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Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

I feel sick and I'm worried

Just got this horrible email today:

http://i.imgur.com/4wVpXrg.png

I've explained to him how my app can't physically damage his PC at all, and that because it doesn't run in the background (it's run-on-demand) then it can't be causing crashes.

But anyway, I'm still worried.  He lives in Australia like me, in the same State (in fact about 10 kilometres away). What happens if he takes me to something like Small Claims Court?  Is my EULA enough to protect me?  It says in part:

"Although thoroughly tested and believed to be safe, You agree to read the instruction manual and take heed of any text in the Product itself, and You will backup all important data and files before running the Product; and should any damages, loss or unexpected behavior occur to Your PC and/or life in general as a result of using the Product, You agree not to hold the Author or (Company Name) liable in any way."

The EULA must be agreed to at installation, and also when the app is first run.  So he's well aware of it and can't claim he was never presented with it.

This sort of email is making me close to packing it all in and giving up.  I just can't handle this shit.  I've got a wife and kids to support, so I can't afford any court hassles.  This is the second time this particular person has abused me (the first time was when he didn't get his license key immediately, remember I posted about it before?).

Should I refund him (he paid in June 2015) and fire him as a customer?  Seems like the best solution, so that if it goes to court I can argue my EULA and that I gave his money back as a goodwill gesture.
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, February 18, 2016
 
 
Hi PB,

Let me see if I can help de-sick and de-worry you...

Albert Ellis, psychotherapist of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy may have had a point when he advised us to be careful with how we describe situations to ourselves. I'll adopt his approach here a bit.

> Just got this horrible email today:

You mean, "Just got this annoyingly inconvenient and fairly common crank email from some silly jerk that I should rapidly dispatch and move on from.", right?

> But anyway, I'm still worried.  He lives in Australia like me, in the same State (in fact about 10 kilometres away). What happens if he takes me to something like Small Claims Court? 

I don't know the laws of Australia or your state, but I guess you go to court and it's an annoying hassle, one that you will a) survive entirely, b) very likely emerge victorious, and c) get a great story out of for the rest of your life.

But I would also bet that this is completely an idle threat, dashed off as his standard way to get free software from guys like you, or to get someone to pay attention to him in this world.

> Is my EULA enough to protect me?  It says in part:

Sounds like it to me, but IANAAL (I Am Not An Australian Lawyer). It also sounds like his idea is complete nonsense. Can ANY software "damage the motherboard"????

Reminds me of a story from eons ago when an old girlfriend of mine lived next door to a bizarre reclusive man who claimed that her coughing in their shared bathroom was causing ants to appear there.

> This sort of email is making me close to packing it all in and giving up. 

Friend, your posts here make it seem like a flower scented April breeze will make you close to packing it in and giving up. This one seems like, though annoying, really nothing to worry about. I could see maybe if you had a $100k/yr software business and a well funded and litigious patent troll in East Texas was claiming $30k/yr in perpetuity, then you should be sweating. This is one unfortunate human being...who very well may be a 12 year old kid who copy and pasted that text from a site that shows you how to get free software from any small vendor product.

> I just can't handle this shit.  I've got a wife and kids to support, so I can't afford any court hassles.

Ellis again. You mean, "I can totally handle stuff like this, if it even comes to it. At worst, one day in small claims court is nothing."

> Should I refund him (he paid in June 2015) and fire him as a customer?  Seems like the best solution, so that if it goes to court I can argue my EULA and that I gave his money back as a goodwill gesture.

Cut him loose like rotting croc bait ASAP!

And breathe/see Marx Brothers films/eat pastries. Be well.
Racky Send private email
Friday, February 19, 2016
 
 
I know a crazy guy like that too - thinks hackers are getting in and messing with his motherboard.  They're paranoid and know just enough tech to be dangerous.

Refund his money and move on.  He'll never go to court.  He's probably complained about a bunch of other crazy stuff in the past and the police know to ignore him. 

He has no proof.  A reasonable jury would never believe a simple consumer app hurt hardware.  There is just nothing here to worry about.
Doug Send private email
Friday, February 19, 2016
 
 
@PSB My Dear friend,I have been seeing your posts here about minor issues like these.To be Frank I think you are very much obsessed about the software business.Is this your only income ? Do you have a day job? If yes, please stop worrying about silly things like these ,always there are idiots like these.You just keep doing the hard work my friend it takes time and patience.see the big picture, do not let some dumb idiot pull you down.And STOP OBSESSING.Take a break.
Anonme Send private email
Friday, February 19, 2016
 
 
Thanks for replying, everyone.

