Monday, March 7, 2011

CrashPlan needs a better support plan

I'm a believer that a product is only as good as the support that backs it.  Unfortunately for CrashPlan, this is where their product falls short.

CrashPlan is a data backup service. For free, you can back up your data to an external hard drive, or to a friend's PC across the internet. For a subscription fee, you can also back up your data to their servers — CrashPlan Central. The big draw to their service is that they have an unlimited data backup subscription.

Some time at the beginning of February, I decided to try out their 30-day trial of the service. It worked well. So well that I was impressed enough to subscribe for their 4-year unlimited plan within days of trying it.

After activating my subscription and backing up more data to their servers, I noticed that most of my data was no longer appearing under the restore option.

I used the search function to look for files that I knew I had backed up. It found them, so I was confident that they had the data backed up. But that's not very functional if I needed to restore a folder full of files where I may not know the names of every file in that folder.

I logged onto their web site and submitted a support ticket. Within minutes I received an automatic reply informing me that I could expect a response within one business day.

Two business days passed with no response.

Only after expressing my displeasure on Twitter, twice, about not receiving any response I received one — two weeks after the original submission.

They asked for more info and screen shots. They also apologized and credited me 30 days. I provided the requested info immediately.

Another week passed with no follow-up. Again, via Twitter, I got another apology and then a reply to my support request appeared in my email inbox. This time they asked for the log files, and instructed me on how to provide them. I provided them.

As of today, that was two responses in 26 days, and no solution, and I think the only reason I got any response at all was because I commented publicly on Twitter. Or was it a coincidence? Twice? I have serious doubts that I would have received any response if I had remained quiet. I have since seen other people comment, in their support forum and on Twitter, about the response times.

My original intent was to wait a full four weeks before canceling, but the more I thought about it this morning, the more I asked myself "Why?" Why should I bother? They've had almost four weeks to at least provide me with a little hope that my issue would be resolved soon. And what if I needed that backed up data immediately? Could I trust that they would be there to help me when I needed them?

Nope.

I logged onto my account and tried to cancel. It failed, and informed me to contact support@crashplan.com. If there were any doubts in my mind about the decision before this, they were gone now.

It took three or four attempts to cancel before it actually worked. Oddly enough, the one that worked was the one where I didn't bother to add a reason for canceling.

Minutes later, I received an email from CrashPlan informing me that my subscription was canceled and a refund — minus $2.86 for the month used(?)... so much for that 30-day credit — would be issued.

It's too bad that they weren't as quick to keep a customer as they were to let one go.

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