Spanning Sync sneaks in “free trial”

Spanning Sync, the cool utility that allows Mac users to synchronise Google Calendar and iCal (both ways) has emerged from beta testing as version 1.0.  This is great news and as soon as I found out, I downloaded the latest update and installed it.  I should have been a little more cautious though, when I saw an interesting looking download link in the sidebar that said "Download free trial".  WTF?

Before I continue, let me just point out that I think Spanning Sync is a fantastic service and short of something like Calgoo, it is probably going to remain a vital part of my GTD stuff on my PowerBook for the near future.  As soon as I heard about it I thought to myself that this is a product I would pay for, it is that good and that much needed.  I have about half a dozen calendars on Google Calendar and a couple more in iCal so the ability to synchronise them is worth money!

That being said, I am not happy at all with the way the Spanning Sync people brought this new trial to my attention.  Aside from the link in the sidebar, this was the first real mention of a free trial:

This, of course, is the dialogue you get after you have installed the application.  If you click on "Buy" you are then taken to the following page:

The pricing isn’t too bad.  $25 (more or less R190) for a year is not terrible for something I use every day and which could save my ass one day if something goes poof.  I certainly wouldn’t pay $65 as a one time purchase fee.  I am not alone in this, there are numerous comments on the post announcing version 1.0 where the major complaint is the price.  It looks like the installed user base is going to drop quite quickly if the prices remain at this level.

What irks me is how it suddenly came to my attention that I am now paying for the service.  Could they not have sent out an email or published a post to announce the charges?  Don’t catch me by surprise, even if I privately (or even publicly) decide to pay for the service.  Doing that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

For those who are interested, there seems to be a very interesting app called GCALDaemon that works across multiple platforms and synchronises between Google Calendar and desktop apps like iCal, Outlook and Sunbird.  There are reports that version 1.0 of Spanning Sync is a dud so I’ll bear this other app in mind if my 14 day trial proves to be less than satisfactory.

What a good example of how not to make customer evangelists out of your users!

(Source: Read/Write Web)

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