In the past, it was easier for companies to force new fees on individual customers because they held all of the negotiating chips. But the web has changed the game, empowering a single irate customer to launch a tidal wave of bad PR through news channels, the blogosphere, and social networks. It looks like Sony is the latest example of a company testing those waters.
Shortly following an announcement that it would begin charging $50 to remove pre-installed applications from its TZ series of notebooks, a tidal wave of angry web surfers flooded the web with irate comments. Sony responded quickly, deciding to remove the $50 fee later on the same day, according to Wired.
Sony pre-loads its systems with trial versions of anti-virus and anti-spyware applications that can be irritants for customers who already own other software, or slow systems down unnecessarily for less technical customers.
Here are some details about the Fresh Start option from Wired:
Among the software included on TZ systems, which “Fresh Start” will remove, are the “specific VAIO applications,” Microsoft Works Special Edition, trial versions of Microsoft Office and Corel Paint Shop Pro; and a crippled version of QuickBooks that can only track 20 customers.
It’s interesting that outrage burned through the web even though Fresh Start was optional. Sony loses some revenue by omitting trial software, and the company is trying to find appropriate ways of recovering that cost.
However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Microsoft continues to move forward with Windows Vista despite widespread criticism. The real point here is that companies make decisions based on money as well as customer satisfaction. Can the masses on the web rise to that challenge as well?