Got this email a week or two ago. Slightly edited to protect a good VAR who is also in the process of getting screwed by Autodesk. At least Autodesk is an equal opportunity screwer and if you are not inside certain C suites you are fair game.
Dear Dave Ault,
This is a reminder that your maintenance plan on Contract # 110000000000 will expire on December 15, 2017. Your renewal number is A-5000000.
You now have the option to renew your contract for one year or switch to a subscription*. If you choose to switch to subscription (only available at the time of renewal), you can start to enjoy these subscriber benefits:
* Latest and greatest product capabilities – Get ongoing updates to products and services and new functionality, as soon as they’re available.
* New and improved support – Enjoy faster response times and the option to receive help by scheduling a call with Autodesk technical support specialists.
* Simplified administration – Access tools that streamline deployment and software management when you standardize all of your Autodesk products on subscription.
Your reseller, (Insert name of VAR also getting screwed here).
For more information, go to Autodesk Account.
*Not all products on a maintenance plan are eligible to switch to subscription. Consult with your reseller for complete details.
As you can imagine I thought about writing a notice for them.
Dear Autodesk and Andrew Anagnost,
This is a reminder that this customer on maintenance customer on contract #11000000000 will not be sending you any more money after December 15, 2017.
Your contract dismissal letter number is A-5000000. You have no options available to renew this contract except to end subscriptions only.
If you choose to end subscriptions and huge yearly price hikes you will enjoy these benefits:
I will pay you this year.
I will pay you next year.
I will pay you the year after that too.
*All products on a maintenance plan are required to be continued and supported yearly. Contact your customer for pro-rated income to you if they are not.
There is no doubt in any rational persons mind that PR and Marketing people have an absurdly tenuous grasp on reality as it concerns their customers or target markets. How do you like that list of benefits as extolled in words that no customer could POSSIBLY resist! I told my wife to hide the check book before I succumbed to the siren song of Marketing and PR droids sweetly singing in my ear and sent another years fees off. This list of benefits is about as worthy of consideration as a CNN book on “The Honesty of Bill and Hillary Clinton”. Or perhaps Hillary’s new forthcoming book on “Stopping The Culture of Sexual Harassment In Government”. Or Al Franken’s soon to be released “How To Be Admired By Wimminck!” Or Huma Abedin’s book on “Care And Cleaning of (S)hag Carpets”.
Have a MAGA GREAT Thanksgiving everyone and remember the things that made this the greatest nation the world has ever seen in such a short period of time. Teach your children the truth about America before liberal idiots get to them and pass this legacy of freedom and prosperity on to the future.
Written before Thanksgiving obviously but I decided to post as is with this notation because the sentence before this one is useful year round. Talk to your children and grandchildren to prepare them for the liberal liars that will accost them at every turn.
I used to work in marketing at one of the big CAD companies. I know it’s tempting to blame the PR and marketing folks for these things, but for the most part, they’re just following orders from the CEO by way of the Board of Directors. The PR/marketing departments are usually highly attuned to customer sentiment, and know what’s going to anger the user base. Often, they act as the customer advocates in conversations about changes to the business model because they end up having to deal with the fallout. But most of the time, their protests fall on deaf ears. When that happens, the best they can do is try to craft a message that’s least likely to raise users’ hackles while still aligning to what’s been dictated by executive management. Want to get angry? Get angry at Boards of Directors who are constantly demanding that the companies find new ways to increase shareholder profits at any cost, and the CEOs and CFOs who come up with these schemes. Don’t get angry at the people down in the trenches trying to figure out which shade of lipstick will look best on the pig.
You are probably right at some level. Most of the ones I have met were management to upper management and they were unhinged. Listening to their conversations was like buzzword speak instead of plain English. Then there were those who because I had a blog wanted me to endorse something and they would write the endorsement for me. I refused every time but the idea they deliberately wanted to put words in my mouth to sell something bothered me. I don’t spare the directors and have been critical of many things they do over the years as I am not oblivious to their pervasive myopia. Let me ask you this though. Why does all this stuff have to be so superficial and frankly condescending most of the time? Even if the big boss says to do so is there not a way to make it more palatable? Using this benefits junk from Autodesk above is just words strung together around desperation to paint a pretty picture and it fails. Same stuff same jargon from all the CAD companies it seems and it gets tiresome.
Sounds like the company you’re talking about had a corporate culture that encouraged that kind of communication style. Middle management usually takes cues from upper management. If the c-level people are parroting the latest buzzwords and management books, that will filter down to the rest of the company. Not every company is like that.
When it comes to those renewal emails, a few things come to mind. Please bear in mind that I’m speaking in generalities that may not apply to every customer or every company. At most companies, the emails like the one above are automated, and go out at a certain point before your renewal date. They tend to be one-size-fits-all, so every customer gets the same message. It’s also worth noting that the renewals group is usually part of finance, and may not get help from the marketing team when it comes to actual copywriting.
In *most* companies, those emails go to the billing contact at the customer. That’s usually someone in the accounts group, or a VP-level person. It’s *usually* not an end user like yourself. The messages are written to appeal to those people, who are increasingly eager to move to a yearly subscription model wherever possible to help reduce spending on capital expenditures (CAPEX) and move that spending to operational expenditure (OPEX). Those folks don’t really care about the things you might, and if the vendor can entice the person who signs the check to consider a move, they stand a good chance of making that happen. The end user might get consulted at some point, but may often be outvoted. Again, talking in generalities.
>>Even if the big boss says to do so is there not a way to make it more palatable?
What the execs want is often horrific because they don’t consider the customer’s POV. What you’re getting likely *is* the more palatable version.
>>Then there were those who because I had a blog wanted me to endorse something and they would write the endorsement for me. I refused every time but the idea they deliberately wanted to put words in my mouth to sell something bothered me.
Some customers are OK with this, and actually prefer it–especially ones who aren’t comfortable writing or don’t have time. But the company should ask what your preference is before making assumption. That’s just poor form, and is indicative of a team more accustomed to working with global corporations than end users. Again, not every company is like that.
Very interesting comments. You are the first belly of the beast veteran to speak up on my blog and thanks for doing so. Have any examples of the more unpalatable versions you care to share? They must make for fascinating reading in a masochistic sort of way.
Horrific is probably too strong a word. A lot of tech industry execs–especially ones that come from an R&D background–tend to forget that people on the receiving end of communications have feelings or alternate points of view. They also assume that their reasons and motivations should be obvious, and forget that new ideas or changes need to be explained in a way that resonates with the audience.