>Two Deadly Words: "How Much?"

>I’m still leaning towards getting the Nokia N86, and I talked to my brother, and he thought I was making a well-thought-out decision, so yea woo, he’s not mad or wondering what’s wrong with me or something. I seriously didn’t think he’d be that mad, I just thought he might be a tad perplexed about my sudden skittering away from the iPhone. I’m doing my research, making sure I know what I’m headed for. I don’t like technological surprises. read this, and you’ll understand why.

Then I thought I’d better ask the question of the KNFB Reader’s upgrade policy. I mean, I don’t want to be working on paying for the original product and before I’m done, find out an upgrade is coming out and it costs another significant chunk of change. But before I could ask the question, I found myself getting nervous about asking it. I wasn’t nervous because I dreaded an answer I didn’t like. I was nervous that I would get a negative reaction from the people I asked.

This got me to thinking. Why am I nervous? Asking how much upgrades are, or how often upgrades occur, is not a horribly unreasonable question. In fact, often when you buy a program, they tell you how often they upgrade it, and what constitutes a major upgrade right on the site. So why was I so nervous to ask?

The only conclusion I can come to is a lot of vendors of products for us blinks get mad when this question gets asked. Really, they do. There was a Podcast a while ago about the features that would be available in the Book Port 2, which I can’t find anywhere because the Book Port 2 vapourized into thin air. Someone asked if there would be any discounts for people who already owned a Book Port. The answer was short and snippy, and was something like “We don’t have an upgrade path or plan. You would pay full price.” It wasn’t so much the words as the tone. It was like “Ah don’t ask me again.” If memory serves, they also expected you to preorder it, sight unseen. Now that device exists no more, and as far as I understand it, never grew beyond a prototype on the drawing board. And they wonder why we ask questions.

And that’s not the only time. Years ago, I heard a recording from a conference where a rep from FS was talking to people about the new features that would be built into either JAWS 4.0 or 5.0, I can’t remember. Geesh that sounds old. I think it was presented on ACB Radio’s Main Menu, but I can’t remember where I got a hold of it. Anyway, somebody asked if that upgrade would be one of the upgrades on the Software Maintenance Agreement, which includes 3 upgrades, and the rep out and out said “Oh here we go again.” and sounded all mad.

It’s as if the attitude is “You blinks never want to pay anything.” Uh, not quite. We just paid a lot of money for whatever the device or software is, and want to know how much it would cost to get this new one. I think it’s a fair question.

When I think about it more, no other company would be able to get away with treating its customers that way. If I asked Rogers how much a certain phone would cost me on my current plan, they could not respond with “Oh god here you go with the questions. Don’t you just want the phone?” Granted, they would try and slip hidden fees in there, so you have to watch for that, but it’s written into a contract that you have on file if you needed it.

I was pleasantly surprised by the KNFB folks. They told me I would not have to pay for any upgrades for a year, and after that, only when there was a significant upgrade, although they couldn’t tell me what a significant upgrade was. I guess I can cut them a little slack, since this whole thing is pretty new. But they weren’t mad that I asked the question, and didn’t make me feel like an ungrateful wench for asking it.

Now, all we need is for all blinky tech companies to answer that question just as reasonably, and to realize that we are smart consumers, and we’d be getting somewhere.

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