Tivity Software Bilks OSX Humping High School Teacher

High school teacher and Consumerist reader James J. assured by software salesman that OSX release imminent. Teacher plans year’s curriculum around that software. Software goes vaporware; high school gets stuck holding the bill for eight useless licenses. Hey, your tax dollars at work!

James is plenty upset that he just flushed an entire year’s curriculum in New Media down the toilet because he fell for some oily salesman’s pitch. Hey, who wouldn’t be? Although we would point out the foolishness of purchasing a non-existent product based on the promises of imminence from a guy working off commission, James puts it pretty eloquently when he writes “if you can’t use trust at all, life’s just one big purgatory of paranoia.” Naive, perhaps, but that’s the way the world should work, and we wouldn’t be consumerists if we didn’t cling to that ideal in one way or another.

James’ story after the jump:

I’m a total Consumerist fan – it’s a great place to vent spleen about insensitive, ignorant, incompetent, in-whatever companies and services, and even endow those rare few with a well-deserved halo. So now I have something to bitch about.

I’ll be the first (okay, maybe third) that I probably walked into this one, but on the other hand, if you can’t use trust at all, life’s just one big purgatory of paranoia. I teach art with technology (we call it New Media) at a small midwestern high school. One of the software programs we tried and dumped was Flash. Awesome features, and ridiculously steep learning curve. But I needed/wanted something I could use to teach kids interactive design. I needed something with a shallow learning curve, inexpensive, easy to use… and Mac-compatible. Yes, we’re an all-Mac school here and fiercely proud of it.

Enter Xtivity, published by Tivity Software (http://www.tivity.com). They seem to be a division or spin-off or conjoined fetus of AutoFX, the company that makes some really cool Photoshop plug-ins. After hearing about them last fall, I contacted them to get more information. I found out that the product as initially released, was Windows-only, but that an OS X version was imminent – within a couple of months, I was told. I was also informed that I could purchase Xtivity at that time and when the OS X version was released, I could use the same licenses on that version. Even the website indicates that, both in a product page and on the user forums. Sounded good to me – we have one lab that’s all Windows, so I figured I could house Xtivity temporarily in there until the OS X version was out, whereupon I would install it in my own classroom lab. So I bought 8 licenses.

Over the fall and into the winter, I kept getting assurances from my contact at Tivity that the OS X version was not far off. Says the same thing on the website. I wanted to start using it in the winter months, but it never showed up, and the Windows lab was not as useful to me as I thought it might be – none of the tools or equipment I use for teaching were available in that lab.

So here we are at spring, where I have given up on using Xtivity in my classroom for this year. In the meantime, I was happily provided the funds for a new classroom lab and 14 new Intel iMacs. So I’m thinking I’m already sitting on 8 Xtivity licenses, and a last-minute opportunity to use some title funds comes up, so I get 6 more licenses to fill out the extra machines. Because I’m deaf, I have a colleague place a call for me to Tivity to find out about the OS X release. And we discover that, for all intents and purposes, the OS X version is pretty much vaporware. Not only that, but the rep who sold all of this to me is no longer working there. I peruse the website and forums and I discover that, apart from some pretty noncommittal replies to queries about an OS X version from hopeful users such as myself, there is nothing from Tivity in the way of answers.

So basically I got baited and switched. I can probably get a refund for the first 8 licenses, but the book for the title funds is now closed, so we’d be stuck with 6 licenses anyway. And what’s worse, I’m stuck without an appropriate tool to teach my kids next year. None of the other solutions I’ve seen out there come close and I’m left feeling frustrated and angry with Tivity. If they weren’t going to commit to OS X, why even mention it on their website? OS X users would just assume this would be another instance of Mac marginalization and passed Tivity by. Granted, I got blinded by trust and optimism, and I’ve left some rants on Tivity’s own forums expressing my displeasure and mild contempt – which will no doubt be purged by now – but I think they also need to show some integrity and just say, “nope, no hablo OS X here.”

Yes, I could install the beta of BootCamp on all those Intel iMacs – a beta in a classroom lab sounds real tasty – but what’s it gonna cost to get 14 copies of Windows, too?

As far as I’m concerned, Xtivity got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

Or is all this just lame?

Thanks for letting me rant. Keep up the vitriol – somewhere, somehow, some way, a corporate monkey burns in pain because of your good works!

Comments

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  1. AcidReign says:

    …..Anybody who’d pony up for 8 software licenses of a product that doesn’t exist yet… School budgets must in a whole lot better shape than we voters are being told!

    …..I wouldn’t even want version 1.0, for Mac or Windows, unless I had a lot of time to kill doing free debugging work! I can’t imagine a school IT director having this sort of time.

  2. gte910h says:

    When you are a large business such as a school, never pay a PO until you have the product in hand.