Monday, November 8, 2010

Waiting Like You... On Purpose

"Everyone is equal.  But, Some are more equal than others"
 George Orwell, "Animal House"

One of the things that first sold me on the eCraft was their reputed reputation for listening and responding to customers.

Because I, myself, am not an actual user in the traditional sense, I have focused on things not normally reviewed in craft circles. At first, I was sympathetic toward Craftwell because I knew that it was, effectively, a startup.  This was true even if the manufacturing company behind it might actually be enormous.

But, as time has gone on, I am less and less inclined to have a favorable opinion of the commitment of management of Craftwell to its user base.  And, that lagging optimism has everything to do with their almost utter lack of communication.

I can pick up the phone at any time to talk directly with the management at Craftwell.  But, I am not because it is not fair to all those that CANNOT get through.  I do NOT subscribe to the "Everyone is equal; but, Some are more equal than other's" view of users.

I will learn about what is going on when YOU learn what is going on.  And, I will respond the way I think is best for YOU.

But, I want to make this clear.  I am NOT upset that we are having to wait for the software.  It's free and we get it when we get it.  What is killing my enthusiasm for the eCraft is the fact that even as they have built up their staff, they have not dedicated anyone on that staff to be their consistent voice to hurting customers.  That's right.  HURTING customers.

People make a purchase for a purpose.  And, they have high hopes when they finally bite the bullet and buy.  When a vendor delivers less than promised it is MORE than simply a mild nuisance for some of those users.  It can be traumatic for some.  And, a management that seems to be callous to that reality is NOT a management that can hold my respect for long.

Communication, to be real communication, cannot simply be a one-way vehicle for good news whenever it's convenient.  It has to be a two-way dialog that continues in tough times as well as good times.  When I go up to Craftwell's Facebook Page, and see people pleading for help with no response, it does not encourage me to try to do Craftwell's job for them any longer.  And, that is the primary reason I have not participated in discussions about the eCraft for the last month.

I have one eCraft set up and unused right now.  I have another in a box, unopened.  I am NOT going to subject my daughter to unnecessary frustrations as long as Craftwell remains 95% silent leaving users in limbo.

I don't hold grudges.  So, the situation could change at any minute if and when Craftwell decides that customers truly are important enough to talk to publicly.  Let's hope that is soon.  In the meantime, I will not be calling them.  When you find out, I will find out.


Lysa said...

Hi Meeks Man,
This sounds just like what is happening to all of us on the "imagine" side. Our updates have been much slower than we were told. And even worse they are confusing. We all have to check the boards for firmware and content numbers because they are not publishing the numbers along side of the update. And then even worse than that we are dealing with three updates (the sync software,the Imagine machine and the Gypsy hand held. I, like you would love one dedicated resource and CS rep. that could deliver info. I have a lot of faith in both Craftwell and Provocraft that they will come through in the end. I guess like the Tom Petty song says "The waiting is the hardest part". Glad to hear you are hanging in there with the ecraft.

Tom Meeks said...

I am hanging in there. I'm simply not going to do their job for them. It's a bit of "Tough Love". :)

2KutiesGrandma said...

Thanks for your post. I know you have been quiet lately - but then again there hasn't been much to be said, has there? You have been an honest and valuable member of the E-Craft community and I just wanted to let you know that I anxiously await not just the software, but your evaluation of it. It is just a disappointment to me that they have not called you to beta test this because I have confidence that you could have really done the user community a great service in that capacity.

Syllie said...

Hi Tom,

Been peeking for updates on the blog a few times.. And indeed it has been quiet. I figured it was related to the lack of communication by Craftwell.

I cannot agree more with the contents of your post. As said some time ago, my partner called the machine an expensive paperweight.

I am awaiting the software update with hope and fear, and just hope that they come through and deliver on Nov 12th as announced before. The delays are numerous sofar.

All I want is the SVG export to work properly. There are many (free) design tools that offer a broad range of editing tools so if only the export works flawlessly we can work out the rest ourselves (with or without their technical support).


Tom Meeks said...

2KutiesGrandma & Syllie,
thank you both for you comments and kind words.

I've been very fortunate to have been a part of many different communities, related to software, where users were very supportive of each other and the product around which that community grew.

