I'm a new Propellerhead customer who bought Reason 4 and Record a few weeks ago specifically because of the features advertised in the coming upgrade, and I'm one of many who were surprised and disappointed by the way the new versions were released yesterday.
The crux of the issue is that I, and many other people, feel quite misled by what Propellerhead said to sell me their product. It's not a positive way to start a new relationship with a company, and it leaves me wondering whether I'm going to be frustrated by lots of other surprises down the road.
I recognize that it is beyond Propellerhead's power to wave a magic wand and redo this product launch, but here is what I would like to see them do to mitigate the issues:
1) Admit that they didn't set customer expectations well regarding the Reason 5 upgrade offer. Not all of us have been Reason customers for a decade, and we certainly didn't expect our upgrade to be in the hands of some company we've never dealt with, or for it to take weeks after launch day. A mea culpa and some transparency go a long way to defusing customer frustration. Please stop blaming newer users for not knowing "how we've always done things" or for not catching details buried on the site when your own marketing materials and main site pages neglected to mention critical information.
2) Update the Reason 1.5 download page (http://www.propellerheads.se/download/record/
) immediately to warn that it is not compatible with Reason 4. This is a work stoppage issue and should therefore be treated very seriously by Propellerhead. The severity is exacerbated by the fact that the Record and Reason updates are not available simultaneously for most users. Burying this info in the FAQ is clearly not enough.
3) Provide assurance that Propellerhead will fix it if something goes wrong while redeeming free upgrades via their designated distributors. I've never purchased anything from Line 6, and I have no reason to trust that they'll do a good job processing my upgrade. Most rebate processors are motivated to deny as many rebates as possible and I've had to fight wrongful denials in the past.
Also, Line 6's terms and conditions for the upgrade offer stipulate: "Must be purchased as new from an Authorized Line 6 Dealer in the United States". I will be righteously livid if they deny me an upgrade because Propellerhead didn't tell me I had to buy Reason 4 from some secret list of "authorized Line 6 dealers".
Propellerhead offered the upgrade deal so that they would not lose customers who buy something else because they don't want to wait. It would be wise to show some consideration for the commitment those customers made. It sucks to look back a few weeks and think I would have been better off not purchasing Reason/Record (and maybe deciding to buy some NI products instead - which I was seriously considering).
Does taking customers on good faith open Propellerhead to risk of giving software to someone who doesn't deserve it? Possibly - though if someone can produce a valid Reason 4 registration key, they're likely legit. Is it worth it for Propellerhead to take that risk? Definitely. They will lose far more in reputation and future sales if those who took them up on the free upgrade offer end up not getting what was promised.
4) Finally, Propellerhead should take a hard look at their marketing practices and their copy protection strategy. Whoever wrote their "Upgrading Made Easy" guide missed the boat in a big way, for example. Nowhere does it say that the products are delivered via different channels. Claiming I'll get my upgrade from "my distributor" is completely misleading since the companies I consider my distributors aren't Line 6.
And if they're going to insist on physical-only copy protection for Reason, they could do a lot to make it less painful to obtain a physical DVD (pre-order and pre-shipment so it arrives close to release day? Let me redeem my free upgrade from a vendor I trust?). Lots of companies, small and large, have figured this out - it just takes better planning.
This is probably more than most frustrated users what to read, but I hope that Propellerhead sees it and seriously considers how much positive impact they could have by offering some transparency and assistance to their users.