Movie download service Vongo has suffered more than a few slings and arrows over the past year, with a recent salvo fired in the comments section of GigaOM. Seems that there have been three problems that have plagued the service: uninstalling, coupons and customer service.
H-P laptops bought by customers in September of 2006 had Vongo preinstalled on them. The problem was that if users tried to uninstall Vongo, they couldn’t. The machine would get stuck in a loop, trying to reinstall it. Ryc Brownrigg, vice president of technology and advanced services for Starz Entertainment, said the problem had to do with Vongo and Sonic CD burning software, both of which use Macrovision’s InstallShield and Software Update Service. Brownrigg wrote an explanation for the problem in a blog post:
This might be a bit complex, but the problem is with the InstallShield Uninstall and the Software Update Services. When the consumer uses the Macrovision Uninstall routines to uninstall an application that installed the application and the Macrovision Software Update Services, the uninstaller ONLY uninstalls the software and not the associated registry settings and components of the Software Update Services. There are over 100 registry entries that are written but the installation of the Software Update Service will NEVER be removed.
So, in a nutshell, since the Vongo InstallShield installation overwrote some of the components of the Software Update Services that Sonic installed, the Software Update service thinks the Vongo install is broken and it tries to repair it by reinstalling Vongo.
You can see the steps Vongo recommends for uninstalling its software here (post No. 5).
Vongo lays the blame for this issue pretty squarely on Macrovision. Brownrigg says Vongo worked with H-P and Macrovision to come up with a solution, but couldn’t. Vongo has since stopped using Macrovision in its service.
When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for Macrovision said that no, it wasn’t them, but rather Vongo’s product deployment.
There have also been some issues around free promotional trials of Vongo. Different marketing partners offered a 30-day trial of the service, but when trying to take advantage of the offer, some customers were apparently greeted with a message that said the offer was only good for 14 days.
The problem here, according to Vongo, was that regardless of which promotion you chose, the software download was the same. And the software download only had one set of messaging, which was the 14-day offer. Vongo said that it still gave away the 30 days, when valid, despite what the copy on the download read. Vongo also said it fixed this problem with the Oct. 23 release of “Vongo 2.0.” Legacy issues may, however, still crop up for people with pre-Oct. 23 software.
A few commenters complained about the poor customer service from Vongo over on GigaOM. Looks like they griped on the right board, because Pete Roberts, vice president of operations for Starz Entertainment, responded to them, even handing out his email. If you’ve ever had a customer complaint about Vongo, now you know where to file it.