Language is a funny thing. Time, too. Especially in the world of high tech, where a year can be a lifetime and moments are measured in nanoseconds.
SugarSync is a very good cloud file-sharing service for sharing and syncing files. It's also been well-regarded for its ability to also sync folders across machines automatically. Among its pricing plans was a starter option that offered 5 GB of space for free. Forever.
For those of you keeping calendar notes, "forever" came to a close on December 10, when SugarSync announced that time, as we know it, has ended. They will be stopping having any free SugarSync plan as of February 8. As you might imagine, a lot of people have been unhappy. If "all PR is good PR," then SugarSync has been getting a lot of great PR. Semantics aside, the words being written don't appear as good.
Here's how one online customer (sorry, former customer) explained in his his comments after an announcement article on the subject on the SugarSync website forums --
I understand that you will need to earn some money to survive but why this sudden cancellation of the free plan? Do you want to loose a large proportion of your customers? Did you forget that all your competitors are offering free plans?? Skydrive (7 GB free, 50 GB for $50/y and well integrated with Windows 8.1 and Office) and Google Drive (15 GB free) just to name some. Also their service is in most cases not bad at all! Moreover, how reliable will you be for your customers in the future? If you are smart and you really want to keep at least some of your "smaller" customers now on a free plan, offer them a 10, 20, 30... etc GB plan for an affordable price. 60 GB and higher may be good for business not for a private user!!!.
In your email to your customers you are offering a reduced rate if the customer will upgrade before December 16. If you would have some feeling for doing business and respect your customers you would offer this at least for a couple of month untill or even after the February upgrade deadline.
You also do not tell anything in you email what will happen with the free GB's earned by referrals after upgrading. Is that the excellent service you and your moderater is referring to?
Indeed, to be clear, just as even this pissed-off note suggests, few fair-minded people begrudge a company making money and not giving away its business for free. But in a world of trust and security (which cloud file-sharing is related to), going back on your word is not considered a great foundation for trust. Especially since the company helped build its base by having these free users get extra free space by getting friends to sign up. That's pissed off a lot of folks, who are expressing online how used they feel. It's likely that if SugarSync had offered a low-cost option for those 5 GB, people might have grumbled, but accepted it. But the company's lowest-cost plan is now close to $100 a year for 60 GB of space. Clearly the business model is now for companies, not individuals, since few people have great need for that much cloud space. Let alone pay $100 every year for the storage.
For those of you who might be using SugarSync and are now looking to move, there are a lot of alternatives. Services like Dropbox, Skydrive and Google Drive head the list. But sites which offer automatic folder sync is less crowded. I haven't found one yet to recommend, though I've read positive word about such services as Spideroak, PCloud, Bitcasa and BitTorrent Sync.
By the way, my favorite comment in all of this came from a publication called Tech Week Europe. In expressing the problems with the decision, the author decides to bend over backwards to sound oh-so fair-minded and metaphysical, like a deeply philosophical Gandalf. He writes about the free service and free apps that synced it with your devices, and then all-knowingly, looked down upon thee and added, by the by -- "Those free apps for everyone’s smart phone aren’t really free, after all. You’re paying for them through either your attention or your product loyalty."
Oh, just freaking sigh. In other words, according this twisted theory, if someone gives you something for free, without any remuneration required whatsoever, and you actually look at this gift in your hands with a warm smile and like it...it's not free -- because you actually look at it, use the freaking thing and like it.
I'm sorry. That's not a cost. That's the definition of appreciation.
The product was free. Really. At least until February 8.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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