I quote to avoid misrepresentation, Autodesk’s lawyer says;
“Your most recent email of 19 August 2007 requests a response to your open letter directed to our client at http://miletter.blogspot.com dated 17 August 2007. Your open letter repeats the same ill-conceived grievance in relation to the audit clause in Autodesk’s End User Licence Agreement that our client has responded to fully in the past.
Our client will not be drawn into responding to your weblog and in any way validating your unfounded complaint. The weblog appears to have been established by you for the sole purpose of attacking our client.
We reiterate that any further communications with Autodesk, or its officers or employees should be directed to us.
Our client expressly reserves its rights in full should you take further action to harm its business reputation.”
So I guess I can assume from this response that it is not a response to my weblog because a response would in some way validate the ill-conceived grievance I don’t have :-)
Disclosure!, lawyers love words and expressions and the response detailed is only four paragraphs of nine, the other five paragraphs preceding those quoted are in the main irrelevant in terms of the open letter (as are two of these) and therefore have been omitted; though having said that I guess they all add important bulk to the letter.
On the lighter side, take note of the sales tool embodied in this paragraph. Starting with, “We reiterate….”, this sentence ensures, or at least hopes that further business will be following but as those of us in sales know repeat business is normally a function of customer satisfaction not instruction; weeell, it’s the thought that counts ain’t it**;-)
Another PR tool at work here is the “head in the sand avoids unhappy customers’ principle”. A policy that will work for a period of time but one that ensures the same problem customer will re-surface, as a problem, at some point in the future. Most truly customer oriented companies have a very different and much more ‘how can we help you’ approach: you all know which approach attracts and encourages repeat business.
I digress: what is actually very important in these paragraphs are these sentences; “…..unfounded complaint” and, “Your open letter repeats the same ill-conceived grievance in relation to the audit clause in Autodesk’s End User Licence Agreement that out client has responded to fully in the past.”; and why are these portions so important?
Two reasons, and to start lets look at the second part first; “that out client has responded to fully in the past.” Not so say I: in my reply to Autodesk and their lawyers I made the following statement; “This I found to be a very interesting statement and again it is in need of correction. My general questions relating to the Subscription and Licence contracts and those questions that have more specifically aligned with the Audit clauses HAVE NEVER BEEN ANSWERED. However as you believe that they may have been, else why would you have penned that sentence, then it might be a good idea if you were to look for copies of those answers and forward them to me as quickly as possible. For it would seem to be a pointless waste of time for us all to continue communicating in this form, and for me to continue to have the concerns I do and not be using my software because of those concerns, if the answers to my questions have simply been lost somewhere in the system.
If you cannot find these, previously supplied, replies and assurances, want to provide them to me, but have forgotten or cannot remember what the original questions, I asked, were then please do not hesitate to request me to re-ask the questions; or to make matters easier just reply to my Weblog, through the Weblog and again another problem, as you see it, may be solved. You see, the solutions are all so easy but, hey, why let facts or sensible discussion and effort get in the way of a verbal, time wasting stoush?”
That reply was sent on the 4th October 2007 and as I have not received a response, thus far, it is fair to say that I am right and that my Claytons “ill-conceived grievance” has never been answered.
“unfounded complaint “, “ill-conceived grievance in relation to the audit clause in Autodesk’s End User Licence Agreement.” These are, of course, the most important parts of each sentence; Autodesk seem to believe my questions and suggestions are an unfounded complaint and an ill-conceived grievance, do you?
Let’s look at the facts, reviewing again, one of Autodesk’s several audit clauses, it reads:
“Autodesk shall have the right to conduct an audit on your premises or by electronic means to ensure that your use of all/any versions of the Software complies with the provisions of this Agreement…” etc.
A small, significant, part of this clause clearly states - electronic means - does it not? And when read in context, Autodesk are ‘requesting’ we give Autodesk permission to use electronic means to access our premises, design and computing systems!
