I love how your ultimate value here is delivering kindness and value to people.
Kimberly Wolfson

Kindness is a strange characterisation Kimberly.

From experience, Jason is a real prick in customer service. I have five or six years of Basecamp support emails to prove the point. Perhaps he’s mellowed in middle age (many of us have). DHH was the only one in the house who was open to new ideas or features from customers.

The mean customer service attitude was communicated out to support staff as well. Answers were curt and often rude. I think the relative failure of Basecamp 2 (Basecamp Classic was better, I dropped Basecamp when I was told Classic was feature frozen forever and it was Basecamp 2 or nothing) (1). Basecamp 3 does have its merits and I’ve considered moving back.

The big innovation of Basecamp at the time in 2004 — and this was huge — was per install pricing. Instead of paying per user, there were three nice packages (plus a very limited free single user edition) for small, medium and large studios (studios and agencies were the original target market).

After that it was all you could drink. Even with the Basecamp suite. The huge lost opportunity for Basecamp customers and for Basecamp users was that the suite was never properly integrated. All data in Highrise had to be manually moved over to Basecamp and clients from Basecamp didn’t appear in Highrise earlier. Let’s not even talk about the lack of integration of chat (campfire) and/or Backpack (calendar/wiki).

At the time, Jason didn’t want to work even harder and DHH decided to pursue his dream and become a semi-pro Le Mans driver. Who can blame them? Life is to be lived once. By living on their own terms, neither DHH nor JF face frustrated dreams.

Strangely Jason has moved to one size fits all ($99/month) which is fantastic for mid-size and large agencies and absolutely awful for small agencies. Most early adopters who funded the start of Basecamp were small agencies so I’m not quite sure why Jason is driving them away from the door. Jason is strange that way. Kindness is not how I would describe him or the 37signals offer though.

Expert. Reliable. Efficient. Well-designed. Minimalist. Fair pricing. Value.

From a twelve year perspective, these are the words I’d use to describe their offer and their support.

— — —

  1. Apple has also been stiff-arming people with fake water damage reports (they lost a class action). Basically if you ever take your Apple device out somewhere humid (that includes well protected in your backpack in the rain), the little pieces of paper turn green and Apple will try not to honour your warranty. Apple’s marketing is all smiles but the company is being run (into the ground) by an operations guy now. There is no brilliance in the new products (often regression) and customers are being treated like numbers now.
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