Can I refuse to sell to a customer

I sold a licence for my database program to someone in Canada back in 2013. In short it was the worst thing I ever did. (no offence to all Canadians just this one individual)
Over the years I have received nothing but abusive emails asking me to fix things. These “fixes” weren’t bugs but additional features she thinks the program should have. She discribes my program as the most useless thing on her computer and a frustrating waste of time, but she keeps using it.
Note: I’ve sold 4000 copies of it over 10 years in it’s current form and all but the most elusive bugs have been ironed out long ago. Complaints are very rare.

She demands I call her long distance from Australia as my email responses are no help at all. I’ve spent countless hours making and emailing video captures and screen dumps of every little thing, most of it being basic computer use such as running an installer or copying a file to a folder.
All for a one-off purchase price of AUD$14 back in 2013. She receives free updates but complains about every improvement and abuses me for not customising it to her requirements.
After receiving more abuse yesterday I finally cracked sent her $14 via Paypal and told her to find a program more suitable to her needs, she was no longer a registered customer.
Her current version of the program will continue to work but since she is no longer a purchaser all future versions will revert to trial versions.
My question: Am I legally allowed to refuse to sell to someone under these circumstances?
Does she have, as she puts it “the right to the support she paid for”?

You define the support “she paid for”. Tell her that additional support costs 100 $ the hour.

Sounds like you went above and beyond. Forget her.

Draw a line in the sand. She has got over the one year full warranty.

Beatrix gave you a good idea of what to tell.

Is she single ?

My main program has been selling since 1999 and has over 80,000 users. I can think of an instance where I cut someone off of support and one where I force-returned the software.

For the latter, the person didn’t just notify the BBB about my companies business practices, but actually called the local police on me (small rural town of 20,000). I considered it stalking and frightening, so I cancelled his licenses, refunded the money (credit card), and sent him a postal letter (since I’d already told him we’d no longer respond to his emails) notifying him of this and if he wanted any resolution he’d have to call us via telephone. You can refuse to license your software, personally I think for any reason, but really you should have just cause. I thought calling my local police went beyond that boundary.

For the former, it was an Austrian that was so wacky that, like your customer, he would say false things and think he knew something when he really didn’t. He’d post nutty things on public forums that even forum people scratched their heads about. I gave him a couple warnings that I would block his email address and never respond if he didn’t stop, then I did. But he still had the program and he was free to use it - I mean, why should I care?

What I’m saying is that you can handle the nutty customer and even refuse service and support. All software is licensed “as-is” so actually support is a show of kindness, plus we know that software is complicated and people need personal help, no matter how good your manual is.

Even today, it’s the day before an important convention and I’m extremely busy. I get a call from a customer who has absolute no respect for my time and can’t even type into text fields, he does things and leaves me hanging on the phone. After 30 minutes, I just said “I’ve gotta go”. got a response, and hung up. I have to admit I don’t respect the guy, but I do kind of like him.

Let the lady use your software. (if it’s still possible), you can refuse support but just saying “I’ve given you enough time, I can’t spend anymore” and just block emails and if she calls, make sure she knows you’ll terminate the call quickly.

Yes I need to rewrite the program terms and conditions to include the limitations of support ie. limited to email only, and a note that updates are optional and may not suit individual needs and preferences.
I’m concerned that she will simply buy the program again and start demanding all over. I’ve questioned Paypal about how to refuse to accept money and they think I’m mad.
I’m also concerned about the damage she could do to my reputation through social media and forums. But then I dread receiving her emails. It’s quite a dilemma.

I don’t know but if you want to marry her you’d better be careful what you put in your wedding vows especially any mention of the words “support for as long as you both may live”.