Just some background about me: I do have a stable day job. but would prefer my software to take off and become my real job.  I know this takes a LOT of time and years, and I'm willing to work and wait for that.  My wife doesn't work (stay-at-home mum because I have 3 kids under 10), so I'm the sole income earner.

So when this angry person sends me an email saying that my software has stuffed his motherboard, and the fact that he lives so close to me, I naturally panic.  I know how small claims works here in our location. He only has to pay $35 to get a hearing and if the court believes him, then I'd probably have to fork out a grand or so in a new PC for him, damages, costs, etc.  It's not something to just brush off lightly.

I know my software didn't wreck his motherboard.  Maybe if it was overclocking something, but it's not that type of software.  Anyway, I sent him an email saying that I'll refund him 100% if he agrees to end any type of contact with me in future.  I used the word "any" so that includes a small claims hearing, but I didn't specifically say that.  We'll see what happens.

Writing software is fun, and it's a business I'd like to be in.  But I just wish I knew this dark side of it before I started.  It's not all roses and profit at all.  Nobody tells you that people are assholes and that you're going to get abused, and your software rubbished in public, and so on.  (Someone else posted that my app contains adware in another public forum, which is technically libel but what can I do).  I was totally unprepared for this side of things.  I guess that's where the saying "haters gonna hate" comes from.

Thanks for listening to me (again).  Sorry that I keep posting my troubles here to you all.  I like that you listen and advise.  It helps.  You guys keep me grounded.  :)
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, February 19, 2016
 
 
(Also, by posting here, I hope I warn others in future about the dark side of software publishing, so they're not naive about it like I was).
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, February 19, 2016
 
 
Yeah, this is all really minor stalking by a manipulative crazy troll trying to unsettle you because you'll listen to him so he feels ok unloading his hate at the world at you.

These guys are totally minor issues to deal with.

The guys who threaten to kill you and harm your family, not really because of your software but because they are just insane and write to people they randomly find on the internet and become obsessed with are also empty threats. They do it for the laughs.

You only need to start worrying when they send you photos of your spouse in the shower, or telephoto shots of your children taken as they were in the school playyard.

Now those guys are the ones that are genuinely terrifying.

This other stuff, just don't worry about it man.
Scott Send private email
Saturday, February 20, 2016
 
 
He ended up agreeing to having nothing to do with me once I refunded him.  Good riddance to him.  I've kept his agreement email in case he tries anything legal later.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, February 22, 2016
 
 
Keep it in mind for the next time ;)
xmlbuddy Send private email
Monday, February 22, 2016
 
 
> He ended up agreeing to having nothing to do with me once I refunded him. 

My guess is this was his only goal from the start. Mission accomplished. I'd also guess he doesn't even live in Australia, let alone your state/area, but found out your address and lied about his location to make it seem like a more legit threat. He's probably 13 and using the computer his mom bought him at Wal-Mart.

In any case, good riddance.

Re: not knowing about the dark side of software... Really, this is a (more minor) dark side of *humanity*. There are just trolls out there, and any time you deal with the public (writer, musician, politician, merchant, restauranteur, activist, public speaker, etc.) you are going to encounter them from time to time, unfortunately.  The goal is to get away from them ASAP; they feed on attention. I have mentioned before how Alfred Russell Wallace (the co-founder of the theory of evolution) had his life just about ruined by a 19th century flat-Earth troll, but it was partly because Wallace couldn't just let it go and unfortunately wasted time money and headaches (and was threatened, etc.).
Racky Send private email
Monday, February 22, 2016
 
 
Racky, according to his PayPal receipt (that PayPal sent me) he lives in Coolangatta, which isn't far from me.  See this map:

http://i.imgur.com/iQLwTQo.png

That's why I was getting worried, because it wouldn't be out of the question for him to set up a hearing in our local court.  He'd know where I live too, because my WHOIS record is public; assuming he's smart enough to get that info.

I think it's definitely good that he agreed to end all contact once I refunded him.  Here's the exchange:

http://i.imgur.com/FB4te6K.png

What a trip, eh?  I know this sort of thing is water off a duck's back for you guys, but as a newbie it's frightening.  I appreciate what you said, Scott, and will try not to let things like this bother me so much in future.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, February 22, 2016
 
 
Looks good, he just wanted the money back.
Scott Send private email
Friday, February 26, 2016
 
 
You should have seen me freak out the first time the government came after me. Now I tell them to get lost.

It doesn't work very well though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XGAmPRxV48
Bring back anon Send private email
Saturday, February 27, 2016
 
 
When it comes to worrying about lawsuits, My policy is to only worry  about the lawsuits that have been filed and  I have been served and required to appear in court.  Anything less than that is not a lawsuit.
C. Stark Send private email
Monday, March 14, 2016
 
 

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