Screw thee before thee screws me

I’ve been extremely busy for the past few moons and haven’t had a chance to update here. Although I haven’t been completely silent as I did make a few remarks on my other “blog” of sorts. Actually it’s just a place for me to randomly inject noise into the web.

For my latest soap adventure, I behaved as any programmer would. I decided to use software at every step in the production, sale and shipping process. More commonly refered to as “Business Management” software, these are supposed to help you keep track of all your expenses, obligations, debts and customer managment. Think of it as retail Production + Point of Sale (in this case a web site) + CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

While researching for a good suite to manage all this, I came across a promising entity with quite a few big name companies using them. Let’s call this business management software company F.U. Corp because the last thing I want to do is give these idiots more business. Something I’m sure they can’t handle despite their designated industry.

F.U. Corp sounds really pretty

When I called up F.U. Corp, it was the best customer service I’ve ever experienced. And I don’t say that lightly. The representative was the friendliest lady I’ve spoken to in a while and seemed quite competent in her responses when I explained how far I’ve come and how far I need to go to finish making the business startup hurdles a thing of the past.

My only gripe at the time was that after the demo presentation, it would cost me $950+ including license fees to use the software suite should I decide to keep it.

F.U. Corp tech support is run by twelve year olds

Well, my plesant experience with F.U. Corp pretty much ended after that call. What followed was a demo and presentation that all but ruined my faith in almost all business management software. It was the most painfully convoluted, hidden cost ridden, security swiss cheese, broken bear trap I’ve ever had the displeasure of having to wade through.

I should have had the good sense to take the hint when when during the first installation on a fresh Windows XP Pro 32bit machine (as per their recommendation) the software stopped half way through management setup. For a second, I thought maybe I didn’t configure it properly. I even didn’t instally any anti virus software (also per their recommendation). I get really nervous when installations require that no AV software be present on the system instead of simply disabling them temporarily.

Au contrair, not only was Dingbat Corp tech support quick to point out that I had incorrectly installed the software (apparently there’s more to inserting a CD and clicking on “Install” that I wasn’t aware of), I had also had the wrong OS, the wrong systems settings and I had installed AV while sleep walking.

Let’s recap:
XP Pro 32-bit : Check
Fresh installation : Check
No AV protection : Check

Now they requested I enable Remote Desktop (there’s some more good news) so they can see, what “you did wrong”. Exact words.
After an uncomfortable silence, “hmm… well it looks like XP Pro 32 bit”. NO FECES SHERLOCK!
And the real kicker… “do you happen to have a Windows 2000 or Vista machine to test this? Maybe one of them will accept the installation.”

They still had the nerve to try and charge me for the tech support call even when the demo explicitly states that support calls are free for the first week of the demo and I have no obligation to keep it.

I would go on at length about the intricacies of their own unique flavor of business management, but I don’t think my blood pressure would endure.

Screw thee before thee screws me

(Should be the first commandment when dealing with fishy business.)

And so ended my relationship with F.U. Corp. Their whole presentation and demo package is going back tomorrow. I didn’t sign up to do their debugging and involuntary beta testing (which I’m sure that was what it was).

So I’m still where I began.

I may be desperate enough to turn to Microsoft’s Dynamics brand at this point. It might be the most bloated elephant crossed with a rhino in the world, but the bloody thing will at least be consistent. The only thing that might keeping me from persuing this is phpBMS.

Two things phpBMS is that Dynamics isn’t…

1) Open source, which means I have an option if what I want to modify it. And there’s no saying that I’ll keep things in exactly the same models Microsoft provides. One thing I learned from F.U. Corp, when you try to guess every instance and every possibility, you don’t account for any of them well. Better to stay flexible from the start. Also, it’s phpBMS and this would give me a rare opportunity to do some real world work with the language.

2) It’s free. And I is broke!

Two things that Dynamics is that phpBMS isn’t…

1) As feature rich. Which doesn’t really seem like a con at this point because I still have the option of adding modules, modifying the core or adding in functionality myself if necessary. I’m just concerned about how much time I’ll have to do just that though, since the day job is just as busy as the night job these days.

2) Have professional tech support. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to talk to a person even if I have to pay extra for that. There’s just too much disconnect with email or message board threads. Plus a lot of times you have an immediate problem that needs to be resolved and even a few hours delay is unacceptable.

I’m also thinking of coming up with an in-house solution to all this, but again that would mean taking time away from my jobs. It may almost be worth it if I can come up with a decent piece of software. It would give me better content management and online integration options.