The following mailbox has been set up for anyone interested in joining a possible class action regarding Giftwork's recently announced plan to disable previous versions of their software and prevent useful access to users' data. Please send email to this mailbox and it weill be forwarded to the law firm looking into the case.

giftworksclassaction@outlook.com

Who was it that set up this mailbox? Who is the information going to be forwarded to? People would be well advised to NOT submit information without knowing the answers to these key questions.

I set up the email address. My name is Dave Rosenberg. I am a volunteer at our local Symphony non-profit and have worked in the IT industry for over 35 years. While it is normal for a developer to end support for a product, I have never before seen one go out and disable existing standalone versions to force users into expensive upgrades. In our case I suspect it will cost us upwards of $1500 to move to another product and convert our database. I’ve been discussing with a law firm the possibility of a class-action suit against Gftworks due to their recently announced plan. This is a decision that in my opinion could harm many current users, who purchased the product under the assumption that like most other standalone software products they would be able to to use it as long as it met their needs. For example, Microsoft does not go out and disable older versions of MS-Word to force customers to upgrade to Word 2013. Users can continue to use whatever version they currently have. There just may not be support for some of the older versions.

The purpose of the mailbox is merely to allow others to actively participare in a class-action, if one is determined by the law firm to be valid.

I find it remarkable that the "Is it legal" question has made it's way onto the GiftWorks FAQ!

www.giftworksconnect.com/.../gw-pricing-changes-faqs

I predict we are going to see more of this type of thing as additional software vendors move to the SaaS model of operation. While they can argue forever about the "improved support and data integrity and security, etc. etc", the bottom line is that the objective is to create a consistent revenue stream as opposed to experiencing spikes of income when a new version is released. And of course, it is hoped that long time users will eventually pay more in "leasing" the software than they ever did by purchasing it outright.

I agree totally with your comment.  But if Giftworks wants people to upgrade to a new version they should make sufficient improvements in the product to compel users to want it.  Forcing users to do so by disabling versions that had been "bought outright" is not the right way to accomplish their goal.  With respect to the FAQ, I found numerous differences in the EULA published on the web site from that provided with the version we purchased.  The FAQ may be a preemptive strike to suggest users have no option.  As the saying goes, " if someone tells you, you don't need a lawyer, you probably do."

Out of curiosity, can you cite what YOUR copy of the EULA says with regard to "leasing" or "licensing" or "owning" the software?

My curiosity stems from the fact that some users of the software may have had it for ages, while others may have only isntalled it a short time ago. Ergo, veteran users have gotten more usage out of the software for the same price that newbies have paid. Translated, the cost of ownership is substantially different for different users. This most assuredly does not sit well. It becomes palatable if the end user has the opportunity to continue using the software if they choose to, but to have your data held hostage due to the locked state of the software  is, in my humble opinion, disingenuous and unethical.

Even if all of the legalities are found to be in order, the ill will is going to cost the company somehow. The fact that they don't seem to realize this should cast some doubt as to whether you want to do business with them at all.... at any price point.

Bottom line, even if they eventually DID decide to grandfather you in on the software, would you really want to continue the relationship?

We have been using Giftworks since 2006.  We paid for and upgraded in 2010.  The EULA provided with that version makes no mention of lease or internet services.  The only mention of any time limit is in the section addressing trial versions of the software.  Following is the pertinent part: 

If you purchased the full version of the Software, you are granted a limited
non-exclusive license to: (i) use copies of the enclosed Software on as many
computers as the number of licenses you purchased, to be used by your owners,
employees or contractors (note: if Software is installed on a Server,
Software may only be accessed and used by as many computers as the number of
licenses you purchased); (ii) place a copy of your company's Software data file
on a network for use by such computers; and (iii) make additional copies of the
printed materials accompanying the Software, if any, and/ or print additional
copies of any online user documentation located in the Software; provided,
however, that you must have purchased accompanying licenses for each computer
who will have access to the Software or the Software data file. Registration of
the Software with Mission Research in accordance with Mission Research's
then-current privacy policies is required.

