Monday, July 30, 2012

RocketTheme Gets an "F" for Technical Support

Our summer intern wrote the following email to tech support at RocketTheme:
(RocketTheme produces templates for Joomla CMS and themes for WordPress CMS):

Subject: [ACCOUNT] Switching from a Joomla to a WordPress subscription
From: our summer intern at InterWorking Labs
To: rockettheme tech support Date: 2012-07-26 18:04:14

Some time ago I signed up for a subscription for your Joomla templates club, intending to find a template for use on a business website.

Unfortunately, the installation and use of the Joomla template we selected proved problematic to use an install, and required a great deal of support even to get working as advertised.

We have recently been looking into WordPress and found it to be a vastly preferable CMS solution for our purposes.

Since we are not intending to use any of your Joomla themes, but are interested in your WordPress club, would it be possible to transfer this account from a Joomla subscription to a WordPress one without buying a new subscription?

Here is the response from RocketTheme to our summer intern:

Subject:  RE: [ACCOUNT] Switching from a Joomla to a WordPress subscription
Date:  Thu, 26 Jul 2012 18:27:21 -0600 (MDT)
From:  RocketTheme Support 
To:  our summer intern

Hello, since you have downloaded a number of our Joomla products, we are
unable to switch your membership. You will need to sign up for a
Wordpress membership to access the products.

The tone of the above paragraph is disturbing.  We paid for a subscription and we were entitled to download as many templates as we wanted.  We downloaded a few, and then realized we could not realistically use any of them!  There is nothing in the agreement that states that one is to be "punished" or "reprimanded" because one did as one was entitled to do under the agreement.

Any decisions you make about which platform to use is solely your

Obviously.  Did this need to be said?

Weather you intend to use the Joomla products is not something
we can verify, you are responsible for understanding the terms of
membership upon signing up.

We understood the terms of membership when we paid the money and signed up.  In fact, we have signed up for memberships several times, both directly as InterWorking Labs and through our web site development company.  So, it is not as if this was our first experience with RocketTheme.  However, I guess there is no consideration for having been a loyal customer who recommended RocketTheme to others.

By the way, it is "whether", not "weather".

It appears that the 2 questions you had on the forum were answered and
solved, it also appears the issue you had was an isolated incident and
not related to a flaw in our products. 

We attempted to install one of the RocketTheme templates at our new account at HostGator.  HostGator has 400,000 customers and hosts eight million domains so it is not as if we were attempting to install the RocketTheme template at a small, inexperienced hosting service.  We had a great deal of difficulty and sunk a lot of time into getting this working, only to find that there were going to be many more difficulties ahead.

It's a bit of a stretch to say that should be considered as a factor in giving you a free membership.

My summer intern did not ask for a free membership.

Dealing with websites products is very technical, 

I am not sure what is supposed to be meant by the above phrase.  Is RocketTheme suggesting that our summer intern does not meet the RocketTheme technical standards?  I think if RocketTheme and InterWorking Labs were to have a competition on who has the deepest technical products, InterWorking Labs would win hands-down.  In our world the RocketTheme products, from a technical standpoint, are trivial.

this is the reason we have a forum and moderators to answer questions when problems arise. 

So in other words, you don't have your own staff providing technical support?  So all we get for our money is the template, which did not go through adequate testing, and which is not supported directly by RocketTheme?

Our support team is happy to assist with these matters and did so in your case.

Okay.  So now you do have a support team?   So which is it -- unpaid, third party volunteers in a forum, or qualified engineers providing technical support?


"Cheers"?  Really?  The email accuses InterWorking Labs of :

1-trying to get something for free
2-being insufficiently technical for RocketTheme's standard
3-not understanding the contract
4-downloading templates that it was legally entitled to download!    

What would be "cheery" or "cheerful" about that?  It was a slap in the face!

Here is the type of  technical support email that RocketTheme should have sent us:

I am sorry that you had a bad experience with RocketTheme.  We strive to make good quality products that are easy to install.  Occasionally, we have a problem like the one you encountered.

While we cannot offer you a full refund on the Joomla template subscription, given your experience and your decision to switch, we would be happy to offer you 25% off the WordPress subscription, as a token of our appreciation for your decision to do business with RocketTheme, and as consideration for your experience.

Thank you for working with RocketTheme.


Sunday, April 08, 2012

My evolution as a comedic artist

During the week I run a software company.  In my free time, my own time, I am an artist of comedy.  What does that mean exactly?  I am working that out.

Five years ago I attended a seminar about "creating the life you want" or something like that.  We were supposed to define the goal of who or what we wanted to be.  At first, I was going to write down business goals for the software company.  But then, just for the hell of it, I wrote down that I aspired to the type of career of the performance artist "Laurie Anderson".

Of course once I wrote that down, then I received "career counselling" about the steps needed to get there.  Once of the steps was improv training.  My response was "what is improv training?"  After the explanation, I was intrigued.  At the time there were no classes locally, so I signed up for one in Hollywood.  I blogged about that before.  See:

So I have been working on improv for the last few years, practicing with friends and family and  developing characters.

This past weekend I took an advanced training class.  In the middle of the class I hit a wall.

The teacher  emphasized the importance of the actors focussing on and responding to the human behaviors.  In other words, he wanted the actors in a scene to focus on the core emotional issues, and not concern themselves with the context -- the who, what and where.  For example, the grown son who stands up to his father and leaves home, or the wife who tells her husband that she is in love with another man and wants a divorce.  

Maybe that's what audiences want, but I found myself bored out of mind!   Watching the other actors do this was like watching the Hallmark channel -- saccharine, shmaltzy.   I just didn't buy it.

Plus, it wasn't funny.

Theoretically, in improv, the humor is supposed to come from the interaction of the characters, being present in the moment, and just blurting out whatever pops into their heads. 

But honestly, that only seems to result in something funny about 5% of the time.   So, as a member of the audience, the chance of you being entertained at an improv show is pretty low -- 95% of the time you will be bored.

No doubt it is excellent training for actors for lots of reasons that I won't go into.  However, if you don't want to be an actor, if you want to be an artist of comedy like me, well, you can't get there from here.

To me, the thing that is really funny, is the who, the what, and the where.   For example, the accountant who thinks she is the third coming of Christ -- that's funny.  Or the Greek tour guide who has no concept of geography or history but has a huge ego and immense self-confidence about her abilities -- that's funny.  The way these characters interact with other characters and their environment -- that's funny.

What is funny?  Well I'm working on that, but it seems clear I need to get off the performer on the stage path, and get onto the comedy writing path.  I think really good comedy is more premeditated.