I try not to begrudge software companies for reasonable protections of their intellectual property. It is sad but true that the selfish, dishonest, and illegal behavior of a few causes problems for all of us. But I've just run into a licensing scheme for SPSS statistical software that is extraordinarily customer unfriendly.
Apparently, though I successfully installed the $200 "Graduate Pack" and went through their online registration process, I did something wrong. Maybe. Or maybe it's their fault. But, either way, yesterday after the close of business, the product suddenly quit working and throws an error report that "the license will not permit that operation" every time I launch the software. Turns out that, either due to my mistake or some problem on their end, the software was only installed in "trial mode" that expired after two weeks. AND IT NEVER GAVE ME ANY WARNING THAT IT WAS IN TRIAL MODE!!
I've used other software with trial periods -- MindManager comes to mind -- and they've usually given you at least a warning on launching the program and generally a countdown to the drop dead date. Not SPSS. Nothing. Nada. And, what's worse, they won't respond timely to the problem. It's a common enough situation that the first three FAQs on their customer-service site read:
Where do I find my Authorization Code or License Code?
What's the difference between a License Code and an Authorization Code?
I installed the software two weeks ago and it was working fine. Now it's not working. What happened?
The first suggestion is to use the License Authorization Wizard in the software itself to register over a high-speed internet connection. Great. No problem. I go through the process, keying in the 19 digit authorization code that is in the manual. And I get back the response that my software is now licensed, though I may have to re-start the product for it to take effect. OK. No problem. Shut 'er down and re-start. Same thing. Throws the error report and won't work. Repeat the whole "License Authorization" rigamarole; same result. Repeat; nothing. Ok, now it is really their problem, not mine.
The FAQs mention that the code was on a "yellow sheet" loose in the box with the product when delivered. What? Are they kidding? A critical piece of information on a separate sheet loose in the box? That's ridiculous. And, of course, it's long gone now. Or maybe it was never there. Regardless, it's not a solution for me now. But, wait! They also have a "License Code Request Form" on their web site. Now, I'm "logged in" to their site. They have my customer identification information, including my e-mail address. (Why is a fax number a required field on this form? That doesn't look good!) So, they're going to retrieve my license code on the spot, or at least e-mail it to me, right? Nope. The form, as far as anything on the site shows, does nothing worthwhile. Instead, it returns this message:
Your customer service inquiry has been sent to SPSS Customer Service who will process it and get back with you shortly.
AND CUSTOMER SERVICE IS ONLY OPEN 8:30 - 5:00 CENTRAL TIME, M-F!!
So, my partner and I have a deadline of next Friday for the first draft of our Capstone paper, I've been doing data analysis all week and need to be immersed in it this week, and, instead, I'm sitting here writing this post because of REALLY POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE FROM SPSS!!
Resoultion: On Monday, I got an e-mail from an SPSS representative in response to a license request form I had submitted. The e-mail asked for the "lock code" for my machine and told me how to obtain it. I sent that and the registration authorization back and got a return e-mail containing a 95-character license code. I entered this through the license wizard, started SPSS, and got a message that "the license has expired"!! So, it now being a M-F betwee 8 and 5, I called, sat on hold for 15 minutes, talked to a customer service representative who, after putting me on hold for several more minutes, put me through to technical service. The technical service representative had none of the information about me from my registration, even though the customer service representative had that info. He had to set me up anew in their system. Then he went through some questions, generated a set a files, zipped them up and e-mailed them to me. With him on the phone, I unzipped them into the main SPSS directory and ran a batch program that was among them to "clean" the flag in SPSS that made the program act as if it had been in trial mode. Oh, and I had apparently licensed the program correctly because the customer service records showed it licensed on the day I installed it, 2 weeks before it shut down. The batch program worked. Problem solved. Three days lost. And apparently this happens to folks with Graduate Pack 14.0 fairly frequently.