With respect to continuing to do business with Giftworks or their new owners, we are in the process of evaluating Exceed! from Telosa and it appears to meet our needs at a very affordable price.  Telosa looks like they are much more in tune with the needs of non-profits and certainly more ethical than Giftworks or their new owners.  I will email you the entire EULA to your public email address rather than take up the space here.

 

Dave 

We certainly respect your decision to evaluate alternative options, but wanted to inform you that you are most welcome to join our  very important GiftWorks webinar on Wednesday, October 16th at 1:00 pm ET.

As you are likely aware, there have been some important and exciting changes over the past two months at GiftWorks, most notably, the acquisition of GiftWorks by our new parent company, FrontStream Payments. With an expanded vision of the future and new management in place, we have implemented a number of changes that impact the way we have historically done business. With those changes, we have received a great deal of input from many of our consultants as well as our clients; your feedback is welcome, valuable and important.

This GiftWorks webinar is exclusively for GiftWorks users and will address the GiftWorks/FrontStream vision as well as the changes to the model and pricing. On this webinar, we will address your specific questions and provide clarity based upon input that we have received from a number of you. We very much appreciate your business and we want to equip you with the most updated information, so that you have all the resources you need to guide and inform your decisions going forward.

Please join our Chief Delivery Officer, Steve Fafel, our CEO & President, Nina Vellayan, and the GM of FrontStream's NonProfit Division, Mark Sutton next Wednesday, October 16th at 1:00 pm ET, where we will discuss everything GiftWorks: past, present and future. Above all, we will take time to answer many of the questions we have received from you over the past several weeks via social media and our dedicated support channels.

If you would like to send your questions ahead of time, please do so to this email address:

eula-concerns@frontstreampayments.com with the subject headline - GiftWorks Webinar.

We look forward to speaking with and hearing from all of you on Wednesday, October 16th at 1:00 pm ET.

Register here - www.giftworksconnect.com/.../free-webinar

Hope to see you there.

Steve, Nina & Mark

Late discovering this scam.

We blocked Giftworks from internet access (depending on your computer/firewall Search "how to block a program from connecting to internet using  ").  This should allow us time to find another CRM... after this SCAM we may return to good old MS Office Access :/   Does anyone know if this will or will not work?

Dear nohla,

Do you mean will blocking Giftworks at the firewall work, or will returning to Access work? I don't know the answer to either question, but elsewhere on Techsoup there's been a long discussion of the Giftworks issue

Robert

Dave,

How did your Exceed test work out?

I am with the Baldwin County Humane Society in Fairhope, AL. We recently noticed a notification that came up on our copy of Giftworks 2014 that as of March 31st, 2015 we would no longer be able to access our data unless we upgraded to their new version. We purchased the stand alone version in 2013. Giftworks (aka Frontstream) actually went onto our sever and put the notification on our software. We are livid and will not be blackmailed or be forced to pay ransom for our own data. We are changing software and I would recommend that anyone else being blackmailed in this manner do the same.

If there is a class action suit, we would like to be a part of it. 

We are now using Salesforce for NPOs (www.salesforce.org/) which is free.

I took our Giftwork program OFFline and have been able to use it fine. I would back it up and make sure NEVER to allow it online again until you move your data to a new program.

I'm not a lawyer but I think there is no class action because we do have access to our data and, in the USA, it is legal for a company to threaten and lie to their customers.

As far as I know no lawsuit ever materialized. A 2013 article in The Nonprofit Times had some interesting quotes. Google Giftworks lawsuit.

My favorite quote: "Vellayan said it’s a “small subset of our client base” that’s affected by the change but declined to provide a specific number."

Wonder if they missed us? I know DonorPerfect was happy to have me aboard. I am sure the other vendors who picked up the “small subset of our client base” was too.

I know I am happy to be with a company that knows nonprofits and their needs. Would be interesting to see an article on those who switched and their transition stories and 2-3 year results following the switch. Really doubt any NP periodical will dare do the story though. I know we are better for it and as I learn the abilities of the CRM we will see more benefit.