My blacklisted companies

Here is my current short list of two companies involved with hardware and/or software sale that I won’t buy from again due to the various reasons.

First is HTC, yes, the one that produces all sort of phones. In fact it massively produces new versions monthly. Does this suggest that they are smart and productive? I’d rather say that they a) don’t know what to produce and thus they throw a lot of different versions on the market and b) they count on customers buying newer and newer versions of their hardware instead of keeping existing ones. The latter is strictly linked to the fact that HTC is very reluctant to fix existing bugs and you pretty much can’t count on upgrading to newer OS even though your device could easily run it. Did I mention that they sometime forget to include drivers, like graphics acceleration? Of course, they kindly suggest to buy a new device if you want hw accelerated graphics because they just won’t provide it for your model for some reason. I am specifically talking about HTC TyTN II aka Kaiser, not a cheap device by any means. A device that is in fact in 75% range of iPhone v1 hardware performances including graphics, if there was a proper driver. Yet due to the missing graphics hardware acceleration and very much outdated WM6.x this device is nowhere near iPhone. People might think that the situation would improve with HTC Android devices but it certainly doesn’t look so. True, HTC is creating attractive models from hardware perspective but the little things like bugs, hardware issues and mostly the company’s arrogant and greedy attitude put them to my blacklist of companies I' won’t buy again from. Warning, I am talking about my experience with HTC and I am not implying that other companies are better or worse.

So, what will be my next phone? I’ve decided to try Android. I like the fact that it is open source and modern. What about the device? Currently I am considering Motorola Milestone because it a) has good hardware (a bit faster CPU wouldn’t hurt though) and b) is a Google reference device meaning no custom Motorola UI put on top of it. Why is this good? Because upgrading to newer Android versions shouldn’t take long and certainly they won’t depend on anybody else but Google (hopefully, the future will tell). I certainly don’t want to depend on companies such as HTC anymore. Pity though Milestone isn’t yet being sold nearby (I am not that keen to pay 50€ (>10% of the device) for postage from Germany to Slovenia) in Europe.

The other one is Kettler, a German fitness equipment manufacturer. What it has to do with hardware or software? Oh, it does. Among other fitness machines they have a rowing machine featuring an onboard “computer” and USB port. The older version of this rower featured a PC application (for a healthy price) that linked to the machine through the USB port and could control and/or register various data – it got total control of the rowing machine. Imagine the possibilities. The slightly newer version of the same rowing machine isn’t compatible anymore with this PC software (which I found only after I’ve bought the machine) but they assured a newer version is on the way. This was years ago. I’ve asked them several times whether it is possible to get at least communication protocol specs so I could create the software I wanted myself. All answer were like: “our policy is not to disclose anything, we won’t give you anything” – you get the idea. But will you ever release an updated PC application? “We might be working on it”. Years after nothing to see. I can only deduce that they don’t care about their customers. They never disclosed this version incompatibility. Again, their hardware is fine, it’s their software and mostly attitude that put them on my blacklist. BTW, is anybody out there willing to reverse engineer the 256KB ROM (Freescale HCS12 CPU) to understand the protocol? I’d try but having no experience it would take me a long time (I imagine a skilled person might understand it quickly). The time I currently don’t have unfortunately.

If I were to buy a rowing machine again I’d buy a Concept2 rower which comes with all sort of free PC applications and even a free SDK – heck, the company even encourages you to write applications. In fact I might switch to it after I sell my Kettler on eBay.

Why am I writing all this? Well, sharing bad experience helps others from falling in the same hole. After all we mostly judge companies by bad experience don’t we? Furthermore exposing such bad practices might make them think twice. So take my writing as you wish but consider yourself warned :-). Also I am not saying that I won’t buy from those companies ever: I might but not before the company policy changes considerably.

That said I am interested in your blacklists as I am sure everybody keeps one. Perhaps we can create a blacklist page.