Trial Limitations – is it really that bad?

When you Uninstall Surfulater a web page opens with a short questionnaire requesting  some feedback on why it is being uninstalled. From time to time I am somewhat taken aback at peoples comments. There seems to be a real disconnect between them and us, which is worrisome. Here is an example I received today.

Q) To change your mind and continue using Surfulater we would have to?
For the price of this software the trial is extremely limiting for us to determine its true useability.
The standards nowadays for the retail software industry is to allow the prospective buyer to truely test drive a full product’s potential during the 21 day trial period; especially with the restrictive return policy of your company.

Here’s my problem. The one and only limitation in the Trial Version of Surfulater is that it doesn’t allow you to create new knowledge bases. It comes with a Knowledge Base which includes some sample content which you can delete if you want. There are no restrictions on the number of articles you can add to this Knowledge Base, the type of articles you can create, nor any other limitations of any kind. That said I agree it would be better if you could create new empty KB’s and we may well enable this at some point, but I hardly consider it’s a show stopper.

The other comment which really got to me is “with the restrictive return policy of your company” – huh! If you look at our ‘Buy Now‘ page you will see:

Return/Refund Policy

Please download and evaluate the Surfulater Free Trial before purchasing, to avoid unnecessary refunds. Our FAQ page has information on extending your free trial period. If for any reason you aren’t 100% satisfied with your purchase, contact us within 30 days for a full refund.

I must be missing something, but how on earth is this restrictive?

The Feedback Form ends as follows:

If you would like us to contact you please enter your E-mail address.

Unfortunately most people don’t afford us the opportunity to respond, so there’s nothing we can do other than write blog posts like this one. (:


9 Replies to “Trial Limitations – is it really that bad?”

  1. Neville, I too am mystified by the customer’s statement about Surfulater’s “restrictive return policy.” I think your response addresses this very well, and I appreciate your frustration at not being given an opportunity to respond directly to customers who are dissatisfied for one reason or another but do not provide an email address.

    However, on the matter of Surfulater’s limitations during the trial period, I too tend to feel that such limitations are unfortunate and counterproductive. There have indeed been times when I have decided not to buy a product because I couldn’t test it adequately due to limitations imposed during the trial period. That wasn’t true for Surfulater, but still, I can easily imagine someone wanting to see things like 1) how easy or hard is it to create a new knowledge base? 2) how easy or hard is it to add material to a knowledge base that I have created? 3) how easy or hard is it to move items from one knowledge base to another, or to create connections between knowledge bases? Frankly, I don’t really see any reason not to let the customer try a full-featured version. With some software, the user can take advantage of a full-featured trial to, say, make graphics, do extensive link checking, or any number of other tasks, and if they then don’t buy the program, they’ve benefitted at the expense of the developer. But that’s not true with Surfulater. It’s not as if the prospective customer can keep/use the knowledge base s/he creates without purchasing Surfulater. Perhaps there are aspects I’m unaware of, but if there are not, then I think you might be wise to make a full-featured Surfulater available for the trial.

  2. Nef, it is like this; the people who make these complaints would prefer to pay for a product period, else, they wish to pay next to nothing. I have been using Surfulater for a few years and it’s cheap for what it does! Keep up the good work Nef!

  3. I decided not to buy surfulater. It wasn’t because of trial limitations, but instead because development on the product has slowed to a crawl. There are tons of features that could be added to surfulater, many of which exist in competing products. However, what updates have been done to surfulater in the past year? The only updates have been necessary changes to get the product to work with newly released browsers, no new features whatsoever. You really have to go back pretty far in the product’s history to see when the last actual new or enhanced feature appeared. With this kind of complacency, the product is not likely to attract new buyers at all, and the existing base of product users will slowly move to competing products that are not dead.

    It could be that Neville is hard at work on a new version that includes a slew of new features. However there is nothing to indicate that anywhere on this website. I might come back an reevaluate surfulater if there is ever another actual upgrade to the software instead of ‘just another browser compatibility update’.

  4. Responding to Jim Parker’s comment “I decided not to buy surfulater … because development on the product has slowed to a crawl” — With respect, that may not be the key metric.
    I don’t look for a stream of radical new developments in table saws or internal combustion engines — or in this. I’ve been using Surfulater for years. It’s a working companion, like my big table or my favourite pen. I’m not eager to spend my time experimenting with triangular tables or pens that are also flashlights — products that are still looking for an identity or using novelty as an attractant. I have what I want already — a competent, stable tool that does its job without fussing.
    What I most admire and wish others would emulate is that its development — at least to the user’s perception — has been organic rather than revolutionary. This steadiness hints at design anchored by function rather than feature. The result is subtle: I’m freed to focus not on the tool but on what I get done with it.

  5. I have been using NetSnippets 3.3 for the last 5 years, it is a good web page extractor (full page or partial) and I have not encountered any errors, but the company has gone out of business and it is not being supported. How is Surfulater different or better than NetSnippets? I would like to upgrade but your price is a little steep for me.

    1. Hi William, I can’t comment on NetSnippets as I don’t know the product. I suggest you spend some time evaluating the trial version of Surfulater and decide whether it meets your needs.

      Apologies for the late response but I did not see your post. Our support center is a better place than the blog to ask questions like this.


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