@Emile. If there’s a God in heaven, she is… :slight_smile:

[quote=310678:@Craig Grech]I’m concerned that she will simply buy the program again and start demanding all over. I’ve questioned Paypal about how to refuse to accept money and they think I’m mad.
I’m also concerned about the damage she could do to my reputation through social media and forums. But then I dread receiving her emails. It’s quite a dilemma.[/quote]

You cannot let yourself be scared of an abusive customer. You have been putting up with that for far too long. Three years is beyond anything tolerable. As you say, no matter your efforts, she is keeping to be abusive.

Don’t be a fool ; she is blackmailing you. She may have started to diss on your app already. If you fall for her bullying, she will never stop anyway.

Let her know that free support has ended and that you can no longer help her.

There is this little mention you want to put as terms of service : “we reserve the right to refuse sales”.

Then anytime she mails or phone in, just tell her the same : free service has ended.

As for Paypal, simply refund when she buys again.

[quote=310670:@Craig Grech]My question: Am I legally allowed to refuse to sell to someone under these circumstances?
Does she have, as she puts it “the right to the support she paid for”?[/quote]
Yup, I’ve done this is the past.

She is not one of your target audience; you sold it too cheap to be honest. We sold via eBay for a short time and often the people who got the app for stupidly cheap prices were the worst customers and I always ended up refunding them.

Even if there’s a legal ramifications, she’s not going to sue you over $14 (especially since you’ve refunded her 3 years later) and if she did, it would cost her a lot more to get you in court, she’d have to come to Australia!

You should probably feel sorry for the poor lassie, she sounds like she’s got some real issues in life and may need some help, but that’s no excuse for her to treat you like a pile of shite.

Send her a letter letting her know you have some Russian cousins. Grab some toenails from a Chinese store (or fake ones), and include them on the mail.

Just refund her money and call it quits. No more email responses

I love teamviewer :slight_smile: and by the way I get more money with service and support than with software sales. forget this time thief… a non paying customer isn’t a customer at all.

This is good advice. She did get it cheap as part of a special offer.
I suppose it’s a bit like low airfares allowing people to fly who really do not belong on a plane.

Should we open our own “clients from hell” forum topic? Heck I could provide a lot of stories and most interestingly counter-measures :wink:

I don’t see why your terms and conditions can’t include “support is limited to 12 months. Abusive emails lead to immediate termination of support.”

You can’t write your 2nd sentence Markus… this would be too offensive… better offer your customers easy access to forms or helpdesks. Explain why individual 1st class support is something worth to pay for. If somebody is writing abusive mail I turn my autoresponder on telling him kindly to use my Website to buy support-time. Of course if somebody likes free support in callcenters or with agents without knowledge or priviledges to decide or change anything then he can move on to somebody else with free support.

Some support cases will cease to exists if a customer is brought to write his shit down…

THREE YEARS!!! she wouldn’t have got her money back from me! i’d have sent her a message saying that what she asks for is not a bug, its a feature request and it might be done in a future upgrade version. then I would have ignored her. Id have done that back in 2013 though. If she persisted, id have told her to F Off.

I know the world is a smaller place with the internet, but i doubt Interpol would get involved over 14 dollars.

I doubt you can just cut her off without there being consequences, she seems to be that type of person. If the purchase contract includes perpetual updates then you can expect to have her kick off about that and she would be within her rights to do so. If that is the case, then you may need to restore her registration at least.

However that does not mean that you have to deal with abusive emails etc! As others have pointed out, you need to redefine what support means, to me for a commercial product as opposed to a custom application:

  • Support means I’’’ spend a while trying to help you get up and running my product (not the your environment)
  • Bug means there is a problem that will be fixed in the next version
  • Show Stopper means the issue is wide spread and is preventing many users to perform the basic functions of the application and must be fixed now.
  • Feature Request means absent functionality that may be introduced in a future version
  • Custom Feature means that if I decide to do it for you, you will pay time & materials for it and to have it included in each new version.
    We all like to be helpful and of course if it’s our application we feel a deeper sense of responsibility, but there comes a time when one has to learn to say no.