Alan Wallace: Windows 8 Needs Stardock, But I Don’t

Written by Alan Wallace

Alan Wallace throws in the towel on Stardock and its Windows 8 enhancing software. Why? Here’s the sad tale he has to tell. — Typically when I fall in love with a product, I continue to worship it until another shiny object comes along or updates make that solution unusable. The following experience was a first for me — Stardock‘s awful customer service made me do an about-face on something I really liked.

Microsoft Windows 8 has benefited enormously from Start Menu add-on options like those offered by Stardock and others. After comparing solutions, I purchased both Stardock’s Start8 and Object Desktop to take full advantage of its software.

Recently I helped a friend set up his brand new Windows 8 machine. I planned to add Stardock to his system. As the tour manager for a well-known country musician, my friend was on the road at the time, and I went along for the ride. So I was trying to set up his machine between weak access points while we were on the tour bus. That was challenging enough.

But the purchase would not go through.

Why? The company sent me an email saying that I would receive another email in 24 hours that would explain. That message arrived — but on Friday, after the office closed.


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

I called the PR desk. I even tweeted my frustrations. Finally a support email informed me that the IP address of the purchase was too far away from the address of the card — Nashville vs. West Coast. I sent an email to support so I could explain the fact that I was on a tour bus and I suggested a phone call. Nothing happened.

Then I had the brilliant idea of gifting him the software from my account. Because I already had one Stardock set up, the company knew me, right? Wrong. That move only got me the same reply as the last purchase did. So now it wasn’t accepting my credit card, even though I was near a venue just 45 minutes from my home.

Some time on Saturday both purchases cleared. On both cards. Needlessly. I emailed support again telling them I needed to clear this up. At this writing, no one has yet called me. But I did set up the software on Saturday.

Bottom line: This was the most ridiculous and time-consuming experience with a software company that I have ever had. And it’s just a little company.

Update: On Tuesday Stardock sent two emails asking me what software I was having an issue with. The name of the applications were in the subject line of my email to them. Once I explained that it was a sales and support issue I was having, though, I heard nothing more. I also called the PR desk again Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

So I’m giving up on you, Stardock. I remember a while back you asked me to review your product. You’re lucky you did not ask me to review your support or PR teams. In this case, free solutions really are cheaper and better supported.