There are more failures than successes when it comes to software products. And, a company that sees design as "top Down" is most likely to be among the failures. Software design, to be successful, has to begin with the user and the user's goals. So, Craftwell's lack of interest in using resources outside of it's own sphere of internal control isn't encouraging.

I have no idea if they are going to be able to pull off the miracle they need to restore confidence. We'll just have to wait an see.

2KutiesGrandma said...

Very disappointed to see that the only real forum for honest information (the e-craft Yahoo group) is now being stifled to just "happy talk". Merely saying that everything is swell does not make it so. I hope that once the software is finally released that your blog will continue to provide the unvarnished good and not-so-good. Like you, I have purchased two of these - one for myself and one for my daughter.

Tom Meeks said...

I can assure you that this blog will continue to be open and honest with my opinion about the eCraft and Craftwell's management of the product.

While I want them to succeed, I don't find it helpful for ANYBODY, including Craftwell, to ignore obvious flaws in the product or management mistakes that hurt their customers and themselves.

Ruthie said...

Hey Tom - following the changes to the group, I have decided to agree with my hubby (not often that happens!). He suggested that there should be another forum that is not bound by being a distributor etc - that tells the truth (good and bad - not in it to slate anyone!)

I am going to launch a website (with forum) where people can post the truth about the various cutting machines out there! My vision is that it will be honest and straight forward, so that people considering a purchase can get unbiaised information!

Obviously, I would like to link your blog to it - but I wondered if you would be interested in helping out (no payment lolx) on the forum, giving advice etc. No worries if you dont feel you have the time (I know you have been through the mill lately!) but would still love to link the blog!

Just let me know what you think (but be kind!)


Starla said...

I appreciate your honesty and input on this machine. I have not purchased one (yet) as I was waiting for the second/third generation so as to avoid some of the problems you all are having. I am soooo not computer savy and trying to figure out these glitches would send me over the edge!!

I am so grateful to you and the others who are willing to test for the rest of us. Guess I'll join the "waiting is the hardest part" club

Tom Meeks said...

Ruthie, I would be more than happy to take part in your forum or group. Dealers are in a tough position and I can appreciate their situation.

Starla, thank you for your compliments. :)

What we will strive for is balance. There is value in giving a new venture some slack and there is value in clamping down where that is warranted. The trick is to try to know when to use which tool.

I hope we manage to do that fairly to BOTH sides of the equation. :)

Rhoda said...

Did you see that the Ecraft is now selling at HSN?
I read a comment on their Facebook page and had to check it out.

Tom Meeks said...

I did see that and it's interesting. But, I'm not sure it's good for eCraft at this point in it's life.

I'd like to see more stability on the software side before a massive growth in the number of machines in the pipeline. And, it's got to be a slap in the face to the small dealers that stood by them for months and years of promises.

Their moves seem strange to me and actually lessens my enthusiasm for the company behind a great product.

Bernie said...

Hi Tom

I agree wholeheartedly with your blog and wondered on the silence. I don't know if you have been visiting the face book page but as you may see I have well and truly upset them. I would love to be one of the "faithful" and big-up the poor old souls on their page but I find it so frustrating that they refuse point blank to acknowledge their customers frustions, questions and complaints. Only those that have a very grey answer are responded to - anything else is swept over with a "contact our support lines". Why? If there is someone monitoring a facebook page why on earth wouldn't they gain the answers asked of them, post them and regain confidence in their product.

I think you, Ruthie and many others are doing a fantastic job and with a great deal of faith and heart. Craftwell must be rubbing their hands with glee that you are doing their dirty work for them.

I am sorry to say but I am done with the machine. It's my second machine and I promised to carry on testing for the lovely team at Oyster Crafts here in the UK. But I can test no more without a machine that performs at least the basics of a "no mat" system like hold the stock!! Yep - it's probably the rollers, as was the first machine - but where do you stop??

As you see faith is lost!

Tom Meeks said...

While I am not done with Craftwell as yet, they still have not regained the enthusiasm from me that makes me want to put other things aside in my life and bring this blog back to a daily effort.

The one rumor that I heard that did intrigue me is that they may be talking with software vendors. That would be a good thing and would be a very encouraging development.

I purchased two machines. You will know that THEY have done things to revitalize my enthusiasm when the box for the second machine is actually opened. I will NOT be a party to frustration of my daughter. I want her to be able to create art... not tears.