really a great company. After posting the story below, the head of Timbuk2 European operations reached out to inform me that the company operating the website is unaffiliated with Timbuk2, and that later this year Timbuk2 will have its formal Europe-wide distribution channel in place, hopefully putting an end to this confusing situation.

And in the meantime, they’ve dispatched to our office the bag that my colleague intended to order. Even if it’s not their fault, they don’t want any such situation to be associated with their brand. What great customer service!

As a long-time satisfied Timbuk2 bag carrier, all purchased back when I lived in the US, I convinced my Finnish office colleague to give their products a try. As we live in Spain, he ordered a bag through what appears to be Timbuk2’s European distributor, The experience was absolutely awful.

  1. One hour after placing his order for an XS-sized bag, he realized that the material was different than the same-colored S-sized bag he had been looking at when deciding what to order.
  2. He immediately emailed Timbuk2 to change the color of the order, so that his XS-sized bag would at least be made of the material he wanted.
  3. His email, and three follow-ups went unanswered.
  4. Doing some googling, he found a second website apparently operated by the same people. That website listed another email address, and so he tried there.
  5. He received a reply simply stating, “Here’s your tracking link”, with no reference to the change of order he’d requested.
  6. To add insult to injury, the tracking link was to someone else’s order! (Somebody in Germany!)
  7. After three more emails went unanswered, he finally wrote, “If you don’t confirm my change of order, I’m going to cancel the order.”
  8. That email was immediately answered with, “Here’s a different tracking link. Your bag arrive soon.” (in broken English).
  9. All subsequent emails asking, “But did you understand my change of order?” went unanswered.

Today, his bag arrived, and his order had indeed been changed—and completely screwed up. They sent him the wrong color and wrong size! (They sent him an S-sized bag, of another color.)

He doesn’t know what to do now. Should he accept the wrong-sized bag, in the wrong color? (He spent a couple weeks with my own XS- and S-sized models, before carefully deciding that he wanted the XS size.) But he can’t bear the thought of trying to organize a return with these people.

It’s simply hard to imagine that a company with the brand trust that Timbuk2 has in the United States, would condone such awful operations in Europe.

Privacy invasion — Vodafone Spain has become the new NSA

This morning, my colleague surfed over to Daring Fireball on his iPhone, via the Vodafone Spain 4G network. Here’s what he saw — a strange red bar appearing at the top of the screen.

Tapping the bar revealed a Vodafone Spain security slide-over, with a “Service Access” button:

Tapping the Service Access button brings us into the “Vodafone Secure Net” area—completely with the obligatory system error message (it is Vodafone after all)—and providing access to user-adjustable security settings, including file and virus blocks, and the blocking of web pages that Vodafone considers insecure.

Finally, tapping the hamburger menu icon provides access to an area where a user can view their access records.

It’s currently empty—presumably due to the same system error behind the error message on the first screen—but one thing is clear: The intent of the system is to track and record all the websites I visit using my iPhone, and so Vodafone Spain has become the new NSA.

QuickBooks Online and the un-dismissable guide

A while back I switched from using QuickBooks for Mac 2012, to using QuickBooks Online. The online service includes a Mac app, which is little more than an HTML wrapper. As such, it suffers horribly from caching issues, but that’s for another article. For today’s rant, let’s look at what’s permanently pinned to the bottom of the Mac app’s window:

This is a “Show Me How” guide, that includes three tutorials in which the app will walk you through the process of creating an invoice, customizing a report and adding a user.

I already know how to do all that, so I’d simply like to dismiss this window, since even when collapsed, the “Show Me How” label obscures controls like the “Reconcile” button.

Chatting with the friendly Twitter people @QBCares, I’ve learned that you actually have to go through the tutorials before the guide is dismissable.

Unlike every other product I’ve used that offered a guide, there’s no option to simply “skip” it!

Online filing of FBARs (FinCEN Report 114) still requires Adobe Reader

Each year, American citizens, residents and green-card holders are required to report their interests in foreign financial accounts on the FinCEN Report 114 form—more commonly known as the “FBAR”. This report can be filed online at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network BSA E-Filing System.

(The very name of the website suggests that the government’s default position is that you’ve somehow already committed a crime.)

In the past, filing one’s FBARs required the Adobe Reader plugin to be running inside the browser. So this year, I was pleased to find the FBAR website reporting a second option, in which specifically, “Adobe Reader is NOT Required”:

Upon submitting the data using the “Online Form” option, the FBAR website provided me with a link to download a PDF document that I’m advised to “retain indefinitely” as evidence of my filing. But here’s the kicker—to read the downloaded PDF file, REQUIRES ADOBE READER!

Here’s what you see when opening the PDF in OS X Preview.

And this is what the same PDF looks like when opened in Adobe Reader:

So how do we get a copy of this PDF in a format that can be read by something other than Adobe Reader?

Well, the first thing you might think to try is “Print to PDF”—creating a new “normal” copy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work:

Reading this dialog box, your second idea might be to create a new version through the “File → Save” mechanism. Nope, that doesn’t work either; with that, you’ll just get another PDF that requires Adobe Reader to read.

Turns out, the only option you have for generating a receipt of your submitted FBARs in a form that doesn’t require Adobe Reader is to print out a paper copy from within Adobe Reader, and then scan them back into your computer.

Welcome to 1998!

It’s confirmed—Garmin is out the game

A couple of days ago, I wrote about Garmin losing their way in UI/UX design. Then yesterday, I tweeted a feature request feature request to them.

