The Psychotic Non-Customer

A little story for Sunday reading:

Someone recently used the 30-day trial period of my software. At the end of the trial period, he asked for another 3 month trial. We often give a second 30-day trial, but 3 months…please! I can’t pay the rent if I don’t charge for my software, so I politely decline his request.

The non-customer answers, “then I’ll have to report your bugs to online forums” and starts putting a nasty comment on each of our YouTube videos.

File under “things-you-don’t-realise-you’ll-have-to-deal-with-when-starting-a-software-company”

My next product is aimed at business customers. Do those of you targeting business customers also have to deal with similar nonsense?

1 Like

In the past 3 years non of my business customers has done anything like this. I deal mostly with enterprise customers so your experience might be different for smaller ones.

I have never had an experience like that. Negative feedback in general has been fairly minimal and usually constructive.

I heard the term ‘saashole’ a few years ago, that person may fall into that group.

1 Like

No, I have never had a kra-kra business customer.
But have had a few crazy home users (this is over 20 years).

I’ve once had a person telling they wanted to personally kill me (they named me specifically) on our public forum. I can’t remember the “reason” behind the threat, but it started by him asking a question and then 30 minutes later posting that threat before any one of us had a chance to answer his question.

I just deleted the post. Mentally unbalanced people say and do crazy shit.

After talking to over 1000 Shopify shop owners, I have generally a very positive impression. Many of them really think win-win which is great. From time to time somebody thinks they need to educate the lowly app developer on how real entrepreneurs think, but an easy “thank you for the feedback” solves that.

One lesson learned though: If the shop logo is a childhood picture of the shop owner, tread carefully…

That’s a story I’d like to hear!


Just once had a similar experience with a person that was replying to a noreply@ email from the payment processor asking for support. And each time got a reply saying that no one was reading his emails.

When finally fill the support request he threatens blog all over the place about how we don’t reply to emails :astonished:

1 Like

I think a difference with B2B is that if people do encounter similar nonsense, they’re not going to be able to talk about it publicly. With B2C, you can generally say “Wow, what a fruitcake!”, moan on a forum or two & then go on with life. With B2B, they can sometimes choose to make your life really miserable until they get their way. Which would you prefer, a crazy B2C customer with a Twitter account and a blog, or a crazy B2B customer with deep pockets & a top law firm on retainer?

Well Steve, I am not going to go into too much detail, but let me teach you the fundamentals of business as I learned them this year:

If you do not respond:

  • within 6 hours
  • on a Sunday morning
  • in August
  • after doing customer support all night
  • to the 100th+ email* from that one customer
  • about your 15 USD / month app
  • then that clearly means you are doing it on purpose
  • and hiding that your app is not working
  • which is deserving of a 1 star app review
  • which just the day before was a glowing 5 star review
  • with a complaint to Shopify to top it all off
  • cause clearly the 100 other shops who rated you exclusively (!) 5 stars are all wrong
  • Reason I remember the email count is that I learned that Gmail UI breaks at the 100th email in a thread. Emails still arrive but you can’t see them anymore.

In my experience the harder ones in B2B (and there are a few) tend to get restrained by their colleagues before it goes too far. Your mileage may vary.

I deal with businesses and consumers. I get a lot less weird and rude emails from the business customers (even allowing for the fact there are less of them). But dealing with businesses means more beaurocracy and longer lead times. So its not all positive.

I think behaviour does also vary with the market you are in. I am lucky to have generally very pleasant customers.

1 Like

I am curious – could you determine whether he was actually using your software or was he a “stagnant prospect”.

Trial periods and demonstrations create a paradox for developers and small business. We thirst of the sale but are simultaneously consumed by experiences like yours. Clear boundaries up front are the key. If you are in beta and need the continued feedback though a reduced price versus free is better.

Why? No matter how much we need our beta testers and early adopters we need the customer to have SKIN IN THE GAME. Without that they have no pain and there is no consequence to their failure to continue to invest time and effort.

B2B is somewhat similar, or can be. In either environment you cannot give away services, those services have no value. Be confident and put your value first. That confidence in your value will undermine customer’s like the one you just encountered.



Recently instituted a migration route from my old 1.0 system to the new
version, with the original pricing preserved. Everyone with an active
account at the time was invited.

I got an email a few weeks back from someone who said he was a “longtime
subscriber” asking why he couldn’t migrate. It turned out that he had an
account for a year, and then canceled long before the 2.0 migration.

I explained this to him, and he got angry, explaining again how he was a
"longtime user" but he had just “paused” his subscription for several
months. (There was no pause on the old system. There was only cancellation.)

In any sufficiently large group of users, there is always that one person.


I think the reason is that B2B are not spending their own money and thus not emotional involved in the purchase.

1 Like

You just hit the nail on the head.

Other reasons:

  • They’re more aware of the value. Your app saves money or it makes money. If value > cost, don’t sweat it. With B2C there’s less ability to measure value so they’re free to focus on the cost. ("$5?! Are you nuts?! Your competitor is free!")
  • They have other things to do. A bored consumer at home has more free time to complain. A person at work is in the mode of taking issues in their stride and employing their time in a generally efficient way given their task load.
  • Generally, B2B has no kids so you don’t get hormonal schoolchildren who love the feeling that they’re an adult on the internet.

Just had one literally today:

I just happened to check my email this morning and saw the email he had sent on Friday (I was out of office Friday). I sent him a reply about the issue, letting him know I was on it. Apparently I wasn’t quick enough on that and he posted a 1 star review on my WordPress plugin site.

I still spent most of today (Sunday) to get the issue resolved, regression tested, and deployed - as well as sending plenty of correspondence on the issue.

Chances are, he was never interested in actually becoming a paid customer either (whenever anyone gripes that you don’t offer a free tier, that’s usually not a leading conversion indicator). But that didn’t stop him from torching my app on WordPress for all my otherwise would-be customers.

Welcome to Startup Land.

Update: Outreach seems to be working. He’s upped his review from a 1-star to a 3-star so far.

Ugh, that’s not a nice way to spend your weekend! Nice to see he re-rated though.

I got a nice lead today:

Your app adds a 63kB MINIFIED javascript to the page. I am almost tempted to install it just to warn other users with a review.

Such a warm intro, I am almost tempted to want him as a customer.