Now right at the very outset I had difficulty with this clause, it contradicts commonsense, raised my curiosity and initiated some thought, the results of which are laid out in my open letter and in the questions - that remain un-answered - and suggestions I have also made to Autodesk.
Make no mistake my concerns are neither an unfounded complaint nor an ill-conceived grievance: Autodesk is requiring you and me, their customers, to give Autodesk electronic access to our premises, our design and computing systems and they are refusing to accept that in doing so it is only reasonable that they allow US a measure of control, unconditional individual, and independent scrutiny of their audit processes - THEY ARE RESISTING THIS? – WHY? This HAS to be determined and seeking that answer will continue to drive what I do.
Consider this, is Autodesk REFUSING TO PROVIDE FULL DETAILS OF THE INFORMATION AND DATA THEY ARE INTENDING TO COLLECT and MORE IMPORTANTLY IS Autodesk REFUSING TO ACCEPT A USER SHOULD KNOW WHAT DATA IS TO BE COLLECTED, BY Autodesk, FROM A USERS COMPUTING SYSTEMS, BEFORE ACCEPTANCE OF THE CONTRACT AND THAT Autodesk MUST ALLOW THE INFORMATION BEING CREATED, COLLATED AND TRANSMITTED, ON and FROM A USERS COMPUTING SYSTEMS, TO BE INDEPENDENTLY VETTED, VERIFIED AND VALIDATED BEFORE IT IS SENT TO Autodesk?***
Additionally, DATA CREATED AND COLLATED FOR TRANSMISSION ON and FROM OUR COMPUTING and DESIGN SYSTEMS IS OUR DATA, ARE WE NOT THEREFORE FULLY ENTITLED TO KNOW AND SEE WHAT IT IS BEFORE A THIRD PARTY (Autodesk) DOES?***
To close these issues down all Autodesk has to do is accept the commonsense approach I have suggested, or similar, and they may have what they want. Alternatively Autodesk can continue to hold its current position in the trench and I will continue to bring the issues to the fore through Caveat emptor, and other venues, until Autodesk does see sense and accepts a position and process that gives more than just lip service to customers’ protection*.
Three final comments, one of which I will expand on – what is actually collected by CIP*** - in a future posting on this blog;
One) Don’t be fooled by the ‘reasonable notice’ in some Audit clauses; it does not appear in all contracts. Staff love to throw this up as if it is some form of protective shield, it is rubbish, acceptance of the contract is notification, therefore;
Two) Understand, Autodesk’s Customer Involvement Program (CIP***) is a Trojan vehicle, of un-known un-controlled “electronic means”, accessing your computing and design systems; a software tool you should also be very concerned about. Until Autodesk cough-up, if you have not already done so turn Autodesk’s Customer Involvement Program off NOW, if not sooner, in all your Autodesk software and any other software that you have that has similar functionality; and there are others out there. Furthermore, delay no longer; check, read and make sure you understand ALL your software licence contracts, Autodesk are not the only ones to watch.
Three) *The following comments appears in an Autodesk web site;
“non constructuve and spread rumors that CIP was being used to track piracy.. He is also non constructive on the EULA.”
The spelling errors are the authors, have been repeated in the interests of accuracy and are a clue to ownership.
Who do you think the comments refer to and while you’re thinking, ask yourself these questions; why are the comments there and for what purpose? What other personal comments and information, about Autodesk’s customers, are floating around in Autodesk web pages?
And, in allowing this type of information, allowing it to be found, to remain after notification, on a company web site should we customers believe that data collected in Audits, and through the use of Error reports and CIP, should be entrusted to the same organisation and personnel?
R. Paul Waddington.
CAD Software Consumer WatchDog & Bone.
** “You WILL have fries…..riiight…..or else…I’ll…!”
*** “We have a load of instrumentation in our code that watches what customers really do with the software.” Buzz Kross – Autodesk Inc. Interview reported in mcadonline.com.