Wednesday, September 21, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

FogBugz Auto-Upgrades Free and Dormant Plans to Paid

Joseph Ruscio (Hacker News):

@FogBugzTeam sending me an email today that you are auto-upgrading and intend to start charging me tomorrow for a free account I haven’t logged into for (checks notes) … 13 YEARS is a bold move.

Aleksandar Vacić:

If your account is inactive for a long time then FogBugz/IgnoreTech will remove it. Their support page says they do that.

But does not delete the account actually. They keep it anyway.

So yesterday (!) they sent me an email that they are automatically upgrading my account to some paid tier and starting today (!) they will begin charging subscription.

For a service account which does not even exists anymore.

I used the free plan for 8 years or so and can’t really complain about it becoming paid. Were I still using FogBugz, it would be worth the cost. But this was not handled well. First, they shouldn’t start auto-billing accounts that were dormant. Second, the communication was terrible. I received an e-mail on September 16th saying that they would start billing in one month. Then I received a second e-mail, which I almost skipped over because it seemed to be saying the same thing, except that this one said they would start billing on September 17th, i.e. 6 hours from the time the e-mail was sent. That e-mail contained a link to a FAQ, which redirected to Zendesk—it was kind of a red flag when they stopped using their own product for support—and the URL returns a 404 because the Zendesk account is closed. Fortunately, unlike some others, I was able to log into my account and close it.

alexjplant:

I’m more concerned about them affecting my credit score... these clowns haven’t a legal or moral leg to stand on but there’s no way to cancel the free account that I haven’t touched for 7 years. The hyperlink to my instance 500s and their support portal is either broken or disallowing new user registrations (despite me trying three browsers, two devices, and spending 10 minutes in the dev console manually enabling various buttons for password setting on the new account page and trying their ZenDesk URL instead of the custom one). Any emails to their customer success address tell users to log into this nonfunctional support portal.

Anil Dash:

I don’t recommend anyone do business with them, whether as a customer or anything else; I was CEO of Fog Creek when we decided to sell FogBugz, and if I knew the difference between what we were told ahead of the deal and what happened after, I never would have approved it. I didn’t see that they’d done this latest shitty thing until now but I really lament that they’ve sunk to an even lower new level.

Previously:

Update (2022-09-22): Marco Arment:

My free account had been dormant for years — long enough that they had deleted it — yet they just charged an expired card, then sent me an email saying I was in arrears.

Nothing online worked. Had to call them to “fix” it.

I just received an e-mail from FogBugz:

We’ve become well aware of the maelstrom of concern and comments caused by a series of emails that some of you received, but to explain, we were just as surprised as you when multiple emails were sent. Our original and only intended email, which was controlled by humans, was to inform you that the “free,” non-expiring version of FogBugz is being phased out on October 17, 2022. Additionally, we wanted to offer you the option to continue using FogBugz by updating your account to a paid subscription. This was the entire, planned effort.

However, once we updated the accounts that had been identified as free and non-expiring in the internal FogBugz accounting system, the software automatically generated a form email, notifying you that we had summarily converted you to a paid account, and worse, actually triggering collection/dunning notices to some. This was unintended and is not accurate. Yes, we’ve owned the software for some time and should know all of the nooks and crannies by now. We don’t know if this was a nook or a cranny, but it decided to act on its own. Truth. It’s embarrassing, and we’d react the same way as many of you have. So this email is to set the record straight.

We do not automatically charge any customer for usage of the software unless a subscription has been expressly elected, despite what the erroneous auto-email stated.

However, they go on to say that they do charge you if your credit card was on file, e.g. if a paid plan had previously been selected and then you downgraded to free. Perhaps that’s what happened to Arment. Or perhaps he was always on the free plan but, like me, at some point had been required to enter his card info, anyway.

3 Comments

Same thing happened to me -- same 500, same 404 to Zendesk, same dormant account for years slammed back into service with the credit card that wasn't going to get charged unless I changed the terms of the deal, which I hadn't.

I'm pretty sure from the last 4 that the credit card number they had on file for me has expired, so I think I'm in the clear, but no replies from support, no follow-up after leaving my email with the chatbot, nothing.

Nice of Anil to say he's disappointed, but this is what happens, Donny. It's like Chrome extensions that get your trust and permissions to sniff everything that get sold to the highest bidder. Or when MySpace was sold -- and when Facebook is sold in the future, no matter how far. Whatever your past expectations were, throw 'em out the window once the original owners exit and watch the last bits of value get wrung out of the asset. (I'm reminded of the current owner of the NFL team I follow, but I'll resist going down that rabbit hole for the time being...)

If you want your app to stay the way you intend, you really limit your exit options. If you want the apps you use to treat you respectfully, like a human, well... godspeed.

Good sum. Appreciate someone putting that to pixels.

Sent to all users this afternoon:

Dear FogBugz User,

Mea culpa — sincerely.

We’ve become well aware of the maelstrom of concern and comments caused by a series of emails that some of you received, but to explain, we were just as surprised as you when multiple emails were sent. Our original and only intended email, which was controlled by humans, was to inform you that the “free,” non-expiring version of FogBugz is being phased out on October 17, 2022. Additionally, we wanted to offer you the option to continue using FogBugz by updating your account to a paid subscription. This was the entire, planned effort.

However, once we updated the accounts that had been identified as free and non-expiring in the internal FogBugz accounting system, the software automatically generated a form email, notifying you that we had summarily converted you to a paid account, and worse, actually triggering collection/dunning notices to some. This was unintended and is not accurate. Yes, we’ve owned the software for some time and should know all of the nooks and crannies by now. We don’t know if this was a nook or a cranny, but it decided to act on its own. Truth. It’s embarrassing, and we’d react the same way as many of you have. So this email is to set the record straight.

We do not automatically charge any customer for the usage of the software unless a subscription has been expressly elected, despite what the erroneous auto-email stated.

Here’s what you need to know:

All free subscriptions for FogBugz will expire on Oct. 17, 2022. If your FogBugz subscription has already expired, and you do not want to continue using FogBugz, you don’t need to take any further action. Your data will be deleted from the system; you will not be billed and you will receive no further emails from either the nook or the cranny.

If you were erroneously charged because your free account still had your credit card on file (e.g. some users were on paid accounts and had downgraded), we will ensure that you are promptly refunded. Please use the email fogbugzbilling@ignitetech.com if you have not seen the refund already posted.

Despite this mishap, we hope the benefits of the software will encourage you to continue. If your FogBugz free-account subscription is currently active, and you would like to continue as a subscriber, please authorize your paid subscription by following these instructions. Please note: When you upgrade, your account will qualify for 50% off any subscription tier.

We sincerely apologize for the confusion that was caused and are working hard behind the scenes to resolve all issues related to this action.

Sincerely,

The (humbled) FogBugz Team

"If you were erroneously charged because your free account still had your credit card on file..."

It happened because the card was on file, not something FogBugz did? Remarkable deflection.

"Despite this mishap, we hope the benefits of the software [will justify overlooking our lack of respect for you].

It is nice of the FogBugz team to post their excuses here and make abundantly clear they do not grasp nor appreciate the magnitude of their mistake.

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