Garmin is one of those companies whose tweets all end with a weird sort of abbreviated signature of the person tweeting—“^AJ” from Bank of America, or in this case, “*CG” from Garmin. I’ve always wondered whether these companies are all outsourcing their social media to the same provider, or are all using the same “hook-up-Twitter-to-your-customer-support” platform.

Either way, a common characteristic of these companies is that you’ll never get anything done through Twitter, and that was the case here. “CG”, rather than passing on the feature suggestion, pointed me to a web form where I can “submit my ideas to their engineers”. (I might have an idea now why design has suffered at Garmin…)

The suggestion form at Garmin asks me to categorize my idea, and, get ready for it, here are the options:

As a consumer, I’m asked to pick whether my idea relates to “On the Road”, “Into Sports” or “On the Go”? Seriously, what’s the difference between those? And do they expect a consumer to even know what “OEM” means?

I find myself wondering whether it even matters which category I pick. With choices like these, surely it can’t. And if it doesn’t, why show me this in the first place?

After submitting your idea, Garmin are diligent about making it abundantly clear that (a) you’re not going to hear back from them, and (b) don’t try following up.

Good job, Garmin. You’ve officially lost it.

The Philips phone that’s going to cause me to lose my hearing

After years of using Siemens phones at work, I replaced the last phone with this one from Philips—and as a consequence I’m going to lose my hearing.

Every phone I’ve owned has worked in the following way: The act of pulling the phone out of the base answers the call—i.e. it rings, you pull it out of the base, put it to your ear, and start talking.

Not so with the Philips. With the Philips, you actually have to press the green telephone icon to answer the call.

The consequence of that, of course, is that now when the phone rings, I pick it up, put it to my ear, say “Hello” and then…the phone blasts the next ring directly into my ear!

Philips — The company all about Innovation. Design. Change.

PS: If you’ve called me recently, and I seem to be in a bad mood when answering, you now know why.

Don’t want ValueWalk’s newsletter? Then please confirm that you suck.

Clicking through from Google Finance to an article about Apple at the ValueWalk website, my reading was rudely interrupted by the honking-huge interstitial modal popup window shown below (and impressively “Powered by OptinMonster”).

These things are ruining the web in general, but this one was particularly insulting—as to refuse signing up to their newsletter, one has to acknowledge a message that “I prefer investing in the dark”.

Right — Window instantly closed, and that’s the last time I’ll be visiting ValueWalk.

Paying with my “Smarthphone”

Here in Spain, I can pay for parking with my Smarthphone. With my Smarthphone.

Trying to pay for my parking this way actually turned out to be an awful, and ultimately unsuccessful experience.

Parking in the blue zones in Marbella requires the purchase of a parking ticket. Since I rarely seem to have coins on me when I need them, I was happy to discover the ticket boxes sporting a new advert claiming to let me pay the convenient and electronic way!

It was an advert from, offering the option of paying via their iPhone app. I tried to download the app, but alas, it’s only available in the Spanish App Store (and my phone is connected to the US store).

As an alternative, you can pay at their website via their mobile browser interface. When I typed in my national ID number, however, the system wouldn’t let me proceed, claiming that the NIE format was “invalid”. didn’t program their systems to accept all NIE formats in Spain, including those given to foreigners.

So I tried to find some contact information at the website, and… there is none! There is no advertised way to contact the Ingenieria Vial S.L. company that is responsible for this system — not surprising, I guess, for a company who cares so little as to even spell-check their flagship ads!

In the end, it was back to fishing around for some coins. Welcome to the modern age! (Maybe Ingenieria Vial S.L. will stumble across this article while googling themselves in the future…)

Unresolvable errors on the Georgia business registration website

It’s January, which means it’s time to pay those annual business registration fees. I’m currently logged into the State of Georgia website, and going through their fee payment workflow, but have been stopped in my tracks with this unresolvable error message:

The alert message states that my business must be “for profit” to execute the workflow. The Business Information section of the same screen indicates that my business is, “for profit”.

The State of Georgia web developers didn’t seem to anticipate that facing something like this, the user might be asking:

  • How do I resolve the problem?

  • How can I contact if the problem, like this, seems unresolvable?

Meeting UFC champion Fabricio Werdum

Fabricio Werdum is currently the interim heavyweight champion of the UFC, and calls California home. Several years ago, though, he lived in Madrid, Spain, where he ran one of Spain’s first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies.

As a three-time world champion in BJJ, he was as famous in our circles back then, as he is in the Mixed-Martial Arts world today. So it was huge surprise when I walked onto the mats at my first-ever European BJJ Championship, to find that Fabricio himself would be the referee of the match!

Nervous in the moment, and still a novice at the Spanish language, I extended my hand and intended to say, “It’s an honor to meet you!”

But instead, as these things go, I screwed up the Spanish and standing there with my white-belt proclaimed, “Hola Fabricio. Es realmente un honor conocerme!”—which translated means:

Hello Fabricio—It’s truly an honor for you to meet me.

He sort of looked down for a moment, and said, “Yeah, let’s get this thing started.” And that ended my one and only conversation with current UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum.

oDesk found a great fit for my job

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a job on the oDesk site. The way this generally works is that members at oDesk will see the post, and if interested will then apply for the job. Evidently, oDesk has recently introduced some computer-based automatic matching of workers to jobs.

This morning, I received an email from oDesk telling me, “We found a great fit for your job!”

It looks like oDesk’s algorithms need a bit of tweaking, though, as the recent feedback for this particular candidate looked like this:

If this is what a good fit looks like, I’d hate to see a bad one!