How to lose a lifetime customer in less than 30 seconds

How To Lose a Lifetime Customer in Less Than 30 seconds

Yesterday I had to connect to a FTP to install WordPress for a friend. So I fired up Spotlight on my Mac to find FileZilla.

Oops. I got a new computer several weeks ago (Yay!) and I hadn’t taken the time to install FileZilla.

I am a long time user of FileZilla. In fact I cannot remember the last time I used another FTP software. It offers a nice, easy-to-use, powerful solution to connect to FTPs. So I downloaded the FileZilla setup. “Oh cool!” I thought, they’re now using a .dmg package. Nicely designed, with the big icon that is so familiar to Mac users. You just have to double click and install as usual: next, next, next, close, enjoy! I totally trust those guys.


So I installed FileZilla by blindly clicking on next buttons, thinking that it would install the software as usual.

Surprise! A window popped up asking me to install another tool that I had never heard of before. Dammit! So I closed all the installation windows while letting out some audible grumbling. I needed to connect to that FTP now. So I opened FileZilla. I really know and love this tool.

I entered the username for the FTP and then tried to copy/paste the machine-generated-16-character-password like I have done literally thousands of times before… and nothing.

It must be the copy that failed.
*try again*
Nope, it’s not it.
The paste is not working. The paste. Is not. Working…
I closed FileZilla and my computer and I went to bed… frustrated.

This morning I reloaded the installer for the sake of this article. I realized that not only was the setup installing a software that I don’t want but they’ve checked an option to make Yahoo! my new tab page on Safari. Really? Yahoo!? It’s a miracle that those guys haven’t gone bankrupt.

And better yet, even if I unchecked all of those unwanted options, the setup closed Google Chrome without asking me anything. So I lost my Google Doc where I am currently writing my blog posts. (Thanks for the auto-save Google!)

Spammy isn’t it?

I know that FileZilla is an open source project hosted on SourceForge. But, we can all learn from this mess. This seems to be a textbook case study on how to fail at customer retention! This is a reminder that your software, or SaaS, is THE growth vessel of your business. We can’t ignore the impact of the software on the growth of our business. It should be our main concern. Obvious right? Yep. But the guys at FileZilla failed on that.

I can only assume that the reason behind adding all those spammy things to the setup has to do with money. Did Yahoo offered a slice of the cake for adding the checkbox? Maybe, maybe not. But let’s pretend they did.

When you receive an offer like that, it’s very appealing, very tempting to accept it, especially for broke, early-stage startups. You have to be careful and think through your hacks! They may be pretty juicy at the time but they can backfire! Even more so when you are modifying your software.Worse, it seems that the FileZilla “offer” is part of the SourceForge Dev Share Program, so the FileZilla crew will probably end up with a pretty small financial gain from all of this.

Yesterday I deleted FileZilla.
And I don’t have the intention of reinstalling it anytime soon.

About Guillaume Petitclerc

I'm a design lover, app maker, new technology enthusiast... geek.