Friday, January 26, 2007

mozy: the automated backup service that delivers moral dilemmas fresh to your inbox

I was recently in the market for a service that would provide an automated daily backup of files to a remote Web server, because FolderShare--miraculous as it is for keeping my files synced and thus backed up across various computers in Cambridge and Madison--only does continuous synching and so won't work with Outlook, meaning that I've been without reliable e-mail backup for awhile.* I finally settled on buying a one-year subscription to Mozy, which seems to work okay but has a clumsy interface that keeps me from giving it a clear endorsement. Anyway, I got this e-mail yesterday from them:
As some of you may have noticed, the month of December and early January was a challenging time for us. We were overwhelmed by the demand for the Mozy backup service, and had a difficult time keeping up. [...]

So, to try and make up for the problems we've experienced, and to thank you for hanging in there, we like to offer you the follow options:

If you had a really frustrating experience, click here to get 3 months free service added to your account.

If you hit some glitches, but everything mostly worked out for you, click here to get 2 months free service added to your account.

If things went just fine this last month, click here to get 1 month free service added to your account.

But if you'd rather just let us know you're doing okay and you don't need the extra month of free service, click here to let us know.

If you have any questions or feedback, don't hesitate to email me personally. We're here to protect your data - and we thank you for hanging in there during our growing pains.

Founder, CEO, Berkeley Data Systems, Inc.
I think this e-mail is fascinating. Here, the company has apparently had service problems that have annoyed a bunch of customers. They decide that, rather than the expense of handling complaints case-by-case, they will just send out a mass e-mail offering free additional months of their service to everyone. But, then, they insert this humanity by their appeal by asking you only to take the number of months of additional service that you think you deserve (or, more accurately, the number of months they feel you deserve given your classification of the severity of problems you've had).

Sure, you are a faceless customer and this is a mass e-mail, but that doesn't mean you're not a human being. So we'll turn our screw-up into a chance to create greater pseudointimacy with customers by displaying our personal trust in your honesty. We're all cool here. Our product is named 'Mozy', after all.

So, what to do? I did have some problems with the initial upload, so maybe I could lay honest claim to one month, at most. Then again, this is someone who simultaneously identifies himself as CEO of a fully grown-up corporation and yet signs his e-mail with just his first name in all small letters. And he wants to minimize the transaction costs of their customer service problem by passing it off as a moral dilemma to me?

In the end, I clicked the option for two months. Me, in a nutshell: choosing the option that lets me feel both a little immoral and a little like a sucker.

I bet they are going to take the people who click the option for no extra service and sell their names to some marketing company that keeps a trusting-souls mailing list.

* More accurately, it doesn't work with the way I use Outlook, which is to open and close it frequently, and the files are too big for FolderShare to start sending them to all my machines each time. Of course, I could solve this problem by just leaving Outlook open all day. As if my e-mail habits are not unhealthy enough already.


Anonymous said...

>Me, in a nutshell: choosing the option
>that lets me feel both a little immoral
>and a little like a sucker.

It's not just you. Some of the recent "dictator game" research shows that people do exactly this. Basically, people tend to choose the second sleaziest option on the table.

Anonymous said...

It's not just you.

See, Jeremy, you're just the average Joe. Isn't that the most disappointing part of this entire experience?

Thanks for sharing the letter, interesting.

I'll put in an endorsement for Carbonite. I'm annoyed that they charge per machine, but they seem to have by far the best interface and also seem to offer the best value. The latter may depend on what your needs are, I appreciate that there is no limit.