Does free mean you cannot complain?

A recent blog post about Twitter losing tweets drew a lot of ire and flak from various people around the ‘net.

Here’s a typical reaction:

whaa whaa whaaa!

it’s a free service. stop complaining about a freakin’ free service.

There were even wilder reactions. The post + comments disappeared from public view in Hacker News. Did someone think we were trolling?

Why exactly is that?

Does Free mean you cannot complain anymore?

In today’s computing world, most online services/apps are free. Put simply, users get what they want, while companies monetize the popularity. Simple relationship.

But now, there appears to be a tribe of people bearing arms, bludgeoning anyone who dares to speak out about lousy service quality, bad uptime, bad customer support etc all under the blanket “Its free, what you got to complain about”.

What happens if Google stops showing search results for companies and products they don’t like. It is a free service, no one can complain, but you bet that those companies are going to die pretty soon.

Or what happens if Gmail loses all your incoming emails and you learn about it a couple of months later. No big deal if you are Grandma. Pretty big deal if you run a small business using Google Domains. (Which is free btw)

Or what happens if Google Docs swallows many of your documents ?

Maybe you will say, “Its a free service. Stop complaining”

or maybe not.

If the knee-jerk reaction to criticism and complaints is to shush them under blanket nonsensical rhetoric, then it is not much different from strong arming tactics like this.

The only recourse a ordinary customer is to complain loud and clear..

When enough people complain, companies do sit up and listen. Without those checks and balances, things break down. Products and companies never improve, because they never get complaints..Everything is rosy.

With Tonido, we are not only spouting philosophy but trying to implement it. Some of the best insightful feedback we have got about Tonido has come from people who told us why Tonido sucks.

So Tonido users make some noise. We are listening.

6 Responses

  1. Raven says:

    Actually Google Apps isn’t free. If your a business, its $50/per user/per year.

  2. S2 says:

    It’s a free service, stop complaining. If a small business uses a free service without a clear TOS, it’s their fault. If you use a free service, and the Terms of use of that service say that if the service provider ***** up you are SOL, you *are* SOL. If you don’t like the therms of the free service choose another one, or get a paid one, with TOS that guarantee you uptime, or backups, or whatever it is you need, or big $$$ in case the TOS are not respected by your service provider.
    I may sound a bit arrogant, but why is this so difficult to understand?

  3. chris says:

    Your argument doesn’t hold any water. Complaining, no matter what for, is stupid and pointless.

    If it’s a free service then you can do one of two things. You leave, you find a better service, you try to bring your friends there. Or, if you want to stay, because you think the service is worth it, you inform the makers of the service what is going on so they can better serve you and keep you as a customer.

    Either way the makers of the service are going to sit up and take notice, if not, then they aren’t serious about what they’re doing. Whining and complaining, making a big stink about something, that’s just grabbing for attention and isn’t constructive in the least.

  4. Roger Faucher says:

    Where are the documents telling people things like the default URL to launch Tonido (http://127.0.0.1:10001/ui/core/index.html), to install Flash, to turn off Pfishing/Smartscreen filter, etc. There is a note to circumvent the corporate firewall by going home and creating a Profile. How can you use that Profile when you return to work? After several hours I am really nowhere with Tonido.
    END

  5. Madhan says:

    @roger
    Sorry to hear you are frustrated.

    1. We don’t need to tell the default URL, tonido will open the URL automatically on start
    2. Flash is only needed if you are using Jukebox and it tells you right when you open Jukebox.
    3. I am not aware of phishing/smartscreen filter. Which browser is this? We can investigate.
    4. Once you create a profile at home and after you port forward to your Tonido, your Tonido URL is accessible from anywhere, including work. http://user.tonidoid.com:10001 should work from your work.

    If you have more questions, please post in the forums and we will try to help.

  6. rlt says:

    Above post from “Chris”… Quote: “you inform the makers of the service what is going on so they can better serve you and keep you as a customer.”

    I thought that WAS called “complaining”?

    A lot of people seem to jump on this “can’t/don’t complain ’cause it’s free” bandwagon and don’t think through what they are actually saying. EVERY company wants people to complain! They don’t want you to just LEAVE. They’re making money IN SOME WAY from people using their services or products, even if the end user is getting them for “FREE”. So complaining when you are unhappy in ANY way with the company is what they ultimately want.

    Random thought: I wonder which would be worse for Twitter? A loss of tweets and thousands of people simply and abruptly abandon the service for elsewhere; never telling Twitter what they are unhappy about? Or people “complain” and Twitter says “It’s free so TOUGH COOKIES!”; then MILLIONS of people go elsewhere and millions more avoid it like the plague?

    Whether people get more action from a company by quietly emailing their complaints directly or by airing them in public is a different debate. But mind you, the many arbitrators, consumer advocacy groups and the Better Business Bureau were founded on the concept of what actually WORKS in this world.

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